Maria de Villota has lost her right eye and remains in a “critical but stable condition”, following her crash in testing at Duxford Airfield yesterday.

The exact cause of the accident remains unclear, however there has been speculation that the Marussia’s MR-01’s anti-stall system may have accidentally triggered as Maria came back to the pits after her first installation run.

It was the 32-year old Spanish test driver’s first ever run in the MR-01 and only her second time driving an F1 car, following her test last year in a Renault R29 at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.

Yesterday’s accident saw Maria’s car suddenly surge towards one of the team’s trucks, after arriving in the team’s makeshift pit area following an installation run on Duxford’s temporary straight. Her car collided with the loading platform of one of the team’s trucks, with the top of her helmet taking the full brunt of the impact.

In a statement by the Marussia team yesterday at 15.00hrs BST, it was confirmed that Maria was conscious and being assessed by the specialist head trauma unit at Cambridge’s Addenbrooke Hospital.

While her injuries were originally feared to be life threatening, Maria was able to speak with her family yesterday afternoon when they came to be by her side. Shortly afterwards she went into surgery, and in a statement released at 16.00hrs BST today the team confirmed she had lost her right eye and remains in a critical condition as doctors attend to her other injuries.

Maria’s Racing Career

It is sad to see the racing career of such a hugely enthusiastic driver end in such a manner – assuming of course Maria doesn’t follow in the footsteps of Lord Paul Drayson, who competed at Le Mans despite having sight in only one eye.

Some people have unkindly dismissed Maria as a pay-driver and while she has certainly brought money to the team, this should in no way detract from her credentials as a race driver who has focused during the past 11 years on reaching the top.

Maria is the daughter of former Formula One driver Emilio de Villota, and has competed in numerous international race series including the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), ADAC Procar Series, Daytona 24 Hours, Spanish F3, Ferrari Challenge Europe, Spanish GT and the Euroseries 3000.

Prior to signing with Marussia in March 2012 she drove a season in Formula Palmer Audi and competed for two seasons in the 750bhp V12 Superleague Formula with Alan Docking Racing.

In the male-dominated world of motorsport, Maria has been determined to make her own way and remains one of the nicest, most down to earth drivers in the F1 paddock.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria and her family at this traumatic time.