Drivers “devastated” by de Villota crash

2012 F1 season

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Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Barcelona, 2012F1 drivers expressed their sympathy for Marussia test driver Maria de Villota who was badly injured in a crash on Tuesday.

De Villota lost her right eye after a crash during a straight-line speed test at Duxford Aerodrome and remains in hospital.

Speaking in the drivers’ press conference at Silverstone Fernando Alonso said: “Obviously we are all very worried with the situation because we are still waiting for some more news.

“We only know what you all know and there’s still some difficult days until the situation is completely clear.

“Sad days, for sure. Complete shock when you heard about the news and how it is possible this happened.

“Obviously we don’t know the whole information and it’s difficult to talk about the reasons until we know the official version. But at the moment it’s so difficult to imagine how this can happen.”

Lewis Hamilton added: “I don’t know her personally but when I read about it I was absolutely devastated for her and her family. I think it’s very tragic.

“Myself and my team we send our warmest wishes her way and hope that she has a speedy recovery and things get better.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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27 comments on “Drivers “devastated” by de Villota crash”

  1. Very sensible and agreeable words from Alonso there.

  2. I’m still shocked something as routine as a straight line test could have ended so badly. It’s great to hear caring and sensible words from two of the top drivers from the sport.
    What a sad few days.
    I hope Maria’s recovery goes as well as possible.

  3. It is always bad when a driver experiences the realization of risk that comes with these machines. My heart goes out to Maria, her family, and her team.

    Similarly, I feel it is an interesting commentary on how the F1 has morphed from the earlier years of being a blood-sport where the main attraction was that of a snuff film, into a situation of sport, where safety is apprieciate, injuries are counted as regrettable, and not the expected excitement they once were.

    Seems it will always be dangerous to even get near an F1 car as this event, and countless other “non-racing” injuries will attest. If anything good can come from this, it is that shock of Maria’s incident proves that the safety level of F1 has been significantly and appreicably improved but, the racing pursuit will always be a dangerous one, and NOTHING can be taken for granted as humdrum and completely safe.

    1. where the main attraction was that of a snuff film

      I really, really do not think that was ever the case. A certain section of the audience might have enjoyed (and still enjoy) the possibility of a crash as long as the drivers walk away, but “snuff film” is way over the top.
      Nonetheless, accidents like Maria De Villota’s must make other drivers sit up for a moment thinking “There but for . . . ” and appreciate their own good health.

      1. I don’t think Javlinsharp is that far from the truth…
        Look at the thousands of “real footage worst crash EVER” you’ll find on youtube and you’ll be convinced that a part of the audience quite like the adrenaline rush of seing something nasty.
        Just like a crowd will gather around a street accident, just staring.
        I think it’s disgusting but totally “human”…

  4. things like this is the reason we get angry when some one fulls dangerous and cheap tricks out on the track. people can get injured bad.

    1. You are confused. She did nothing dangerous or “cheap tricks” on the track. She was finishing a lap and was waiting for the crew to come push her back into the garage. Something went wrong and the car suddenly accelerated into a parked truck close to the pits and she hit her head.

      1. dave, im talking about racing moves during races that some drivers pull off with a risk of injuring themselves and others. thats lame. this incident was no ones fault. and its pathetic that such a thing should happen to anyone at all.

        1. Oh, sorry…I didn’t understand what you were referring to.

  5. What is so frustrating to me is that this probably could have been much less serious. I do not understand why F1 continues to try open cockpit? It is called Open Wheel Racing, not open cockpit.

    This is one of those safety issues that truly needs to over-ride tradition. Massa would have never gone through what he did 3 years ago, Dan Weldon might be alive today and Maria might have walked away from nothing more than an embarrassing little wreck with both eyes and the rest of her health in tact.

    This is senseless. Le Mans has finally bitten the bullet and mandated closed cockpit for all cars as of 2014. Now F1 and Indy need to follow suit.

    1. I understand Your concern but Dan Wheldon’s accident was so abrupt and violent that even closed cockpit wouldn’t save him i’m affraid..

      The closed canopy cockpits are being tested, but it it a very difficult engineering challenge – to provide sufficient protection and visibility while still allowing for quick driver’s escape in case of emergency.

      I’m sure the driver’s protection will become a primary talking point now, but i’d much prefer a well thought out solution rather than a hasty one, which may have even worse consequences.

      Maria’s accident was so weird it’s scary. The number of things that may go wrong every second during testing – let alone the race weekend – makes me appreciate even more the professionality of the team members and the safety standards of today. Without it, there would be much more accidents. They are constantly on the knife’s edge of human and technological capabilities, remember. And i think we should value that, because thanks to those men the whole automotive industry get’s provided with the materials and the technological knowledge to make road cars safer for us.

