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Marussia F1 driver De Villota seriously injured in aero testing accident
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Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Jul 2012   |  12:00 pm GMT  |  99 comments

[Updated 16:00 BST) Maria de Villota, the Marussia test driver, has been seriously injured in a straight line aero test session at Duxford Aerodrome, according to local emergency services.

De Villota was in the early stages of a day of driving the Marussia car for the first time in the programme when she made contact with a truck.

An exact report of what happened has not been issued yet, but it seems she was at the end of an initial run and was manoeuvring close to the team's operations tent, when she ran into the tailgate of a support truck, which struck her helmet.

The resulting injuries were described by the local ambulance service as "life threatening" and she was transferred to Adenbrookes' Hospital in Cambridge, one of the UKs's leading hospitals.

Around midday a report emerged that she was in a stable condition with head and face injuries.

A statement from Marussia at 15:00 BST said, “Since Maria’s arrival at the hospital at approximately 10.45hrs this morning, she has been receiving the best medical attention possible at the hospital, which is the region’s major trauma centre. Maria is conscious and medical assessments are ongoing. The team will await the outcome of these assessments before providing further comment.

“The team’s first priority at this time is Maria and her family.”

An earlier statement from the team had announced the accident like this, “At approximately 09.15hrs BST this morning, the Marussia F1 Team’s Test Driver Maria De Villota had an accident in the team’s MR-01 race car at Duxford Airfield where she was testing the car for the first time. The accident happened at the end of her first installation run and involved an impact with the team’s support truck.

“Maria has been transferred to hospital. Once her medical condition has been assessed a further statement will be issued.”

Local police added that the accident was "low speed" while an East of England Ambulance service spokesman said, "A woman has sustained life threatening injuries and following treatment at the scene by paramedics, she has been taken to Addenbrookes Hospital for further care."

The Duxford test was a significant one for the team, to confirm the new aerodynamic package on the Marussia, as team principal John Booth explained earlier in the week,

“We have a fairly significant upgrade for this race, comprising a new rear wing, exhausts, floor and side pods. I would have to describe this as our ‘first proper wind-tunnel generated upgrade of the season’; this is the first fully developed package that is not just a modification of existing elements.

"That is a big result in itself, aside from the performance step we hope it will bring us, as it means we have caught up with ourselves in terms of the diligent way in which we have approached and developed our Technical Partnership.

"We look forward to seeing what this brings, both at Silverstone and at Duxford Airfield beforehand, when we will be integrating the developments into our correlation programme. Duxford is also the first of our Test Driver Maria De Villota’s scheduled track days. She has been waiting patiently all year for this date to come around, so we look forward to seeing her in the car for the first time."

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99 Comments
  1. Lee Payne says:

    Terrible news James. Let’s hope she pulls through.

  2. Brendan says:

    Terrible news, hope she is OK.

    BBC news report that the car accellerated unexpectedly and that her head/helmet appeared to take the brunt of the impact.

    1. Mark Gibbons says:

      ..and sky says she locked the rear tyres and lost the car.

      Looks very nasty indeed. Why is there ANYTHING that can be hit nearby on a straight line test ?
      Can’t be that difficult to run the opposite way from stuff like that, surely.

      1. chris says:

        she was coming back in after a successful run apparently

      2. Chris C says:

        according to all the news sources other than sky. She wasn’t on the test run at the time of the accident she had pulled off the runway for the Mechanics to have a look over the car when it accelerated unexpectedly as they were approaching it so the support truck shouldn’t have been a danger no more so than pulling into the garage in the pit lane.

      3. Peter C says:

        Read the report. She did not hit ANYTHING on a straight-line test.

      4. Mark Gibbons says:

        I was implying that news sources are unreliable and conflicting, not that i believed them!

  3. Galapago555 says:

    Our thoughts and prayers are with María and her family.

    Ánimo, María.

    Get well soon.

  4. Rob Newman says:

    Very sad. We hope and pray she is ok.

