De Villota family not commenting on Marussia statement

Maria de Villota’s family is awaiting the findings of subsequent investigations before commenting on the recent Duxford crash.

Marussia said in a statement this week that an internal “detailed investigation” showed that the car was not to blame for the 32-year-old Spaniard’s crash into a stationary truck. The implication was that driver error was the cause, but the British-based team did not actually say that.

An official investigation is being conducted by the Health and Safety Executive, the independent UK regulator for work-related accidents.

“This is their (Marussia’s) version, but it’s not an explanation,” someone ‘very close’ to de Villota’s family told the Spanish newspaper Marca.

The newspaper reported that de Villota does not remember anything about the crash.

“Maria is not yet in the sufficient condition that would allow her to take part in any of the investigations,” a statement issued by her family said. “There will be no comment until all the current investigations are finished,” the family added.


No Marussia car problem before de Villota crash

Marussia has revealed that Maria de Villota’s testing crash two weeks ago was not caused by a technical problem.

As the 32-year-old Spanish test driver remains in a Cambridge (UK) hospital with serious face and head injuries, her employer Marussia said it has completed a “detailed investigation” into the cause. De Villota was at the end of the first installation run of a day of straight-line aerodynamic testing at Duxford airfield when the 2012 car surged forwards and crashed into the loading ramp of a truck.

Marussia team boss John Booth said on Monday the team is “satisfied that the findings of our internal investigation exclude the car as a factor in the accident”. The obvious implication of the finding is that the incident was caused by driver error. But Marussia said in its media statement that, although de Villota was making her team debut, Duxford was actually the fourth time she had driven an F1 car.

A team insider is quoted by Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport: “Sometimes it’s harder to drive a (F1) car slow rather than fast.”


FIA wants to examine de Villota’s helmet

The FIA will examine Maria de Villota’s helmet in the wake of the Marussia test driver’s horror injuries.

Although now out of intensive care, awake and talking to family, the Spaniard lost her right eye early last week after her 2012 single seater drove into a stationary truck’s loading ramp. Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport reports that, because the accident occurred during a private test, the governing FIA will not be launching an official investigation or writing a report.

The Jean Todt-led federation, however, is interested in the circumstances.

“We want to examine the helmet and know exactly what went wrong,” race director Charlie Whiting is quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, it emerges that ‘Barney’ – the mechanic most badly injured in Williams’ Barcelona pit fire – was back in the team’s garage last weekend at Silverstone. Williams reports, however, that he only watched the race and “won’t be back at work for a while” yet.

But the few Sauber mechanics bowled over by Kamui Kobayashi during a British grand prix pitstop will all be back at work at Hockenheim, the Swiss team’s chief mechanic Urs Kuratle said.

“They’re all ok. They’ll all be at Hockenheim,” he told Bild newspaper.


De Villota could return to Spain this week

It has been reported that Maria de Villota could leave Addenbrooke’s hospital in the UK and return to Spain by the end of the week.

The 32 year old Spaniard has been in hospital since losing her right eye after a horror accident at Duxford airfield early last week. De Villota’s sister Isabel said on Monday that Maria has moved out of the intensive care unit, after Marussia chief John Booth revealed she had emerged from an artificial coma to speak to her family.

Auto Motor und Sport reported: “Except for the blindness in her right eye, the chances are good that there is no (other) permanent damage.”

De Villota has had two operations at Addenbrook’s, and the German publication added: “If there are no further complications, de Villota could return to her native Spain late this week.”


De Villota no longer in intensive care – sister

Maria de Villota has moved out of the intensive care unit at a Cambridge hospital.

Marussia boss John Booth said on Sunday that the team’s test driver is no longer in an artificial coma and has therefore been able to speak with her family, including her father and former F1 driver Emilio de Villota.

“Her level of sedation has been reduced markedly,” he told the Spanish broadcaster Antena3.

De Villota’s sister Isabel is quoted by the Spanish media as saying the 32-year-old has “made good progress in the last hours” and has “left the ICU unit”. But she warned: “The coming days will be crucial for her recovery and to determine the extent of the consequences (of her injuries).”


Booth: De Villota awake and talking to family

Marussia team boss John Booth on Sunday had some good news about Maria de Villota’s improving condition.

Although upgraded from a “critical” to “serious” condition in the wake of her latest head and facial surgery, the last word about the 32-year-old Spaniard was that she was in an artificial coma. No more. Booth said just ahead of the British grand prix that the team’s test driver, who lost her right eye after an horror testing crash at Duxford airfield on Tuesday, is now awake and “talking with her family”.

He said that is “great news”.


Whiting: De Villota crash was just incredible bad luck

Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s top F1 official, has described Maria de Villota’s crash earlier this week as a “one in five million” freak accident.

“It was so incredibly unfortunate,” the race director, starter and technical and safety delegate told the Spanish sports newspaper Marca at Silverstone.

There have been suggestions Marussia was at fault for putting an inexperienced driver – who does not have an FIA super license – at the wheel of a powerful 2012 single seater. And the fact a truck was parked nearby with its tail-lift positioned at visor-height has also raised questions about negligence.

