You were a F1® test driver until a few months ago. For the uninitiated, what does that job involve?
Working with team to develop the car and extract the optimum performance out of it. This included lots of simulator work at the factory, test sessions out on track and giving detailed feedback.
In 2014, you became the first woman to take part in a F1® race weekend in 22 years, taking to the track in both the British and German Grand Prix. How did that feel?
At the time it was the natural progression in my career and I felt proud as a racing driver because it was always my goal to make it to F1®. My first lap out on track at Silverstone was special, as a British driver, racing for the most successful British F1® team at the British GP - it was a special moment.
Was F1® the highlight of your career?
F1® is the pinnacle of motorsport so yes, it was the highlight of my career although I also enjoyed seven years as a Mercedes Benz driver in the German Touring Car Championship.
Why did you decide to retire in November?
It came from a gut feeling - it was time to move on. I had got as far as I could in F1® and, as a sports person, you always have to know when your time is up. For me, I was ready for new challenges and I wanted to start the next chapter of my life.
How are you adjusting to post-racing life?
I am certainly missing the adrenaline and competition but not the strenuous fitness regime that was required. I have been working on a number of projects, one of which is a new initiative called Dare To Be Different launched together with The Motor Sports Association. Our main aim with the initiative is to drive female talent. It’s an ambitious and long-term project, but we hope to change perceptions and inspire the next generation of girls to know that motorsport is an option for them, on and off the track.
You’ve raced with David Coulthard before. What will it be like presenting alongside him?
David was my team mate in the German Touring Car Championship, I admire him as a driver and I’m looking forward to working with him as part of the Channel 4 team.
What do you think you can bring to the team this season?
Knowledge. I tested the F1® car on numerous occasions last year. I know the tracks, the teams and key personnel within the paddock.
What is the track you are most looking forward to presenting from and why?
The British GP as the fans always make this a special weekend.
You had a successful racing career yourself, do you think it is about time there were some female F1® drivers?
I personally would love to see it happen. I couldn’t manage it but have always said I would help the next generation. There are a couple of very promising female drivers who I am mentoring, it would make me very proud to see one of them make the jump up into F1® if the opportunity arose. Don’t also forget that off track we have many successful women within the paddock. It’s changing in an organic way - no-one put any quotas out there, no-one said they needed more females, they are simply there because they are the best for the job. We are progressing in a positive way and the women who are at the visible end of F1® can then inspire the next generation.
Who’s your tip for the title this season?
Based on pre-season testing, I think Mercedes but it could be a tougher fight with Ferrari which will be fascinating for us all to watch.
From the Channel 4 Press Office