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Wolff drives with de Villota in mind

LONDON -- Susie Wolff became the latest woman to drive a Formula One car Wednesday, but admitted that stricken Maria de Villota was in her thoughts as she tried to show that the sport should not be an all-male domain.

Marussia test driver de Villota lost her right eye and suffered serious head and facial injuries during a horrifying crash in England in July which ended her racing career.

Wolff, a development driver for the Williams F1 team, admitted that the accident had been on her mind during her first day behind the wheel at Silverstone.

“After the publicity surrounding Maria's accident without doubt I felt an extra need to go out there, do a good job and show that her accident was a freak one-off and it doesn't generalize women in motorsport,” Wolff told www.autosport.com.

“I spoke with Maria after her press conference last week, when she showed everyone that aside from being a great racing driver she is an exceptional lady.

“The strength and dignity she showed after such an accident, to fight back from nearly dying, was quite phenomenal and I said that to her.

“She said 'it's up to you now to show that we can do it, you're driving for both of us' and today I had her in my thoughts, and had her star on my helmet.

“It was very important for me to go out for both of us today and show everybody that what happened was a freak accident and that actually women can drive F1 cars successfully. She was without a doubt with me.”

The last woman to enter the F1 world championship was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for three races at the start of the 1992 season with Brabham.

Five women have entered F1 races in the past, the most prolific being Italian Lella Lombardi, who started 12 grands prix in the 1970s.

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