Considering all that had happened on track during 2021’s Jeddah GP, it’s no surprise that Susie Wolff’s birthday celebrations flew under the radar. Toto Wolff’s wife, Susie Wolff, celebrated her 38th birthday on the day that Lewis Hamilton drew level on points with Max Verstappen to take the title fight to the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi.
For a long time, it looked like Max would extend his lead in the championship. Toto cursed and threw his headphones in anger in frustration when it looked like a bizarre crash had ended Lewis’ hopes of a win.
In the end, it came together perfectly for Toto. Lewis won, adding an extra element of joy to Susie Wolff’s birthday celebrations.
Toto and his wife Susie Wolff share one child, Jack Wolff
Two years ago, Toto Wolff nearly forgot Susie’s birthday. In a video posted by the Mercedes F1 team, Wolff narrated:
“Two years ago, we left hotel in the morning and Bradley came and said ‘Happy Birthday’ and I was like. She [Susie] looked at me and said, ‘You forgot,’ and I said no, no, I have something planned for you (in the) afternoon.”
“You remembered this year!” Susie exclaimed after part of the Mercedes team, including outgoing driver Valterri Bottas, sang the birthday tune and presented Susie with a cake.
Toto and Susie have thrived as a married couple for a little over ten years. They had their first date at the Achat hotel in Hockenheim, Germany, and married in October 2011. Susie commemorated the pair’s 10th anniversary by writing on Instagram:
“Today is our 10th wedding anniversary. What an adventure and fantastic journey it has been so far. 10 down, forever to go. So grateful for my brilliant husband, my best friend and the person who lights me up every single day.”
The Wolff’s share one child, a son named Jack Wolff, who arrived in April 2017. The boy regularly features on Susie’s Instagram.
Toto has two other children from his previous marriage to Stephanie. The couple’s marriage lasted for ten years before the pair filed for divorce. Despite the pain caused by the separation, Toto stated that he’s managed to blend the family. The Mercedes F1 team boss told Formula1:
“Both [Susie and Stephanie] put the wellbeing of the kids above their own. I’ve been together with Susie now for eight years and my kids have always been a very important part of that relationship. And Stephanie, the mum of my kids, handled it in the same way. Now we spend Christmas and holidays together. And as tough as a divorce is, we all grew.”
Susie dreamt of racing in Formula 1, but she didn’t make the cut
Susie Wolff started her racing career in karting when she was eight. Her parent supported her progression in the karting ranks and her graduation to the Formula A Championships. Despite not winning the competition, Wolff was named the No.1 female kart driver in the world in 2000.
Wolff joined Formula Renault UK in 2002, where she spent three seasons. Her highest finish, 5th, came in the 2004 season. She had a brief unspectacular stint in Formula 3 that ended tragically due to an ankle injury.
She moved to the German racing championship DTM, where she spent seven years, scoring a meager four points. A move into Formula 1, let alone the junior formulas, looked unlikely until she married then-Williams director Toto Wolff. Susie wrote on The Huffington Post:
“It led to not only seven great years, but even more important, it led me to meeting a man who believed in my dreams, who pushed me to the best I could be and who continues to inspire me each day. A man I am now lucky to call my husband.”
Thanks to Wolff, Susie became Williams’ development driver. She participated in the 2013 Young Drivers Test and spent countless hours on the simulator. In 2014, she became the first woman to take part in an F1 race weekend in over two decades when she participated in first practice during the British GP.
She completed a total of four laps before an oil pressure issue forced Williams to end her session early. Susie participated in an entire session during the German GP.
Susie held hope of participating in a Formula 1 race, but her racing record didn’t justify a seat in the pinnacle of motorsport. “There were those who wanted it to happen. Those who didn’t,” Susie wrote on The Huffington Post.
Wolff fondly remembers her time in Formula 1 as she regularly posts about it on social media. Via a mid-October 2021 post, Susie revealed that F1 presented the highest pressure environment she’s ever experienced. She then shared how she dealt with the pressure:
“The most intense pressure was my time in @f1 – limited time in the car and at every opportunity having to deliver to the highest level. I focused on preparation. Leaving no stone unturned to put myself in the best position to succeed. Focus on the process and not the end result.”
Susie is determined to pave the way for girls to make it in motorsport
Despite an overwhelming desire to see women race in F1, Susie’s potential promotion to F1 would have been controversial. During her time racing single-seaters, she demonstrated little to suggest that she merited a Formula 1 seat.
It surprised few when then-Williams’ deputy principal flat out told the BBC that Wolff wouldn’t replace injured driver Valtteri Bottas.
Susie didn’t compete in a Formula 1 race, but her mere participation in a race weekend must have inspired young girls to consider a career in motorsport. She told BBC Sport:
“If there are just a handful of little girls who are there on Friday and see me driving and suddenly realize they could do the same, that is the biggest positive to come out of it. It’s not a man’s world any more. It just needs to be shown that women can compete at that level and then you’ll get more and more entering.”
Following her retirement, Susie pointed out that young girls need mentorship to take up motorsport. She wrote on The Huffington Post that her goal was to continue to inspire young girls to become racers:
“Together with the MSA (Motor Sports Association) we will launch a new initiative aimed at celebrating the woman succeeding in motorsport on and off the track now plus highlighting to the next generation that motorsport is an option for them. I dared to be different, I want to inspire others to do the same.”
Susie pioneered the Dare to be Different Program and merged it with the FIA’s Girls on Track program. “We’re very focused with the Girls on Track initiative on getting into the grassroots, making sure that we’re opening the sport up,” she told Motor1.
Susie is not alone in her fight to see women join motorsport. Aston Martin F1 driver Sebastian Vettel held a karting competition for women in Saudi Arabia in the week of the Jeddah GP. He wore a helmet promoting the hashtag #RACE4WOMEN.
Wolff continues to make her way up the Formula E motorsport ladder
Formula E is the racing category for all-electric formula vehicles. Susie joined Formula E as Team Principal of Venturi Racing in 2018. In 2021, she gained promotion to CEO. Wolff announced the news via a late November 2021 Instagram post:
“Since taking on the role off Team Principal in 2018, I have felt a great sense of pride and achievement as we have gone from strength to strength as a racing team and organization. Now, after three seasons, I will step up into the role of CEO.”
Wolff has no plans to participate in Formula 1, stating, “I think one Wolff in Formula One is enough!” However, she attends races regularly and occasionally shares her views about the action on the track.
Lewis Hamilton won the 2021 iteration of the British GP after controversially causing a crash that ended Max Verstappen’s race. Red Bull’s team principal, Christian Horner, was perhaps understandably angry following the incident.
Susie stated that she understood Christian’s anger but opined that, as a team principal, he should keep his emotions in check. She told Express Sport:
“Obviously, he [Horner] was very upset in the moment, but of course, as a team principal, you have to take the emotion out of it and obviously stand above and make your emotions heard. I think you need to be very careful in those instances and not let your emotions take over.”