“I think that if Felipe’s accident (in 2009) was one in a million, then Maria’s was one in five million,” Briton Whiting added. “The circumstances were just so unique that it was just incredible bad luck,” he said.

Whiting said that, even at the time of de Villota’s incident, the FIA was already looking at ways to better protect the drivers’ heads.

“With the kind of protection we are studying, an accident like that would be unlikely, but also the chances of repeating these same circumstances are so remote,” he said. “We’re looking more at the case of an impact with a wheel, because this can happen several times in a year. Maria’s circumstances may never occur again,” added Whiting.

Referring again to the head protection studies, he continued: “We can only do it as fast as we can, because it’s a very complicated matter. In Maria’s case, yes it (head protection) would have worked, but perhaps in many other cases the problems would be worse, like extraction or visibility.

“We have to make sure we aren’t making something better for one type of accident but worse for three more.”

The German newspaper Kolner Express said members of the Marussia team have been banned from talking about the de Villota incident this weekend at Silverstone.

Peter Sauber is quoted as saying: “I know as much as you do — or even less.”


Marussia boss refuses to be drawn on cause of De Villota’s crash

Maria de Villota’s condition has been downgraded from ‘critical’ to ‘serious’ as she recovers from her horror testing crash in an English hospital. Marussia’s 32-year-old test driver is currently in an induced coma following another round of surgery on Friday.

“Whilst Maria remains acutely ill … she has been responding well to the treatment she has received since her accident,” the team said in a statement.

Team boss John Booth told Bild newspaper: “The swelling in her head is not getting worse. This is some good news, but it will take a lot of time before she is completely well again. At the moment it’s day to day, hour to hour.”

Briton Booth said de Villota, who lost her right eye due to the severe head and face injuries, is aware of what has happened.

“Yes, she has spent most of the time conscious,” he told the German newspaper. “But after the long surgery, the doctors decided it would be best for her recovery if she is in an artificial coma.”

He denied Marussia acted negligently by putting an inexperienced driver, who does not have an FIA super license, at the wheel of the team’s 2012 car for an aerodynamic straight line test.

“No, we did not. This is the normal method for a team to train its new development drivers and give them some experience. And it was not the first time Maria has driven a modern Formula One car.”

Booth would not talk about the likely cause of the crash.

“I cannot. Not yet,” he insisted. “Unlike in some other countries there are very strict procedures in England. What happened must not only be examined by the team but also by the authorities.”

Booth said he can therefore “not talk about” issues such as why the truck loading ramp was sticking up at visor height. Asked if the incident could have “serious consequences” for the Marussia team, he answered: “All I can say is that safety is taken very seriously in England.”


Grand Prix Drivers’ chairman calls for safety probe after De Villota crash

Grand Prix Drivers’ chairman Pedro de la Rosa has called for an investigation into Maria de Villota’s crash at Duxford Aerodrome earlier in the week to see if any safety changes need to be made. De Villota was conducting straight-line aero testing for the Marussia team at the private event. The 32-year-old Spaniard had just completed her initial installation run when her car ran into the tailgate of a support truck at around 30mph.

Duxford, which was an old World War Two airfield base, is an FIA approved venue however the FIA do not attend private sessions.

De la Rosa, chairman of the GPDA, said “We will put the facts on the table to see if there is anything we need to change to improve. 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. The first thing we need to do is understand what happened, what safety measures were taken and how the airfield was prepared for Formula One testing.”

Felipe Massa, who suffered an accident three years ago when a spring from Rubens Barrichello’s Brawn car hit him on the helmet on a high speed part of the track, an accident which required him to have a titanium plate inserted into his skull, also believes that it is important to understand what caused de Villota’s accident.

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

“Maria has 100% of my support. I suffered similar injuries, and thank God nothing happened to me, but I really hope everything will be okay for her and she is able to live her life in the best way she deserves.

“For me, it was not easy at first. You are at home and you are wanting to get back into the car, to race. I felt okay after the accident, but I knew I needed the time to recuperate. Staying positive helps your recovery, to have positive things in your brain, and my recovery was quicker than it was supposed to be.”

De Villota still ‘critical’ after test crash

Three days after her horror testing crash, Maria de Villota remains in a “critical but stable condition”, her sister Isabel has revealed.

Spaniard de Villota, 32, suffered severe facial and head injuries and lost her right eye after the accident, and underwent a long surgery in a Cambridge hospital.

“I hope she can recover as much and possible to have a normal life,” reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel said at Silverstone on Thursday, according to Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo newspaper. “We don’t know what happened, whether it was a mechanical failure or a mistake — I have talked with Timo Glock and even the team doesn’t know what happened,” added the German.

“The most important thing is that she recovers,” said Vettel.

The Daily Mail newspaper said doctors are relieved that de Villota has no swelling on her brain. Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said she is currently in an artificial coma but has suffered “no new complications” in the wake of the surgery.

“On Friday, she will be operated on again,” the report added.

Marussia racer Glock admitted the team is in a sombre mood ahead of its home race.

“Especially for the people who were there (at Duxford),” he said, “it is difficult, but it is not normal for any of the team at Silverstone.”