Simona De Silvestro, Sauber, 2014

Last woman F1 racer tips De Silvestro to shine

2014 F1 season

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Simona De Silvestro, Sauber, 2014The last woman to start a Formula One race believes Simona de Silvestro has the best chance to succeed in F1 out of the new generation of female talent.

Desire Wilson, who competed in the non-championship 1981 South African Grand Prix, said it was “fantastic news” that De Silvestro has been appointed as an “affiliated driver” by the Swiss team with a view to racing in F1 next year.

De Silvestro has four years’ experience in IndyCar racing and scored a best finish of second in Houston last year. Wilson, who raced IndyCars between 1983 and 1986, says the presence of women such as De Silvestro, Danica Patrick and Katherine Legge in the championship has made it “acceptable” for them to compete.

“The few women drivers that have come into IndyCar are pretty good,” she told F1 Fanatic. “Especially Simona, I think she’s excellent.”

“Maybe nobody else will think so but I think she’s very talented,” she added.

Earlier this week Williams announced Susie Wolff will become the first woman to participate in an F1 race weekend since 1992.

“I think Susie Wolff is also very talented but I think Simona has the edge because she’s quite a bit younger,” said Wilson, who pointed out De Silvestro has spent more time in cars which are close to Formula One levels of performance.

Wolff and De Silvestro have both gained their F1 promotions at teams which feature women in senior management positions – Claire Williams at Williams and Monisha Kaltenborn at Sauber. Wilson believes this is no coincidence.

“That’s how I got my second IndyCar drive,” she said. “The car owner was a husband and wife but Rose Wysard was a very strong woman.”

“That is important because a strong woman understands that a woman is capable of driving the cars. That’s the first thing. They can be persuaded to give the driver the opportunity.”

“From my perspective I’m really thrilled that they will be given the opportunity again and hopefully the cars will be competitive,” she added.

More on Desire Wilson’s F1 career in a forthcoming article on F1 Fanatic.

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Image © Sauber

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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103 comments on “Last woman F1 racer tips De Silvestro to shine”

  1. hmmmmm, she´s a looker allright!

    1. really?

      Long hair brushed so that it hides a neck that has to be quite thick to race ovals and F1, broad shoulders and strong arms – no doubt driving Indy Cars without power steering makes that a must.

      Yes, a nice smile and a blink in here eyes. That is good, but she is no model (that is good too, she is a driver not there for her looks)

      1. Why can she not be both a “looker” and “no model”.

        Most models are not that great looking, IMHO. Beauty is subjective. I think she is very attractive.

        However, I do find it quite disheartening that the first comment on this article is nothing to do with her driving talents but about her looks.

        1. However, I do find it quite disheartening that the first comment on this article is nothing to do with her driving talents but about her looks

          . Yes, I wholeheartedly agree with that part of your comment @dmouse.

          I was not trying to say she is not nice enough looking, just like its nice to see a smiling Kobayashi or a grinning Hülkenberg or see the deep look in Massa’s brown eyes for example, but meant to say that she does not come across as being there to be seen foremost as “a looker”.

          1. sorry, that should have been @drmouse

          2. I agree BasCB. I was just listing to this radio interview today :
            We (most men) need to change the way we look at women and women in sports!

          3. @bascb

            she does not come across as being there to be seen foremost as “a looker”.

            I haven’t seen her neck or shoulders.. but she does look good, and there is nothing wrong with saying that…its perfectly normal reaction, ..more to the point, we can’t see her driving skills from the picture…


            We (most men) need to change the way we look at women and women in sports!

            really? As said above, there is nothing wrong with looking at women in the way they have been looked at for thosands of years. Unless we all turn homo. It’s not about to change now,… im certain she would like the comment but probably would want to be recognised for her skills as well , which in time im sure will happen..

        2. Why do people have to stoop to criticising her looks? Almost makes me wish I was gay so I could make comments about the sexual attractiveness of the male drivers.

          1. Who says you have to be gay? :P

          2. You don’t have to be gay mate. I love drawing and I know what to do when I want to draw a pretty man.

          3. Chris (@tophercheese21)
            26th February 2014, 13:34


            Just add “No Homo” to the end of a sentence that could come across as homosexual. Lol

            For example, I think Fernando Alonso, and Jenson Button are probably the two best looking Formula One drivers… No homo.

