Ahead of her FP1 appearance for the British Grand Pris, Crash.net sits down with Susie Wolff to discuss her time with Williams, her hopes for the future and being married to the Mercedes team manager...

Crash.net
Susie, you've been with the Williams team for some time now... at this stage, how much are you still learning each time you get in the car?

Susie Wolff
First of all, I'm still learning, everyday I'm in the simulator, every day I'm at the racetrack, there's always something you learn, and I feel incredibly privileged to work with such great people, because the level they work at in Formula One is so high. Sometimes, at the beginning when you're having a briefing, it's like they're talking Chinese, and I ask someone to explain, and when you hear them explain it, it's an incredible level of engineering that you're working at. I feel incredibly privileged to be part of a team that's had a great turnaround, and come back to the front. There's a real energy and spirit in the team now. I think from a driving perspective, the great thing of being in a simulator a lot is that you can constantly work on areas. Of course it's not like being in a real car, and you always have to remember that, but it means there are all these things that you can work on. Obviously being team-mates with Felipe and Valtteri, and seeing their data, are things I can also use to improve.

Crash.net
Have you learned much from Felipe and Valtteri... and do you think you have also played a part in helping them progress too?

Susie Wolff
They're good guys, I don't think they need my telling them my opinions and views, they're very capable on their own. When I'm driving, it's always in Valterri's car, so I'll ask him for advice if there's a corner I'm struggling on, or if I'm struggling with tyre temperatures, he'll be quite open and tell me.

Crash.net
Have you been able to get the car adapted more to your personal liking when you have been driving it?

I think you will always do setup work on the day to get the car into balance and suit you, but on a test day, you're not always testing for the ultimate lap time, you're testing with a view of getting data that the team needs. With the testing plan as it is, every test is very valuable.

Crash.net
For you personally, how important is it to be associated with such a historic team, particularly given - as you say - its turnaround in the last couple of years?

Susie Wolff
First of all, it's a fantastic team to be a part of, it's got a real energy and spirit in the team, it's a family team at its heart. It's a team that's had a great turnaround, and I'm very proud of that. I don't forget that it's them that gave me a chance. Everyone speaks about wanting a female in Formula One, and there should be one, but it's actually Williams that gave me the chance to make it happen. So I think I'm very happy to be part of this team, and it's also a team that has had the turnaround. We're doing better but we are constantly pushing ourselves to improve in every area. It's great to be part of that.

Crash.net
Do you feel you feedback making a difference?

Susie Wolff
Yes, but you can't pinpoint that my feedback is changing the direction of the team, and helping every member of this team, with over 500 of us, everyone had their part to play in that car before me. So I wouldn't say that my role is greater or better than anyone else's. We all have a very specific job in this team. Everyone has to do their job well for the team to function, every department has a responsibility to get their part of the car right. My department happens to be simulator and test driving, so I've got to get it right, but I don't think I would take more credit than anybody else in this team. But I do know that a good job is expected every time I come into work, and it's always my goal to do the absolute best job that I can, as it will have an impact on our overall performance.

Crash.net
So what is the end game for you? Where do you see your future?

Susie Wolff
There's only one way it can pan out, and that's to be on the starting grid. I get as close as I can get to be in the race car, and there is only one step up and that is to be on the starting grid. But, it's incredibly tough, like any other driver that tries to get in here will tell you, so I need to think long and hard and look towards the end of the year what the options are. Right now, I'm looking at my test next week in FP1 at Silverstone. This is a very performance-based environment, you have to be performing every time you're in a car. You have to be ready to pounce when a rare chance comes. Situations can sometimes change very quickly, if there's a rule change and a third car or customer teams come in, I've got to make sure I'm in the right place at the right time, but now, I just want to focus on my testing and FP1 at Silverstone.

I have to perform every time I'm in the car, and show that I'm capable, and I need a little bit of timing and luck to come together. If I'm in a situation when a space opens up and I'm ready, because at Williams we have two great racing drivers that do a fantastic job. Here, it would be very difficult, but for me right now, I can't comprehend not being at Williams Martini Racing. It's my team, where my heart is.

Crash.net
Have you considered your options for next year?

Susie Wolff
The avenues will be clear once we're at the end of the year. Right now I can't predict what's going to be the case in 3 months, or 4 months, or 5 months. All I can do is focus now on doing a good job when I'm in the car, and then seeing how the situations develop.

Crash.net
Naturally, your positions has generated much publicity and for many you are seen as something of a trailblazer... how does it feel to be in that position?

Susie Wolff
I don't think it's a topic of conversation [women drivers] just in Formula One, I think it's a bigger conversation in society in general. I'm certainly feeling that because there's a lot of attention on it. On the one side, I don't feel like a trailblazer because I said I am just a racing driver out to try and be the best that there can be, but I think somehow I've been seen as a trailblazer. Most certainly, myself coming into Formula One has opened a door. You had Simona [de Silvestro] coming in, then Lotus coming up with a development driver [Carmen Jorda]. But for me it's not proving what a woman can do in Formula One, it's proving what Susie Wolff can do. I think we all, as drivers, come to the table with a package. It's either your speed and raw talent, your sponsorship money, your nationality. For me, one of my unique selling points is my gender, without a doubt. I am the only female driving in Formula One right now, that has to be one of my plus points, but it is not enough to get me in a race car. Being a female is not enough to open doors if you're not good enough, because it is simply too tough for one factor to be enough. If you do have massive sponsorship behind you, you still need to be capable in a Formula One car. Motorsport isn't all about talent, but it's about having that complete package all together. Just not one factor is enough to get you in a race car.

