María de Villota is still pinning her hopes on becoming Formula 1’s first female driver in twenty years, after admitting that she is in negotiations with the Lotus F1 team to join its test driver ranks. She could even know her future with the team before Christmas.
De Villota, daughter of occasional F1 driver Emilio, has previously tested for the formerly-named Renault team earlier this year at Paul Ricard (pictured, top), sparking suggestions that there were “real possibilities” of her joining the series, having spent previous years ploughing a career in tin-tops and open-wheel racers.
“You cannot assume something before it is assured,” she told Spanish newspaper Marca, when asked about her F1 prospects, although she admitted that an F1 berth “would be the perfect Christmas gift”.
Were this the case, she would become the first female driver to be on a team’s roster since the hapless Giovanna Amati attempted to qualify at three Grands Prix for the cash-strapped Brabham team in 1992.
While her role as a test driver would be a great publicity coup, de Villota has little to crow about in her junior formulae records that suggests she would be even reasonably competitive in a Formula 1 car.
That is not to say that this is the case for other aspiring women racers, indeed there are many up and coming drivers who have the necessary talent to make the cut.
Having recently established its Women in Motorsport commission, the FIA needs to put into practice the lessons it has learned in order to offer female racing drivers the right level of support to maximise the chances that they can make it through the ranks and into Formula 1.
To many aspiring female drivers quit the sport too early. There are many reasons for this, and the FIA needs to address these, put the appropriate mechanisms in place, and the female racers will naturally progress up the ranks. It is simply a matter of time.
[Image via Yalla F1]