de Villota to become 2012 Lotus reserve

Spanish racing driver Maria de Villota looks set to become one of Lotus GP’s (currently Renault) reserve drivers in 2012. According to El Confidencial, all that is now needed are a few signatures and the deal will be done. Maria, 31, aims to become the first female F1 driver in 20 years, since Giovanna Amati attempted to qualify for three races with Brabham in 1992. The last woman to actually start an F1 race was Lella Lombardi in 1976. Driving for Brabham, March and Williams in her career, she scored half a point in the 1975 Spanish GP for March in a race that was cut short due to the tragic accident of Rolf Stommelen that killed five spectators and left the driver badly injured. Lella started her final race in Austria in 1976 with Brabham on August 15th. That race is also notable for being Penske’s only European win thanks to John Watson, and the last race in which no Ferrari took part.
Maria has most recently competed in Superleague Formula for Spain, but the series was unfortunately cut short this season. She only competed in the round at Assen, and had a tough weekend of it. Whether she has the ability to compete against F1 drivers is a serious question that must be asked. We cannot have a woman in F1 just because she’s a woman. She has to be competitive.
Maria clearly knows she has to work hard, however, and according to the article will be spending her Christmas holidays working hard in the gym to achieve the required level of fitness. She has test driven the Renault this year at Paul Ricard, and also driven the team’s showcar at the World Series by Renault event at the Circuit de Catalunya.

In other news, Daniel Abt continues to be superbly quick in the GP3 tests, having headed all three sessions so far with Lotus ART. Matias Laine’s new-found speed is also placing him high in the standings along with Conor Daly and Marlon Stockinger. Today, 2012 GP2 driver James Calado is also in the car doing some work for ART.

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