De Villota loses right eye after Duxford crash

2012 F1 season

The Marussia team have confirmed test driver Maria de Villota has lost her right eye following her crash at Duxford Aerodrome yesterday.

In a statement issued on Wednesday the team said her condition remained “critical but stable”. She suffered “serious head and facial injuries” in the crash and underwent a lengthy surgical procedure at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge.

Team principal John Booth said: “Maria emerged from theatre at Addenbrooke?s Hospital this morning after a lengthy operation to address the serious head and facial injuries she received in the accident at Duxford Airfield yesterday.

“We are grateful for the medical attention that Maria has been receiving and her family would like to thank the neurological and plastics surgical teams. However it is with great sadness that I must report that, due to the injuries she sustained, Maria has lost her right eye.

“Maria?s care and the wellbeing of her family remain our priority at this time. Her family are at the hospital and we are doing everything possible to support them.

“We ask for everyone?s patience and understanding with regard to updates on Maria?s condition. We will provide further information when it is appropriate to do so and with consideration for her family.

“In the meantime, we would all like to take this opportunity to praise the emergency services at Duxford Airfield, who were on stand-by yesterday, as is usual procedure for a Formula One test.

“With regard to the accident, we have embarked on a very comprehensive analysis of what happened and this work continues for the moment.

“Finally, we have been overwhelmed by messages of support for Maria, her family and the Team and we would like to express our sincere gratitude for those.”

2012 F1 season


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118 comments on De Villota loses right eye after Duxford crash

  1. Traverse Mark Senior (@) said on 4th July 2012, 16:33

    This is terrible, just terrible but at least she’s alive. Just goes to show how lucky Felipe Massa was to escape from his crash with his eyesight intact, as he almost lost the use of his left eye.

  2. GT_Racer said on 4th July 2012, 16:40

    For those talking about her racing career been over.

    THe FIA changed there policy in 2009 & now grant an international racing licence to drivers who only have sight in 1 eye providing they show well in national championships.

    There are drivers out there racing & even winning despite having sight in only 1 eye. Paul Drayson is one example, Raced & won in the ALMS & raced for 2 years at Le Mans despite been blind in 1 eye.

    Providing she still has good sight in her remaining eye, There’s no reason for this to be the end of her racing career.

  3. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 4th July 2012, 16:41

    To echo many of the sentiments expressed on here so far, I’m shocked and saddened to hear she has paid such a price in this accident but I am still glad to hear she is still stable. I hope she recovers as well as she can quickly.

  4. JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 4th July 2012, 16:42

    I was half-expecting worse news when I saw the first news-flash yesterday morning, in that sense it’s good that the news wasn’t worse, but this still seems so awful. Hopefully that is the full extent of the long term damage and she makes a quick and full recovery in every other regard.

  5. S.J.M (@sjm) said on 4th July 2012, 16:43

    Its obviously awful news, for her and her family. It is sad to hear, but she will walk away from this with her life and you cant put a price on that.

    As mentioned by GT_Racer, a return to racing is a possibilty on an international license (such as Paul Draysons example).

    But thats all in the future, the important thing now is to recover.

  6. robk23 (@robk23) said on 4th July 2012, 16:44

    This is so sad to hear, I really feel sorry for Maria right now as her life will never be quite the same again. It isn’t the end though and I’m sure there’s a bright future for her somewhere in motorsport. This just demonstrates though that the quest to improve safety must not stop and there needs to be continued research into cockpit protection.

  7. maxthecat said on 4th July 2012, 16:48

    Terrible news, i hope at least this is all the bad news we’ll hear.

    Lets not use a freak accident to try and push closed cockpits etc, F1 doesn’t need them and it would ruin the sport. In this case not leaving a loading tray down at the drivers head height anywhere near a moving vehicle was all that was needed and i think the team need to look at themselves very closely.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th July 2012, 17:10

      But we’ve already had Surtees’ death and Massa’s crash as well. How many “freak” accidents do you suggest we ignore?

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th July 2012, 18:06

        I say we shouldn’t ignore any of them.
        Massa’s incident gave an impulse to the strips shielding the part of the helmet where the visor opens, its small things like this that help safety improve over time.

        • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 4th July 2012, 19:12

          Didn’t Surtees’ death cause wheel tethers to be reviewed and strengthened across all FIA-controlled open-wheeled sports?

      • John H (@john-h) said on 4th July 2012, 22:48

        As has been discussed before, closed cockpits could cause more problems than they solve in F1 due to the open wheel nature of the cars.

        Personally, I’m in favour of a front roll hoop (or several lighter ones that enable better visibility than the one tested) which would have prevented yesterday’s injury.

        By the way, it wasn’t commented on much at the time, but Kovalainen’s right rear tether did no job at all in his montreal crash and no one seemed to ask why or mention it. They still need to improve.

        • John H (@john-h) said on 4th July 2012, 23:32

          I had a go at visualising a closed cockpit McLaren using some sort of high strength plastic (or something). Link

          Don’t think it looks too bad to be honest. Not sure where the window wipers would go though!!

        • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 4th July 2012, 23:48

          The wheel tethers are designed to prevent the wheels flying off in high-energy incidents (i.e. high-speed spins). Accidents like Kovalainen’s are both fairly slow and the wall absorbed the tyres energy, so even though the tether failed (because the drive shaft basically disintegrated) it wouldn’t have probably mattered anyway.

  8. Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 4th July 2012, 16:48

    Oh god, this is so, so sad :/

    I like to believe that drivers are ready to pay whatever price when they strap on the helmet, fully knowing of the risk driving these cars, but for this to happen to her in her first try in an F1 car – something that must have felt so incredible to her – is just too cruel. I really hope she recovers well and keeps on with her motorsport career if she so choses.

    • Enigma (@enigma) said on 4th July 2012, 16:52

      @guilherme Didn’t she test a Renault last year? Anyway, fully agreed. They all know and accept the risks, but noone can ever expect such a terrible thing.

      Hopefully that’s all the bad news we’ll get on her.

  9. andae23 (@andae23) said on 4th July 2012, 16:51

    Absolutely terrible news: I didn’t realize it was that serious. I hope she will have a speedy recovery and will be able to race again in the future.

  10. Snafu (@snafu) said on 4th July 2012, 16:58

    sad…very sad :(

  11. SirCoolbeans (@sircoolbeans) said on 4th July 2012, 16:58

    Very sad news indeed. I hope the rest of her recovery goes smoothly. It’s amazing how quickly life can change.

    Surely the days of truly open cockpit racing are numbered? I’ll be sad to see it go when it does, but in years to come people will look back at it in the same way we do now when we see drivers from the 1950’s with no seat belts and leather hats on.

  12. jochenrindt78 (@jochenrindt78) said on 4th July 2012, 17:01

    Poor Maria, glad the news wasn’t worse but horrified she has suffered such a terrible injury….

  13. xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 4th July 2012, 17:08

    She still has hope fortunately though.
    Lord Drayson races in ALMS and is blind in 1 eye.
    Here’s hoping for the continuation of her racing career.

  14. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 4th July 2012, 17:11

    sad :(

  15. Well please somebody explain me how is that fact that F1 helmets are so resistant that you can park a tank on it or fire a bullet against it. But then a spring cracks Massa’s visor and now Maria loses an eye. Sad news and probably a must for a revision of safety issues in any public or private F1 event.

    • Adrian J (@adrian-j) said on 4th July 2012, 17:26

      Form reports I’ve read elsewhere she had her visor up which can’t have helped matters.

    • James_mc (@james_mc) said on 4th July 2012, 17:57

      To an extent it depends on how the force is applied.

      Force is either dissipated by deflection (e.g. something such as a bullet hitting the helmet and pinging away) or by deformation (e.g. the crumple zone on a road car or an F1 car disintegrating on impact).

      From what is being reported in the instance of Maria De Villota, the force was being applied in a direction which did not allow for deflection as the loading ramp was suggested to be level with the helmet and as the helmet has relatively little deformation ability (and potentially much, much worse if the visor was open!), there was potentially the situation of a moving F1 car at 30/40mph being resisted by De Villota’s helmet/head and potentially neck.

      In the case of a tank sitting on it, the force and therefore resultant pressure is not as likely to be a point load and is therefore less likely to puncture a helmet.

      In the case of the bullet there is the probability that it would be deflected.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 4th July 2012, 18:09

      As @adrian-j wrote, de Villota actually had her visor open, as she was parking the car. And Massa’s accident gave the impulse to put the strips on top of the visors to help close this opening, that previously showed itself to be a weakpoint

      • celeste (@celeste) said on 4th July 2012, 19:09

        Is the first time that I read that her visor was open…that sounds even worst that what I ave imaging the accident to be

  16. JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 4th July 2012, 17:43

    That’s horrible news. I was concerned when I first read the news, but I wasn’t prepared for anything like this. I really hope she recovers from this, and of course my thoughts go out to her and her family.

  17. Sandlefish (@sandlefish) said on 4th July 2012, 17:59

    Horrible news but I wish her the very best in recovery, Drayson and Zanardi are just two examples of what can be achieved. Thoughts with both her and her family.

  18. Polishboy808 (@polishboy808) said on 4th July 2012, 18:04

    Awful news, what a terrible crash. I hope she gets better soon and still gets a chance to race, if not in F1 then maybe in some other series, like GT cars or Le Mans. So sad :(

  19. Neel Jani (@neelv27) said on 4th July 2012, 18:04

    It is truly sad to hear this news. As Keith said, I too was expecting the worse news. This would be devastating for her. Can’t imagine to be in her place.

    Guys, let’s not forget that she is ‘critical but stable’. Worse might be in store and I just don’t want to hear that.

  20. Malibu_GP said on 4th July 2012, 18:19

    What an awful situation. I wish her well and will remain hopeful that a return to motor racing in some form is possible.

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