Bangalore, 11 Oct 2013: The tragic news that former Marussia F1 test driver, Maria de Villota, died at a Spanish hotel (in Seville) on Friday morning, saddened all of us at India in F1 dot com.
Born on 13 January in Madrid, 33 summers back in 1980, Maria chased a dream of becoming an F1 driver. And after almost 25 years without a female behind an F1 steering wheel, Maria came as a whiff of fresh air, when she tested the Marussia in July last year, but the euphoria ended quickly as she met with a freak accident and lost her right eye after a month’s hospitalisation.
Maria’s words: “Life, really, is a gift.” And her favourite book was Bombay Smiles, a journalists story of a visit to India. She was in Seville to launch her autobiography `Life is a gift’. Police said the death was natural, according to agency reports.
The FIA family today comes together to express its sincere condolences to the family of María de Villota, who passed away this morning in Spain.
María, a former WTCC and Formula One test driver, a leading member of the Women in Motor Sport Commission, an FIA Action for Road Safety Ambassador, and a member of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, will be greatly missed by the FIA community and all who knew her.
FIA President Jean Todt said: “Today is a tragic day for motor sport. My deepest condolences go to the de Villota family. María was a fantastic driver, a leading light for women in motor sport and a tireless campaigner for road safety.
“Above all she was a friend I deeply admired,” he added. “Through her courage, strength and determination she transformed her personal misfortune on the track into a powerful message for road safety that was heard at race tracks and beyond around the world. María was a beloved member of the FIA family. Our thoughts go to her family today.”
Michèle Mouton, on behalf of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission, would like to add to Jean Todt’s expressions of condolence following the sad passing of María de Villota today.
“Maria was such a great person. When you are able to go through such a terrible tragedy and transform the negatives into such positives, it is truly remarkable. María was able to do this and was more radiant than ever; that requires an amazing spirit and deserves respect and admiration. I was close to María and it is a real privilege to have known her.
“We worked together in the Women in Motorsport Commission and María was an inspiration not only to our members, but also the wider motor sport community. As one of our Ambassadors she strived to get more young women into our sport, to help them achieve their goals and have belief in themselves. She was a dedicated supporter for road and motor sport safety and was very involved with our Action for Road Safety campaign; this is something María was incredibly passionate about.
“I will never forget María’s wonderful smile and the inspiration she gave to so many people; she is an example to us all and my heart goes out to everyone touched on this very sad day.”