PARIS, March 8, 2012 (AFP) - 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 Wednesday that De Villota, the daughter of former F1 driver and British Formula One Series Champion Emilio de Villota, would be joining their set-up.
John Booth, Team Principal, Marussia F1 Team, commented: "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 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 300kms of running.
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."
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 Giovanna