Work and lifestyle on the cutting edge. In discussions with contemporaries we review the assertions, clichés and ideals which circulate around work environments. This time we spoke with Susie Wolff, development driver for the Williams Martini Racing Team. She told us about her way to success, the role teamwork plays in the F1 and that daily dose of adrenalin on the track.
Born in Scotland, Susie Wolff discovered her love for motorsport at an early age. After 16 years of race experience, she had her debut in DTM, one of the most popular touring car championships in the world. After seven successful seasons for Mercedes Benz it was time for a new challenge: driving a F1 car. This dream came true in April 2012, when “the fastest woman in the world“ was appointed development driver for the Williams Martini Racing Team.
What is a typical work day like for Susie Wolff? Or is there no such thing?
Everyday is different for me depending on the time of year which I relish as I'm not someone who likes routine. At the start of the F1 season we are away for nearly 5 weeks as the first 4 races are fly away. During the middle of the season it gets easier as most races in Europe but then we finish again with fly away races. In the winter I am more focused on fitness training and my simulator work. During the season there is a lot more traveling and PR/marketing work for the team.
Could one say that your car is your workplace? Which other places are part of your working life?
Well because testing is banned in F1 (to keep costs down) there is very limited track time for me. This season I did one test day at Barcelona and will do two free practice sessions at the British and German GP therefore I would say the simulator back at the Williams F1 factory is more like my work place.
Oxford is where we base ourselves when we are in the UK. This works really well as the Williams F1 team is half an hour south and my husbands' team, Mercedes GP is half an hour north.
Otherwise I am based in Switzerland. That is mainly where I train and travel from.
Can you imagine working in an office all day?
Yes, as long as I was doing a job I enjoyed and had a passion for. As a racing driver, you have a shelf life (unfortunately!) so my plan is to move into the business side of F1 when my career is over. I may be calling you for some nice office furniture in the future!
What significance does your team have for your work?
Although the driver takes a lot of the glory in F1, in reality they are simply the last line of attack in a big team effort. We have over 500 people back at the Williams factory, all working to make two race cars go as fast as possible. That is incredible when you think about it, there are some amazingly talented engineers pushing the boundaries and advancing technology in the automotive world. Without a great team and the effort of each and every person in that team, success doesn't come in F1.
Do you draw a clear line between work and free time, or do the boundaries get blurred?
The boundaries definitely overlap because I love my job and racing is without a doubt my passion. I started racing when I was only 8 years old so I have been involved in Motorsport for a long time. My husband is in the same industry so it plays a big part in our lives. That said, we also know how to have a life outside of Motorsport. I was lucky to find my passion in life. If you can find something you actually enjoy doing and have a passion for then success comes just that bit easier and the tough days and disappointments are just that it easier to cope with. On top of that, dream big. You need to have goals in life and know what you want to achieve but always know that a dream without a plan of how you are going to achieve that dream is just a wish.
What do you like most about your job?
Success brings massive satisfaction and the adrenaline you get driving an F1 car is fantastic but real happiness for me comes from much simpler things, waking up next to my husband in the morning, laughing and joking over the dinner table with my family and friends.
The favorite part of my job is the travelling, meeting new people and experiencing new cultures.
Are there certain rituals that you consider important in your everyday work routine?
No, but I do think its so important to move your body and try to eat healthy, this can make such a difference to your performance. I am lucky that I need to be extremely fit for my job but I always feel so much better after exercise and good food.
What is the most important tool for your work?
What would you wish for in your work?
I want to race in F1. It's that simple.
Thank you for the interview!
© Cover: Wiliams Martini Racing