Maria de Villota, Marussia, Duxford, 2012

Marussia driver Maria de Villota injured in test crash

2012 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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. 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.

  2. 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.

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. thanks, lets hope she recovers soon!

      1. @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.

        1. 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.

  6. 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…

    1. That picture probably wasn’t taken until some time after the accident.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

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

    2. @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?

      1. 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.

    3. 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?

      1. 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.

    4. @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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  8. 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?

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. John_Mac (@)
    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).

  11. i hope shes ok, it’s been nice to see some women in formula one not holding a grid board. Got my fingers crossed for her…:-(

  12. It’s that horrible waiting and not knowing once again, the worst part of being a race fan. Hoping for the best for Maria, and desperately sorry for all at the team, it should have been a proud day for them.

    Must say I appreciate your quick updates and choice of sources @keithcollantine, on this page and Twitter.

  13. Good news people. According to a Spanish web site . She is ok. She talked to her parents and they are their way to londres. According to the web page she only has cuts on her face and an MRI or scan will be done to rule out any kind of trauma,etc.

    1. Hope that’s correct!

    2. That would be good news indeed!

  14. Awful news :( Sounds like a head-on one. Quite shocked to be honest! Really hope she pulls through, I’m sure she will, they’re strong these drivers.

  15. The anti-stall theory sounds about right, I’ve seen quite a few young/inexperienced (In F1 cars) drivers have problems with it in the past although its mostly been while leaving the pits rather than when coming back in.

    As to drivers without super license been unable to test, How else do you get one if you can’t test an F1 car? You could say by running junior categories but then at what point do you give a driver one? Formula Ford, F3, Renault world series, GP2, GP3? What if a driver comes up through a different ladder system in America or in something like touring/sports cars.

    The only way to find out if someone is qualified for a super license is to let them drive an F1 car & thats why a set number of F1 test miles has always been the qualifying factor for a super license.

  16. How does this anti stall system work exactly? I mean it obviously doesn’t happen when drivers go replace their tires at the pits, so there should more to the tale then just dropping below a certain amount of RPM.

    1. Same as your car mate, if you drop the clutch when you slow down to stop the anti-stall won’t kick in, if you don’t then it will add some throttle to up the revs and stop you from stalling.

      1. I’m guessing it would be more complicated then that for a F1 car. I’ve looked it up and F1 cars have multiple clutches:

        1. They have one clutch, but a staged release using two paddles, which enable them to have a smoother launch. When the driver stops they pull both in together (I think most of these levers are designed so that pulling in the ‘main’ clutch paddle will effectively pull them both in).

          Bear in mind that you’re talking about an 18,000rpm, zero-inertia-flywheel engine here, with virtually no low to mid range torque, and you’ll see why the anti-stall systems are quite aggressive.

          1. You make an interesting point there. Stefmeister mentioned here that she did already drove a F1 car, but that was for Renault. Maybe they had at Renault the system you mentioned, but at Marussia you would need to manually pull both levers. It would need to be something like that; you are correct that anti-stall systems are agressive, but that should never be a problem when you are deaccelerating, only at launching the car when you need to find the right attunement with traction. So perhaps that is the problem. Also we should not forget that Marussia uses the simulator of McLaren. If she trained with the ussual system of only pulling in the main paddle with the second one following and then has to step in a car where that system isn’t in place (which you normally can’t know when you launch the car) then I would suspect that might be the cause. Might be wrong though, but it is certainly a possibility.

    2. not sure how it is triggered but the rules states that it can only operate the clutch, and once triggered it must fully disengage the clutch and keep it disengaged untill the driver manually operate the clutch more than 95%

    3. listening to the audio of the crash, the car didnt sound like it is accelerating fast, but sounds to me like the throttle is stuck open (or an antistall running in gear – not neutral), and i presume she is holding the brake pedal down and it is still propelling forward as it is in gear. if she had the car idling at 5-10 metres from the truck, the low revving car could still have accelerated to 10-30km/h and her helmet coming into contact at even a low speed with a solid object, while presumable some of the rest of the car was still projecting forward – it is uncomfortable to think about, head compression, possible spinal injuries etc.

  17. BTW this was actually her 2nd time driving an F1 car. She drove a Renault R29 at Paul Ricard last year:

  18. She replaced Ho Pin Tung halfway during a Superleague Formula season where she performed just as well/poor as Ho Ping Tung did and he was spare/test driver for Renault.

    The Superleage Formula cars used modified Champcars with a 750bhp V12.

    So she’s no racing superstar (not even close), but she should have enough experience to drive an F1 car in a test. It’s not like you need a super license for that.

    1. The wiki page on Superleague Formula says the following:

      The cars are driven without the aid of traction control, launch control or anti-stall, leaving a lot down to the skill of the driver.

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