A year after almost losing her life behind the wheel of a race car, former Formula One test driver Maria de Villota was found dead in a hotel room in Seville late last week. We brought you the story in the Car Pro Weekly at the time of the near-fatal accident.
Spanish police told The Associated Press that investigators did not find any drugs or signs of violence and “everything points to a death by natural causes.” De Villota was 33. The police spokesman spoke on condition of anonymity in line with police policy.
De Villota’s manager alerted staff at the Hotel Sevilla Congresos. An autopsy will be carried out.
De Villota was seriously injured last year in a crash during testing for the Marussia F1 team in England, losing her right eye and sustaining other serious head injuries that kept her hospitalized for a month.
De Villota, a Madrid native, was the daughter of Emilio de Villota, who competed in F1 from 1976-82.
Her family used De Villota’s Facebook page to say “Dear friends: Maria has left us. She had to go to heaven like all angels. I give thanks to God for the year and a half that he left her with us.”
She first drove an F1 car in 2011, a Renault at the Paul Ricard circuit in Marseille, France. Her death comes when De Villota seemed to be moving past her accident.
She told Hola magazine in February she felt “free” and “back to being me” after returning to driving on normal roads.
She returned to a F1 paddock for the first time in May at the Spanish GP. There she told the AP that she felt a mix of “adrenaline and also a little bit of sadness” on again being near the sport that almost cost her her life.
In July, she married boyfriend Rodrigo Garcia. She was active in charity work and a member of the FIA’s women’s commission.
In late breaking news: Sean Edwards, a promising British driver and the son of former Formula One driver Guy Edwards, died Tuesday in a crash during training. He was 26.
Edwards, the Supercup Championship leader, was in the passenger seat as an instructor for a private training session at Queensland Raceway at Willowbank, outside Brisbane, Porsche Motorsport said.
A 20-year-old local driver was behind the wheel when the car crashed into a tire wall and caught fire. The driver was taken to a hospital and is reported to be in a critical condition with severe burns and broken bones.