Former Marussia F1 aero test driver Maria de Villota has been speaking this weekend of her new life, following her life threatening accident at Duxford almost a year ago.
De Villota was doing straight line aero tests on the runway at the former WWII airbase when she crashed into the open tailgate of a truck which was parked near the team’s temporary pit awning.
Formula 1 held its breath as she underwent a series of vital operations at Adenbrokes Hospital in nearby Cambridge. She suffered a severe head injury, lost her right eye and required 104 stitches in her face.
She was speaking this weekend at a conference in Madrid and gave a fascinating interview to La Gazzetta dello Sport in which she spoke about “life reinvented” and says she feels okay,
“Within the limits of what’s possible, the damage to my head conditions my day; I’m better in mornings than afternoons, I lost feeling in the right side of my head, I have headaches, that’s the worst bit and I’ve lost my sense of smell.
As for living with only one eye, and of the prospect of driving again she said, “I’m starting to learn perspective better, but I’m getting better at calculating distances. I don’t have reference points, for example for braking or with another car in front. It will get better, but I don’t know how much.”
De Villota says that she remembers every moment of the incident at Duxford, “But I cannot speak about it because it is the subject of an investigation. I believe in justice and I prefer to act cautiously, that the investigators will do their work and establish what happened that day.”
As for how the accident has changed her outlook on life she says, “I have a totally different view on life, the scale of values changes from what I was used to; problems are all relative, I see life with great optimism.
“Initially I was angry with the doctor because he had failed to save my eye, but then little by little I became aware that losing an eye was a lot less important with respect to what I still had; life itself. I felt I’d been part of a miracle. I look now at my scars as part of my story, I carry them with pride.”
As for the future she is throwing herself into various projects including a road safety campaign with the FIA and some F1 broadcasting work with Spanish TV rights holder Antenne 3.
* A programme on Women in Motorsport, hosted by BBC Radio 5 Live F1 presenter Jennie Gow will air on that station on Tuesday 30th April at 9.30pm. The programme is not rights restricted so can be listened to anywhere in the world via Tune In app or online. This is the talked-about show which features some rather 20th century views from Sir Stirling Moss as well as input from Williams’ development driver Susie Wolff, Claire Williams, Bernie Ecclestone and others.