Monday 19 February 2018

Crash victim De Villota left partially blinded after major surgery

Tom Cary

Maria de Villota, Marussia's Spanish test driver who crashed at Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire on Tuesday, has been partially blinded as a result of the accident.

De Villota (32) suffered serious injuries to her face and head after accelerating into a stationary support truck on her first outing in the MR-01. A "comprehensive" internal investigation is ongoing at Marussia to determine why that happened.

Inspectors from the Health and Safety Executive also visited the test track yesterday. After all-night surgery at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, De Villota left the operating theatre yesterday morning. She remains in "a critical but stable condition," according to a Marussia team statement.

Team principal John Booth said: "It is with great sadness that I must report that, due to the injuries she sustained, Maria has lost her right eye. With regard to the accident, we have embarked on a very comprehensive analysis of what happened."

Booth said the team had been "overwhelmed" by messages of support. De Villota is the daughter of former Formula One driver Emilio de Villota.

support

McLaren's British drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, were among those to send messages of support on Twitter, along with tennis star Rafael Nadal.

Meanwhile, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has backed sporting director Sam Michael following the latest high-profile pit-stop error at the last race in Valencia which arguably cost the 2008 world champion, Hamilton, a shot at victory.

Michael was brought in by Whitmarsh after leaving his technical director role at Williams last year with the aim of making the team run more efficiently.

While McLaren's pit stops have undoubtedly got faster, calamitous errors have cost both drivers points.

"Sam has had a tough time, with high expectations, but he is good leader material," Whitmarsh said. "He is someone who is, I am sure, harbouring expectations to kick me out of my job one day. I think that is a healthy dynamic.

"For the last two grands prix we have had the fastest pit stops in the race, and in the last race we had the fastest pit stop in the history of F1."

Michael said that he was confident there would be no repeat of the jack issue which caused Hamilton's slow stop in Spain. "We identified why that failed and the design has been modified," he said. "On Monday, we completed 800 pit stops on the jacking systems with no faults at all." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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