Maria de Villota, John Booth, 2012

Maria de Villota joins Marussia as test driver

2012 F1 season

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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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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119 comments on “Maria de Villota joins Marussia as test driver”

  1. At the age of 32, isn’t it a bit late for her to get into F1 when the current trend is for very young drivers?

    1. For rookies that is.

    2. I don’t know how she had performed in lower categories as Wikipedia gives little information, but it’s good to have a female driver so close to F1, not for the sake of having one but because she must have at least some talent to be there. However I don’t think she’ll ever race, I doubt even if either Pic or Glock were unwell.

    3. not being sexist or anything but, they have other alternatives. even Buemi’s cousin has the youth and the experience to boot. also if you want someone with recent experience and youth why not Alguasari?

    4. Compared to who? Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton? I am aware that men and women are equal everywhere but in F1. All the women in out sport were at least 32 expect Giovanna Amati who was 28.

      Here a list

      So no, she is not old. She is perfect. And also she is gorgeous and she is my new favourite driver. I am waiting to have a poster of her in my bedroom!!! :)

  2. I think we can dismiss this as a publicity stunt. I don’t want to resurrect any old sexist bickering but this girl just isn’t F1 quality. She has competed in 133 races spread across Formula 3, Ferrari Challenge Europe, WTC, Spanish GTC GTA, Superstars Championship Italy, Euroseries 3000, Superleage, and FPA and only achieved 1 race win. If the boys have to win everything they enter to get into F1 (unless Daddy is paying of course) then so should the girls.

    1. Agreed. Simply put, there are more talented female drivers out there. However, as it is more than likely a publicity stunt/paid drive, then it doesn’t matter too much.

    2. Yeah, Virgin (now Marussia) has been chasing the tought of having a female driver on the team in some capacity all since Branson touched the team. Now they made it.

      That said, I think it’s good as this shows there are female drivers in the world, bound to help get rid of preoccupations against them.

      1. might be the first of many. Like you said, it’s raise people’s awareness that there are female drivers in the world of motor racing. It’ll encourage other girls to get involved, or stick with it if they are already involved.

        1. Flying Lobster 27
          8th March 2012, 14:29

          Sure it promotes the fact that women racers exist, but sincerely, I’d almost say “anyone but de Villota”. As said, she hasn’t impressed many in lower formulae. Elsewhere, there is a certain number of women who have climbed the ladder in to IndyCar normally: Legge, Patrick, Beatriz, de Silvestro all had to good results in F.Atlantic or Indy Lights, and were rightfully promoted to IndyCar. Any one of those looks better on paper compared to de Villota, even if Indy stars usually fail in F1 – and I think at least Danica Patrick would, as her best results have come on ovals.

          @BasCB: it’s “bound to help get rid of preoccupations against them”. Er if de Villota is as poor as her predecessor Amati, it isn’t.

          1. Well, @flying-lobster, you might be right about bad performance of de Villota potentially scaring away other teams from trying a driver. But that would be true only if there was any chance in the world anyone would actually expect her to perform on track or would give her an outing in a friday session or test day.

            The reality is, that teams sign test drivers for various purposes. Just look at the whole football team of Renault test drivers in the past years.
            She will be part of the team, and will probably be present at several races.

            And I am sure that when she gets her time in the car it will be properly used to show how forward looking Marussia is. And the team will make sure that the times won’t be abhorrent, at least to the outside world. Because its Good Promotion

    3. Talent seems to only be one of the credentials needed these days. Being related to a former F1 driver apparently also counts for something, though money is as huge today as it has ever been.

      However, this is a testing drive not a race drive. She’s driven a lot of stuff and has a fair bit of experience, maybe that makes her a good choice as a tester.

    4. Why did you say ‘girl’? I’m sure you wouldn’t say 32 year old boy.

      1. coefficient said, “If the boys have to win everything they enter to get into F1 (unless Daddy is paying of course) then so should the girls.” (emphasis mine)


    5. I think this is money-oriented. There is nothing in her career that suggests she is worthy of an F1 drive, but perhaps her time with Marussia will groom her.

    6. “I’m all for women in motorsport, but sadly this particular woman is clearly not up to the required standard.”

