F1 driver in life-threatening accident

Tuesday July 3, 2012

A female racing driver is fighting for her life after a crash on a test track in Cambridgeshire.

Maria de Villota, a test driver for the Marussia F1 team, was taken to hospital after her car collided with a lorry at Duxford airfield.

Gary Sanderson, a spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service, said: "A woman has sustained life-threatening injuries and following treatment at the scene by paramedics, she has been taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital for further care."

Chris Mann, Drivetime presenter on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, witnessed the accident and said: "She got into the car, fired it up and did a test run at probably about 200mph in the rain. The car was slightly misfiring but there didn't seem to be any concerns.

"She came back into the area we were in with the engineers. She slowed down but then suddenly, inexplicably accelerated through the crowd and smashed into the side of the truck. The top of her car and her helmet seemed to take the brunt of it. She didn't move for about 15 minutes.

"After a while we thought we saw some movement of her hands but she appeared to be unconscious or unable to move for quite some time."

The 32-year-old, originally from Madrid, was taking part in the first of two days of testing at the site.

In a statement, a spokesman for Marussia said: "At approximately 09.15am, the Marussia F1 Team's test driver, Maria De Villota, had an accident in the team's MR-01 race car at Duxford airfield where she was testing the car for the first time.

"The accident happened at the end of her first installation run and involved an impact with the team's support truck. Maria has been transferred to hospital. Once her medical condition has been assessed, a further statement will be issued."

A spokesman for Duxford airfield, home of the Imperial War Museum, said testing had been suspended while team personnel and medics assessed the situation. Villota is the daughter of retired Formula One driver Emilio de Villota. Members of the Formula One community said their thoughts were with de Villota.

Writing on Twitter, Jenson Button said: "Terrible accident for Maria de Villota, Marussia F1 team test driver. My thoughts are with Maria and her family at this very difficult time."

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