Crash.net
Have you been impressed by any other female drivers coming through?

Susie Wolff
Yes, I'm helping a young girl in Formula 3 just now, Tatiana Calderon, I will very much, if I don't make it in Formula One, make sure that I devote some time and energy to helping the next generation. There were things that I did right, there were things that I did wrong, there were things I've learnt along the way and had a great network within motorsport right now. I believe women can compete at this level, so I will most certainly help the next generation if I can, just for them to know that there are possibilities for women in racing, when you're good enough and when that's your passion.

Crash.net
How does it feel to be at the forefront of such a movement?

Susie Wolff
I'm a woman who appreciates other successful women. When I meet another successful woman, I am inspired by either her story, or how she does her work. Or what she does, or how she's done it. So if I can inspire other people, then I'm very proud of that, but I still feel that I have a lot to achieve until I can turn around and say 'look what I've managed to achieve in Formula One.' I'm on a path, I'm fighting very hard, but I do think if my story can be inspirational to others and can show others that it's possible for a woman to be successful in motorsport, then I see that as positive. For me, that's one of the powers of social media, I get fantastic letters, emails, messages over Twitter and Facebook, from young girls who are inspired by my story, and say 'I want to be a racing driver, how can I get into it?' or 'you've inspired me, here's a picture of me at my local kart track.' Things like that are really heart-warming, and I see a positive, but there's still a long way to go.

Crash.net
Is there is a temptation to go racing in another series - maybe back to DTM -, perhaps to see if you can apply the lessons learned from your time in F1?

Susie Wolff
Back to DTM, no way. Been there, done that. It was very tough. I'm at the pinnacle of motorsport. For me, as a young girl in karting, it was my dream to drive a Formula One car. Do I want to go back down the side - GP2, GP3 - no. I want to see how far I can get in Formula One, and then let's see how things pan out. I watched Le Mans, and I loved watching the footage all weekend, and I do enjoy watching other race championships, but now my full focus is in Formula One. I'm not somebody who looks too far ahead. Right now, I'm incredibly lucky to be a test driver in this team. I had a full programme of work ahead of me. I'm thinking already of next year, and what else I can race in. I said that I'll stop [racing] when I'm at my peak, and I don't want to head down the other side. Let's see how things go.

There's opportunities out there if you want to go after them, but right now I don't want to go after them because I'm happy here. So, right now, it's not been my focus and I've not put any energy into looking.

Crash.net
How much have you enjoyed being an ambassador of the Mercedes-Benz brand?

Susie Wolff
It's fantastic, obviously I've got a great history with Mercedes-Benz. Seven years in the DTM, and obviously my husband is in the role he is in. It works really well for us, and I just love driving the classic cars. I'm a fan of classic cars, so the chance to drive the 1955 Fangio SLR in Mille Miglia, that's a chance you don't get very often, and I'll be driving it again in Goodwood. Those events I love doing, because I really appreciate driving the old-timers, and it's something for sure if I do stop racing, I could do more of in the future, because it is definitely a lot of fun.

Crash.net
Your husband Toto is just down the paddock helming the Mercedes team - do you enjoy having him nearby on a race weekend and how much have you been inspired by his success at Mercedes? Susie Wolff
I'm in a lucky position where I get to watch him at work. I get to watch him leading a team to become world champions. That's inspiring for me. Obviously I'm his wife, so I'm his number one fan, but I do find it inspiring to watch that team and watch them become world champions. It's not banned at home, because I appreciate his opinion a lot, and he knows this environment very well, not just from a racing perspective, but from a business perspective. I can learn a lot from him, and bounce ideas off him, which I think I'm very lucky to be in a position to be able to do, but we're not a couple that only speak about Formula One. We do have an interesting enough life, and other things to talk about.

[I've learnt] a lot [from him]. And I'm always learning every day, so I think in that sense, I do think of myself as quite lucky to be so close and to be learning all the time because he came into racing more from the business angle, so just watching him work and the way he does business, I can learn a lot. He likes to include me in that, so that I can learn, and be in the sport in the future.

When we got married, we became a team. In a team, you're with each other through the good and the bad. In this environment, yes it's fantastic that Mercedes are doing so well, and we're doing so well now, but you need to be constantly performing, you need to be constantly looking, because it can all change from one season into the next. We make sure that we keep our feet on the ground. We don't fly away with the success, and let ourselves get lifted off the ground. We're quite rounded people in that sense, I think being on the road together, attending races together and having each other always there is a huge advantage. We're able to support each other through the good times when we can celebrate, and also through the tough days. As much as from the outside it might seem very jet set, behind the scenes it is a lot of hard work.