Maria de Villota joins Marussia as test driver

2012 F1 season

Maria de Villota, John Booth, 2012

Maria de Villota, John Booth, 2012

Marussia has announced Maria de Villota has joined the team as a test driver.

De Villota, daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, drove a Renault F1 car at Paul Ricard in France last year.

The 32-year-old raced in Spanish Formula Three from 2001 to 2005, recording a best finish of fifth. In the last three years she has raced in Superleague Formula for Atletico Madrid as well as in Spanish GT racing.

Team principal John Booth said de Villota will get to drive the team’s car later this year: “We are pleased to welcome Maria to our test driver programme, 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.

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

De Villota said: “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.”

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119 comments on Maria de Villota joins Marussia as test driver

  1. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 7th March 2012, 21:29

    I wonder what Villota will expect to get out of this deal. One day in the car at young driver’s test at the end of the year, and getting to hang around the F1 paddock sounds like a year of doing nothing.

    This will only get interesting if Pic or Glock for some reason can’t drive for a weekend, and Marussia decide to let her have a proper go. However, judging by the comments here so far, it sounds unlikely that she would qualify anyway.

    For me, this news only reminds me how nice it would to have a female championship contender on the grid. Will the next Jesse Button, Liana Hamilton, or Sebastiana Vettel stand up please?

  2. Kjuna said on 7th March 2012, 21:35

    Another 30+, rookie yeah!

  3. I don’t know how to react this; having a woman racing driver in F1 is a great step but she isn’t cut out for F1 in my opinion however, it’s been such an abysmally long time since we had a female racing driver that having one in a minor role to boost publicity that this may be a good thing. Yes, talent has to come first but let’s face it this roles is pretty pointless. In the days of testing it would have meant more but it’s not really like she’s taking a seat from a potential young star because this seat doesn’t really mean anything at all. I’m not really for this kind of cynical promotion but this is an area of F1 that needs some serious work so it’s better than nothing I feel.

  4. Tim said on 7th March 2012, 22:05

    “De Villota, daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, drove a Renault F1 car at Paul Ricard in France last year.”

    That reads totally different if you don’t know Paul Ricard is a circuit…… :-/

  5. James (@jamesf1) said on 7th March 2012, 22:33

    People, forgive me for saying this, but I actually think this is a good thing?

    It works on a couple of levels. Lets start by being appearing intelligent.

    For the first time this century, as far as I can recall, there is a woman in a driving role in an F1 car. In a world where we are trying to promote equal opportunities both genders and chances to represent themselves, is this not a good thing? A woman in what is very much a man’s man’s sport. Granted there are probably more tallented and deserving up and coming women who deserve a chance more than Maria. But on the flip side, Maria’s appointment could be the first step on the path to there being a female competitor in the championship.

    It’s been said many times that a female would be ideal to have an F1 car. Generally they’re lighter and smaller, allowing for a lower centre of gravity meaning teams have more chance to play with ballast in the car to get the balance of a car spot on. Women are supposedly better at multi tasking too, which comes with the job description nowadays in F1!

    Furthermore, females maybe more drawn to the sport now for the above reasons? Or perhaps further down the line should a female achieve a full time seat.

    Are these not good reasons?

    Now, on a slightly different note. Maria is a very good looking woman. There, I said it. A pretty blonde in an F1 car, I’m not going to say no! We live in a very materialistic society, where looks count for a lot. This may attract more male viewers for this reason. Perhaps not a massive ammount, but it may help to increase the sprots coverage, reach and viewing figure.

    I appreciate that pretty much the only reason she has landed this role is because of her financial backing, but an offer like this would be impossible for a low budget team like Marussia to turn down. The marketting potential will help them no end.

    Just a few thoughts anyway.

