Susie Wolff explains how Abu Dhabi 2021 has helped women’s motorsport

Susie Wolff believes moments like Abu Dhabi 2021 have helped women’s motorsport by bringing a new audience to the sport.

Wolff is at the head of F1’s drive to get more women into the sport as managing director of the new F1 Academy series and has been tasked with identifying young female talent and helping them on the path into Formula 1.

It is a route that is not well travelled of late. Wolff is the last woman to participate in an F1 session while to find the last female racer, you would have to go back to Lella Lombardi in 1976.

But Wolff is hoping women’s motorsport follows a similar pattern to other sports such as football and cricket which have seen a sharp uptake in the number of players but crucially fans watching.

Motorsport is still a few steps behind but Wolff believes there have been big strides over the last few years and attributed some of the credit for that to moments like the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

“From my own perception, the world has changed,” Wolff told media including at the launch of F1 Academy’s Discover Your Drive initiative. “MeToo happened, there was this real sense of empowerment and this led to huge motorsport investment. You’ve also got more following.

“And then the third topic is huge dramatic moments like Abu Dhabi. It really creates a fan base and young female athletes which made the sport realise ‘Okay, we need to connect with this.’

“But we’d made the call on that together. I didn’t see myself taking on this role but it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

While the events in Abu Dhabi did not reflect well on the FIA, it was undoubtedly a success for Formula 1 with 108.7m viewers tuning in worldwide, an increase of 29% from the previous season.

But motorsport is a long way from the 83k crowd packed into Wembley for England’s Women’s Finalissima match against Italy this spring. In fact, F1 Academy remains unavailable to be watched with live broadcast not expected to be in place until the Austin race in October. recommends

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Of other sports, Wolff admitted she would be “foolish” not to follow their lead.

“I think it would be foolish for me not to learn from other women’s sports which have made a lot of progress,” she replied when asked by “I consider myself however so lucky that F1 wants F1 Academy to be the best in the world.

“I just have to make sure we have more participation, because if something keeps me up at night, it’s that we will run out of drivers.

“I feel very grateful for having been called F1 Academy, joining F1 but it isn’t a given we will be a success. We still have to respect [the role] and I think there’s a lot to learn, not just from F1, from many different sports.”

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