Maria de Villota now cleared to drive

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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.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.