  5. Adelaide says:

    I’m very concerned. Here’s hoping she’ll pull trough.

  6. jenks says:

    Best wishes and a speedy recovery to her.

    Terribly unlucky and strange accident. The head area is the only really vulnerable part of an F1 car.

  7. Grabsplatter says:

    Obviously, at the moment the priority is the health of De Villota. However, the fact that the car reportedly started to accerelate as mechanics were moving towards it is a major worry. It does sound rather like the car just decided to pull away. If this is what has happened then the only good thing is that this didn’t happen in the pits during a GP weekend. I assume there was not enough time to hit the engine kill switch.

    James, I was wondering, do these straight line tests have the same standard of medical supervision as normal tests?

  8. Jay B says:

    I really hope she makes it out of this ok. Some reports suggest the anti-stall system, which increases the revs of the car, may have played a part and perhaps she was not familiar with this system/did not expect that it would activate. Usually drivers are relatively safe in F1 cars in ‘normal’ crashes – even at high speed. Unfortunately the nature of open-cockpit race-cars mean that the head will always be in a vulnerable position.

  9. David says:

    Picture:

    http://twitpic.com/a3duh9/full

    You can see that the cockpit area is beneath the loading platform :(

    I hope she recovers. I think freak accidents are biggest risk to a driver these days.

    1. MISTER says:

      WOW.
      From the looks of that picture, the loading platform on the truck looks to be where the car hit..and that platform is at the same height as where the drivers head is.
      I surely hope she will be OK.

      Why would someone leave that loading platform at that height?

      1. Alex W says:

        “Why would someone leave that loading platform at that height?” It makes a handy step.

      2. jeff says:

        Hindsight is 20-20, but leaving the truck in that state was making the area a lot more risky than it needed to be.

        I read that she’s regained conciousness. I hope she makes a full recovery.

    2. Ian C. says:

      The surface looks like it’s concrete and wet or at least damp. Not the best surface to try a stop an F1 car on slicks.

      1. Martin says:

        Looking at the pic the tyres have the green stripe, I think that denotes inters or full wets.

  10. Kevin says:

    Terrible and tragic news. For me it highlights the inherent dangers of this sport which provides us all with so much entertainment and understanding of our human condition. I’m not familiar with Maria’s racing pedigree but I hope that going forward the only people who step into a formula one car are there because they are one of the elite few who can handle it and no other factors are in play.

  11. “De Villota was in the early stages of a day of driving the Marussia car for the first time in the programme when he made contact with a truck. The resulting injuries were described by the local ambulance service as “life threatening” and she was transferred to Adenbrookes’ Hospital in Cambridge, one of the UKs’s leading hospitals.”

    Change the he to she! Anyhow terrible news, hope she pulls out of it.

    1. Ambient Sheep says:

      Also, it’s “Addenbrooke’s”, not “Adenbrookes’”.

      http://www.cuh.org.uk/addenbrookes/addenbrookes_index.html

      My very best wishes to Maria, I hope she makes a full recovery as soon as possible.

  12. Ben says:

    James, what are the FIA safety regulations regarding straight line tests on airfields. It seems there is a serious oversight that a Formula 1 car can be operating under its own power anywhere near a structure where it can get wedged under.

    An incident like this is one of the most serious types of accident a modern Formula 1 car can have as the exposed cockpits make it impossible to give any form of head protection to the drivers. If there aren’t any FIA regulations covering this sort of set up then it is serious lapse by the safety regulators.

    Either way, I am also surprised it is not something the teams would have picked up on. Yes, they are operating on an airfield where they don’t have pit structures and therefore need to operate from their trucks, however if it is the case their trucks need to be so close to a Formula 1 car operating under power then they should have ensured the underneath of the truck had crash protection to stop a car from being wedged underneath, and to stop the driver’s head from taking the impact.

    We have seen on the track many close calls where cars have almost struck the heads of other drivers (Michael Schumacher by Liuzzi in Abu Dhabi 2010, Wurz by Coulthard in Australia 2007) – while these incidents are impossible to protect against as they involve two cars hitting each other at speed, a Formula 1 car striking a stationary object in this manner is something that is preventable.

