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. jochenrindt78 (@jochenrindt78) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:17

    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…:-(

  2. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:25

    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.

  3. Teteto said on 3rd July 2012, 13:38

    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.

  4. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 3rd July 2012, 13:46

    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.

  5. GT_Racer said on 3rd July 2012, 14:23

    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.

  6. Andy (@turbof1) said on 3rd July 2012, 15:08

    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.

    • TdM (@tdm) said on 3rd July 2012, 15:12

      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.

      • Andy (@turbof1) said on 3rd July 2012, 15:25

        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:

        • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 3rd July 2012, 15:35

          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.

          • Andy (@turbof1) said on 3rd July 2012, 16:09

            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.

    • fonz said on 3rd July 2012, 15:34

      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%

    • dkpioe said on 3rd July 2012, 16:44

      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.

  7. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd July 2012, 15:20

    Second update from Marussia: De Villota conscious after crash, Marussia confirm

  8. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 3rd July 2012, 15:44

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

  9. Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 3rd July 2012, 19:36

    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.

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

      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.

  10. MEmo said on 3rd July 2012, 21:40

    Two things come to my mind: 1) What is doing a lorry so close by? I mean they are testing a F1 car!!!! There should be nothing without barriers around the track!!! That´s common sense!!!! I can´t believe that!!! 2) Her inexperience was the first thing that went through my head when I read about the accident. Let`s hope it has nothing to do with her accident. Someone wrote that even the most experienced F1-drivers make the most basic driver errors: yes, during a race!!! But as stated in the news, she was not even doing a test-drive (which was only a straight test drive), she was driving back to the preparation area. Anyway, let’s hope she is ok and that it is nothing too serious…

  11. Lewis_Mclaren_88 (@adamwilson88) said on 4th July 2012, 10:22

    Sounds terrible but really begs the question, why would they leave the loading ramp on the truck at that height so close to where the car was pitting? Surly not good practice, and a horrible way to learn the lesson!

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