Marussia F1 announced today that they are adding a new test driver to their team, Maria de Villota. Since it was International Women's Day earlier this month, let's take a look at Maria's prospects — as well as the other women of the top series in motorsports.
The 32-year-old Maria de Villota, daughter of Spanish former Formula One gentleman driver Emilio de Villota, has been behind the wheel of a Formula One car before. She had a test last year with Renault.
If you're hoping to see de Villota competing in races, you will be disappointed. Her record in single seaters and touring cars is far from impressive, and there's just no way she'd advance from a test driver to a race seat with so many better, younger drivers fighting for spots in F1. Even at a backmarker team like Marussia, she will not be racing in the championship.
Don't think that we're missing the opportunity for the first woman to race in Formula One, as that record was already broken by Maria Teresa de Filippis, who raced in the '58 Monaco Grand Prix.
There have been five women to race in F1. Maria Teresa de Filippis raced in 1958 and '59. Lella Lombardi, the "Tigris of Turin," started twelve races from 1974 to '76 and scored women's only ½ championship point. Divina Galica failed to qualify in three races in 1976 and ‘78. South African Desiré Wilson competed in 1980, and Italy's Giovanna Amati failed to qualify for three races in 1992.
Only Desiré Wilson scored a victory. She won the Evening News Trophy at Brands Hatch in 1980. That race was not actually part of the regular Formula One calendar, but part of the Aurora AFX series, which has been described as less of an F1 race and more of "a race open to F1 machinery."
While Maria de Villota likely won't ever be fighting for the championship, there's no reason to believe that female drivers will not someday be seriously competing in F1. Here's to hoping it happens sooner rather than later.
(Hat tip to: ∞Gîmmî∞Sagaŋ∞ðm∞Drakeŋ∞Visiting∞From∞Negative∞Earth∞!)
Photo Credit: Renault (top), Maria de Villota (behind wheel of her father's car), Marussia (shaking hands)