    I don’t want to beat up on Marussia as obviously at the moment they will be coming to terms with the incident, but they do need to answer some serious questions later on regarding how this incident took place as there are clearly some serious lapses in their Health and Safefty precautions.

    Yes, it says on the ticket that motor racing is dangerous, but this was not some fluke incident; even if it was an unpredictable car fault or driver error that caused the car to accelerate into the back of the truck, the car should never have been able to get underneath in the manner that it did.

    I really hope that Maria make a full recovery from this accident, and that serious lessons are learned by the teams and the FIA.

    1. Brian Morrison says:

      Looking at the picture, it seems that the platform on the back of the truck was at the same height as her head and probably visor slot. So from eye level that sharp-edged metal sheet was essentially invisible as it would have merged with the rear of the truck.

      Add to that undoubted unfamiliarity with the car and the sensations of driving it and the obvious lack of warning placards around the truck and a minor problem with engine idle or a foot getting caught on the throttle and there is no margin left to avoid the crash.

      1. Ben says:

        The fact that the truck was parked with its rear lift at helmet height makes the situation 10 time worse, although even without it there it is still a dangerous situation. At the very least the truck should have been parked with its lift pointing away from the area where the car was operating in, but I maintain that the truck should have had a crash protection structure inbetween it and the live area, or have it parked behind something like a tyre wall.

      2. Paul Kirk says:

        Ben, I don’t your line of business is, but you sure don’t know much about motorsport, my advice to you is “Go back to sleep”.
        PK.

      3. Ben says:

        Paul, could you say that with a little more condescension in your tone and with a little less constructiveness. Let’s assume that I “don’t know much about motorsport” but if you are going to throw around statements like that then you need to back it up rather than just with sarcastic, meaningless retorts like “Go back to sleep.”

        It should also be pointed out that risk analysis doesn’t actually require intimate knowledge of motorsport. This is a work related accident and as a result a thorough risk analysis should have been conducted – just as it would have done had it been any other business from a school trip to a major construction project. Motorsport doesn’t get some special waiver because it’s motorsport and it’s therefore special. Any risk analysis conducted competently would have highlighted this as a potential danger. Maria is lucky to have only escaped with the serious injuries she has sustained, the way that she hit the lift at the back of the truck – a sharp edge at visor level, the weakest part of the helmet – I am amazed that she is still alive.

        Yes, the Marussia team are going to be feeling terrible about what has happened, however that does not excuse them if they are found to have failed to have provide due diligence on their safety precautions – that would only make it worse.

      4. Blade Runner says:

        Horrible accident, I also think that she may not of even seen the ramp on the back of the wagon it would, as you say, of blended into the trucks rear body.

        Hope she recovers OK and drives again.

        I dont really agree with all the speculation about who’s fault it is.

        Sometimes accidents are just accidents and no amount of Risk Assessment or Method Statement paperwork or procedure can stop some accidents happening.

  13. Quercus says:

    This is not the first time a race car has gone into or under a support vehicle. I was at Aintree many years ago when a Formula Ford went under a lorry during a test session.

    Low race cars and higher vehicles are incompatible and should be nowhere near each other without a barrier in between. I’ve long worried about tele-handlers, cranes and trucks being on track during F1 meetings, even while cars are under safety cars or yellow flags — and I’ve mentioned it before on this JA site. I hope this will serve as a final warning.

    My thoughts are with Maria and her family.

    1. Alex W says:

      I agree with you, but I think it will take a top driver to get decapitated before they stop using standard flatbed trucks on racetracks.

  14. Richard says:

    BBC Cambridgeshire News Photo of incident

    http://twitpic.com/a3duh9

  15. Wayne says:

    God bless, De Villota, best thoughts and hopes for you.

  16. Calum says:

    Dreadful turn of events. Fingers crossed for Maria and hope she makes a full and swift recovery.

