On Tuesday, July 3, 2012, Maria de Villota was testing a Formula 1 car for Marussia F1 when her car hit the back of a transport truck. Luckily, she was going relatively slowly and not at top speed. Still, she had severe injuries and was motionless for approximately 15 minutes after the impact. She was immediately treated and rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, she survived her massive head injuries. Unfortunately, the injuries did put an end to what she had hoped would be a long racing career. Due to the severity of her injuries, surgeons had no choice but to remove her right eye.
An initial investigation has so far revealed that the car was not the problem in the crash. Initially, it seemed that she had slowed down but then suddenly accelerated and hit the back of the transport truck. Given that scenario, it seemed that there may have been a mechanical problem. Now, it seems that was not the case.
On Friday, July 20, she was released from the hospital and she headed back to her home in Spain to continue her recovery. She will need a long time to recover and with the loss of her eye she may never have the same life she did before. However, she is really lucky to have survived that crash and the loss of her eye is minor in comparison to what could have happened. There has been an outpouring of support for the driver and her family from the Formula 1 community which is not surprising given the severity of the injuries.
Even if the cause of the crash was driver error, as it now appears it was, there may still be lessons to be learned from the accident. If something can be learned from the accident, it may spare other drivers, whether testing cars or driving in races, from a similar career ending crash. In this case, unfortunately, there is probably not a lot that can be learned that would apply across the board. The number of fatal accidents and the number of accidents involving severe injuries have gone down drastically over the years. The sport will never be completely safe, but at least Formula 1 and all other major racing organizations are constantly working to improve safety.
Kristin Watt has been a fan of motorsports since she was a young girl and she watched NASCAR races with her mother. That love of NASCAR quickly evolved into a great enjoyment of many different motorsports including everything from local dirt track action to the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans to the adrenaline rush of the extreme motocross events. She has been following motorsports for many years.