Formula One driver De Villota loses eye in test accident

Spanish Formula One driver Maria De Villota has lost her right eye as a result of an accident she suffered during testing in England on Tuesday, her Marussia team said Wednesday.

De Villota was rushed to Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge on Tuesday after a crash at Duxford Airfield circuit in Cambridgeshire, eastern England.

And a statement issued Wednesday by Marussia confirmed the extent of the 32-year-old's injuries, with team principal John Booth saying: "It is with great sadness that I must report that, due to the injuries she sustained, Maria has lost her right eye."

De Villota's condition was described as "critical but stable", with Booth explaining: "Maria emerged from theatre at Addenbrooke's Hospital this (Wednesday) morning after a lengthy operation to address the serious head and facial injuries she received in the accident.

"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 I must report that, due to the injuries she sustained, Maria has lost her right eye."

He added: "Maria's care and the wellbeing of her family remain our priority at this time. Her family are at the hospital and we are doing everything possible to support them.

"We ask for everyone's patience and understanding with regard to updates on Maria's condition. We will provide further information when it is appropriate to do so and with consideration for her family.

"With regard to the accident, we have embarked on a very comprehensive analysis of what happened and this work continues for the moment."

Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal offered sympathy to De Villota by saying, via Twitter, on Wednesday: "María I hope you recover soon, you must be strong and we hope to see you back as soon as possible."

His post followed several from within the world of Formula One on Tuesday, with De Villota's compatriot Fernando Alonso, the former world champion, expressing his concern and saying: "All my energy with you!"

Marussia said Tuesday that De Villota had been injured after her car collided with a support vehicle at the end of her first lap.

BBC radio presenter Chris Mann, who witnessed the crash, said De Villota's car had ploughed into the truck after suddenly accelerating.

"She got into the car, fired it up and did a test run at probably about 200mph in the rain," he said. "She slowed down but then suddenly, inexplicably accelerated through the crowd and smashed into the side of the truck."

De Villota, the daughter of former Spanish Formula One driver Emilio De Villota, was given a test drive by Renault last year and had previously raced in Spanish Formula Three and the Daytona 24 Hours.

Women drivers remain a rarity in Formula One.

In April this year, Williams signed German touring car driver Susie Wolff as the team's development driver.

But the last woman to enter the F1 world championship was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for three races at the start of the 1992 season with Brabham.

Five women have entered F1 races in the past, the most prolific being Italian Lella Lombardi, who started 12 grands prix in the 1970s.

Marussia began racing in 2010 under the Virgin banner. The team rebranded as Marussia in 2012, with Charles Pic driving alongside Timo Glock.

The team has struggled to make any impression on the championship however, failing to score any points this season.

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