Gracious de Villota on road to recovery

After horrific crash in which she lost an eye, former F1 driver Maria de Villota hopes to increase female participation.

    Gracious de Villota on road to recovery
    Former Marussia F1 test driver Maria de Villota has been given permission to get back in a car [Reuters]

    Former Formula 1 test driver Maria de Villota, who lost her right eye in a crash last July, says her recuperation has gone as well as she could have expected.

    The Spanish driver suffered serious head and facial injuries after the accident when testing for the Marussia team for the first time at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire.

    "I feel very good. The doctors told me that it helps that I have never drank alcohol or smoked and that I was a sportswoman," the daughter of former Spanish F1 driver Emilio De Villota said.

    "I still feel a little weak and have headaches, but I am getting on well. Very busy days take their toll, but I am calm because I know everything is going well.

    "To start with it was difficult just to do day-to-day things. Catching keys in flight or getting a glass of water was a problem, but now things are much better."

    "When your life is saved no one owes you anything. I don't hold any rancour towards the sport. The only thing I want is for the safety in races and tests to be improved"

    Maria de Villota

    De Villota also revealed that she has taken her first steps towards driving again and that despite her traumatic experience, she holds no grudge towards Formula 1.

    "Last week they gave me permission to return to driving. The distances I can already calculate quite well and it feels like nothing ever happened.

    "At the end of the day my natural habitat is in a car and I am happiest in that environment. I missed it.

    "When your life is saved no one owes you anything. I don't hold any rancour towards the sport. The only thing I want is for the safety in races and tests to be improved.

    "I will collaborate with them on what is currently lacking. Moreover, I feel very grateful to all the teams and drivers who have supported me after the accident."

    The 33-year-old also confirmed that she will continue to work with the International Automobile Federation (FIA) to help increase the prominence of female participants in motorsport.

    The last woman to enter the F1 world championship was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for three races at the start of the 1992 season with Brabham.

    Five women have entered F1 races in the past, the most prolific being Italian Lella Lombardi, who started 12 grands prix in the 1970s.

    In NASCAR though it is a different story, with Danica Patrick making history when becoming the first woman to start from pole in Sunday's Daytona 500, the 30-year-old going on to take eighth in the race itself.

    SOURCE: AFP


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