      This line of reasoning is standard in any male-dominated profession. The trick, of course, is to find some justification for applying it no matter who the ‘particular woman’ happens to be.

      The problem is that it shows no understanding of the massive obstacles women face trying to break into the male-dominated world of motorsport. The culture needs to change, everywhere, from the grass roots level to the very top. Getting more women into the top formulas can only help in the long-term.

      So maybe de Villota is unlikely to be successful, given her record. So what? Give her a chance. If she does well, it would be a brilliant thing.

  3. I knew it was only a matter of time before we had another female F1 driver, and I’m glad to see it. Not because there should be equality for the sake of it, but if she is talented enough to be in F1, then why not?

    Amidst come of the controversy that is always surrounding F1, I think that this can only do the sport some good. It may be a little strange for someone to join a team at the age of 32, but we’ve seen on countless occasions that young drivers aren’t necessarily the best, and some years ago, 30 was considered a driver’s peak age.

    I really hope that we see her in some practice sessions this year, and that it inspires new interest in the sport.

    1. but if she is talented enough to be in F1, then why not?

      She isn’t though. That’s the issue. And I say that as a woman.

      1. @KateM

        A refreshingly objective view of the matter. Good :)

  4. Does she need to have a superlicence? Or is that something she can work on during this year?

    I’m doubting if she will help women gain a spot in racing, because of the simple fact that we haven’t heard of her setting the racing world on fire with her performances.

    To add some perspective about ‘others-than-white-males-in-race-cars’: Nobody driving these cars is a slouch, but Kartikeyan and Hamilton are from a different league and I think this lady is more from the same league as Kartikeyan.

    At the end of the day I’ll be double minded: I think everybody should be in F1 on merit, but I make an exception for my fellow country men. So maybe I should do the same for women.

    1. As far as I remember, a test driver can gain their superlicences by doing some 500 km of testing in an F1 car.

    2. Superlicence is only needed for those testers driving on Fridays. Otherwise, anyone can do it (including, in theory, people with newly-minted National B licences).

    3. Kartikeyan can make rounds around this chick. She’s more like from the same league as Yoong. This whole thing is a joke.
      She’s there simply because she’s a woman and Marussia think that is good publicity along with some money.

      And i don’t even get why women “need” to gain a spot in racing, In most western countries women are very much equal now so no one is stopping them and their families from throwing money in karting and stuff so they can get there. They ain’t there because simply they ain’t many women that like racing and those who do haven’t been good enough.
      I don’t get this desperation of finding a woman. If a good woman driver that can follow the same foots as the other drivers appears then she’s welcome but other than that i don’t understand why we “must” find a woman.
      Acting so desperate for a female racer only resold in some low talented female getting a position that she would never have if she had balls between her legs.

      No, i don’t WANT a female driver but i have no problem accepting one. If none appears i care not, if it appears then i care as much as i care about any driver that shows talent.
      So stop looking for women. Just let the door open and may the capable one pass threw. If there isn’t any just go with your business.
      Drivers should simply be drivers, no female or male drivers. Just drivers.

  5. After looking at her records, she is not F1 material, I think this is a gender issue thing, i’m not opposing to female F1 drivers, being part of a minority i’m all for equality and diversity, but there are drivers more deserving of this role, If a women is to make to F1 she has to deserve it like every, other driver not because she is a women, that can be classed as sexist towards a man he can’t get the role because a women needs to be given it because of gender issues, cue the feminist……

  6. And in the same publicity stunt vein why not Ricardo Teixeira sure he DNQ’d in GP2 where you all drive the same car but the last time an African was longer ago than the last woman in F1.

    1. Ricardo Teixeira was actually a test driver for Caterham last year. He’s not actually Angolan, but Portuguese-Angolan (Angola was a Portuguese colony until 1975). He started racing under an Angola licence when he moved to Formula 2 in 2010, because Angolan state-owned oil company Sonangol was sponsoring him. The livery actually looked pretty good, too. When he raced for Trident in the 2009 GP2 and 2008-09 GP2 Asia series, Teixeira competed with a Portuguese licence.