          4. @tophercheese21 I hate people who say that. That’s the most immature kind of statement.

          5. Chris (@tophercheese21)
            26th February 2014, 14:50

            And I hate people who buy massive 4WD’s just to drop their kids off at school.

            We all got problems.

          6. And I hate people who buy massive 4WD’s just to drop their kids off at school.

            “hate” is a bit strong but i tend to agree with that one !

            And I also consider it perfectly normal for a man to be able to consider/recognize another man’s good looks. I find myself disagreeing with my wife quite often though…:-)

            Sad that 1st comment has to be about her appearance, but it is also the 1st thing you see. I guess it is human, simply.

          7. Chris (@tophercheese21)
            26th February 2014, 15:11

            It is a strong word, lol, but I really do hate them. Well, maybe not hate, but strongly dislike.

            They clutter up the roads and car parks with their huge land-whale cars, and because they have such a massive car, they usually think they’re entitled to do what ever they want on the road.

            Don’t know about the rest of the world, but it’s a massive problem here in Perth! Seriously!

        3. However, I do find it quite disheartening that the first comment on this article is nothing to do with her driving talents but about her looks.

          Amen. I’m beyond disgusted right now.

          1. @aka_robyn Agreed. This whole thread is pretty embarrassing. I think I’ll skip reading any further.

        4. It’s a guy thing.

    2. Have to say that it’s fairly disappointing that the first comments relating to a relevant female driver potentially getting a race seat in the near future is about her appearance. :(

      1. @drmouse – didn’t spot your comment there…

        What he said!

      2. Was going to say the same thing. I don’t see female F1F’s going on about how attractive or otherwise the 2014 field is…

      3. @petebaldwin Yep. That sort of thing really doesn’t help with advancing the equal treatment of women in Formula 1.

      4. agreed, somewhat misogynist comment… Furthermore, if beauty was a factor, most of the drivers would simply not pass.

    3. Well, I´m sorry about it but, it´s not the first time the first comment has nothing to do with the article. Take the Kobayashi article about needing an f2 car…. Nobody said a word about it in the whole article as far as I saw.
      The reason for not commenting on her skills (which I bet she has some) is because I totally ignore her career. First time I saw her was here when she was announced at sauber.
      And by the way, beauty it in the eye of the beholder! I hope she does get to drive, much rather see Simona than Susie!

      1. @karter22 The article you’re referring to is a round-up and contains many points other than just the Kobayashi story.

      2. That was a round-up I believe, so features comments to do with anything from the multitude of content featured (articles, tweets, COTD, on this day etc.) to anything else of interest in F1.

    4. is this F1F ??? This is what happens when women come in

    5. I hope she’s fast. Her looks don’t make her any faster and I guess that’s what teams are looking for, fast drivers. If she happens to be pretty, good for her but I doubt it’s a deal breaker for Sauber or any other team.

      1. If looks mattered, I don’t Pastor would have much chance of a drive.

      2. Alain Prost’s looks probably made him faster!

        1. @danbrown180 maybe Alain running without his helmet would have meant an aerodynamic advantage.

      3. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        26th February 2014, 15:05


        Actually, I think looks could make a difference in her ability to go faster. Well, not from a beauty perspective but from a weight perspective.

        For example, if she were to become as wafer thin as some of the models you see walking down a catwalk (which by the way I do NOT find attractive, as they’re pretty much walking skeletons in a corrupt industry), she’d be much lighter than potentially every other driver, which would make her appealing to engineers because she’d be lighter in the car than almost anyone else.

        But from a beauty perspective, it obviously makes no difference lol.

        1. Being that slim would suggest she wouldn’t have the required strength though. Plus models are typically very tall which creates problems in F1.

        2. @tophercheese21 aren’t men on average lighter though for a given height, due to the lack of a necessity to be capable of being child bearing?

          1. No, as men will have a higher percentage of muscle, absent weight training, which of course a professional open seat race driver will be engaging in to deliberately manipulate.

            Therefore, it’s an irrelevant point in this context, as an F1 driver, man or woman, can use weight training, combined with calorie control (up or down as required) to achieve the required muscle mass and body-fat percentage.

