I hadn’t heard of Maria De Villota until moments ago but now she will become a very interesting name to watch after she was signed to the Marussia F1 team as their test driver for the 2012 season.
The 32 year-old Spaniard who has drove in several formulae first drove an F1 car last year at Paul Ricard and has now graduated to official test driver.
This is a very interesting move for the sport as we have seen the effect that Danica Patrick has had over in the States. Her move to NASCAR has made the big sports bulletins and this years Daytona 500 had great TV ratings – both on the Sunday for the rain-out and for the primetime Monday night audience. This is despite Danica Patrick going out on the opening lap.
There are clear differences. Danica is extremely marketable and has been the face of GoDaddy for many years. Also if we are being totally honest the American market are more receptive to female sports and women in sport in general. The culture is different and therefore we can’t really say that this arrival into the world of Formula One will make too much of a wave but a ripple is a good start.
She will be the reserve driver so if either of Marussia’s two race drivers have to sit it out for whatever reason she is next in line to race. Now racing would certainly be a lot different to testing and if she were to race then I can guarantee it will put more bums on seats as the intrigue factor will bring in a lot of casual viewers just to see how she does.
It is a good move forward for the sport and one that hopefully will open the floodgates. Obviously if she does get to race there will be a whole tonne of pressure on her shoulders but should she succeed then many walls could come crumbling down.
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