As Atletico Madrid prepare for the start of the new La Liga season, the Spanish club has made a significant signing off the pitch by snapping up Maria de Villota to race for the team in Superleague Formula by Sonangol.
Spaniard de Villota will become the first female driver ever to compete in the championship when she makes her series debut in the next round at Estoril on 5-6 September. She will also contest the final two races of the season at Monza on 3-4 October and her home track Jarama on 7-8 November.
This is the biggest opportunity of my career so far, said Maria, whose father Emilio raced in F1 in the late seventies and early eighties. I am from Madrid so it is a huge honour for me to be able to represent Atletico in Superleague Formula.
The Spanish capital is divided between fans of its two biggest clubs, Atletico and Real, and Maria admits she belongs to the red and white half of the city! We have two very successful football clubs here in Madrid but I have always been a supporter of Atletico, she revealed. They are a club with a huge amount of character and the fans are so loyal and passionate. They always support their team through the good times and the bad.
Maria will be hoping to count on the backing of the legendary Los Rojiblancos for the remainder of the year, particularly at the Madrid circuit of Jarama for the season-ending Spanish race.
Jarama is my home track, I live very close by, she explained. I cant wait to race there as I think the Atletico fans will come out and support their team and the race will be a real highlight for me. Spanish people are very passionate about football and motorsport so it should be a fantastic weekend.
Before then, Maria will take on the famous circuits of Estoril and Monza in the 750hp Superleague Formula by Sonangol car, which she admits is one of the best she has ever raced.
I tested it last November and it is the most powerful car I have ever driven, she confirmed. It is fantastic to drive, with a huge amount of horse power. The V12 engine and its overall look and feel make it very reminiscent of an F1 car. I cant wait for next month so I can race it.
Atletico Madrid currently lay ninth in the Superleague Formula by Sonangol League Table, with 120 points from the first three rounds.
Name: Maria de Villota
Date of Birth: 13 January 1979
Place of Birth: Madrid, Spain
Residence: Madrid, Spain
Superleague Formula team: Atletico Madrid
Maria is the daughter of ex-F1 driver Emilio de Villota and brother of fellow racer Emilio Jnr. After beginning her career in karts, she graduated into the Spanish Formula Toyota championship in 1999 and then raced in Spanish F3 from 2001-2005. Since then she has competed in the European Ferrari Challenge, World Touring Car Championship, Spanish GT and the ADAC Procar series where she was a race winner and finished third overall in 2007. She has returned to single-seaters in the last two seasons, making a points-scoring debut in Euroseries 3000 in 2008 and contesting the Formula Palmer Audi series this year.
Formula Palmer Audi
ADAC Procar (3rd), Spanish GT, WTCC
WTCC, Ferrari Challenge
Spanish F3, Ferrari Challenge
2nd Formula Toyota
3rd in Jarama race at F3
10th Gt, 24 h Daytona
Spanish Formula Toyota 1300