            Regarding neck strength, yes a woman will have further to go starting from scratch but the requirements needed for F1 (or Indycar) aren’t pushing the boundaries of what is possible in terms of neck strength for either gender, so again, a moot point.

          2. Chris (@tophercheese21)
            27th February 2014, 4:24


            Not always the case. It depends how much muscle mass they have. Men naturally have a larger muscle mass than women, and because muscle is several times denser than fat, it adds up the weight very quickly.

        3. @tophercheese21
          Ultra thin? She will be light, but she will lack strength to drive an F1 car for over an hour…

    6. Terrible comment. Who cares what she looks like? As long as she can drive. Which it looks like she can. Aren’t we past judging people by how they look?

    7. Please tell me your first comment on new male drivers is about how attractive they are. Otherwise, you’re making an awful representation of the average race fan right now.

    8. @karter22 why are you judging her appearance, would you like me to judge yours? Why not let people be what they want to be? Childish, egotistical and anti-social but pseudo social view that society portraits rather than convey. Anyone that looks a little different is tagged as an anti-social or worse. I think De Silvestro is an aggressive driver and I would think that these days neither Indy or F1 really demand “balls” to drive the cars fast but I think her aggressiveness can be tamed to evolve her to F1 standards, as Wilson says she’s got the age to do that.

      1. @peartree
        ???????? WOW! So I just can´t express that I think she seems cute? Why do you assume I was judging? LOL! Geez, take a pill before a vein in your head pops man!
        I had never heard of her or her career before I saw her announced here about the sauber move. If she can drive well good for her! If she makes it to the grid, even better! I really don´t care if she´s a woman or not. Personally, I think this whole women in F1 is just another gimmick to raise viewing ratings but if she is actually good well it is welcomed by me.
        I´ve read all the comments and yours by far takes the cake! I haven´t judged anybody on their looks, I just think she´s cute, period!
        It´s people´s intolerance to others opinions like this case that is wrong with the world! Why make such a fuss over someone´s opinion?? LOL!! Chill out man!

    9. Steph (@stephanief1990)
      27th February 2014, 9:40

      @karter22 wow, the first opinion on a female racer in F1 in donkeys is about how she looks. Really, progress is truly being made.

      Agree with everything @peartree and @danbrown180 has said.

    10. Why are we even discussing how she looks? We don’t do that with the dudes. Anyway, watched her often on US TV Indycar races, and she does have talent on road courses, certainly more skill than Danica. Would be interesting to see how she handles a much tougher to drive F1 car.

  2. I hope in 2015 that the new team will have Susie Wolff and Simona de Silvestro to have an all women’s line up. Plus I would also lure Danica Patrick despite she saying no she won’t race in F1 at all. But she looks good on the NASCAR Sprint Cup in crystal clear HD

    1. Is it coincidence that both F1 female drivers (Susie Wolff and Simona De Silvestro) are working for teams with top female executives? (Claire Williams and Monisha Kaltenborn)

      1. Is it coincidence an Italian team like Ferrari have young drivers like the Italian Marciello and Fuoco on their roster?

        As Wilson said in the article; sometimes women can be a better judge of another woman’s character. And it’s not as if us men haven’t been using the ‘old boys network’ for a long, long time.

    2. Meanwhile, McLaren and Mercedes were lamblasted in 2010 for having both drivers from a single country, people are ruling out Haas having two American drivers because that’s not how F1 works. But two women drivers, with little experience developing cars would fly for a new team?

      If anything, a team like Sauber or Williams would be the best for a new (female) driver; they know how to develop a driver, rather than just take their money and run with it.

      Danica is sponsored by GoDaddy, which is barely active outside of the US, so that’s very unlikely to happen.

    3. @william

      But she looks good on the NASCAR Sprint Cup

      37th is not what one could call an astonishing performance. That’s maybe why she won’t ever be driving a Formula 1. She isn’t good enough.

    4. @william – “I hope in 2015 that the new team will have Susie Wolff and Simona de Silvestro to have an all women’s line up.”

