Susie Wolff (nee Stoddart) has joined Williams as a development driver. A DTM racer by trade Williams would appear to be following in the footsteps of Marussia who took on a Spanish female test driver last month - Maria Villota.
The fact is that neither of these two racing drivers have any history of winning in their current respective championships. Susie's best result in DTM has been 13th in the DTM championship of 2010 with 4 points coming courtesy of two 7th place finishes. She has, to give her her due, been on the podium a number of times in Formula Renault UK Championships in 2003 and 2004.
While she would no doubt kick my a**e in any motor racing event the real question is whether or not she is F1 material. I understand the pressure is on F1 to introduce female drivers into the formula but surely such introduction should be based on merit rather than on PR opportunities.
Toto is a major player in Williams these days and, with the resignation of Parr from the team (touted as FW's successor) it would seem as if his influence extends well beyond the boardroom with this particular appointment, while Frank's influence/interest would appear to be waning.
Frank said of the appointment:
"As Susie is married to Toto Wolff, a director of Williams, her appointment was carefully considered and then approved by the board, with Toto recusing himself from the process."
Who on the Board is going to go up against the next chairman?
While Bernie in typical style reportedly said in a non-committal and sexist manner:
"If Susie is as quick in a car as she looks good out of a car then she will be a massive asset to any team and on top of that she is very intelligent."
My opinion - for what it's worth - it's a difficult environment for Susie to walk into and work in given her connections to the board. I don't know why she would take it up unless she felt she got it on merit which is unlikely given her DTM results. The appointment says more about Frank's position within Williams than it does about her abilities in the car.