  7. Karthikeyan is not as slow as you think. Given half a chance he could do a good job with a midfield team I think. He kept Liuzzi honest last year when given the opportunity and he was pretty exciting to watch at Jordan and scored 5 points back in the days when you only had 10 for a win instead of 25 and Jordan were abysmal.

    He has generally finsished in the top 5 in the other championships he has contested and won races. He drove an Audi R10 at Le Mans and finsihed 7th so I think he is a solid driver. Ok he’s no Hamilton or Alonso but he has much stronger results historicaly than Maria.

    Also, Williams praised his contribution as Test Driver so he probably gets unfair press which is inevevitable when you put yourself in the same arena as some of the sports absolute living legends. I still think he’d run rings around Maria in any car going on career stats alone.

    I would say Danica Patrick is more worthy of a shot at F1 but she’s too comfy in the states. Someone needs to dangle a Mclaren and a few million dollars to prise her out of her cushy little number as the darling of NASCAR/IRL.

    The current financial climate makes such gambles unimaginable and i dare say a top team would only consider it if they could run a 3rd car or test extensively.

    1. He kept Liuzzi honest last year

      No he didn’t.

      scored 5 points back in the days when you only had 10 for a win instead of 25 and Jordan were abysmal

      Because just 6 cars competed that race. It was hard not to score a point, really. AND he lost in the start to one of the Minardis AND he was beaten by his team mate who wasn’t a “champion” either.

      He isn’t fast. He’s racing because of TATA’s money… in the same way that de Villota joined Marussia, as a marketing move only.

    2. in fairness Karthikeyan got 5 points from a race in which 6 cars raced. tis like saying Monteiro was unbelievable for getting that Jordan on the podium.

    3. I agree. Does anyone remember when British F3 was shown on domestic TV? There were some pretty useful drivers when he did it, so to finish 3rd in 2000 is not a fluke.

      Maybe Danica will do a practice session at the US GP this year, but i doubt it will be McLaren as they will be (hopefully) fighting a championship.

    4. I think Simona De Silvestero would be a much better choice than Danica if people want to see a properly quick woman in an F1 car.

    5. Kept Liuzzi honest? Liuzzi out qualified him every race they were team mates for. Stop kidding yourself he’s racing because of TATA money and TATA money only.

      1. He might have been out-qualified but he hadn’t drove in F1 for 5 years and is not like Luizzi was a second faster or anything. So yes he has the seat because he pays but not just because he pays.
        If he was a lot slower than Luizzi even paying wouldn’t have gave him the seat. I doubt HRt will give me a seat even if i payed twice the money as Narain.
        His there because he pays and his reasonably good for F1 not simply because he pays. `

      2. Absolute rubbish, for someone who stepped into F1 machinery for the first time in about 6 years and with no testing he was remarkably close to Liuzzi who had been recently racing in F1. Liuzzi should have been miles down the road but he wasn’t. If anything Liuzzi was exposed as the kind of driver he is by Karthikeyan, ORDINARY!!!

        Also, you’re ignoring the the fact that the rest of Narain’s career, whilst not overwhelming has been pretty solid whereas Maria’s has been an unmitigated disaster bankrolled by Daddy.

        Narain is a cut above this girl, no doubt.

        Put you’re Liuzzi claws away, he had his chance several times. No harm in giving Narain a fair crack at it.

        The mentality of some people on this site is ridiculous. It’s clear that some people have taken an automatic dislike to Narain. He hasn’t had the opportuity to settle into a team and get up to speed so its not fair to slag him off. Most Rookies get a couple of consecutive years before the hammer falls, give him this season to see what he can do.

        1. Oh yes: Karthikeyan is way better than de Villota. But she is soooo bad that it doesn´t mean anything!!!

        2. @coefficient

          If someone compares Narain to de Villota, it’s probably because:

          a: they are biased against Narain (for whatever reason – perhaps his lack of efficient PR)

          b: they’ve never followed his career and have no absolutely no idea what they’re talking about

          Unfortunately, whatever proof you provide, this attitude isn’t gonna change and personally I don’t think it is worth arguing with such people about it. They just won’t change their mind.