  17. Copy n paste says:

    You should read an article before copying it! Like paragraph 2, she not he. Hope Sky appreciate the plagiarism.

    1. KGBVD says:

      Everyone gets the same news from wire services, AP, Reuters, etc. Copying and pasting is what they are paid for.

      Let’s keep the asinine comments to a more appropriate forum.

      1. Jezick says:

        No, there is a place for this. People need to realise how many forums/blogs are simple cut & paste. That is not journalism.

        Writing with ‘authority’ on the sport while never having been to a race makes them no better than the armchair critics on the web. [cringe]

      2. KGBVD says:

        This is a journalist’s website, not an armchair blogger. Every news outlet on the planet copies news wires on breaking stories. That is how news is distributed.

        You think every journalist on the planet waits until someone answers his/her calls before reporting on a story? Please.

      3. James Allen says:

        The funny thing is that it was my typo he not she, if Sky did it too then it’s a co-incidence.

        The only things I ever cut and paste are quotes from press releases etc

        I would never cut and paste body copy because I’m more than capable of writing copy myself !

      4. KGBVD says:

        I would never assume otherwise!

        This is a fantastic site and a stand alone from a lot of the other internet drivel. Just defending your integrity!

        Now if I can only listen to Radio5 overseas…

  18. Oliver Drew says:

    Thoughts and prayers have to be with her – sounds like a very odd incident…

    Hopefully she pulls through – her helmet taking the brunt of the impact does not sound good at all.

    Keep fighting Maria.

  19. Alex W says:

    There is a BBC audio recording, sounded like anti stall kicked in and she didn’t expect it. Hope she is OK.

    1. But anti-stall works by disengaging the clutch, which would prevent the car from moving… unless it malfunctioned and somehow managed to keep from stalling while the clutch was still engaged.

      1. Alex W says:

        Yes you are correct, in any case it is bizarre that she didn’t get on the brakes intime, by instinct more than anything else.

      2. That’s what confused me too. Just about anyone should be able to steer around a truck, one would think.

        With her experience, I can’t see her panicking and freezing after doing something wrong (e.g. thinking it’s in neutral and dumping the clutch). I also can’t see how she could have any conditions that would make her pass out behind the wheel (body goes limp, finger lets go of the clutch and foot rests on the throttle).

        Definitely bizarre.

  20. franed says:

    What happened? Did she go under the truck?

  21. Alam Z says:

    This sounds horrendous.

    I hope she is ok.

  22. Sebastian says:

    Sounds awful! I hope you can give us some updates on her condition.

  23. Ade says:

    I’ll maybe get chastised for even considering a comparison like this, but a couple of years back there was demonstration held in Dubai by Renault F1. In this Romain Grosjean and the local Rally specialist Mohd Bin Sulayem were to have a drag race at the Dubai Autodrome in the 2008 F1 Renault cars. Bin Sulayem managed about 50m before his car lurched right into the track wall and he totalled the car – he was thankfully unhurt. He could not explain later what happened.
    The only reason I mention this is to highlight what I think most of us already appreciate, that these machines are really not for the uninitiated. In unskilled hands they can be lethal. This was Maria’s first run in an F1 car…! I hope and pray she will be alright, but I have a feeling she won’t be driving one of these cars again. What a pity for her.

    1. Barry says:

      “This was Maria’s first run in an F1 car…!”

      It was not.

      She has previously tested for Renault.

    2. StefMeister says:

      “This was Maria’s first run in an F1 car…!”

      Was actually her 2nd time in an F1 car, She drove a Renault R29 at Paul Ricard last year.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsRjHOxoFD4

    3. KGBVD says:

      Agreed.

      They are called super-licences for a reason.

      I can’t help but think that this is a situation of the car “getting away from her”. Which leads to a number of uncomfortable questions about testing, young drivers, and how to ensure that new drivers, when they are given the chance, are capable.

      1. Wu says:

        Whether it did get away from her or not, that truck should not have been there.

