Driven: The Fastest Woman In The World

Friday 12 April 2013, 10:34

David Stoddart David Stoddart Director

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As the big brother of Formula 1's Susie Wolff, I obviously enjoy watching her drive, it makes me incredibly proud. 

That doesn't mean that I don't get nervous at the beginning of each race, but I have so much confidence in her ability so I know she'll be fine.

I know how good she is. I'm lucky that Susie trusted me to make Driven: The Fastest Woman In The World.

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Susie must prove she can handle a car capable of accelerating up to 100mph in less than five seconds

It's a BBC Two documentary filmed over a year of Susie's racing life, including her testing for the Williams Formula 1 team.

She knew that I wasn’t out to do some exposé on women in motorsport; instead I was aiming to tell her story.

Susie can be quite a guarded person so at times it was difficult as when she was dealing with some of the low points leading up to her Formula 1 test, she obviously didn't want a camera crew around documenting her tough times.

It was my natural instinct to step in as a brother and try to make things better, but as a director I had to stand back and leave things in the hands of her team.

Susie Wolff 'My sister's racing career is not just unusual, it's exceptional'

At the end of the day there is little I could do to help as this level of racing is much higher than anything I have experienced.
When Susie ventured out in her Formula 1 car for the first time, I was nervous and that made it tough to concentrate on directing my film crew.

I think the crew could sense that tensions were high, but they understood how I was feeling on a personal level. There was a lot of pressure on her that day as she wanted to make a good impression and I could see that Susie was anxious.
All motorsport teams are uneasy having film crews around. They are competing at a very high level and don't want anything sensitive getting out that might give the other teams an advantage, but as Susie's brother I was given a level of trust that not many other filmmakers would have been granted.

The film explores Susie's highs and lows, at times there were more low points than high points, but we don't shy away from that.

Susie was open and honest throughout filming – like when she qualified poorly at Brands Hatch

We filmed her afterwards and you could see the raw emotion in her disappointment, which isn't typically what you would see with a racing driving driver facing the media. Normally their public persona is very different from their private.

Susie Wolff in a F1 car 'There are times where she's just been too fast for me' F1 racing driver David Coulthard

Many people have the perception that motorsport is glamorous, but behind the scenes it is actually incredibly tough –  like the intense hours Susie spends in the gym training and how careful she has to be with everything she eats.

As a female driver, Susie is faced with the usual clichés about her role within the sport. You'll hear her opinion on having to drive a pink car as a marketing stunt, but she never lets these things deter her.

Susie races because it's in her blood and I hope this documentary will give viewers insight to the dedication it takes (and disappointments you have to cope with) to achieve your dream.

David Stoddart is the director of Driven: The Fastest Woman In The World.

Driven: The Fastest Woman In The World is on BBC Two and BBC Two HD at different times across the UK, starting with BBC Two Wales at 4.30pm on Sunday, 14 April. For all programme times please see the broadcasts page. It was first broadcast in Scotland on Sunday, 24 March.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Really hope we see a female driver in F1 soon, as long as they are capable. It could actually bring more people to watch the sport and attract more sponsorship as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Nice article, inaccurate headline. Susie Wolff won't be the first female F1 driver, there have already been 5 Maria de Filipis was the first in the 50's then Leilla Lombardi, Divina Gallica, Desiree Wilson and Giovanna Amati

    And that took 20 seconds of research

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    And in case the BBC change it here is the headline link I followed to make the post below

    "The fastest woman in the world

    Susie Wolff, who is aiming to become the first female driver in F1, stars in a documentary - made by her brother"

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Tony He isn't saying that his Sister is the fastest woman in the world. The paragraph where he states that he didn't shy away from her poor qualifying at Brands Hatch tells the reader that. I believe that the headline is meant more in expectation? If you are a driver regardless of your gender you would want to be the fastest. Did you see the comment from David Couthard?
    I wish her all the best. Respect to Williams for recognising her potential and giving her a chance.
    I am looking forward to this programme and I hope that it will bring a refreshing change to the usual suspects in F1 today.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Looking forward to the documentary - sounds a good angle on following an upcoming driver wanting to break into F1 - the commitment, skill and dedication needed to succeed.

