All over the world, International Women’s day (March 8) is celebrated as an opportunity for men to express their love, gratitude and respect for women. Like all other professions in the world, F1 too has had the potential in women power to succeed the way it has in the past years and will continue to succeed with the increase in the employment of women in F1.
Maria de Villota and Susie Wolff are such women in the industrywho distinguish themselves out of the manyand are highly recognized.
Maria de Villota, Spain’s first female Formula One test driver, was a pioneer to all the women in a male dominant sport. The Madrid born female driver’s F1 racing career got a chance to flourish when reports were confirmed by the Lotus Renault GP in 2011 regarding her debut in a Renault R29 at the Paul Richard Circuit. Prior her F1 career, the Spaniard had already completed the World Touring Car Championship andADAC Procar Series.
The ex- Formula 1 driver had grabbed hold of an opportunity inFormula 1when she joined Marussia F1 Team as a test driver. Unfortunately, for this promising driver, her chances in making her career in F1 hit a wall. While driving for the Marussia F1 team for the first time, performing straight line testing, the car came to a sudden standstill after it’s collision with a stationary truck at the end of the test run. After the testing accident, the driver was confirmed to have survived the crash but was still unconscious and had lost her left eye.
Even after losing her major sensory organs of taste and smell, the driver was determined to make a return to the track. The courage and dedication towards F1 and the will to promote the safety improvements in motorsport, marked her as true sports person. After her accident, Maria de Villota asked Susie Wolff, testing driver for Williams’s team to continue in F1 for her and all women drivers.
Sadly, on 11th October 2013,Emilio de Villota’s daughter breathe her last in a Seville hotel room, where she was scheduled to speak at the Seville Fundación Lo Que De Verdad Importa (LQDVI) conference. “Life is a gift”, an autobiography on her life was due on 14th of October a few days after her death.Her short but inspiring life story has not only motivated women to pursue a career in motorsport but has also eased of the orthodox mind-set of F1 being a male dominant sport. (Shubham Mandlekar)