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Maria de Villota joins Marussia F1 team as test driver for the 2012 season

Maria de Villota, Atletico MadridMaria de Villota has joined the Marussia Formula 1 team as a test driver for the 2012 season.

The Spaniard, who has raced in several series including Spanish F3, the Daytona 24 Hours, and Superleague Formula Championship, first drove a Formula 1 car last year when she tested a Renault R29 at Paul Ricard.

She was the first female driver to test for a contemporary Formula 1 team since Katherine Legge in 2005.

De Villota will test for the team during the young driver test in Abu Dhabi later this year.

"I am very happy to be joining the Marussia F1 Team test driver programme," she said.

"This is a fantastic opportunity to work closely with a Formula 1 team and gain important experience to help me progress my career, including the chance to drive the new car later in the year at the Abu Dhabi test.

"I will be joining the team trackside so I'm looking forward to working alongside them at the first race next weekend and this can only help my future ambition to step up to Formula 1 racing."

Team boss John Booth added: "We are pleased to welcome Maria to our test driver programme, which will enable her to be integrated into a Formula 1 team environment and gain a vast amount of experience that will be useful to her career progression.

"We will also provide Maria with the opportunity to sample F1 machinery later in the year, further adding to her racing credentials."

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