Formula One test driver Maria De Villota’s death linked to crash at Duxford airfield

Maria De Villota

Maria De Villota - Credit: Archant

The death of a Formula One reserve driver has been linked to her horrific crash at Duxford Aerodrome last July.

Maria De Villota was found dead in a hotel room in Seville, Spain, last Friday morning. She was 33.

In a statement, her family said a forensic doctor told them she had died “as a consequence of the neurological injuries she suffered” in the incident, adding: “Maria is gone, but she has left us a very clear message of joy and hope, which is helping the family move on in these moments.”

De Villota was performing straight-line testing for Formula One team Marussia when her car careered into the tail-lift of an articulated lorry.

She lost her right eye and suffered skull damage in the crash.

The Spaniard spent a month in Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, recovering from the serious head and facial injuries – described as life-threatening at the time – but was later cleared to resume driving in February this year.

Britain’s Health and Safety Executive will now look at the potential link between De Villota’s Duxford crash and her death.

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Last year Marussia said the car was not a factor in the accident. No mention has been made by De Villota’s family as to whether there is a legal case to answer on safety grounds at Duxford.

A spokesman for the Imperial War Museum, which owns the aerodrome said: “Management and staff at IWM Duxford are truly saddened to hear about the death of Maria de Villota. Our sincere condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

It is understood the Spanish racing driver was in Seville to promote her autobiography Life is a Gift.

De Villota, daughter of former Formula One driver Emilio, was involved in motor racing for 12 years, previously competing in her country’s Formula 3 competition and the Daytona 24 hours race in the United Sates. She got her first taste of Formula One testing for Lotus Renault in 2011.