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Motorsport | Formula 1

Simona De Silvestro © Action Images

De Silvestro makes her Sauber debut



Simona De Silvestro became the latest woman to take the wheel of a Formula One car on Saturday when she made her test debut for Sauber.

The 25-year-old Swiss driver, who had raced in Indy Cars in the United States since 2010, completed 112 laps in a two-year old Sauber at Ferrari's test track at Fiorano in Italy.

"After completing the installation lap, I realised that this was my first lap in a Formula One car, and that this was something really special," said De Silvestro.

"The g-forces are significantly higher compared to what I was used to in IndyCar. Overall, I'm happy with my first day in a Formula One car.

"Physically I feel quite good, which is definitely a result of my preparation in recent months. I have been training really hard and this paid off."

Few women have made the grade in Formula One.

Giovanna Amati failed to qualify at Interlagos in Brazil in a Brabham in 1992 while, in 1976, Lella Lombardi was the last woman to feature in a race.

Earlier this year, British team Williams said that Susie Wolff would take part in the first practice sessions of the British and German Grands Prix in July.

Sauber test engineer Paul Russell was impressed by De Silvestro's efforts.

"Simona did a very solid job. It was immediately clear that she is an experienced driver. It was as good a start in a Formula One car as you could hope for," he said.

The role of women in F1 was placed under a harsh spotlight in 2012 when Marussia test driver Maria de Villota lost her right eye and suffered a fractured skull in a crash while testing in England.

She died last October at the age of 33.

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