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Sat Apr 19 04:18:04 SAST 2014

F1 must analyse De Villota accident, drivers say

Reuters | 06 July, 2012 08:100 Comments
FILE - Spainish Driver Maria De Villota Injured During F1 testing
Marussia test driver Maria de Villota of Spain attends the drivers portrait session during previews to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit on March 15, 2012 in Melbourne, Australia
Image by: Andrew Hone / Getty Images

Formula One must analyse the safety implications of the freak testing accident that left Spanish racer Maria De Villota critically injured this week, drivers said on Thursday.

The daughter of former F1 driver Emilio De Villota lost her right eye after her car suddenly accelerated into the lowered tailgate of a parked team truck at Duxford airfield in eastern England on Tuesday.

  She remains in hospital, with her condition described as critical but stable, after lengthy surgery on facial and head injuries.

  An official test driver for the Marussia team, it had been her first time in the car and she was taking part in a private straight-line aerodynamic test ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

  Straight line tests are often carried out on airfield runways, approved by the governing FIA and with a medical team in attendance, by relatively inexperienced drivers who only have to turn the car at the end of each run rather than negotiate a proper circuit.

  “We will put the facts on the table to see if there is anything we need to change to improve,” said veteran HRT driver Pedro de la Rosa, a compatriot of De Villota’s and chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA).

  “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.”

 Ferrari’s Brazilian Felip Massa, who suffered life-threatening head injuries when he was hit on the helmet by a bouncing spring at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, agreed there needed to be an investigation.

  “She has 100% of my support. I suffered similar injuries, and thank God nothing happened to me,” he told reporters.

  “The most important thing is to understand what happened.

The FIA need to understand as well, to put everything in place for maximum safety that we need to have.”

  The accident shocked the Formula One community, with messages of support pouring in from well-wishers to De Villota, her family and team.

  Compatriot Fernando Alonso, who leads the Formula One championship for Ferrari, said the news had been hard to come to terms with.

  “Obviously we are very worried for this situation because we are still waiting for some more news,” he said.

  “We don’t know all the information so it’s difficult to talk about the reasons etc until we know the official version but at the moment, it’s so difficult to imagine how this can happen.”

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