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Wolff: Riyadh to “Help Future Generations of Women”

Susie Wolff confident the Riyadh E-Prix will promote women’s rights in Saudi Arabia…

Photo: Jakob Ebrey

Newly-signed Venturi Team Principal Susie Wolff is confident that December’s Riyadh E-Prix will be a step forward for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.

Wolff is the first female team principal in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship and her first race in the role will be the Season Five opener in the Saudi capital.

The staunchly conservative country has recently lifted its ban on women driving in one of a series of moves to increase women’s rights.

Saudi Arabia has a strict brand of Islamic law known as Wahhabism which states that men and women have to be kept separate in many situations and that women must wear veils to cover themselves.

It’s also the law in Saudi Arabia that every woman has to have a male guardian, usually a relative or her husband.

Wolff believes that racing in the Middle Eastern country will be a long-term help in progressing a more modern view on women’s roles in society.

“I remember being in Bahrain a few years ago for a Grand Prix and someone pointed across the water and said, ‘That is Saudi Arabia where women are not allowed to even drive on the road’,” Wolff told e-racing365.

“Now they can, and what is more there will be an international race there this year with Formula E. I think this will help equal opportunities for future generations of girls and women.

“I think it is great that we can go there and be able to showcase Formula E and for Saudi Arabia to also show that changes are taking place in lots of different ways. I see it as a progressive and positive move.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ plan two years ago. One of the objectives of these plans was to “live without oil by 2020″.

Among the reforms announced were steps to diversify the economy, including investment in mineral mining and renewables. Within this, the participation of women in the workforce was promised to be increased.

Venturi Favoring Experience for Massa Team-Mate

Venturi is looking to cement its driver lineup with someone who carries race experience to partner recent signing Felipe Massa next season.

Wolff stated that familiarity with racing in Formula E will be a key factor in choosing a teammate for the long-time Formula 1 driver.

Maro Engel, Edoardo Mortara and Tom Dillmann are all believed to be in contention for the role, while Daniel Juncadella may also be considered.

Engel, Mortara and Juncadella are all Mercedes-affiliated drivers and one of them is also likely to be considered as a favorite to join the new HWA team.

“In Formula E, from I have seen so far, experience is a very important factor so this is where we are looking,” said Wolff.

“We will weigh up the best option for us but we won’t put a timeframe on it just yet as to when we will announce anything.

“The pool of drivers we can look at is strong, so I have no doubt that along with Felipe we will have a very strong team from that point of view.”

Venturi tested Porsche factory drivers Brendon Hartley and Gianmaria Bruni last summer shortly before the Kiwi was chosen to replace Daniil Kvyat at Toro Rosso in F1.

Hartley has been under pressure to keep his seat already this season and could be used by Porsche, with whom he is still a factory driver, to undertake races ahead of the German manufacturer’s entry at the end of 2019.

However, this currently appears to be an unlikely move as Venturi will supply powertrains to the Mercedes-affiliated HWA squad in the 2018-19 season.

Sam Smith is e-racing365's Formula E Editor. A 20-year veteran in motorsports media, including press officer roles in both the FIA Sportscar Championship and at Lola Group, Smith is a well-known face in the Formula E paddock, where he served as series editor for from 2014-17. Contact Sam



  1. Avatar


    June 28, 2018 at 9:45 am

    That we’re moving fast from fossil fuel is a reality, the Tesla Model S and the newer Model 3 already outsold their German rivals in the US and EU markets, many automotive brands are announcing that will be EVs only in a very short period of time (DS, Maserati, Lagonda, Polestar, Pininfarina) and many countries (Germany, France, Norway, UK, China) are approving legislation to ban the sales of Diesel and Petrol cars in 30 years time. We only have to praise a nation that is trying to move away from oil to be focusing in the future – every society has it’s pace concern to changes and we’ve to respect it and help the change to happen the best way we can. FE did it right and announced that would race in Saudi Arabia; it will be an opportunity for people there to experience new technology, different culture and values.

  2. Avatar

    Old Trombone

    June 28, 2018 at 11:06 am

    Simona Di Silvestro
    Kat Legge
    Aurora Straus
    Samantha Tan
    Christina Nielsen
    Renee Gracie
    Dominique Van Wieringen
    Tatiana Calderon
    Lucile Cypriano
    Sophia Flörsch
    Vivien Keszthelyi
    Alisha Abdullah
    Laleh Seddigh (her appearance would probably net Agag the Nobel Peace Prize)
    Beitske Visser (she has lots of electric racing experience, currently working with a university on this tech)
    Magda Andersson
    Jamie Chadwick
    Abbie Eaton
    Alice Powell
    Kayli Barker
    Nicole Behar
    Natalie Decker
    Danica Patrick
    WOW! So many fast drivers on this list who have major results at major international races. Surely one is fast enough? I mean, it’s not as if they have a limitation as a class, right?

    But NO! Its gonna be ALL TALK isn’t it? “We believe in the concept”, “We are promoting young drivers, one day they will drive here”, “There isn’t one who is fast enough yet”, “We just don’t have a place for one at this time”, etc etc etc.

    This list is SO LONG that it’s unbelievable that one of them isn’t faster than:
    Neel Jani
    Luca Fillipi
    Nico Prost
    Ma Qing Hua
    Jacques Villeneuve
    Adam Carroll
    Tom Blomqvist

  3. Avatar


    June 30, 2018 at 6:03 am

    Amazing! some there I had not heard of-would love to see Suzie racing in Saudi

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