Marussia driver Maria de Villota injured in test crash

2012 F1 season

Maria de Villota, Marussia, Duxford, 2012Marussia test driver Maria de Villota has been injured in a crash while testing the car today.

The team were running at Duxford Aerodrome in Cambridgeshire when de Villota’s car struck a stationary vehicle belonging to the team.

Eyewitnesses said the crash happened after de Villota had completed a run and was returning to the car preparation area.

Her condition was initially described as “life-threatening”, but the air ambulance charity that recovered her later confirmed she was “stable”.

Marussia issued the following statement: “At approximately 09:15 BST this morning, the Marussia F1 Team?s test driver Maria De Villota had an accident in the team?s MR01 race car at Duxford Airfield where she was testing the car for the first time.

“The accident happened at the end of her first installation run and involved an impact with the team?s support truck.

“Maria has been transferred to hospital. Once her medical condition has been assessed a further statement will be issued.”

De Villota, daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota, joined the team as test driver in March this year.

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117 comments on Marussia driver Maria de Villota injured in test crash

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  1. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 3rd July 2012, 10:38

    Sounds like a nasty incident. Here’s hoping her injuries are not too serious.

  2. Eggry (@eggry) said on 3rd July 2012, 10:39

    Unbelievable incident. It seems like it should be technical glitch.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd July 2012, 10:42

      Based on the reports of the accident, it’s a weird one. It doesn’t look like driver error – it’s probably a mechanical fault.

    • Wallbreaker (@wallbreaker) said on 3rd July 2012, 10:42

      Indeed. Can´t imagine happening such a weird crash by driver’s fault. It was a straight-line aero test, wasn´t it?

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:12

        First, best fishes for her and the team… sounds like a nasty accident…

        And I also hope that we will be able to find out what went wrong…

    • Bleeps_and_Tweaks (@bleeps_and_tweaks) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:54

      At first it sounded like an innocent low speed shunt, but as details come out it’s starting to sound more and more serious. Reports are that her helmet took the brunt of the impact, which is very worrying.
      The anti-stall theory reported by Racecar Engineering magazine does sound very plausible, but I think it’s probably best to wait for a further comment from Marussia.
      All of F1F’s thoughts go out to her and her family.

      • From the photo I’ve seen, it looks as if she was very lucky not to have been, well… decapitated. Even at ‘only’ 20-30mph.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 3rd July 2012, 14:29

        If it was with a lorry, I’m not surprised if the main body of the car went under it. Sounds like she could be very lucky to make it through. Let’s hope for the best.

  3. Mark (@marlarkey) said on 3rd July 2012, 10:46

    Sounds like a bizarre incident… and serious too…. I hope she’s ok

  4. KiwiUK (@kiwiuk) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:08

    Strangely Sky’s report doesn’t seem to mention accelerating in to the lorry but rather locking the rears “De Villota crashed into a stationary vehicle after locking up her rear-tyres and losing control of the Marussia whilst returning to the pits”

    • Eggry (@eggry) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:13

      locking up REAR tyres? I don’t know the car can be out of control with it. as far as I know front locking makes serious problem

      • Helgi said on 3rd July 2012, 11:23

        In fact rear tyres locking is more dangerous, as every little force can throw the car in any direction. Front tyres locking leaves a chance to go straight even if some force is acting from the side.

        • Eggry (@eggry) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:32

          I see. It can make car spin or side-walking right?

          • Shaun Robinson (@robinsonf1) said on 3rd July 2012, 17:16

            Yeah front locking generally caused mass understeer. Rear locking causes mass oversteer. Oversteer is generally more dangerous especially when you don’t know when it’s coming (of course it’s situational).

    • Drop Valencia! said on 3rd July 2012, 11:43

      I’ts impossible for a driver to lock the rears in a modern F1 car, so it must have been a mechanical fault. Either that or she was trying to park.

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:43

      I doubt you can lock your rears at such a low speed. She saw the lorry, clearly it wasn’t her fault. It was unexpected.

      • Shaun Robinson (@robinsonf1) said on 3rd July 2012, 17:13

        You can lock at any speed if you apply enough force through the brakes. Even easier at low speeds when you consider the friction equation F=<uR. At low speeds R (reaction force, or weight) on each wheel is reduced from there being little downforce produced, so the limit of grip is considerably lower. Add in the factor that u (coefficient of static friction) was reduced from it raining and it makes it all too easy to lock up. Remember Glock spinning the Marussia around 360 degrees in the pitlane? – just like that.

  5. disjunto (@disjunto) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:14

    BBC reporting very serious, life-threatening injuries. hopefully all is well, fingers crossed

  6. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:17

    Wow, sounds like a very strange incident. Here’s hoping she makes a full recovery.

  7. wigster (@wigster) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:20

    The BBC are saying she has life threatening injuries. sounds very worrying. Just hope she’s going to be ok. Sounds like something must have gone very wrong for an accident like this to happen at a straight line test though.

  8. robk23 (@robk23) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:29

    I almost went to Duxford this morning, such a shame to hear about this. Best wishes to Maria and the team.