      And, that they win a race. And that Jacques Laffite is one of the commentators for that race. :)

  3. why has it got to be deemed acceptable?
    look at force india team principal, people speculated she wasn’t up for the job. proved very wrong!

    look how skinny the f1 guys are, yes there muscle but a woman can get her core fitness and stamina to that level very easily!!

    1. @mat-k
      Force India? Are you saying Vijay Mallya is a woman? If that is true, then that is one ugly woman!

      1. sorry sauber

  4. More on Desire Wilson’s F1 career in a forthcoming article on F1 Fanatic

    Youpi! Looking forward to that one @keithcollantine, great to see you got the chance for a nice talk with Wilson!

    1. @bascb @keithcollantine

      You can talk to me right now if you want :-D

      1. You can be in F1 too :D

    2. Youpi!!!! Lol

  5. Ok so this is an interesting one in relation to the announcement yesterday that Susie Wolff is getting a go in a Williams.

    IMO, it’s different though. De Silvestro has shown that she is a decent driver in a very competitive series having scored some good finishes including a fantastic end to the 2013 season – 9th, 5th, 2nd, 10th, 8th. Is that worthy of an F1 seat? Perhaps not but it’s certainly worthy of a chance to prove what she can do.

    The questions will come up again of whether she’d get the same oppertunity if she was male and from a common F1 country (ie England or Germany) and the answer is probably no but having been given the opportunities she has, she has done quite well.

    I suppose the main difference is that to me, I view De Silvestro simply as a driver. I view Chilton as a pay driver and I definitely view Susie Wolff as a female driver. For equality to be achieved, whether someone is a woman or a man shouldn’t matter but when you have drivers in F1 simply because of their sex, nationality, race, sponsorship package or family/relationship ties, it is not going to sit well with people who believe that F1 should contain the world’s best drivers.

    1. I agree. I’m not sure De Silvestro is quite at the level which would be expected of any male driver for Formula 1, but she’s pretty close, and evidently has skill to compete. She deserves a (testing/practice) seat considerably more than Wolff in my opinion. A race seat is a little beyond her in my opinion, but who knows, maybe one day?

    2. Just for the record, De Silvestro was also a pay driver in Indycar. When there are free agents like Ryan Briscoe or Justin Wilson available (accomplished drivers in series on both sides of the Atlantic), a top team was not going to hire her. As for F1, well Sauber said they were going to put Sirotkin in a race seat too…remind us what happened there?

      1. @jb001 – Fair enough – Indycar is a different beast to F1 though. She’ll definitely have to prove herself in testing if she’s hoping on getting a race seat. I don’t think it’s anywhere near a formality.

        1. Well for one she probably doesn’t have a big enough cheque for that (Entergy is also not likely to be interested in markets outside of the US). Rudolfo Gonzalez drove for multiple teams at Young Driver Tests, so the criteria for spending serious time in an F1 car isn’t that strict (money aside).

  6. I’m all against women getting a race seat in Formula 1 just because they are woman, but you could argue that De Silvestro would be achieving this on her own merit. She is still young and has had some very decent performances in IndyCar. But I can’t help to think that there are still other races out there that deserve it more. Would she be better than say Chilton? It’s possible, but I think there is still nothing that says that she will.
    I’d say the main reason she would get a drive in F1 is because of her being a woman.
    For me, what she could achieve in the sport is to wake up the interest in more girls to become racing drivers, hence attracting more talent. And who knows, maybe in 10 years we would have the next Vettel in form of a young lady inspired by De Silvestro.

    1. I meant to say “there are still other drivers out there” =)

    2. @chebeto I agree with you on that one: I don’t want to hear anything about “commercial potential” or hogwash along those lines, nor any particular focus on her being a female, if she were to get into F1.

      Quite simply, I would hope she is simply better than the competition. Like for example Hülkenberg was over Di Resta.

  7. She kinda lost me when she said that Wolf is also very talented and mostly put de Silvestro ahead based on age.

    1. absolutelly right!

    2. @matt90 Any idea what is Simona’s age??

      1. @onebhk 25, easy to remember for me because we were actually born in the same day hehe.
        @matt90 She also said that she had more experience on single seaters, and for me that is a very valid point.

  8. Is she the most talented female driver in Indycar? I know there’s a few women drivers but im not au fait with that side of the pond.

