UPDATE: F1 test driver loses eye in Duxford crash
A TEST driver has lost her right eye and suffered “serious head and facial injuries” after crashing a Formula 1 car at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.
Maria de Villota, 32, was performing straight line testing on the air strip for F1 team Marussia on Tuesday but completed only one run before careering into a lorry tail lift.
The Spaniard had been travelling at speeds of up to 200mph before the collision but is though to have crashed at around 20-30mph as she was coming into the temporary pit area.
Ambulance service spokesman Gary Sanderson described her injuries as “life threatening” on Tuesday but Marussia yesterday (Wednesday) revealed she was in a “critical but stable condition”.
Eyewitness Chris Mann, of BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, said: “The car just strangely accelerated into the big truck that brought it there. There was a board down, like a loading board, and the car went careering into the side of that, probably doing only 20 or 30mph.
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He added: “From where I was standing it looked like the helmet took the brunt of the impact.
“There was a terrible moment when everyone was just very shocked by the impact and the suddenness of what had happened.”
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Ms Villota is one of two female test drivers in the sport and was driving Marussia’s MR-01 car for the first time on the day of the accident.
Following the crash the driver was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, by land ambulance despite a team from the Magpas Helimedix charity being present.
Ms Villota is out of surgery after enduring a lengthy operation which began on Tuesday afternoon and finished on Wednesday morning.
John Booth, team principal of the Marussia F1 Team, said: “Maria emerged from theatre at Addenbrooke’s Hospital this morning after a lengthy operation to address the serious head and facial injuries she received in the accident at Duxford Airfield yesterday.
“We are grateful for the medical attention that Maria has been receiving and her family would like to thank the Neurological and Plastics surgical teams. “However it is with great sadness that I must report that, due to the injuries she sustained, Maria has lost her right eye.
“In the meantime, we would all like to take this opportunity to praise the emergency services at Duxford Airfield, who were on stand-by yesterday, as is usual procedure for a Formula One test.
“With regard to the accident, we have embarked on a very comprehensive analysis of what happened and this work continues for the moment.”
Formula 1 teams have been testing at the museum since 2009 and this is the first time there has been an incident. Despite the crash further testing will take place at the museum next Thursday.
The museum suffered no disruption and was open as usual.