Skip to main content

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.
HIDE CAPTION
Maria de Villota: 1980-2013
Joining the men
F1 family
Like father, like daughter?
<<
<
1
2
3
4
>
>>
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.
Divina Galica
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
>
>>
Women in Formula One Women in Formula One
Danica Patrick enters world of NASCAR
The fascination with Danica Patrick

"This is a fantastic opportunity to work closely with a Formula One team and gain important experience to help me progress my career, including the chance to drive the new car later in the year at the Abu Dhabi test.

"I will be joining the team trackside so I'm looking forward to working alongside them at the first race next weekend, and this can only help my future ambition to step up to Formula One racing."

Team principal John Booth welcomed De Villota to the Britain-based team, which competed as Virgin in 2010 and 2011.

"We are pleased to welcome Maria to our test driver program, which will enable her to be integrated into a Formula One team environment and gain a vast amount of experience that will be useful to her career progression," he said.

"We will also provide Maria with the opportunity to sample F1 machinery later in the year, further adding to her racing credentials."

De Villota is only the sixth woman to be involved in the elite division of motorsport, the first being Italy's Maria Teresa de Filippis -- who raced in three grands prix for Maserati in 1958.

The best finish achieved by a woman in F1 was in 1975 when De Filippis' compatriot Lella Lombardi scored half a point for placing sixth in a shortened Spanish Grand Prix.

This is a fantastic opportunity to work closely with a Formula One team and gain important experience
Maria de Villota

British driver Divina Galica entered three races for both the Surtees and Hesketh teams between 1976 and 1978, but failed to qualify.

She told CNN last year that De Villota's biggest challenge would be handling the media attention and withstanding the physical demands of F1.

"My concern for her is not that she would be an ambassador, which she would be, and I'm sure she would do a wonderful job," Galica said. "But when she actually gets in the car I'm wondering if she'll be fit enough.

"I would be in the gym trying to lift heavy weights and get my neck muscles going and just make sure I'm strong enough. I don't know her, but I think that would be my advice."

American Danica Patrick attracted huge interest last month by becoming only the second woman to win pole position for a race on the NASCAR circuit.

Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of open-wheel racing, after becoming the first female to win an IndyCar series event and coming third in the Indianapolis 500 in 2009.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Track the buzz of the 2014 Formula One season, race by race, with all the latest social reaction from motorsport experts.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1210 GMT (2010 HKT)
He's paid millions to drive one of the world's fastest cars, and he's one of F1's most colorful characters, but Kimi Raikkonen loves normality.
October 12, 2014 -- Updated 1745 GMT (0145 HKT)
It took a little longer than expected but MotoGP's young star Marc Marquez wraps up his second world title in Japan.
October 9, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
Rising star Daniil Kvyat made history as the home hero at F1's first Russian Grand Prix, ahead of next season's move to Red Bull.
September 19, 2014 -- Updated 1358 GMT (2158 HKT)
Take the fittest driver in Formula One and test him against two of the world's leading triathletes in a high-performance laboratory.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Mercedes has the fastest two cars in Formula One this season but there is just one problem -- there can only be one world champion.
He's the best of the rest -- Daniel Ricciardo has been Formula One's surprise package in the first half of the 2014 season.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Formula One is not likely to go hungry in Hungary as master chefs cater in volume for drivers, teams and VIP guests.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
It's the elephant in the room of Formula One. What's the prognosis legendary driver Michael Schumacher?
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
It stimulates all five senses, creating an unparalleled experience for drivers and fans alike. Take a tour of Monaco with Mark Webber.
ADVERTISEMENT