    No doubt we will get the moronic and stereo-typical comments about women drivers. We should judge Susie on her results, not her gender. Similarly, if the results are there and the break does come, let's hope that is also on merit, and not for some PR stunt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    A Documentary made by the brother of the wife of Mercedes executive director Toto Wolff (and shareholder at Williams) about her driving for Mercedes and testing for Williams.. Talking about a fast track into F1..

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Become professional, do your research, realise that your redtop style of journalism is lazy and incompetent - typical BBC in fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    With respect- whether it's a male or female driver. you either have the skill and talent to rise to the top and be considered for a place in F1 or you don't.

    You don't need to marry into F1, have a journalistic brother to promote your cause to give you a leg up.......JUST BE A GOOD DRIVER who is capable of regularly beating the opposition across differing levels of formulas and formats.

    It just doen't take a lot to realise that if a new driver took a middle ranking crate of a car to finishes far and away in excess of what the car is capable of, then you WILL get your chance to progress.

    This has nothing to do with gender and all to do with talent.

    Sorry, Mrs Wolff.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    If she was twenty or twenty two and won a formula three championship or something I would wish her good luck but entering young drivers trial at 30 come on some drivers are thinking of retirement at that age sure she can drive a car so can lots of aspiring youngsters but they don't have the connections money or hype of being a female

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Unfortunately Susie is just too old to enter into F1 now... If she was 5 or 10 years younger then she could make it. But no team would take the risk of a 30/31 year old rookie.
    But it is good the see a woman being given a fair chance at the top level.

    Also unfortunately for Susie, she is not the best woman race driver, that is Danica Patrick. If Susie does want to race at a top level she should go over to the USA and break into IndyCar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Too old and no record of success, without her connections she would struggle to get a job driving a bread van!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Not the fastest woman in the world, Top fuel drag racing has had several women world champions, the first was Shirley Muldowney, 30 years ago. The cars regularly achieve a 0-100mph time of 0.7 seconds and reach 330 mph in 4.5 seconds with around 8-10,000 hp. In Drag racing, women are the equals of men and are treated as such

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Susie Wolf would be better off presenting instead, she can't possibly be worse than Suzy Perry.

    Please BBC get rid of Perry, she awful and knows nothing about F1!

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Filbow, I didn't say that David Stoddart had said she was the first female F1 driver, That criticism was levelled at the BBC, who wrote the headline and link wich leads you to this page, hence the reason I copied it and pasted it into post No 3!

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    The tagline of your article branding Wolf as the first F1 female driver illustrates the size of the problem. She is not. Maria de Filippis raced in the 1950s, and Lella Lombardi scored points in the 1970s.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    @the balen report. Could not agree more, have had to keep sky subscription this year, for that very reason. Will be honest and say that I have not seen her present F1, could not bear it after enduring several years of her fawning over the guys on the Moto GP circuit. Would love to see what the credentials she showed at the interview, although we probably don't need to ask given her entrance video to BBC F1 team...

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Tony. Sorry about that I withdraw that comment to you on my previous post. The copy and paste post happened after I had posted my original comment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    how does a driver who has never won a race in anything become a formula one driver?

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I think if I was Danica Patrick (who has won an Indycar race and was once third in the Indy 500) I'd be ever so slightly miffed.

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    Comment number 20.

    Desire Wilson, was, and still is the fastest woman to drive in an F1 Car. She also won many races during her career, including an F1 race at Brands Hatch. Shame that Susie cannot shout about herself in the same way. As a pr exercise Susie wins, but as a quick racedriver she falls well short.
    The BBC should try highlighting one of our fast Brits in the lower formulae more often, to help them possibly make it to F1.....NOT someone to old and too slow to grab their headlines!!


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