        Can we also stop speculating at this time? I find it rather sick.

        Our thoughts should go out to her and her family and loved ones, untill we know more, and more details are bound to come out soon. Let’s just wish her well for now, yeh?

      2. KGBVD says:

        Your right, something goes wrong, let’s close our eyes and just hope it never happens again.

        Opening a discourse leads to establishing the preventative measures that will preclude these events in the future.

        If there is a possibility that the anti-stall kicking in, the truck was just parked in the wrong place, or she just lost it, all scenarios should be dissected addressed; instead of just waiting for an outcome.

      3. Carlos says:

        I think you need 300km of testing to get your superlicense.

      4. KGBVD says:

        Yes, but do we know if she had one?

        There is a big problem in F1 ever since Kimi arrived– showing that an F3 driver CAN compete in F1. No one really addressed whether or not they SHOULD be allowed in the cars with so little experience, or more perhaps more importantly, credentials.

    4. zombie says:

      @ Ade : That’s the first incident i thought about. An inexperienced driver’s first time in an F1 car, and crashing it in a straight line.Mohd Bin Sulayem is a regional rally champ with many a titles under his belt. He drove straight into the barriers thanks to cold tires and lead-footed flooring the throttle! If my memory serves me right, he has stayed away from F1 cars since then !

  24. Chris says:

    I read about this earlier today via scarbs and I really hope she pulls through, truly awful news.

  25. Mike from Colombia says:

    Terrible terrible news. I really hope that she pulls through.

  26. KGBVD says:

    What a horrific accident :S

    I must ask, though:
    Given that it (in all probability) this wasn’t a car failure, are Virgin going ahead with the test?
    Do teams run straight-line tests with a reserve driver, just in case?

    1. Why do you say that? Do you think she mistook her right foot for her left foot and her finger slipped off the clutch?

      1. KGBVD says:

        When was the last time you saw an F1 car (or any other car) shoot off without warning? When anti-stall kicks in on the grid, a car stops, it doesn’t shoot forward at speed without warning.

        A new driver, 1st time in an F1 car, one the 1st run, having a low speed crash. So yes, I would think she make a mistake in there somewhere.

      2. She tested for Renault last year. It’s not her first time in an F1 car. She’s also driven in Superleague, which are also high-powered open-wheel cars.

        I didn’t say it was anti-stall (unless the clutch failed to disengage and the algorithm compensated with more throttle and instead of stalling, the car launched… not probable, but who knows?). The fact is that I don’t know what it is, and neither do you, so we probably shouldn’t blame someone with years of racing experience right off the bat just because she may not have the talent of Vettel.

        If it was error, what do you think she did? There’s no launch control anymore, no KERS on the Marussia, anti-stall disengages the clutch. What mistake could she have possibly made?

      3. KGBVD says:

        Her “years of experience” amount to one year in Ferrari challenge (2005), one full season in Superleague (2010), two WTCC races, and one F3000. Her results speak for themselves.

        There are literally 100s of racing drivers with more experience, better results, etc. She was in the car for the wrong reasons (particularly since Pic and Glock were doing nothing that day).

        Now that’s no different than dozens of other drivers over the past decades, but now that something bad has [inevitably] happened, maybe it’s time to discuss the implications of it.

      4. KGBVD says:

        We aren’t doing her, or any future young testers, any favours by ignoring the fact that maybe she shouldn’t have been in the car.

        Drivers of F1 cars should have the experience and trophies to back up their chance to drive the fastest cars on the planet.

      5. Well, she managed to test a Renault last year without hitting anything. She wasn’t fast, but she didn’t embarrass herself either.

        Karthekeyan is no more talented than she is. Half of the drivers that have sat in the seats of Minardi weren’t either. Same with the latter years of Tyrrell and the original Team Lotus. They just happened to go one step further and get a race seat.

        F1 has always had at least a few drivers that aren’t very talented. Right from the beginning, there were “Gentleman Drivers” that paid their way – wealthy men that bought fast cars from other teams and filled out the back of the grid. Some were talented, some were not.

