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De Villota seriously injured after testing crash

Associated Press

7/3/2012 9:18:24 AM

LONDON -- Female Formula One test driver Maria de Villota was conscious in a hospital after suffering life-threatening injuries in a collision with a team vehicle during a testing session at an airfield in England on Tuesday.

De Villota's team, Marussia F1, said her car hit the racing outfit's support truck at the end of her first run at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, north of London, at 8:15 a.m. GMT.

It was the first time the 32-year-old Spanish driver, who joined the Russian-owned team this season, tested the MR-01 car.

"Since Maria's arrival at the hospital ... this morning, she has been receiving the best medical attention possible at the hospital," Marussia said in a statement. "Maria is conscious and medical assessments are ongoing. The team will await the outcome of these assessments before providing further comment.

"The team's first priority at this time is Maria and her family."

De Villota had been taken by ambulance to the major trauma centre following what police called "a low-speed accident," where the test driver apparently crashed into the stationary team vehicle as she came to the end of a run at the straight-line test session.

An ambulance spokesman said De Villota's injuries were life-threatening and she was treated by paramedics at the scene before being moved to the nearby Addenbrookes Hospital.

De Villota is the daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota and joined Marussia as a test driver in March, becoming the sport's first full-time female driver since Italian Giovanna Amati with the Brabham team in 1992.

De Villota had previously tested for Renault and had racing experience in Spanish F3 and the Daytona 24-Hour race.

Fellow drivers and former world champions Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso expressed sympathy and support for De Villota in messages on Twitter.

Ferrari driver Alonso, the current F1 drivers' standings leader and a Spanish compatriot, tweeted: "I just got home and found out (about) Maria's accident, we called the family and hopefully we will know more soon ! All my energy with you!"

McLaren's Button wrote: "Terrible accident for Maria de Villota, Marussia F1 team test driver. My thoughts are with Maria and her family at this very difficult time."

Marussia started in Formula One as Virgin Racing in 2010. It rebranded as Marussia for the start of the current season after Russian sports car manufacturer Marussia Motors bought a controlling stake.

It has yet to pick up a point this year ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The team's race drivers are Timo Glock of Germany and Charles Pic of France.