The 33-year old driver who made headlines last year after a terrifying testing accident with the Marussia F1 team has died.
Maria de Villota died in a hotel room in Seville, Spain, of an apparent cardiac arrest.
De Villota began her racing career in 2001, running the Spanish F3 series. Surrounded by racing in her family, de Villota did not allow the fact that she was a woman slow her down.
After leaving the Spanish F3 ranks in 2005, she competed in the Ferrari Challenge, World Touring Car Championship, Spanish GT, ADAC Procar, Euroseries 3000, Formula Palmer Audi and Superleague Formula. She made an appearance in the Grand American Rolex Series, competing in the 2005 24 Hours of Daytona, and had signed a test driver contract with Marussia F1.
Her Father, Emilio de Villota competed in Formula One, while her brother Emilio de Villota Jr. spent time in Formula Palmer Audi and Porsche Supercup.
De Villota always wanted to compete in single seaters, and she was ecstatic when the opportunity to run a Lotus in a two day test in 2011.
Team principal Eric Boullier said she did an incredible job in the car. That test vaulted her to the position as test driver at Marussia F1.
In July, she was testing the car at an airfield at Duxford in the UK, when returning from a straight line test, she struck a team truck and suffered life threatening injuries.
It took over an hour for her to be removed from the car. She was taken to hospital where she in critical but stable condition.
As a result of the accident, she lost her right eye, and suffered massive cranial fracturing, but would make a full recovery.
Despite the accident, de Villota remained in the F1 paddock as role model with the FIA’s Women in Motorsport Commission.
“Before the accident, I only saw Formula 1, inside a car, competing, and I didn't see what was really important in life," she said.
"[The crash] has made me find the way again and I'm seeing it that way. And this new opportunity I'm going to live it at 100 per cent."