        These cars are still cars, when it comes right down to it. Four wheels and a steering wheel. It’s not rocket science to drive one in a straight line, or even in an exhibition (teams regularly throw in random people into their older cars for exhibitions in cities). F1 cars are fast, but it’s not like they are holy. They’re just fast cars. Look up Corse Clienti or the BOSS series.

      6. KGBVD says:

        Disagree.

        These are ‘cars’ is only the glibbest of interpretations. They are computers on wheels with lots of buttons, leaving room for lots of mistakes. Not helped by the fact that they are completely counter-intuitive to drive.

        Secondly, that you can cite a parade of mediocrity at the back of the grid doesn’t refute the notion that they may not have had the talent to be there.

        Karthykeyan raced in Superleague too, and won, twice. In her entire racing career, di Villota never even podiumed.

        All I’m saying, is that she perhaps [likely] shouldn’t have been in the car, particularly when Pic and Glock were doing nothing that day. Also, that the accident should at least lead to some tighter regulations on who is allowed to get in these cars.

  27. daphne says:

    Had there been more experienced teams at this test, this may not have happened. This is a great reason for advocating more communal in-season testing, where there are bullet proof policies and procedures in place to ensure the safety of all concerned.

    1. They are a very experienced team. Not only have they been in F1 for three years, but they have also raced in F3 for many years. Manor Motorsport (who actually run Marussia) have been around since 1990. I think they know what they’re doing when it comes to testing.

  28. AndyK says:

    Shocking. I wonder if the anti stall system kicked in and launched her forward unexpectedly.. I’m not too sure how these systems work.. But presumably not by completely disengaging the clutches.
    Hope she makes a quick recovery!

    1. KGBVD says:

      Anti-stall disengages the clutch. Any system that lurges a car forward at speed would be incredibly unsafe and banned 100%.

      I think this one was probably operator error.

      (I know I would screw up my first time in an f1 car… If I ever got the chance.)

      1. AndyK says:

        Ah ok. Well perhaps it happened when it re engaged the clutch.. I know the driver wouldn’t have to manually
        Re engage the clutch once it’s ‘pressed’ only speculation anyway I guess.. We’ll have to wait for someone in the know to report on it.

      2. Lee Payne says:

        As any learner driver knows the best way to save a dying engine is to disengage the clutch. It sounds like the engine was misfiring but I don’t think it was anti stall.

        I don’t think we should be trying to apportion blame on the poor woman. She may not be world champion but she’s still a highly skilled professional with enough experience of racing cars to be in the marussia in the first place.

  29. Rich C says:

    Maybe the KERS suddenly went active?

    1. Christos Pallis says:

      This team don’t have kers

  30. zombie says:

    I wish a speedy recovery to the young lady.

    But it really begs the question if she was the best candidate for Marussia’s test programme ? Or was it a marketing ploy ? In either case, it sounds like a lethal combination of inexperience and badluck to me.

    1. Lee Payne says:

      Zombie I don’t think that’s fair. This kind of freak accident can happen to the best of them. Mario Andretti hit a service vehicle at Road America once and only a few months ago Jaun Montoya hit a jet dryer under caution.

      I’m not sure this is the time or place to question her CV. Shes raced in the Daytona 24hrs and World Touring Cars. Okay she’s not Vettel but everything is relative. Just because she isn’t world champ doesnt mean that she can’t do a straight line test. If she did make an error so what? Whys that her fault surely that could just as easily be a briefing failure on the part of the team, it’s her first time in this car and it’s the teams responsibility to make sure she has all the information necessary not to end the day in intensive care.

      When was the last time your watched a GP and nobody made a mistake?

      1. zombie says:

        Not sure what made you get your shorts in a knot, i am just saying what others have said before, it “may have been avoided” had it been an experienced driver.

