Susie Wolff: The Scot quietly making a noise in Formula E

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Susie Wolff is now the chief executive of Formula E outfit Venturi Racing

When Susie Wolff retired from racing in 2015, she said she felt like a ship without a sail.

The Scot, from Oban, made it all the way from kart racing as a child with Lewis Hamilton, to test driving for Williams in Formula 1.

But knowing she was unlikely to progress further in the sport, she called time and started looking for a new challenge.

Looking back, the self-confessed petrol head admits that getting involved in an electric version of F1 was the furthest thing from her thoughts.

"You're putting it very politely - I was one of the cynics," she says, sitting in the pit lane ahead of the London leg of Formula E's latest tour of the world.

Wolff is the chief executive of Venturi Racing, one of 11 teams who are making a noise, quietly, in the world of motorsport.

It has the feel of a futurist sport competing in the present and doing very well at it.

The inclusion of those with the experience and knowledge of racing seems key to its success and its standing and reputation within the industry.

"I got approached to drive in Formula E when I was still driving with Williams in Formula 1 and I thought 'an electric championship in city centres? That's never going to function'."

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Formula E is a motorsport championship for electric cars

But it is functioning and since the first race on the streets of Bejing in 2014, it's grown a following that is ever increasing.

Wolff joined in 2018 as team principal and shareholder of Venturi and has fallen in love with racing all over again.

"I got that sail back," she said.

"I went through some choppy waters and initially we were a team that were running closer to the back than the front. But I was lucky enough to get some great people on board."

But that is changing and ahead of Venturi's win in London, Wolff also talked passionately about the sustainability side of sport.

It's one of the key selling points for Formula E.

The familiar ear splitting roar of the engines, associated with its noisy cousin, are replaced by the somewhat comforting low hum of cars gliding into battle.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Wolff is chief executive officer of Venturi Racing

There was no road to Damascus moment for the woman who wanted to make it in Formula 1 but the arrival of her son, five years ago, changed her thoughts around green issues.

"It's absolutely on my radar but predominantly because I'm a mother and I want to leave this world in the best place possible for my son.

"It can sometimes be very overwhelming to think 'well what can I do?' We're only one family alongside millions but I think, like you've seen, it's urgent now," she said.

Along with her desire to leave the world in a better place for her son, she also wants to make sure she leaves him with a Scottish accent.

She lives in France with her Austrian husband, Toto Wolff, the chief executive of the Mercedes F1 team.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Wolff's husband, Toto Wolff, is chief executive of the Mercedes F1 team

She admits it can be a very competitive household and that includes the race to determine how her son will sound after being brought up part Scottish, part Austrian.

"I get back home as often as I can," she said.

"Obviously Oban is not that easy to get to, especially from where I live now, but I get home whenever I can.

"My son spends a lot of time with my parents to make sure he has some Scottish roots in him."

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