Maria de Villota has joined
Marussia as a test driver for the new
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Wolff Named Development Driver For
Williams F1 Team
The Williams F1 Team confirmed that Susie Wolff
will join the team as its Development Driver.
Born in Scotland, Susie Wolff has had the
classic racing career, beginning in karting and
then moving to junior single-seater series and was
twice nominated for the prestigious Young Driver of
the Year Award before moving up to DTM. In 2012,
Susie will contest her seventh season in DTM.
Frank Williams, Team Principal of the Williams
F1 Team, said, Susie is a talented,
successful and highly professional racing driver
who competes in one of the worlds most
fiercely-contested racing series. Susie will join
Williams as a Development Driver, in which capacity
she will assist us with the development of our
simulator and other technical challenges. Susie
will also undertake some aerodynamic testing of the
FW34 and a full track test in the coming months.
Susie will also attend a number of races with us. I
should add that, as Susie is married to Toto Wolff,
a Director of Williams, her appointment was
carefully considered and then approved by the
Board, with Toto recusing himself from the
Susie Wolff said, I would like to thank
Sir Frank for giving me this opportunity both on
and off the track. I must also thank Mercedes Benz
AMG and HWA for supporting me to take up this new
experience with Williams. Formula One is the
ultimate challenge for any racing driver and it
offers me the chance both to apply and to improve
the skills I have developed racing in DTM. In
return I shall be offering some of my own technical
insight and experience coming from a
different discipline and helping the team
engage with its partners. I hope also to
demonstrate that women can play a role at the
highest levels of motorsport and I shall be working
closely with the team on its social responsibility
programme in the areas of education and road
Bernie Ecclestone, Chief Executive of Formula
One, welcomed the announcement: If Susie is
as quick in a car as she looks good
(Editor's note: Still a
sexist. I'm surprised he hasn't suggested a Spandex
driver's suit especially for her.) out of a
car then she will be a massive asset to any team
and on top of that she is very intelligent. I am
really looking forward to having her in Formula
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Maria de Villota has
joined Marussia as a test driver for the new
The 32-year-old Spaniard is likely to feature at
the end-of-season young driver test in Abu
The last woman to enter the F1 world
championship was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed
to qualify for three races at the start of the 1992
Five women have entered F1 races in the past,
the most prolific being Italian Lella Lombardi, who
started 12 grands prix in the 1970s.
However, De Villota, the daughter of 1980s F1
driver Emilio de Villota, is unlikely to be given
the chance to follow in Lombardi's footsteps in the
She has previous F1 experience after being given
a test drive by Renault in August last year.
She said: "This is a fantastic opportunity to
work closely with a Formula 1 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 F1 racing."
Marussia team boss John Booth said: "Our test
driver programme will enable Maria to be integrated
into a Formula 1 team environment and gain a vast
amount of experience that will be useful to her
"We will also provide Maria with the opportunity
to sample F1 machinery later in the year, further
adding to her racing credentials."
Marussia have changed their name this season
after racing as Virgin since their debut in F1 in
They have finished last in the constructors'
championship in both of their seasons so far.
They will race at the first grand prix of the
campaign in Australia on 18 March having had no
significant testing with their new car.
It missed the final pre-season test last week as
a result of failing one of the sport's mandatory
The car completed some brief running on
demonstration tyres at Silverstone earlier this
F1, No Girls
One drives a large truck and puts tires on rims.
Another organizes an army of gasoline technicians
who develop fuel. One heads a department of
aerodynamics designers, while another is in charge
of the 240 employees of the racing team and takes
part in the meetings of an otherwise all-male
These are a few of the women who are breaking
the mold in the macho world of Formula One, where,
as is the tradition elsewhere in auto racing, they
usually occupy marketing, media relations and
hospitality jobs. While more women than ever work
the technical jobs to make the cars go fast, the
one area where they are still absent is behind the
In fact, as Formula One prepares for the Italian
Grand Prix at Monza this weekend, it has been 18
years since the last woman driver took part in a
Grand Prix, and half a decade since a woman even
tested a car. Giovanna Amati, an Italian, tried and
failed to qualify for several races for the Brabham
team in 1992, while Katherine Legge tested at the
Minardi team in 2005.
Women racers drive in some of the sports
top series, including Danica Patrick in IndyCar,
the leading open-wheel series in the United States;
Liz Halliday in endurance racing; and Legge in the
DTM saloon car series in Europe. But Formula One,
the pinnacle of racing, remains off-limits and
opinions are divided as to why.
Women work in most other areas of the series,
however. At the top of the pyramid is Monisha
Kaltenborn, the chief executive of the Sauber team
since January. At the German Grand Prix in July,
she was introduced at the official Friday press
conference as the first woman to have taken part in
the decades-old ritual.
