9 Mar 2012

Marussia name woman test driver

5:55 am on 9 March 2012

The Russian Formula One team Marussia have appointed Spaniard Maria De Villota, an experienced racer in women's autosport, as one of their test drivers.

A day before International Women's Day, the Russian outfit announced that De Villota, the daughter of former F1 driver and British Formula One series champion Emilio de Villota, will be joining their set-up.

De Villota has raced in a variety of single-seater and sports car categories, including Spanish F3, the Daytona 24 Hours, the Euroseries 3000 and Superleague Formula Championship.

She has also experienced a Formula One cockpit previously, having received a test drive courtesy of the team formerly known as Lotus Renault F1 Team at Paul Ricard in August of last year, where she achieved 300km of running.

Two women have previously raced in Formula 1: Italians Maria Teresa de Filippis, who competed in three races in 1958 - coming 10th in the Belgian Grand Prix - and Lella Lombardi, who drove in the mid-1970s. She came sixth in the 1975 Spanish Grand Prix.

Britain's Divina Galica in 1976 and 1978, South African Desire Wilson in 1980, and Italy's Giovanna Amati in 1992 have also driven in Formula One but failed to qualify.

Marussia are currently preparing for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne next weekend.