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Susie Wolff to drive in F1 Friday practice sessions

By Alan Baldwin

(Reuters) - Susie Wolff will become the first woman driver in 22 years to take part in a Formula One Grand Prix weekend this season after Williams said the Scot would be on track for them in two free practice sessions later this year.

The team said on Monday the 31-year-old wife of Mercedes motorsport head Toto Wolff, a former Williams executive director, would remain their development driver in an expanded role that will include two Friday outings.

Williams did not say which race weekends Wolff would be appearing at.

"I'm grateful for the support and belief Williams continue to show in me and 2014 promises to be a very important milestone in my career," Wolff said in a statement.

"Competing in two FP1 (first free practice) sessions, alongside an additional full test day this season will be a big step and I am looking forward to the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the FW36 on a Grand Prix weekend."

Wolff, who raced for seven years in the German Touring Car (DTM) championship, took part in an official Formula One test for Williams last year and has conducted straight line aerodynamic tests.

She has little chance of actually racing, with 21-year-old Brazilian Felipe Nasr the team's official test and reserve driver.

Brazil's Felipe Massa and Finland's Valtteri Bottas are the two main drivers for the team this season.

Williams' chief technical officer Pat Symonds said she had "demonstrated a natural talent for developing a car and providing strong feedback".

The last woman to take part in any stage of a grand prix weekend was Italian Giovanna Amati, who tried and failed to qualify with Brabham in 1992.

However women are involved at all levels in the paddock, from mechanics and engineers to team boss.

Monisha Kaltenborn is the principal of Sauber while Claire Williams is deputy principal at the team founded by her father Frank.

Sauber this month appointed 25-year-old Swiss Simona de Silvestro, who has competed for four years in the U.S.-based IndyCar series, as an affiliated driver with the aim of her racing in 2015.

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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