Shocked and saddened world of motorsport pays tribute to brave Maria de Villota

Maria De Villota poses for photographers at the start of the 2012 F1 season in Melbourne

Maria De Villota poses for photographers at the start of the 2012 F1 season in Melbourne

A sombre mood descended over the Suzuka paddock and the world of motorsport as the news of Maria de Villota’s death engulfed proceedings on the first day of the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Shock, despair and sadness prevailed as the F1 world paid tribute to the brave survivor of a near fatal testing accident at the wheel of a Marussia in 2012.

Grand Prix 247: “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy. Maria de Villota epitomised bravery. Her recovery from the terrible, nearly fatal injuries incurred during a testing accident – with a constant smile on her face wherever she went – was a true inspiration. She left a legacy of determination and courage which will never be forgotten.”

Maria De Villota participates with children from the Safer Roads for All campaign during the Spanish GP weekend in May

Maria De Villota participates with children from the Safer Roads for All campaign during the Spanish GP weekend in May

Susie Wolff: “I feel I owe it to her [to say something] because, out of the paddock and out of the motorsport bubble, she was an incredible character, she was a fighter. She had such a spirit for life and what she came through was a testament to her strength of character and her positive outlook. After the accident she was so behind me and had such a lust for life, she was so happy to be alive and that she’d survived it and she had so many great plans for the future. She was just an incredible lady, no matter about what she did on the racetrack. She was just an incredible character.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: “We are shocked to hear the news of María de Villota’s death and would like to offer our sincerest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to her family and friends for this tragic loss. If anybody represented strength and optimism, it was María. Her sudden death is a big loss to the motorsport world as she was an important ambassador for relaying important messages to the youth, and particularly girls that aspire to a career in motorsport. María was an example of someone who never gave up, she always had a smile on her face and we will dearly miss her.”

Maria de Villota shows the helmet she was wearing when she had her testing accident

Maria de Villota shows the helmet she was wearing when she had her testing accident

Eric Boullier, Lotus Team Principal: “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Maria de Villota earlier today. On behalf of the team here in Japan and back at Enstone, I would like to express our condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Maria. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.”

Marussia: “It is with great sadness that we learned a short time ago of the news that Maria de Villota has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”

Williams: “The Williams F1 Team would like to express its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of María de Villota following the sad news emerging from Spain today that she has passed away.”

Fernando Alonso: “It’s hard to talk about Maria de Villota right now, as I had only just taken my helmet off, when I was told about her death and at the moment, I still can’t believe it and need a while to stop and think about it. Of course, it’s very sad news for the world of motorsport as Maria was loved by everyone. Now, all we can do is pray for her and for her family.”

Maria de Villota drove a Lotus at Paul Ricard in 2011

Maria de Villota drove a Lotus at Paul Ricard in 2011

Jenson Button: “Today’s news about Maria de Villota is horrendous and tragic. She had been through so much – much more than most people will ever have to go through in their lives – and it’s been so tough for her. This is a real shock to the whole Formula 1 ‘family’ and the world of motorsport. My thoughts are with her family at this time.”

Sergio Perez: “I only heard the very bad news about Maria de Villota at the end of the session. It’s incredibly sad to learn this news about somebody you know. My thoughts are obviously with Maria and her family during this terrible time.”

Mark Webber: It’s been a very difficult last year and a half for her after the accident. She was such a beautiful and friendly lady with such a great nature and a warm heart. We’re thinking of her and as her family stated, she’s up with the angels now.”

Felipe Massa: “I feel really sorry for what has happened. It’s a very sad day for motorsport, for sport in general. She was somebody who was trying to do the best she could to become a Formula 1 driver. She was very close and it’s difficult to accept what has happened. ”

Heikki Kovalainen: “So sad [the] news emerging from Spain regarding Maria De Villota, my sincerest condolences to her family and friends.”

Maria de Villota as Mini ambassador

Maria de Villota as Mini ambassador

Pedro De La Rosa: “We were very close, all the racing community, but especially us being Spanish. She had a lot of strength, she was very happy. She had gone through a terrible year but she was now just married and she was so happy. I spoke with her two days ago and I’m very sad for her family. I learned from her a lot of things, one of them is that she was always smiling and always trying hard to be a better person and I will take that with me. She went through such a difficult scenario, losing an eye, fighting hours and hours in hospital to be again the Maria that we all knew and she managed all that and that’s the incredible thing. She was genuinely extremely happy, that’s why we’re all so sad, because she was a super woman and we will never forget her.”

Miguel Cardenal (Spain’s secretary of state for sport):”We are thinking about how to sustain her legacy because she brought something different to Spanish sport, different values and her vision of life.”

Jean Todt: “Today is a tragic day for motor sport. My deepest condolences go to the De Villota family. Maria was a fantastic driver, a leading light for women in motor sport and a tireless campaigner for road safety. Above all she was a friend I deeply admired. Through her courage, strength and determination she transformed her personal misfortune on the track into a powerful message for road safety that was heard at race tracks and beyond around the world. Maria was a beloved member of the FIA family. Our thoughts go to her family today.”

Eddie Jordan: “She was a wonderful figurehead. She showed the world how she was going to beat this, find a new life and come back to motor racing and she’s written this great book. It is a very sombre place here [at the Japanese Grand Prix], it’s a very close community here and everyone is thinking about the great sense of loss.”

Maria De Villota with fans at the 2012 Monaco GP weekend

Maria de Villota with fans during the 2012 Monaco GP weekend

Martin Whitmarsh: “This weekend has been overshadowed by tragedy. The entire F1 community is very shocked by the news that Maria is no longer with us. She was an inspiration not just to women in this sport, but also to all those who suffered life-threatening injuries. Her story, determination and subsequent inspiration flowed from F1 through sport as a whole, and to see the images of her in Barcelona on the grid earlier this year, surrounded by a throng of jubilant children, told a great story. Maria participated in the Manhattan Fans’ Forum on behalf of her team, Marussia F1, last year, and made a lasting impression on the fans who attended. She will be sadly missed, and we wish to pass on our sincere condolences to her family.”

Karun Chandhok: “Tragic news about Maria de Villota. Sat next to her just a couple weeks ago at FIA Drivers Comm meeting. Was doing a lot for women in racing.”

Alexander Rossi: “Absolutely stunned and heartbroken to hear Maria De Villota has passed away. My thoughts and prayers go out. We will never ever forget you.”

Mercedes: “Her courage, determination and hope were an example and inspiration to many. She will be sadly missed by our sport.”

Ferrari: “Tragic news of Maria de Villota passing away, our thoughts are with her family and friends.”

Force India: “Very sad news coming from Spain about brave Maria de Villota passing away. Our thoughts are with Maria’s family and friends in this moment.” (Compiled by Apex)

Subbed by AJN.

Maria de Villota: Thank you for this second opportunity

Maria de Villota: Thank you for this second opportunity

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