    1. By far, yes.

      I follow Indy quite religiously, although to be fair, her female competition wasn’t really all up to snuff. Pippa Mann? Pfft.

      But her 2013 result were pretty darn good. Finished just below Seabass (Seb Bourdais) in the standings with arguably a worse car/team.

      1. Wow. There’s merit then :D

    2. I don’t watch that much Indycar, but she seems to be better than Patrick and drivers like Fischer in the past, imo.

      Still, not sure where to put her on F1-levels.

    3. Comparing to Patrick, de Silvestro is certainly better on road and street courses, which is of course needed as she targets F1. Patrick was better in ovals though, Simona wasn’t that good turning left.

      de Silvestro beat her team-mate Kanaan on road course points by about 80 points last season (I did not count bonuses, but positions gave SdS 81-point-advantage) Kanaan won the overall battle by being much more successful on ovals.

      De Silvestro seemed very clever driver to me, usually keeping out of troubles.

      1. Kanaan DNF’d several street\road races, not a very good comparison. He’s also far from the best on those types of tracks in Indycar. 14 of Kanaan’s 16 career wins are on ovals, and his last road course win was 6 years ago. He’s at Ganassi for 2014 because of his Indy 500 win (and his oval skill in general). A better example of someone who maximised their results with a second-rate outfit is Justin Wilson (not surprisingly, he actually *was* in F1 before being pushed out by a pay driver and Red Bull’s influence on Jaguar).

        Perhaps Bietske Visser will carry the torch for female F1 drivers in the future (her wins in local GT series and Formula ADAC show some promise), although she has yet to secure a drive in any series for 2014.

  9. “The car owner was a husband and wife but Rose Wysard was a very strong woman. That is important because a strong woman understands that a woman is capable of driving the cars. That’s the first thing. They can be persuaded to give the driver the opportunity.”

    That’s quite a worrying thing, as it implies that she would have been overlooked if the car owner would have been one man. But (sadly) I’m not surprised that a woman will eventually be faced with discrimination as she makes her way up to the top.

    I hope that for instance Susie Wolff’s free practice sessions will show to team bosses etc. (maybe even on a subconscious level) that women do have a future in motorsports and that it’s plain wrong to turn them down merely because of gender.

    1. @andae23 I was fortunate enough to speak to Susie Wolff once about her career a couple of years ago and she told me that she faced a fair amount of discrimination right from the very beginning from her early days in karting and in junior categories with some of the other boys and their fathers not really taking her seriously as a competitor because she was a girl.

      That’s why I’m glad she’s getting this opportunity to compete in the practice sessions, because of the message that sends to all levels of motorsport, that women deserve to be treated with respect whatever competition they compete in.

      1. @magnificent-geoffrey Many thanks, that’s very sad to hear.

  10. “Maybe nobody else will think so but I think she’s very talented,”

    Nope Desire, we think so too! She’s had some cracking drives in IndyCar. The first IndyCar race I properly paid attention to a couple of years back, the season opener in St Petersberg, she was in contention for a podium for most of the race. She slipped to 5th in the end if I remember correctly after falling foul of a late caution period and drivers behind push-to-pass buttons.

    Great talent, almost a shame it’ll no doubt end up wasted in F1 because she doesn’t have enough money or some other trifling matter.

    1. I am a great fan of Simona. Watched some Indy Car races where she pulled off some amazing overtaking…
      Looking forward to her in F1

  11. I remember people laughing at kvyat for his pimples( some people are so ignorant to ignore that acne is an illness which is chronic, not caused by lack of hygiene, very difficult to cure and only a very strong and dangerous drug can help someone who is affected by acne to definitely get rid of it)…so it’s no big surprise to read such silly comments about a nice girl who is there to race and to be as fast as possible, not to model.

    1. this is the first time I hearing about Kvyats looks… I bet every time an article on Simona comes up, tongues will start wagging on beauty looks etc… a better job by Keith this time in providing a decent picture

      1. maybe not on this forum, but on some other websites people mocked kvyat for his pimples instead of considering him as what he is: a talented young driver.
        I’m speaking about both italian and english forums.
        some people also focused on maldonado’s past acne issue and resulting scars, suggesting he should get a treatment for his scars…
        I’ve read racist comments related to hamilton’s skin, people saying bottas looks like an old man, some argued montoya was too fat and I could go on with other rather embarassing comments about other drivers.

