Wolff turned down Formula E race drive while at Williams
Following her retirement from driving at the end of 2015, Wolff has since launched the successful Dare To Be Different initiative aimed at inspiring more females to target a career in motorsport, and was recently appointed as team principal of the Monegasque Formula E team, Venturi.
Speaking at Formula E’s official pre-season test in Valencia, Wolff revealed how the contact with Venturi first came about and explained her reasons for turning down the offer of a race drive in the all-electric series.
“It was at the beginning of my Williams time. Let’s say it was roughly the same timing because I had a meeting with Gildo Pastor about racing for his team. That’s how the initial contact with [Venturi CEO] Gildo Pastor happened,” said Wolff.
“I met him in Paris with my husband and we talked about me racing in Formula E for his team. I can’t remember the timing, which way it was, I think it was for season one. That was part of my decision to stay in Formula 1, because [Formula E] wasn’t a known quantity back then.”
Despite her full-time focus now being firmly on Formula E through her role Venturi team boss, Wolff explains she had initially had doubts about the championship when it launched but admits the manner in which it’s grown since has been “phenomenal”.
“You know those cynics that looked at Formula E in the beginning and said that’s not going to work? I was one of them. I’ll put my hands up and openly say I was one of them,” said Wolff.
“I think the way the world changed with diesel-gate happening, that accelerated a change in the automotive industry, but I absolutely put my hands up and say to Alejandro [Agag] and his team that what they have achieved is phenomenal. They are pioneers.
“When they launched Formula E, we weren’t anywhere near turning electric in the automotive industry. I really respect them for what they’ve been able to build, they are pioneers within motorsport and have created a whole new concept of racing that’s turned out to be very successful.”
Wolff adds that she knew she wanted to find a new role in motorsport after her retirement from driving as she didn’t want to “always be known as an ex-racing driver”, but has no regrets about missing the opportunity to race for the team she now runs.
“I still wanted a challenge [after leaving Williams], I was looking for opportunities and a couple of interesting things came my way but they didn’t feel right, but then when I got the phone call from Gildo it felt right.
“I knew that the timing was good for me, and he’s such a fantastic guy and he had complete trust and belief in me and I felt that in this team there was so much possibility to achieve something, and that’s why the deal happened very quickly.
“I don’t have any regrets [about not racing in Formula E]. Every decision I made, I was very conscious of the decision I was taking. I believe every decision we make leads us to the point we are in our lives, and I’m very happy where I am now.”
Image Credit: Venturi
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