A few weeks ago, Marussia Racing team announced that Maria de Villota would be their test driver for the 2012 season. This was a significant announcement as there had not been a female racer in F1 since Italy’s Giovanni Amati entered 3 GPs in 1992.
Maria comes from a racing family: her father Emilio de Villota was a Formula 1 driver, her brother (also called Emilio) has raced in the Spanish Formula Three Championship and Maria herself had recently been racing in the SuperLeague Formula series. So it is an honour to be granted an interview by the driver and I hope this gives you an insight her role at Marussia and her goals for the future.
What does your role as reserve/test driver involve?
I am test driver, and my role is simulator work, aero testing, and joining the team in every test and race. Of course this includes media activity as well as helping my team in anything they need me for.
So a typical race weekend for you is ….
Briefings with the team, share information and evolutions, walk the track, watch data, some media, events with our sponsors, train myself in the gym. Great opportunity to improve my skills.
What is your goal for this season?
Learn as much as possible and do a good job every day and test. I want to show that I deserve a place in F1 for next year.
How does the Marussia MR01 differ to other cars you have driven before?
I haven’t driven it yet. I tested another F1 car last August. And the difference with Superleague Formula (SLF) car is that F1 is more reactive, the aero is much more developed and the braking more effective. Also I did not have power steering in SLF so driving F1 feels beautiful.
Are you looking forward to specific races in the F1 calendar?
I am really looking forward to all of them as this is my first season in F1 and I am very enthusiastic every day working with the team. And of course I can’t wait for the rookie test, as I will drive the Marussia F1 Team MR01.
How soon do you think we will see women drivers as main drivers in teams?
Hopefully soon!! But it is going to take some time. I believe in same opportunities for men and women.
Do you think having children changes a (male or female) driver’s attitude to risk during races?
I do not know as I do not have children, but i am not going to try just in case 😉 I want to have a family but not in the next years.
Which race series do you still participate in and how do they help you with F1 preparation.
Now as i am going to all the GPs I am not [racing in other series]. But I am going to do GP2 testing in my free days.
Which racer alive or dead, in any motorsport series do you admire most or aspire to be?
My father and Ayrton Senna.
My thanks to Maria and Isabel de Villota for granting this interview and giving us an insight into a test-driver’s life and role in a Formula 1 team. You can follow Maria on Twitter at @mariaDeVillota.
Addendum: A few days after requesting this interview, Williams F1 Team announced that Susie Wolff would join the team as a “development driver”.