  9. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:29

    Just seen this on the BBC. Doesn’t sound good, does it? I desperately hope she’s okay, as we all do.

  10. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:30

    I really hope Maria pulls through. This is a horrible feeling.

  11. I fear for her, reading the reports and hearing the audio report i fear for her life.

    If the loading tray was partially (just above cockpit level) down and she hit this…. Not religious, but my thoughts are with her

  12. davidwhite (@davidwhite) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:37

    Terrible news. Surely some sort of technical failure? Let’s all hope she pulls through.

  13. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:48

    Oh, my. Hope she gets through this… sounds like a really nasty and weird accident.

  14. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:50

    Racecar Engineering is speculating that the accident may have been caused by driver error when the anti-stall engaged.

  15. the_narv (@the_narv) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:51

    Terrible news. Racecar Engineering thinks she may have been caught out by the anti-stall:

    • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:53

      That could explain it, actually. They’ll be a full investigation, so we’ll know what happened eventually.

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:09

      Many commented when her involvement was announced that they didn’t think she was up to the standard of driving an F1 car. This is a horrible accident going by what has been reported so far and if Racecar Engineering’s supposition about being caught out by the anti-stall is accurate, then it would be a terrible case of prophecy.

      At this stage, nobody outside the team can probably say with any certainty what might have happened. Let’s all just hope she’s ok in the end and that the helmet improvements did their job here.

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 3rd July 2012, 14:05

        I think many in here, me included, doubt her experience and qualifications to be a test driver for F1 Team. Is the accident is somehow related to little experience or qualifications,is something that teams should take in to account when selecting a test driver…

        However, hopefully soon tegamos positive news about her health, and Marussia and the FIA ​​can find out that the accident was due.

        • F1 needs more women said on 3rd July 2012, 15:11

          Let’s not forget that even the most experienced F1 drivers can be guilty of making the most basic driver errors – we see this during the races. I feel insulted for her that people are bringing her ability into question.

          What we should be questioning here is, not how test drivers are selected, but why on earth there was a lorry in such close proximity and no barriers in place? This is precisely why the ridiculous constraints on testing should be lifted and tests should be conducted on proper race tracks, with all of the relevant safety provisions.

          I hope she recovers.

          • Mike (@mike) said on 3rd July 2012, 15:36

            conducted on proper race tracks, with all of the relevant safety provisions.

            That I think is alluding to the idea of a few Marshall set up and a full medical compliment on hand…. as in race events… Which is unlikely to happen.

          • RobDin said on 3rd July 2012, 16:53

            Who is going to pay for that kind of provisions? The teams? If so then be prepared for saying goodbye to the kind of exciting racing we have now. That question that you ask have been asked many times before and all the teams and the FIA agree that the current situation is the best choice of all the bad choices available. This was a straight line test which normally is only used for relating aero performance of the wind tunnel with CFD and reality. Nothing special in terms of safety and certainly safer then going to an event like the Goodwood festival of speed.

            Despite you feeling insulted I think there is a very good reason why driving in F1 requires a super license. I too don’t want to automatically put the blame on the driver but the more I read about what happened the more I find it likely that she just forgot about the anti-stall and she was very unlucky with the timing and position of her car when it happened. I hope for her that I’m wrong but I certainly don’t want to exclude it. The questions that should be asked is “Did the driver get the proper instructions before commencing the test?”, “Has the team put everything in place to commence the test in a safe way? (proper instructions to the team, everything clear on where to go at the end of a run, etc.)”, “Did the anti stall kick in as expected?” and “Did everything work as expected at the moment the anti stall kicked in?”

        • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 3rd July 2012, 19:38

          I don’t think driver error was the cause, as it is the instinct of the driver to slam the brakes, and at least turn ther wheel if you see an obstacle ahead of you, and she has enough single-seat experience to deal with a hand clutch, and to control locking brakes.

      • Hare (@hare) said on 3rd July 2012, 22:54

        Accidents happen. Could have happened to anyone especially in a prototype car. However having a truck lift at head height right by the ‘pits’ is going be a serious point of concern.

        Otherwise the accident was innocuous

  16. the_sigman (@sigman1998) said on 3rd July 2012, 11:59

    My thoughts are with Maria.

  17. TheJudge (@thejudge) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:00

    toughts and preers with Maria and her family. From what I’ve read,this is a terrible accident. Hope she’s okay soon.

  18. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:07

    My thoughts and prayers are with her and her family. I hope she pulls through.

    Why are objects that could cause serious injuries if struck placed near areas where racing cars are being driven? Straight line test or not, it is known that things can go wrong with cars and drivers can make errors. In my opinion things like that should be kept well away from striking distance should things go wrong. If they can’t get it a decent distance away, it should at least be behind something that is safe to crash into like armco or that new stuff (whatever it is called).

    I know there are inifinite possibilities of what can happen if things go wrong, but objects that can be struck need to be obstructed by objects that are safe to be struck!

    • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:43

      +1 I came here to comment on the same thing! How it was possible for her to hit a truck is unbelievable. It should have been as you said further away or behind some kind of barrier.

