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Susie Wolff to test drive new Williams car

LONDON -- Susie Wolff is set to be the first driver behind the wheel of the new Williams car ahead of the 2013 Formula One season as part of an enhanced role with the British team.

Wolff, whose husband Toto quit Williams' board of directors last week to join Mercedes, was appointed development driver 10 months ago by the team, who are based in the Oxfordshire town of Grove, south-east England.

The 30-year-old Scot will now be the first person to drive the new FW35 during testing at Idiada test circuit in Spain next month ahead of its official launch in Barcelona on Feb. 19.

“I really enjoy my time working with Williams and feel very much at home here,” Wolff, who will provide feedback for Williams' race drivers Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas, said in a team statement on Monday.

“Last year was a valuable experience and I certainly feel I've developed a lot as a driver.

“Increasing my role this year will further this progression, and I can't wait to get behind the wheel of the car for the first time next month.

“I'm showing women can play a role at the top level of motorsport and would like to thank Sir Frank Williams (team founder) and the whole of the technical team for the trust they continue to show in me.”

Williams technical director Mike Coughlan added: “Susie has proved herself to be a valuable addition to our driver roster and her feedback during simulator sessions is second to none.

“As a result we will be stepping up her role this year, and I'm looking forward to the progress we can make with Susie's input in conjunction with that of Pastor and Valtteri.”

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.

In all, five women have entered F1 races with the most prolific being Italian Lella Lombardi, who started 12 grands prix in the 1970s.

Williams finished eighth out of 12 teams in last season's constructors' championship, with Maldonado their top driver in 15th place.

Both the last of Williams's nine constructors' and seven drivers' world championship titles came in 1997.

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