Date:Thursday February 28 2013
Almost eight months ago Formula One was rocked with the news that Marussia test driver Maria De Villota had suffered a crash at Duxford Airfield.
The crash happened shortly after she had completing an installation circuit of the track at Duxford.
Witnesses at the scene reported that her car suddenly accelerated and crashed into the team truck.
Speculation had led to some reporters suggesting that perhaps the cars anti stall system had been at fault, but Marussia concluded following an investigation that the car was not to blame for the accident.
Maria De Villota's injuries were sustained when her car crashed into the teams truck, which had the tailgate lowered at the time of the crash. De Villota's helmet took the brunt of the impact at around 30-40mph.
She was unconscious for around 15 to 20 minutes, while she was treated by paramedics and the ambulance service announced that she had suffered life-threatening injuries.
The day after the crash the team announced that following a lengthy surgical procedure, she had lost her right eye.
Two days later and she went back into theatre for a further procedure on her facial and skull injuries, but ever since that operation the news has been positive with Maria moving into a stable condition, awake and able to speak to her family.
A week or so later she left the Neurological Critical Care Unit and returned to Spain.
But since returning to Spain at the end of July, there have been fewer updates on how Marussia F1 test driver Maria de Villota's recovery has continued, where she was expected to continue to undergo periodical checks and treatments by specialists of the plastic and neurological surgery services.
Thankfully that has so far gone well and the Spaniard spoke about the crash for the first time back in October last year.
In an interview with Spanish magazine Hola she said: 'In the beginning they were covering my eye so I couldn't see it. The first time that I looked in the mirror I had 104 black stitches in my face that looked like they had been stitched with maritime rope and I had lost my right eye. It left me terrified.
The 32-year-old said that she didn't know what she now wants to do with her life, but didn't rule out a return to motorsport. Considering the injuries she sustained, even the thought of a return behind a road car felt unlikely, but in America, there are cases of some drivers who hold a valid racing license with only one eye, despite the loss of depth perception.
So it would seem that there is every chance that if Maria wanted to return to the sport, she could aim for an unlikely return and this week she took the first step towards that aim if that was what she wanted to do!
She has now been cleared to drive following a series of tests on her vision.
'Last week they gave me permission to return to driving, The distances I can already calculate quite well and it feels like nothing ever happened.' she told the BBC.
She admits that she still suffers from headaches and often felt weak, but her recover is nothing short of miraculous.
'To start with it was difficult just to do day-to-day things. Catching keys in flight or getting a glass of water was a problem, but now things are much better.'
'At the end of the day, my natural habitat is in a car and I am happiest in that environment. I missed it, When your life is saved, no-one owes you anything.
Maria now hopes that she can help improve safety in the sport.
'I don't hold any rancour towards the sport. The only thing I want is for the safety in races and tests to be improved.
'I will collaborate with them on what is currently lacking. Moreover, I feel very grateful to all the teams and drivers who have supported me after the accident.'
Date:Thursday February 28 2013
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