I was on a motorbike at two-years-old, and started racing at eight.
I knew what I wanted to do early on. I was go-karting at the time as a hobby, and went to watch Formula 3 at Donnington, Jenson Button won that day and I realised I wanted to do this all the way to Formula One.
When I’ve got my helmet on, you can’t tell my gender. Racing is unlike any other sport in that respect, it doesn’t matter if I’m a boy, girl, whatever. I have to answer the gender question in every interview I do but I focus on performance, that’s all that matters. If I didn’t do a good job in the car I wouldn’t have this opportunity with Williams.
There’s no point me dreaming of saying: “yeah I want to be on grid by 2015″. There is no space in 2015. Williams have resigned Felipe (Massa) and Valteri (Bottas) which is the right decision, they’re both great drivers. For me, it’s about looking for opportunity within the sport and within the team. I’m very proud to be a part of Williams and I have no interest in moving away. So, it involves my just knocking on doors enough times that maybe opportunity comes…
I like to be on my own before a race. I get ready early and I’m usually the first in the car. I know guys that take or wear certain items, underwear beneath their suit for example, but there’s no rituals like that for me. No music, nothing.
I have recurring nightmares of the engine starting and not having my gloves on.
But I never have fear. As soon as I had that I would stop. When you start thinking before a race about what could happen – you don’t drive on the limit and that’s when things can happen. I think we’re incredibly lucky – safety has got better and better. But, as we’ve seen recently, things can and do still happen, so we have the responsibility to be safer so these things occur less and less.
I wouldn’t say I’m a pioneer, I’ve still got a lot I want to achieve before I ever look back and am proud of what I’ve done. But, I do think what we have done at Williams has been groundbreaking in Formula One , because its made people sit up and take notice, it’s been done in the right way.
I’m not here as a marketing or publicity stunt, I had one chance and it went well, and it lead to this. I receive so many nice messages from young girls and fans about the fact I’m in Formula One and what I’m doing.
The sport is changing in a very organic way, on and off the track – there are women doing very good jobs within F1, coming to the fold because they’re passionate about sport not because they’re women. There are a lot of good women in the paddock, the engineering side, tech side, marketing side, many different areas that do a very good job and that’s a very good foundation for more to happen in the future.
Being a girl I didn’t have a role model, there wasn’t a girl who had achieved what I wanted to. I have a lot of respect for Michel Mouton, (former French rally driver and the last woman to compete in top-level rallying) I think what she achieved is special. But I’m a believer that you can learn something from every successful person, why they became successful, and certainly on the current grid there are some real standouts.
Britain is still the home of motorsport. Most of the teams are based there; the engineering is second to none, great history of formula 1 drivers, Scottish and English! We can be proud of that and it looks like it’s going to carry on into the future.
If I wasn’t involved in racing, the only other thing I’d consider would be downhill skiing. For me, it’s clearly all about the speed and adrenaline…
Susie was speaking to us on behalf of Williams racing, who hosted Esquire Middle East at this year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix