susie wolff: "Formula E creates A new way of going racing"
PHOTO: TEMPUS MAGAZINE
Team Principal of Venturi Formula E Team, Susie Wolff, shares her opinion about the 2020 Formula E season as well as the development of Formula E
Susie, why did you decide to focus your attention to Formula E?
- It wasn’t at all planned but in the end the opportunity just felt right. I was looking for a new challenge predominantly outside of motorsport primarily due to my family situation - I didn’t want to work for my husband but I didn’t necessarily want to compete with him either. But then the Venturi opportunity came along and, after visiting the Rome ePrix in season 4 and meeting with Gildo and the team, it just felt right - and I’m a great believer in following your gut instincts.
2. How did it come to be that you became a Team Principal? And why with Venturi?
- Again, this wasn’t something that we had planned. When I got involved with the team as a share holder, it quickly became clear that there was also the opportunity for me to take over the running of the team. Having watched Toto carefully over many years, I had a very good grasp on what the role would require from me and it wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I knew what would be expected of me and the commitment it would ultimately require and I felt ready to take it on.
And why Venturi? Gildo (Pastor, Venturi Automobiles President) and I quickly built a very strong and trusting rapport and I felt that he was someone that I could not only go into business with but also work alongside. I was also very impressed by the spirit and energy within the team, I could see the potential instantly.
3. How much input did you have when choosing driver line-up? What made you go with Felipe & Edoardo?
- I had very little input as Felipe was already signed by Venturi when I arrived and Edo was already part of the family - I rate both drivers very highly.
4. How do you comment on the 2020 Formula E season so far?
- Covid-19 aside, we’re not where we want to be at this stage of the season and we want to have more points but we also need to look at the positives. We’re only three teams to score points in every race this season, not as many as we would have liked – but we have shown our potential. Now, we need to make sure sure that we can score some of the big points on offer when the championship resumes and obviously, finish the second half of the season on a much higher and more positive note than the first.
5. In which way does the fact that you are a former racing driver help when leading a team?
- I think it helps enormously, although Formula E is very different to F1 or any of the other series I have been involved in, I had a good head start on the technical side and I understand the mentality of a professional athlete. A huge part of my job is making sure that all areas of the team work as well as they can together, being able to relate to a drivers viewpoint from a management perspective is very useful for this.
6. Did your husband Toto give you any tips about being a Team Principal?
- He was incredibly supportive when I took on my new role. I have watched him very carefully over the years and learned a lot but we have very different management styles - I have my own style and I need to forge my own way. It’s always helpful to know that he’s there as a sounding board if I ever need his advice.
7. How do you look at the development of Formula E during the years? Is there a potential that it can maybe go as far as being a new Formula 1?
- I’ve been very impressed with the work that Formula E have done in attracting such a large number of new fans, huge international brands and major manufacturers to the sport in such a short space of time. But will it be the new Formula 1? The short answer, in my view, is no, it won’t. And, more to the point, nor should it. The two series are so very different. Formula 1 is still the pinnacle of motorsport and the simple fact is that it continues to produce sporting icons and great racing, it shouldn’t be seen as a rival to Formula E. As someone who has experience of the inner workings of both championships, I can tell you that they are very different and they should sit alongside each other as they are both offering different things. It’s something completely new and I don’t think it’s trying to challenge Formula 1, it’s creating a new way of going racing and it’s doing that very successfully.
8. Formula E, same as other racing championships has embraced the virtual world and virtual racing. Do you think that this trend could continue even after the quarantine period?
- To be honest, I’m not sure, I’m not an eSports expert. I’m currently very focussed on the planning and strategy around our return to racing so I’m not completely immersed in the esports side of things. That said, I do think it’s a fantastic initiative from Formula E to keep fans engaged - it’s great to see them unite with UNICEF in this way helping them to raise vital funds during such an important time.