Formula One test driver Maria de Villota found dead


Formula One driver Maria de Villota was found dead on October 11, 2013.

Former Formula 1 driver Maria de Villota was found dead in a Seville, Spain hotel room on Friday, over a year after a racing crash that nearly killed her. 

No foul play is suspected in the death, and Spanish authorities are conducting an autopsy, telling Reuters that they expect it was a "natural death" but cannot yet confirm it. 

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De Villota suffered her near-fatal July 2012 racing crash four months after she joined the Marussia F1 team as a test driver. The crash at the Duxford Airfield was so violent that she lost her right eye, and suffered traumatic head injuries. 

The 33-year-old De Villota was the first Spanish woman to become a F1 driver, inspired by her father, former Formula 1 driver Emilio De Villota. She had hoped to become the third woman in history to take part in a F1 race, according to the Associated Press.

She had reportedly been in Seville to promote her autobiography when she was found dead. 

"Before, I only saw F1, I saw myself in a car competing. I did not see what was important in life, the clarity to say: 'I am alive,'' she said to the BBC last October. "It has given me my bearings, given me back what's important. I accept it with the energy to say I am going to live out this chance 100%."

"Maria has left us. She had to go to heaven like all the angels. I give thanks to God for the extra year and a half he left her with us," the racecar driver's family posted in Spanish on De Villota's Facebook page.