  12. Glad someone else sees what I see. I’ve been a fan since she drove through a race with burned hands and injured wrists. What’s more badass than a driver with the nickname the Iron Maiden? I’d much rather see Simona get a drive before Susie.

  13. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    26th February 2014, 14:59

    I hope Simona gets a drive, if not in 2015 then hopefully someday, based on merit. She seems like a young and talented prospect: two virtues which teams are interested in.

    It will do the sport a world of good to have a competitive female in it. Especially in a sport that is so prominent with men, hopefully we’ll see more women and girls interested in Formula One, and Motorsport in general.

    Wishing her all the best!

  14. Another case of an F1 prospect without the background to back it up…
    A woman shouldn’t get a drive because she is a woman. She should get a drive if she was the best driver the respective team can get.
    I used to think that anyway.
    But these days, I don’t really care.
    Max Chilton is in F1. Maldonardo graduated to Lotus. Sauber has a double pay-driver lineup.
    Whether a man pays to have a seat, or a Woman uses her gender to get a seat…. In the end it doesn’t really make much of a difference.
    So on that basis, I hope she gets a drive.
    It may at least inspire a few young girls and get them into Karting.

    1. She seems to have a bit of background. She’s apparently produced some good results considering the machinery she’s had. She could do with winning a couple of races at her current level before being justified to actually move up to F1 I think (like Chilton at least managed). She’s a much more justifiable prospect than somebody like Wolf, and might actually be on a par with some of F1’s lower achievers. As you say, as long as they have that basic talent level does it actually matter if they get in due to their Dad’s money, ethnicity, or gender?

      And Maldonado may have looked lacklustre recently, but he did win a race under fairly intense pressure not all that long ago, as well as the GP2 title (even if it was against a weak field). I’m not saying I’d have picked him, but there could be far worse drivers in his place.

    2. Maldonado’s a GP2 Champion and F1 race winner.

      Chilton is a GP2 Race winner.

      Sutil a known quantity and Guttierez is touted as better than Perez by the people that know what they’re talking about.

      De Silvestro is a podium finisher in Indy and FR 3.5.

      There is only one person that is in F1 with truly and absolutely no background to deserve it, and we all know who that is.

      1. @ukphillie

        and we all know who that is.

        I don’t actually, do you mean Ericsson? His background is pretty similar to his teammate’s when he joined F1, and that worked out ok.

        1. Someone with a race seat?

          1. Someone who married well.

          2. but @ukphillie, Guido VdGarde is not doing more driving this year than DiSilvestro is this year

      2. @ukphillie Care to divulge who that is?

      3. True. That’d be Susie Wolff

  15. Hope she gets a drive. She’s worked her way up and had some success.

    If I took a guess I’d say Sutil is just going to be a one year jobbie then De Silvestro will hopefully be in the car in 2015.

    Watched her in Indy Car…She’s the real deal.

    I am willing her on….Not least for the fact that if she is successful; that abhorrent Susie Wolff will disappear into obscurity where she belongs.

  16. Susie and Simono may not ultimately end up being the fastest women to ever sit in an F1 car.

    But they got there.

    And it is those girls they will INSPIRE who may end up being the ones that put the deabte to bed once and for all.

    1. And let’s not forget those girls who may be inspired by Maria De Villota’s bravery as well ..

  17. I hope she does not fade away like Sergey Sirotkin…

  18. F1 is not a beauty contest. But she certainly has the correct physique for an F1 driver – thick neck, strong arms and shoulders. She looks impressive and like she knows her way around a cockpit. Once she has the helmet on, no one will care what she looks like, as long as she can drive the car and drive it fast. Dare I say it, but I’m a little bit excited! Will she be travelling with the team this year? Only 18 days until Melbourne kicks off and I would dearly love to be able to add some females to my F1 autograph collection list.

  19. Already bored of women in f1…. And none of them even have a race seat yet. None of these ‘women racers’ have done anything worthy enough of getting an F1 drive. It’s all for publicity and another attempt to get people talking about F1. It’s a farce.

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