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

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

    My thoughts are with Maria.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:24

    Thankfully, it appears that these set of circumstances would be highly unlikely to occur during a race weekend, however if impact was with Maria’s head this could be very serious indeed, even at low speeds. I wish her all the best.

  6. THOMF1S (@thomf1s) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:25

    It is always chilling to hear of any serious accident in motorsport, and I sincerely hope the reports are embellished slightly and that Maria is ok and makes a full recovery.

    It is events such as this that make you have to reevaluate how Formula One currently conducts testing; firing a 200mph car down a runway is not the same as doing a test on a proper track or testing facility, with the correct safety infrastructure. If this had been on a track, whatever happened, be it a mechanical glitch or whatever, Maria would have ended up in the barriers and we’d be making women driver jokes, and not currently sitting here in anticipation of some god news.

  7. ME4ME (@me4me) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:25

    Accelerating into the lorry…. sounds alot like she hit the wrong paddle and stepped on the throttle.
    Either way .. very sad news.

  8. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:29

    It suddenly seems crazy that we’d have F1 cars driving alongside lorries…

    Would it ever happen on a race track?! Of course not. So why should we have these conditions in testing?

    Thoughts go out to Maria. Sounds awful.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:32

    Good news – de Villota was stable on arrival at Addenbrooke’s:

    Emergency medical charity Magpas, which helped to treat Villota at the scene, said she had suffered “facial and head injuries” and was in a stable condition on her arrival at hospital.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:46

      thanks, lets hope she recovers soon!

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:06

        @bacsb – “Stable” doesn’t mean she’s okay. It just means that the doctors have gotten her to the point where they can relax a little bit and start thinking about the long-term situation because there is no immediate threat to her life. She’ll be monitored constantly, but she could still be in a critical condition.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd July 2012, 14:43

          yes, I know. You can be perfectly stable while being comatose. But its better news than hearing how they are fighting to get her stable.

          So far, we can just wish her and the doctors to make the best of it.

  10. L0cky said on 3rd July 2012, 12:35

    Looking at the twitpic – we might be lucky to be hearing about only one injured person – there are alot of people there and it looks like it turned to the right in their general direction, but only hitting the truck…

  11. Roald (@roald) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:39

    As terrible as this news is, she was never supposed to be anywhere near that car in my opinion. Not being allowed to race instead of Glock in Valencia because she has no super license should automatically mean she is not allowed to participate in these kind of tests either. A super-license should apply on all levels of Formula 1 involvement as a driver. Just think about it; you’re not allowed to participate in an event (the race) that has hundreds of people there just to take care of safety and precaution but you ARE allowed to take part in a little private test where the atmosphere is most likely a lot more relaxed… yet the car itself is still just as fast and dangerous, even in 2012.

    I feel bad for having to say this, but I guess this is what you get for trying to get women involved just for the sake of it. I hope she pulls through and wish both her and the team the best of luck.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:45

      As testing is one of the way to get a superlicence in the first place, your comment does not make sense at all.

      Not to mention that this is a test where the car runs in a straight line with a set speed, then stop turns and runs back again.
      I agree that it might me needed to have a look at thing as better barriers etc, and closing opened loading ramps that could be hit in a freak accident and things like that.

      But how on earth does what she has in her underpants influence driving a race car is completely besides me. Certainly it did not have any relation to the accident. If anything, it might have been the fact that it was her first run, but there has to be a first time for everyone, regardless of sex, race or nationality.

      • Roald (@roald) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:54

        But testing should never be the way of aquiring a super-license. Racing in lower leagues should. And looking at her track record, I think it’s safe to say she skipped pretty much the whole road that would normally lead to a Formula 1 drive. Now I know she’s not the only one (just look at Alonso or Raikkonen) but at least they really stood out and therefore attracted attention. Do you honestly believe that if she were a man, she would have gotten the Lotus Renault testdrive because of her very mediocre results in just a hand full of races in Superleague Formula? Come on now, we all know it’s because she’s a woman.

        I’m not talking down women, I just want a woman to get into Formula 1 for the right reasons.

        • dkpioe said on 3rd July 2012, 13:45

          her involvement as a test driver (we all know she will never race), should be seen as a positive, it is more a symbolic gesture of equal rights, and gives young girls in junior formulas hope in a male dominated world.
          she is more qualified to drive the f1 car, then rich millionaire private owners of f1 cars.
          you are talking down women – by mentioning she is a woman, your judment would not be as harsh if it was an inexperienced male that had the crash – as you wouldnt be pointing out the fact that he is a male like you are that she is a woman.

          • Lancer033 (@lancer033) said on 3rd July 2012, 14:21

            by putting an unqualified driver in a car that didn’t earn it, they have made life more difficult for every woman that does have the ability.

        • AlonsoWDC (@alonsowdc) said on 4th July 2012, 3:25

          What was unusual about Alonso’s pre-F1 CV except for the fact that he was so young in 2001 as a rookie?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:53

      @roald – Do you think she just showed up at Marussia HQ one day and said “Hi, I want to be your new test driver” and they said “Boobs? Great! When can you start?”