      There will have to be a serious investigation into not only the cause but also the precautions used by Marussia. Things like this should not be allowed to happen in 2012. Here’s hoping de Villota pulls through and makes a full recovery.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:55

        and the loading ramp would have better been closed (as it looks like being open and in exactly the right height to hit the driver’s head in this case on the picture posted by Keith below).

        It does look as if more attention to these kind of things is needed.

        The most important thing now is that Maria de Villota pulls through and can get back in that car for a testing run as soon as possible

    • Dave (@davea86) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:51

      Hopefully she’ll be ok.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if the FIA stepped in because of this and changed some of the safety rules for straight line tests. Maybe restricting them to places like drag strips where there are barriers along the sides of the track to separate the cars from the teams and all their equipment. It seems weird that there is so much time, effort and money going into the safety of the circuits but in testing they’re allowed to run a car near a truck with the loading ramp at head height.

      • Stjuuv (@stjuuv) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:44

        I’m sure this will be seriously looked at, but what I’ve gathered from the incident so far doesn’t seem to indicate a systematic disregard for safety was the cause of this. F1 cars are dangerous because they are fast both in a straight line and going through corners, but in this case none of the factors were in play.

        To risk being tasteless, I’d say a similar accident could have happened to a kid at a go-kart competition, or even someone riding a bicycle near home, since the speed involved has been said to be around 20-30 mph – hardly something you need an F1 car or even an engine for.
        I really don’t think they were running a 200 mph straight-line speed test right beside their temporary pit area / canopy – they had an empty airfield to do that, but the accident happened when the car returned slowly to the pit areas. That’s something that I assume happens at drag strips as well, unless the pit crew wants to push the car all the way back from the end of the track with its engine shut down.

        From my point of view the incident should be (of course) investigated, but by the information I have now I think its just a very unfortunate accident, but not really something that could (or maybe even should) be used as a means to “over-promote” safety concerns – that would simply be inappropriate, since then logically the same precautions should be incorporated into many more events and locations besides F1 straight-line tests.

        • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 3rd July 2012, 14:02

          There’s always a risk, no matter the speed, because of the nature of F1 cars.

          Maybe they could force the teams to shut down the car while still in the main straight and then recovering back to the temporary pits. There’s always room for improvement and I’m sure FIA will have a look at it.

          On a different matter, but not totally unrelated, I’ve always been surprised team members doesn’t use the whole safety equipment when in testing. For example, during friday practices, none of the mechanics use helmets or fire-proof clothing. I’ve always found that strange… I even asked Keith Collantine about it on twitter, but can’t remember if I got a response.

        • Stjuuv (@stjuuv) said on 3rd July 2012, 14:26

          Perhaps one could count the acceleration capability as a source of higher risk in F1 cars, but in that case why would one single out only F1? Other racing classes, open-wheeled or not, are comparably powerful and should then logically have to follow the same precautions. Even some road-legal cars should then have to be pushed to the garage by hand, because there is a chance that it accelerates to the wall otherwise. And why stop at acceleration – large trucks/lorries are dangerous as well, but due to their weight, not acceleration, and by the safety-above-all logic the teams should perhaps shut their trucks down by the highway and then push them to the pits by hand. The reason why this isn’t practiced is that accidents still do happen, no matter the precautions taken, and at some point the marginally reduced risk isn’t worth the cost or inconvenience of the safety measures.

          Don’t get me wrong – I am not saying that open loading bays of trucks right in front of the pits is something that shouldn’t be avoided, but regulating things too far will inevitably lead to extremes, and these things should rather be avoided by using basic common sense and respect for lives of others and your own – as it is done in other, less-professional areas of life as well. Otherwise you’d have to say that lives of common people are worthless compared to F1-drivers, and the same safety standards shouldn’t apply to everyday situations, where cars move at speeds way above 20-30mph right next to similar dangerous objects or even people.

          • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 3rd July 2012, 15:14

            @stjuuv all you’re saying is spot on. Guess they will take the best decision based on what happened. The FIA is pretty quick with this sort of things.

    • celeste (@celeste) said on 3rd July 2012, 14:09

      I have been asking myself the same question, who park a truck in the middle of a drive.

      But thinking about if it hasn`t been there she probably would have run over at least 25 members of her team…

    • who's better who's best said on 3rd July 2012, 17:48

      I was going to say something similar but then I thought well they can’t have barriers iin the pits and if it was her fault and this happened in the pits itwould be carnage

  19. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:23

    An image from the scene via BBC Cambridgeshire:

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:39

      From that picture it really looks as if the helmet hit the loading ramp.

      I just hope she recovers

    • nic said on 3rd July 2012, 20:06

      I very much hope she recovers. This is a terrible terrible accident.

      There are 2 pictures at this twitter account. If you hover your mouse over them then click “view at full size”, then you can see more. This is a morbid thing to do, but if you make both of them full size and then put them both on your screen and compare them then you can work out approximately where the lift gate is relative to her head. It looks to me like this is a horrible horrible accident. Modern medicine is pretty good these days, so I hope she can go on after this with a normal life.

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