Drivers call on F1 to analyse safety implications of De Villota accident

Maria de Villota

Maria de Villota

Jul.6 (Reuters) Formula One must analyse the safety implications of the freak testing accident that left Spanish racer Maria De Villota critically injured this week, drivers said on Thursday.

The Marussia driven by Maria de Villota wedged under the support truckThe daughter of former F1 driver Emilio De Villota lost her right eye after her car suddenly accelerated into the lowered tailgate of a parked team truck at Duxford airfield in eastern England on Tuesday.

She remains in hospital, with her condition described as critical but stable, after lengthy surgery on facial and head injuries.

An official test driver for the Marussia team, it had been her first time in the car and she was taking part in a private straight-line aerodynamic test ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Straight line tests are often carried out on airfield runways, approved by the governing FIA and with a medical team in attendance, by relatively inexperienced drivers who only have to turn the car at the end of each run rather than negotiate a proper circuit.

“We will put the facts on the table to see if there is anything we need to change to improve,” said veteran HRT driver Pedro de la Rosa, a compatriot of De Villota’s and chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA).

Maria de Villota testing accident Marussia“When an accident happens, it means that something didn’t work properly.

“We need to make sure between the FIA, the teams and the GPDA that we make changes for the future because it’s not good enough.”

Ferrari‘s Brazilian Felipe Massa, who suffered life-threatening head injuries when he was hit on the helmet by a bouncing part that had fallen of Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn car, at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, agreed there needed to be an investigation.

“She has 100 percent of my support. I suffered similar injuries, and thank God nothing happened to me,” he told reporters.

“The most important thing is to understand what happened. The FIA need to understand as well, to put everything in place for maximum safety that we need to have.”

The accident shocked the Formula One community, with messages of support pouring in from well-wishers to De Villota, her family and team.

Compatriot Fernando Alonso, who leads the Formula One championship for Ferrari, said the news had been hard to come to terms with.

“Obviously we are very worried for this situation because we are still waiting for some more news,” he said.

“We don’t know all the information so it’s difficult to talk about the reasons etc until we know the official version but at the moment, it’s so difficult to imagine how this can happen.”

De Villota’s family released the following statement on Thursday evening:

“Maria remains in a critical but stable condition here at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. While there is no further news than that at present, we have at least been able to take encouragement from the fact that Maria has remained stable throughout since the accident, particularly during the first night following such a lengthy surgical procedure as she experienced yesterday [Wednesday].

We, the family, are supporting each other here at Maria’s side and we take great comfort from the remarkable medical care she has been receiving. We remain positive and this is due, in no small part, to the overwhelming expression of love and support for Maria from every corner of the world. We would also wish to thank everyone at the Marussia F1 Team for all the care and attention they have shown us over the past few days.

With our sincere gratitude.”
Isabel De Villota
Representative of the De Villota Family & Maria’s Sister

Subbed by AJN.