          Narain did have some question marks in his motivation and wasn’t exactly someone who’d be noticed during his post-F3 years. So people pass judgements based on the little they see. The fact is he hasn’t had the right machinery to prove himself in F1 and he isn’t gonna get in the future too (unless something radical happens). So I’m afraid this attitude will stay forever.

        3. I just don’t understand how being outqualified by your team mate every single race means you kept your team mate honest.

          But that being the case then, I guess Webber and Massa kept Vettel and Alonso honest last year as well.

  8. I think that this is a pay to drive situation, probably bringing much needed money to MaRussia team.

    1. I just searched for videos of her on youtube.

      There is a video of her 2011 test with Lotus (then Renault). Featured fairly prominently in the video is the sponsor “iHola!”. It’s on her website too. I don’t know, but maybe that’s where the money is coming from.

    2. I doubt it, she’s not racing or even featuring during a GP weekend it seems!

  9. Right, de Villota is utterly useless. She shouldn’t be in an F1 car. This is not sexism – I think IndyCar’s Simona de Silverstro is very talented, as is 2010 Formula Renault BARC champion Alice Powell and plenty of others. They compete on their own merit, not because of their gender, and do so well.

    But de Villota has never, and I repeat never, been anything other than slow and, at times, dangerous in a racing car. She was useless in Superleague Formula, and the overall quality of that field was patchy. It was frightening watching her plummet down the field from reverse grid pole, or holding up cars lapping her, or driving out of the gravel and into another car.

    She’s undoubtedly paying big, big bucks for this seat. I’m just concerned that, with the way things are going, she’ll have a race seat next year.

    Because if she races in F1 she will set the female driver cause back years because she will fail to qualify in a Marussia. No question, she can’t do it. And then people will assume that all women are incapable of racing in F1, which isn’t true.

    I think I’ve made my feelings pretty clear but I will repeat: this is a bad thing for Formula One.

    1. I agree, particularly in the point she ruins it for other women racers who might come along in the future who actually will have talent.

      1. Exactly.

    2. I think IndyCar’s Simona de Silverstro is very talented

      I think de Silvestro is perhaps the only female racing driver who could reasonably make a positive impact on Formula 1 right now.

      1. @Prisoner Monkeys

        I agree too! de Silvestro is the best of the current lot of women drivers not just in talent but also in attitude.

  10. This is a sad state of affairs. At least before when someone was getting a test in F1, no matter how much money they brought they still had substantial talent.

    There is no way De Villota would be anywhere near an F1 car with her credentials if she wasn’t a female and wasn’t bringing loads of cash.

  11. Oh no this beyond low! A perfect test driver would be Robert Wickens as they tested before. Of course money is involved but there must be other solutions rather than this desperate move! She has proved utterly useless i other categories ( She was completely out of her league in Superleague)
    Timo, the only quality driver get out of this team now!

  12. What bothers me most about these pay drivers (and sex is not even an issue here) is that these are taking opportunities from genuine young talented drivers with all the potential. Formula 1 should be moving away from being a rich persons play thing, by any standards de villota is a journeyman driver with little acheivements, if a team cannot exist without having to sell it’s test programme off then surely the whole ventures a waste of time. It’s so short sighted they are simply trying to exist in the moment from day to day, with no real eye on true future development or long term plans. And the worst thing is little consideration for the image of the sport they claime to “love”……..rant over!!

    1. In Marussia’s case, they run a pay second driver and pay reserve to help fun a proper talent in Glock. So I can kind of see what they’re working towards.

  13. Damoor Valentino
    7th March 2012, 18:20

    It’s all russian oil money behind her.

    1. Really? What Russian oil money?

      1. The one who comes from Russia based on oil incomes.

        1. And what connection does de Villota have to the Russians or to oil? Nikolai Fomeko might be the Russian in charge of Marussia, but he did not make his fortune buying up oil reserves during perestroika.

          No doubt there is money involved in this deal – but I very much doubt that it is coming from the Russian oil oligarchs. They tend to support their own first and foremost.

  14. If there are categories for women in Golf, Tennis and Football, then why not have a Women’s World Championship ??

    For example, each team could either run one of last year’s cars or one modified to current regs, and who is to say the quality of 12 female racers would be any worse than 24 male racers.

    That way they can be judged purely on thier racing skills and not thier looks