The motorsport world is in mourning for Maria de Villota, who was found dead in a hotel room in Seville. She was 33.
According to the BBC, a police spokeswoman said: “We are assuming it was a natural death, but we cannot confirm anything.”
De Villota rose to prominence in the last year as a campaigner for safety after she lost an eye in a testing accident with Marussia F1 team at Duxford in the summer of 2012. She became an ambassador for the FIA and appeared on the platform at the FIA Sports Conference week in Goodwood in June, speaking about safety.
“I should not be here,” she said. “Last year I had my accident on 3 July. I woke up on 7 July and the doctors said I was a miracle. We cannot forget that motorsport is dangerous. I hear the word accident but for me an accident is something like a tsunami or being struck by lightening. You can not avoid them.
“Things that you can avoid are not accidents, so there is still a lot to do. The first thing is a regulation on aero testing in airfields. It’s not regulated. In Formula 1, we go into detail in the pursuit of excellence.
“When I go into schools and I see all children, they ask me what the best thing about Formula 1 is. I say it’s not about the speed, it s not about the glamour. It’s about doing things in the very best way. We need to do a lot more.”
She appeared in our JA on F1 July podcast from Goodwood.
A note from her family on her Facebook page this morning said simply,
“Dear friends: Maria has left us.
“She had to go to heaven like all the angels. We thank God for the extra year and a half he left her with us.”
A statement from Marussia team said, “It is with great sadness that we learned a short time ago of the news that Maria de Villota has passed away.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”
De Villota, the daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, had been in Seville to take part in a media event around her new book all about her experiences.