        Yes, a 32 year old former touring car,audi series/superleague driver ( places she won exactly nada! She has won a whooper 1 race in her 12 year racing career ! ) was signed because of her stellar talents, and eye-watering technical feedback – no! If that wasn’t a marketing ploy by Marussia, i don;’t know what is !

        Both Andretti and Montoya were in race situation when those accidents happened with a full grid of cars around them. She was trying to park the darn car and ran straight into the truck – big difference !

      2. Weezy says:

        Montoya’s actually happened under caution and he was all by himself on the portion of track he hit the jet-dryer… Just saying.

      3. Lee Payne says:

        well if you’d permit me the opportunity to respectfully disagree. [mod]

        For your information the Andretti and Montoya incidents werent under race conditions they were under cautions and were examples of drivers losing concentration in relatively routine situations, like coming back to the pits in an unfamiliar car. De La Rosa hit his own mechanic during pit stop practice in Canada it happens all the time.

        Your point about her racing record also doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. So she hasn’t won, Oliver Turvey has barely stood on the top step and he is mclaren’s test driver would you be so critical of his ability in the same situation? Why? Oh because he’s a bloke and you’re a misogynist.

        Let’s assume for now that you are correct and the car did indeed get away from her. So what does that prove. As I said earlier that could just as easily be down to a poorly executed briefing on the part of the team. If she did make a mistake is that evidience that she isnt up to the job? I think most fair minded people, and those of us who don’t think it’s acceptable to aggressively respond to someone because they happen to disagree with your views would draw that conclusion. The point is we don’t know what happened and therefore I don’t think it’s fair to be critical of her when she’s lying injured in hospital.

      4. zombie says:

        “Race conditions” as in they were in a dang “race” !

        I stand corrected.Maria de Villota should replace Seb Vettel or F Alonso with immediate effect. Such talent and skills should not go waste. Makes me wonder why she remained under wraps for 32 years, must’ve been a CIA plot !

        Again, i wish a speedy recovery to the lady. And hope this is a lesson to the FIA to allow more in season testing for less experienced drivers, and a lesson to teams to choose drivers based on merit and not marketing opportunities.

  31. Martin says:

    A truly awfull accident but sadly an avoidable one. A really simple change is to close the tail lift door and use other transporer doors when cars are running. Hitting just about anything else at that test would have been embarrassing, not “life threatening”

    My thoughts are with her.

  32. BasilBeDemented says:

    Hope she’s OK

  33. Ian C. says:

    The Belgian F1 magazine F1i is saying that apparently she hit the truck and then the lift fell on her. So the lift was up before she hit the truck.

  34. Ian C. says:

    To those who have said that the anti-stall might have caused the accident, the technical regs require the clutch to become disengaged when the anti-stall is activated.

  35. David Ryan says:

    Thoughts and prayers with Maria and her family, and fingers crossed for a full recovery.

    It’s too early in my view to speculate as to what caused the collision, and I only hope that once the reason is found steps are taken to prevent it happening again. What I would say, though, is that I feel it is time to look again at the need for F1 and other single-seater categories to be open cockpit. This was a freak accident, but it makes the risks all too apparent.

  36. Hmm, not nice. Felt really bad this morning for MdeV but some encouraging news coming in lately.

    Motorsport is dangerous, especially when F1 testing is conducted at improper facilites, this ban on in-season testing was a terrible idea since the beginning. You can argue and say this and that about cost-cutting measures but what if something fails at high speed, rear wing failure or tyre explosion – where do you go? No run-off areas, no safety barriers. Hope the FIA and the teams take a good look at what’s happened today and learn their lessons. Plenty of proper circuits in Europe for testing; cut driver salaries, get rid of fancy chefs, scale down motorhomes, save some cash for test sessions.

    Also, make sure all drivers (including pay-drivers) are psycologically fit for racing, mean GP2/GP3 and F3 is filled with kids who are not suitable for a job of a racing driver. Even Vettel did his bit with stupid mistakes like Fuji 2007.

