F1 driver 'conscious' after crash

2012-07-03 18:20

LONDON, England - Spanish Formula 1 driver Maria De Villota suffered serious injuries on Tuesday during a crash while testing for the Marussia team.

She was rushed to hospital after an early-morning crash at Duxford Airfield circuit in southern England with ambulance officials initially describing her injuries as "life-threatening".

Marussia said in an updated statement that the 32-year-old test driver from Madrid was conscious as she underwent treatment for head and face injuries at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge. "Since Maria's arrival at the hospital she has been receiving the best medical attention possible - it's the region's major trauma centre," the team said. "She is conscious and medical assessments are ongoing.

"We will await the outcome of these assessments before providing further comment - our first priority is Maria and her family."


Marussia earlier said De Villota was injured when her car collided with a support vehicle at the end of her first lap. BBC radio presenter Chris Mann, who witnessed the crash, said her car hit the truck after suddenly accelerating.

"She got into the car, fired it up, and did a test run at probably about 320km/h in rain," Mann said. "The car was slightly misfiring but there didn't seem to be any concerns. She came back into the area we were in with the engineers, slowed, but then suddenly and inexplicably accelerated through the crowd and smashed into the truck.

"The top of her car and her helmet seemed to take the brunt of it and she didn't move for about 15 minutes. Fire crews were there within seconds and an ambulance within minutes.

"After a while we thought we saw some movement of her hands but she appeared to be unconscious or unable to move for quite some time."

De Villota, daughter of former Spanish F1 driver Emilio De Villota, was given a test drive by Renault in 2011 and has raced in Spanish F3 and the Daytona 24 Hours.


The F1 world reacted in shock to news of the crash.

"Terrible accident for Maria de Villota, Marussia F1 team test driver. My thoughts are with Maria and her family at this very difficult time," British driver Jenson Button wrote on Twitter.

Villota's compatriot Fernando Alonso added: "I just got home and found out Maria's accident, all my energy with you!"

Women drivers remain a rarity in F1. In April, 2012 Williams signed German touring car driver Susie Wolff as the team's development driver and she was among those who expressed concern for De Villota's welfare. "Sick in the stomach after hearing about Maria crashing in the Marussia F1 this morning. Please please please let her be ok," she wrote on Twitter.

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, including South Africa's Desire Wilson, have entered F1 races, the most frequent being Italian Lella Lombardi, who started 12 GP's in the 1970's.

Marussia began racing in 2010 under the Virgin banner. The team rebranded as Marussia in 2012 with Charles Pic driving alongside Timo Glock. The team not scored points so far in 2012.