Former Marussia test driver Maria de Villota has died at the age of 33, it has been confirmed by her family.
“Dear friends: Maria is gone. She had to go to heaven with all of the angels. Give thanks to God for the year and a half we had left together. Signed, the Villota family.”
The Spaniard had been in Seville to launch her new autobiography “Life is a Gift” that talked about her horrific accident in a straight-line test for Marussia that saw her lose her right eye eighteen months ago.
According to a report from Radio Cadena Ser (based in Seville), de Villota was found dead in her hotel room at 7:00am on Friday morning, and despite the best efforts of the emergency services, she could not be resuscitated.
The daughter of former grand prix driver Emilio, de Villota had been one of the most prominent women in Formula One until her accident last season. Having undertaken tests with Lotus at the end of 2011, de Villota joined Marussia and played a support role to full-time drivers Charles Pic and Timo Glock.
However, in July of last year, an accident saw de Villota’s Marussia crash into the back of a team truck, leaving her with severe head injuries that resulted in the loss of her right eye. She still remained involved with Formula One after the accident though, appearing in the paddock at the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year.
Following the news, teams and drivers took to Twitter to lend their support to de Villota’s family and friends.