Kaltenborn said that although the series is
macho, it can benefit from the feminine
There are many things that I think as a
woman you see with more distance, she said,
because you simply probably dont have
that emotional feeling to motor sport and fast cars
and you have a different view. And that is
sometimes needed to open new directions here,
because we all know some things have to change. It
can be an advantage.
Kaltenborn has worked in Formula One for a
decade. She trained as a lawyer and worked at the
Fritz Kaiser Group when it held shares in the
Sauber team. After the company sold its shares, she
joined Sauber as head of the legal department,
where she negotiated contracts with drivers,
sponsors, suppliers and the Formula One commercial
rights holder and governing body.
She said that for a year one of the team
directors thought she was an interpreter for Peter
Sauber, the team owner, so unusual was it to have a
woman among the team directors.
Lisa Lilley once found herself at the Ferrari
hospitality unit serving coffee to journalists
standing behind her in a line at a coffee machine.
She served two or three before she informed the
next man that she was not a hostess, but the Shell
Oil technology manager for Ferrari assigned to
Lilley, who has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering,
attends most of the races wearing the Ferrari team
uniform. Because the only Ferrari clothes designed
for women are those of the hostesses, she wears the
Generally, any prejudices women may face when
they enter the series are forgotten by what drives
everyone: performing and working well to win
It really doesnt matter in the end
if you are a man or a woman, said Tina
Vajanszki, a tire technician at Bridgestone,
as long as you do your job well.
Marianne Hinson, the director of the Lotus
teams aerodynamics department, has worked for
Formula One teams since 1999. But she is perhaps an
exception. The number of women in technical jobs
seems in line with the demographics of women
If you go back 30-odd years to when I went
to university and studied engineering, the one
thing I have to say is that in the engineering
faculty there were no girls, said Martin
Whitmarsh, director of McLaren Mercedes.
Within McLaren Racing at the moment, I
think we probably have no more than 2 percent of
our engineers are female, he added. I
havent done the analysis of what percentage
of applicants are women, but it probably isnt
greatly skewed. I think that we probably have only
2 percent of the applicants are women.
Engineering is slightly machismo, he
said, motor engineering is more machismo,
racing cars even more machismo.
Nonetheless, in April the International
Automobile Federation created a commission to
support and encourage women to take part in all
areas of motor sport.
Women sometimes constitute up to 40 percent of
race spectators, depending on the venue. But Kate
Walker, who reports for a Web site specializing in
women in motor sport, Girlracer.co.uk, said that
she had felt uncomfortable as a spectator at one
race she attended alone because there were so few
Perhaps the most sensitive question, however, is
why there are no women Formula One drivers.
The sticking point is often whether a woman
would be physically capable of handling a Formula
One car, which submits drivers to huge G-forces in
cornering and braking.
Heikki Kovalainen, a driver at the Lotus team,
said that a woman would not be strong enough.
Its all the training you have to do
to remain in peak condition, he said.
I dont know how many women want
22-inch necks, he said. Imagine the
weight of your head, plus a helmet, multiplied by
five. Just braking you are forced five times your
body weight in a harness.
But Legge, who was the last woman to test drive
a Formula One car, laughed off such notions.
It is much easier to drive than a
ChampCar, she said, referring to the Formula
One car and that of the former top open wheel
series in the U.S., in which she drove in 2006 and
2007 before it folded. The forces thing and
the strength thing is absolutely 110 percent,
She said the ChampCar did not have the cornering
G-forces on the neck but that the braking and
accelerating was the same. She added that
power-steering and other drivers aids in fact
made it physically easier to drive a Formula One
Bernie Ecclestone, the promoter of the series,
has frequently expressed a desire to have a woman
driver, particularly for the marketing value. But
Oksana Kosachenko, who manages Vitaly Petrov, the
Russian driver at the Renault team, said she would
never work with a woman driver only for marketing
purposes, and added that a woman could not take it
Perhaps what counts, though, is being at a top
team, and no woman has had that chance.
It would be interesting to have the equal
opportunity, the equal car, no politics,
nobodys controlling situation, and then we
would see how quick we really are, Legge
The problem is that no team wants to be
the first to hire one, and to risk looking stupid
if the girl cant finish the race, she
added. We just need to be given the
Editor's note: Katherine
wasn't the best example of a winning racer to test
F1. Simona de Silvestro, Dana Patrick, even
newcomer Ana Beatriz wold have been a better
example of a competitive woman racer.
F1 still living in the early 20th Century
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©1996-2019 by Gordon