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2013-10-11 10:46

SHE COULD HAVE BEEN A STAR IN F1: Despite her injuries, Maria de Villota was working as an FIA ambassador to boost female presence in motorsport before her death in October 2013. Image: AP

MADRID, Spain - Former Formula 1 test driver Maria de Villota has been found dead in a hotel in Seville, Spain.

A police spokesperson said: "We are assuming it was a natural death, but we cannot confirm anything." The spokesperson said forensics and the city's homicide unit will examine the scene.


Villota (33) lost her right eye and fractured her skull in a horrific collision during an F1 test in England in July 2012. She had recovered from life-threatening injuries but no longer raced. Villota was appointed test driver for the Marussia F1 team in 2012 though she never took part in a general test with other drivers.

The July 2012 crash happened when she inexplicably lost control of her car during aerodynamic testing at Duxford airfield, England. She struck the loading ramp of a truck resulting in serious skull and face and the loss of her right eye.


In June 2013 Villota revealed her severely damaged R39 000 carbon-fibred Bell helmet at a road-safety and spinal injury event in Madrid, Spain. The helmet was nearly cracked in half during the crash. Earlier this year she revealed that she had taken her first steps towards driving again and that, despite her traumatic experience, she held no grudge towards Formula 1.

"They gave me permission to return to driving,' she said. "The distances I can already calculate quite well and it feels like nothing ever happened. At the end of the day my natural habitat is in a car and I am happiest in that environment. I missed it.

"When your life is saved nobody owes you anything. I don't hold any rancour towards the sport. The only thing I want is for the safety in races and tests to be improved. Moreover, I feel very grateful to all the teams and drivers who have supported me after the accident."
Read more on:    marussia  |  maria de villota  |  spain  |  death  |  motorsport  |  f1

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