      Maria de Villota might not have the impressive resume that would suggest she had what it took to succeeed in Formula 1. But she does have plenty of experience in open-wheel racing cars, including Formula 3 and Superleague Formula, and she tested an old Renault last year. She’s not so totally inexperienced that she didn’t know the difference between the accelerator and the brake when she got into the car.

      And so what if she doesn’t have her superlicence? When Lewis Hamilton joined McLaren, he didn’t have his superlicence. Did that mean he was unfit to be a part of McLaren’s driver development programme?

      • Roald (@roald) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:07

        Come on now, you’re making a caricature out of my opinion. Being the team to involve a woman in Formula 1 is great for marketing purposes and you know it. Of course she has experience, but what good is experience if you pretty much fail to impress AT ALL in slower categories? I can not understand for the life of me that you seem to think Lotus Renault or Marussia were genuinly impressed by her results in Superleague, almost constantly finishing outside the top 10 in a series not exactly known for it’s all-star lineup and decided to give her a call. Of course not, she was never going to cut it, she didn’t do too good in slower categories so there’s no reason for anyone to think “maybe she’ll do better if we give her a car that’s even faster and harder to drive!”. Please.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:06

      How are drivers supposed to get the Superlicense if they cannot take part on a test with an F1 car? Racing in lower leagues doesn’t mean you will suceed in F1 either. Getting practice in the actual F1 machinery is the only way to make sure you’re fit enough to drive it.

      If anything, this highlights the need to better safety in straigh line tests too, which surely are believed to be relatively safe compared to proper testing.

      And your last comment… there have been many sucessful women driving racing cars. It’s very sexist to think like that… why not thinking that women don’t get the same chances as men?

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 3rd July 2012, 14:22

        Like this

        To qualify for an FIA Super Licence the requesting driver must already be the holder of a Grade A competition licence, and additionally meet the requirements of the FIA International Sporting Code, Appendix L. These requirements state that the driver must be either the reigning champion in a lower category of motor sport, for example Formula 3 (British, Italian or Japanese championship, or Euro Series), Formula 2, or GP2 Series (formerly known as Formula 3000), or must have consistently finished well in these categories. For example, a driver finishing in the first three positions five times within the last two years in GP2 will be eligible for a Super Licence.

        Additionally, drivers who have competed in the IndyCar Series are eligible for a Super Licence if they finished within the first four places of the drivers championship. This allows drivers from the United States domestic series to move into Formula One without first taking part in other FIA sanctioned events. Under exceptional circumstances Appendix L also allows the FIA to award a Super Licence to a driver who does not meet the normal criteria if a vote reveals unanimous agreement by the members, and provided that the driver has completed 300 kilometres of testing at racing speeds in a current car.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:07

      @roald Given we don’t yet know the full details of what happened – or even the extent of her injuries, which we all hope she will recover from – I think it’s unwise and distasteful to speculate and, based on those theories, criticise Marussia’s motives in giving her a test in the first place.

      • dkpioe said on 3rd July 2012, 16:33

        i cant seem top press “reply” to Lancer033’s comment, but i would like to reply in some way and let him/her know that i do not agree with the comment “by putting an unqualified driver in a car that didn’t earn it, they have made life more difficult for every woman that does have the ability”
        he/she has presumed she is not qualified and has no ability, this is the exact mentality that belittles women, as he/she does not recognise that this female driver is already under immense odds because of sexism – and will not respect where she has got to in her career.
        I am Male, but i have taken an interest in sexism issues after meeting a smart woman 5 years ago that showed me the way. she has been my partner now for 5 years and will be for the rest of my life, and she has got me to respect women and realise that they are still not equal in this modern society.

        • Lancer033 (@lancer033) said on 3rd July 2012, 19:05

          at what level has she won anything? If you can’t win decisively at lower levels, you’re not going to do well when you advance. At best, she’s been a mid pack driver in the lower formulas. That has nothing to do with her gender.

  12. jh1806 (@jh1806) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:46

    Terrible news. But I’d have to agree with some other posters about lack of experience. The anti-stall theory is sound but aren’t new drivers briefed about these things? Or the team at least disables it or something?

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:36

      Seeing as stalling the engine does it no favours and also introducing artificial ‘aids’ to the experience gives a false impression (and false data) of how the car performs, no, disabling the Anti-Stall system probably isn’t an option.

  13. maxthecat said on 3rd July 2012, 12:48

    Hope she’s ok, didn’t sound good when i got the news this morning but as it’s been so quiet since i’m hoping no news is good news.

    As for the anti stall theory, i’ve recently seen 3 tv presenters driving this car without much trouble so i’m assuming a racing driver wouldn’t have much difficulty with this. More likely a foot slip/stuck throttle in my opinion.

  14. John_Mac (@) said on 3rd July 2012, 12:55

    Sickening. Brings it all back – Jimmy, Ayrton, and so on.
    Far too beautiful a head and face to be smashed into the side of a truck. Horrific.
    It’s times like these make you wonder if it can possibly be worth it really,
    but then we get over it don’t we? I hope and pray that young Maria survives and recovers
    (and then throws the towel in).

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