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Female driver De Villota joins F1 ranks

March 24, 2012 -- Updated 2020 GMT (0420 HKT)
Former Formula One test driver Maria de Villota passed away aged 33. "It is presumed to be death by natural causes," a National Police spokeswoman said Friday. Former Formula One test driver Maria de Villota passed away aged 33. "It is presumed to be death by natural causes," a National Police spokeswoman said Friday.
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Maria de Villota: 1980-2013
Joining the men
F1 family
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Spaniard Maria de Villota joins Marussia as a test driver
  • De Villota is the first woman to join a Formula One team since 1992
  • The last woman behind the wheel of an F1 car was Giovanni Amati with Brabham
  • Maria Teresa de Filippis scored half a point as a Maserati driver in 1975

(CNN) -- Maria de Villota has become the first female to be involved in Formula One for 20 years after joining Russian team Marussia as a test driver.

De Villota, the daughter of Spain's former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, is the first woman to be part of the elite motorsport since Italy's Giovanni Amati entered three grands prix for Brabham in 1992.

The 32-year-old will work alongside Marussia's newly-formed driver line-up of German Timo Glock and French rookie Charles Pic, and will be given time behind the wheel during the 2012 season.

"I am very happy to be joining the Marussia test driver program," De Villota, who has competed in the World Touring Car Championship, told the team's official website.

Pit-lane pioneers: Women in Formula One

Divina Galica made her Formula One debut at the 1976 British Grand Prix. Despite entering three grands prix, the British driver did not qualify for a race. Divina Galica made her Formula One debut at the 1976 British Grand Prix. Despite entering three grands prix, the British driver did not qualify for a race.