  37. forzaRonan says:

    Seriously folks, please don’t speculate as to the cause of this accident. No matter how expert you think you are, you are not in this case. Let the team tell us what happened. Our thoughts should be with Maria for now. Get well Soon, Maria.

  38. Max L says:

    First off, I join everybody here in hoping Maria makes a full and speedy recovery.

    While I think it’s too early to speculate on the cause of the crash, I think it’s safe to say that the safety standards at the airfield are nowhere near those found at an F1 race weekend. Even before the crash, you had an F1 car running near 200 mph with no walls, no prepared runoff area, and on a surface that isn’t built/maintained for racing cars. In the “pit area” you had the car running in an area where it could hit all sorts of things, including the truck that De Villota hit.

    Marussia isn’t to blame for this – all F1 teams run straightline tests in similar conditions. The blame for this lies squarely with the FIA for permitting tests like these to occur. F1 cars are unpredictable and dangerous beasts, and they should only be run on properly prepared race circuits staffed by professional safety workers.

    It’s time for a controlled return to limited in-season testing and a ban on testing F1 cars outside of these tests. F1 safety standards are the highest in the racing world on a race weekend – why should standards drop for a test? The human cost of a serious accident is still the same whether it happens in front of Bernie’s TV cameras or on a random airfield.

    1. It’s a private test. How can the FIA be liable for anything a team does? It is up to the team to make sure that any testing, exhibitions or running of the car is done in a safe manner.

      This is 100% Marussia’s fault.

  39. Alex says:

    I wish Maria well and pray she makes a full recovery.

    Given all the resources and logistics that seem to have gone into running a test at an airfield why not just let teams have time for aero work at purpose built race tracks?

    1. tom in adelaide says:

      Or save the money, ban the silly straight line tests and extend FP1 sessions by an hour or so. Or, if the teams are worried about young drivers trashing the car, have a testing session the day after every third G.P. Silly little clauses like the straight-line tests and media shoots just open the door for cheaters and “boundary pushers” (aka RedBull).

      1. Simple says:

        Precisely. +1

  40. Tim says:

    My prayers are with Maria de Villota, her family and friends.

  41. Wu says:

    I am flabbergasted at some comments here. Tradegies and other hard times show exactly what kind of person one is. Thankfully, most people here are decent enough though.

    My thoughts go out to her and her loved ones. Wish her well and a speedy recovery.

  42. Mike says:

    This is what happens when you let women around high performance vehicles. You let them fly fighter planes, they crash them into the ocean;you let them drive F1 cars, they crash them. Hopefully, this will be a lesson to all women that they should never forsake the kitchen for the race track unless they are grid girls

  43. VM says:

    However she would have still gone under the truck, unless it has low bumpers or the like. A formula 1 car is very low. They would have to put temporary barriers in front of vehicles and equipment that had to be there. But one thinks the car would absorb the impact.

  44. blaize says:

    Apparently she lost the use of her Right Eye. Devasted by this news that in this era of F1 something like this can happen. I feel so sorry for her. Its the end of her career.

  45. GT_Racer says:

    For those using this to insist testing is brought back, Worth pointing out that this sort of straght line test on runways was still been carried out even when testing was allowed & would still be done even if testing was brought back.

    Also teams are currently allowed to do straght line runs at actual circuits. They use runways because circuits in the UK tend to not have straghts long enough for them to get the data they need & they don’t want to spend the extra costs to travel to Paul Ricard (Which does have a straght long enough).

  46. PeteF12012 says:

    few comments about in-season testing needing to return because of this.
    i dont think testing should come back because i think if we had testing again we woudnt be having the season were having.

    since testing was banned the performance between teams has closed up & i think if testing came back the gaps would open up again.

    this year for instance with testing teams would have already figured out tyres & got there upgrades working & as a result the championship/races woudn’t be so close & unpredictable.

    what happened at this test is unfortunate but i dont think it shoudl be used as a reason to bring back proper testing. afterall we have had this testing for many years now & this is the 1st incident of any sort of occur on there airport runways.

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