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.”

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118 comments on De Villota loses right eye after Duxford crash

  1. 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.

  2. 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….

  3. 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.

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

    sad :(

  5. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 4th July 2012, 17:14

    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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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 :(

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 4th July 2012, 18:22

    It is really touching to read all the comments and messages about her recovery and returning back to sports. Whilst there is no doubt that FIA really has to look at implementing safety standards to protect drivers head and bringing up tough stewarding policies, it is very much up to the drivers to ensure safety and respect other drivers lives before using the car as a weapon on the track.

    We admire our drivers; we love the cars and F1 is our passion. Enough lessons learned. We don’t really want to see any driver losing their career. It seems Maria was so looking forward to this day.. it is cruel

  12. Steven (@fluxus) said on 4th July 2012, 18:23

    Horrified by this news. I hope it doesn’t get any worse for her and that she can come back to racing in some capacity.

    It’s really time to introduce canopies. It makes me angry that the most vulnerable part of a driver is the least protected in a modern open wheel car. We’ve had the Surtees, Massa and Wheldon accidents in recent times, and historically Senna, Koinigg, Pryce, Campos and others. The list goes on. People die or become gravely injured when they get hit in the head – why has the sport done so little about it? Even at Indianapolis this year there were a few close calls with debris or tires getting close to a driver’s head – there could easily have been some serious injuries or fatalities. For those fans concerned about a full canopy, they could make a half-canopy at the front (like a very tall windscreen), still enabling the fans to watch the driver, and the driver can get out quickly in case of an accident.

    • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 4th July 2012, 19:18

      Weldon’s accident was more a result of the ‘problem’ with IndyCars’ ovals.

      The rest are simply (& unfortunately) victims of circumstance. Both Senna & Pryce’s injuries were the result of influences largely out of their control.

      • Steven (@fluxus) said on 4th July 2012, 23:25

        Yes, I agree that the accidents you mentioned were caused by other factors. But I think it is much easier to regulate the area in front of the driver’s head than the many scenarios that can cause a dangerous object to fly into a driver. I think you can control what goes into a cockpit or not.

        Sure, you can try to fix pack racing, marshals running across the track, bad steering columns and the hundreds of other circumstances that would all result in an object flying towards the cockpit. But you can’t predict all of these circumstances. You can, however, predict that if a driver is exposed, eventually you will have this kind of accident. Even Emerson Fittipaldi said after the Senna accident that the sport should consider using canopies, so it’s not like all these subsequent deaths and injuries have been unforeseen.

  13. Andy (@turbof1) said on 4th July 2012, 18:29

    This really made my heart break. So terrible that that happened!
    I dearly hope she can recover to an extent where she can enjoy life.

  14. sato113 (@sato113) said on 4th July 2012, 18:48

    :( horrible news. I guess testing safety is a bit more minimal to race safety. hope she gets better soon!

  15. caci99 (@caci99) said on 4th July 2012, 19:02

    Very sad. I hope she will recover with no more consequences, and after that she will have the courage to keep on. What’s the saying, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

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