Almost eight months after losing her right eye in a testing accident, former Marussia test driver Maria de Villota has been cleared to drive again.
The Spanish racer told AFP that while she still suffers from headaches and that “very busy days take their toll,” her recovery has gone well. In addition, her love for driving is still intact despite her ordeal.
“The distances I can already calculate quite well and it feels like nothing ever happened,” said de Villota, the daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota. “At the end of the day, my natural habitat is in a car and I am happiest in that environment. I missed it.”
De Villota was injured on July 3, 2012 at Duxford Airfield in England after crashing into the back of a Marussia support truck following the end of her first straight-line test run.
Last October, she spoke of the incident at a press conference in Madrid, Spain, and revealed a newfound appreciation for life as a whole.
“Before, I only saw F1, I saw myself in a car competing. I did not see what was important in life, the clarity to say: ‘I am alive,'” she said in Madrid. “It has given me my bearings, given me back what’s important. I accept it with the energy to say I am going to live out this chance 100%.”
We certainly wish Maria de Villota all the best in her continued recovery.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.