    • Joel Holland (@jholland) said on 7th March 2012, 22:50

      You raise some valid points. My worry is this: she gets a race deal and does dreadfully – and I believe, having watched her race, that she would do that. She’d be way, way off her male team-mate andprobably not qualify. People watching – particularly the fly-by-night fans you suggest would be attracted by such an inclusion on the grid – would take the view that women are rubbish at racing cars. Negative gender stereotypes would be reinforced etc etc and young female racers with talent would face an even more difficult time breaking into the sport. I think that’s a genuine scenario.

      A woman getting into F1 because she has money does nothing for female racing drivers unless she can back it up with pace in the car.

      • James (@jamesf1) said on 7th March 2012, 23:13

        So what about the men that get into F1 because of money? The cash cows of Maldonado, Karthikeyan, Chandok, d’AMbrosio and Pic (to name a few) havent contributed anything to the credibility of the sport.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th March 2012, 23:23

          Probably should let Pic start at least one race before we write him off…

          • Joel Holland (@jholland) said on 8th March 2012, 8:29

            Indeed! I’d also say that Maldonado is a GP2 champion; Pic, Chandhok and d’Ambrosio are GP2 race winners and Karthikeyan was a British F3 and Superleague race winner. That’s a lot more than de Villota has shown. I mean, it’s infinitely more.

            It’s also an entirely different issue. It’s not about the credibility of the sport, it’s about gender stereotypes/politics and the place of women in F1. If Karthikeyan is slow there’s no pre-existing belief to jump of that says ‘Indians are rubbish at driving'; if de Villota is useless there is a stereotype that some will see as validated.

          • James (@jamesf1) said on 8th March 2012, 21:21

            My expectations are so low, I think I’ve got a bit of vertigo from looking down.

  6. William Wilgus said on 7th March 2012, 23:26

    I’m somewhat surprised that no one has mentioned that the skills required of a test driver are at least partially different than those required of a race driver.

  7. sesku (@sesku) said on 8th March 2012, 1:54

    Even Yuji Ide CV look more promising!

  8. GT_Racer said on 8th March 2012, 2:03

    I was part of the tv team for some Superleague formula races back when de Villota was racing there & she was pretty useless.

    I remember an incident at Jarama where she spun at turn 1 & then decided to drive back onto the track directly infront of oncoming cars & caused a near head-on collision with Sebastien Bourdais who had no way of avoiding her.
    It was the most ridiculous thing i’ve ever seen & Bourdais was furious with not just the fact he’d been taken out but also because of the fact she went unpunished & was still allowed to race in the series.

    • StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 8th March 2012, 2:10

      That would be this incident then:

      http://youtu.be/RJZKhvJurno?t=38s

      • nefor (@nefor) said on 8th March 2012, 4:26

        Bloody hell! That’s the sort of thing you do in video games not real life.

      • fyujj said on 8th March 2012, 12:37

        That was a complete lack of skill (she looked like ‘oh, lets go, hope it works’).
        But just reminded of Sutil. I don’t remember which race it was, only it was for being a bit ‘weak headed’ instead of simple lack of skill, he spun and didn’t even look if there were people coming before darting back to the track, a crash being avoided by pure luck.

  9. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 8th March 2012, 2:24

    Will she get to drive the car in the later part of the season in Practice session, & will they give her a ride on the race seat for a weekend or two?

  10. Mike the bike Schumacher (@mike-the-bike-schumacher) said on 8th March 2012, 3:57

    pfffffft hahaha

  11. sumedh said on 8th March 2012, 7:32

    Well who would have thought that a ‘Virgin’ would be the first one to get a girl on-board :D :D

  12. Nixon (@nixon) said on 8th March 2012, 13:01

    I have a feeling that she is a pay test driver.

    Not that I have anything against women in F1, if a woman is good enough and has proved that she deserves a seat she should enter.

  13. rankx (@rankx22) said on 8th March 2012, 13:21

    If someone wants to push women into F1 for marketing reasons, why not help them with a few supporting rules? Say, half a second in qualifying and minus 40 kilos car weight.

  14. Hope she would not be another Danica.

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