      1. Yes, I realize that Wheldon’s accident was questionable as to whether or not a closed cockpit would have saved him. But even a tiny deflection away from the edge of that wall might have made the difference. And I’d rather have him at least had the chance that it would have.

        And in Maria’s case , it clearly could have made a difference. Even if it just lessened the impact, that would have made a difference.

        They have bullet proof canopies on fighter planes and I find it hard to believe they couldn’t integrate that in with an F1 car. A huge amount of F1 tech started as aircraft tech and integrates just fine. I have a very hard time believing that putting a bullet proof canopy on the car could somehow “decrease” the driver’s safety.

        That sounds like the excuses people made to delay seat belt use in cars. “What if I’m in a wreck and need to get out quick”, etc. etc. etc. No, I really just can’t make myself believe this one is anything other than the old guard fighting tradition.

        1. They have bullet proof canopies on fighter planes and I find it hard to believe they couldn’t integrate that in with an F1 car.

          That sort of closed cockpit has been tested by teams & the FIA & it was found that they cause visibility problems which is why they have not been introduced.

          Because of how thick the canopy needs to be & the angle of the bend it causes a lot of image distortion & also creates difficulties with sun-glare. There is also the problem of driving in the wet & visibility been a lot worse through a canopy.

          Its easier to do with an LMP car because there wider with larger cockpits so the windscreen is less rounded so visibility is no more or less an issue than on a road car.
          With narrower/smaller cockpits on F1 cars the canopy is more rounded which adds to the visibility problem.

          There is also the issue of been able to extract a driver. There have been examples with closed LMP cars of medical crews having problems getting to drivers to treat them if required with extraction been harder. Also when the closed LMP cars go upside down its impossible for the driver to escape untill the car is flipped back the right way up.
          At Le Mans 2011 for instance Allan McNish wasn’t able to get out the car untill the marshall’s rolled it onto its side.

          Its something that a lot of smart guys in F1 & the FIA as well as in America have been looking at for at least 15-20 years & there all finding the same problems which is why nobody has acted on a closed cockpit open wheel/single seater series.

          Its one of those things that sounds simple/easy in theory but is quite trickly in reality.

          1. The closed cockpits could be integrated, but there is the problem of escaping in the regulated 5 seconds. Also, one other problem that isn’t such an issue in LMP1 is the problem of the tyres flying off and hitting the windscreen, which would require the windscreens to be constructed more rigidly – further hindering escape and the drivers’ view.

      2. Sorry, terrible English in that last post.

        And by the way, I don’t mean that they haven’t come a LONG way in safety. Look at some of the horrendous accidents that drivers routinely walk away from these days. It’s actually stunning. Mark Webber has no business being here with some of the wrecks he’s been in both in Le Mans and in F1. Look at McNish at Le Mans last year or Davidson this year! Those guys walking away are miracles and nothing less….and they would have all died if they had those wrecks 25-30 years ago.

    2. This incident has really made me reevaluate my opinion of closed cockpits. I have always felt resistance to the idea, but can’t justify that position anymore.

    3. There is no need for closed cockpits. The drivers know what they’re signing up for and know the risks of open cockpit racing. If they are genuinely concerned about it, they would race in another series such as DTM, WTCC, BTCC and so on. Injury and unfortunately deaths happen, yes, but the individual knows that could happen to them. It’s like a fireman when going into a house fire, there is a serious risk that they could get killed, but they continue to do the job for the love and passion of it and saving lives. The same can be said of soldiers in the army. They fight on the front line, they know why they’re doing the job and know there is a risk involved. Motor racing is no different.

      What next, closed cockpits for karters? I’ve had stones hit my helmet on the track after being chucked up by other karts racing and from crashing. I could crash into a tyre wall and be killed, even with run off areas and plenty of tyres/foam/water cushions to absorb the impact. If I was concerned about it, I wouldnt take part.

      This was a freak accident which happened under most unusual circumstances.

      The day F1 goes closed cockpit is the day I stop watching. I hope it never happens.

      1. +1. Totally agree.

  6. All the best to Maria for her recovery. Her accident just shows that however safe the sport is made, the combination of powerful, high-velocity machines and random outside factors means danger is always there. I salute her courage and that of the other drivers.

    1. Ditto.

  7. This is a very sad and unfortunate accident. I wish Maria all the best with her recovery.

    I think this accident shows that in-season testing should occur at race-tracks, and get rid of this ‘straight line testing’ nonsense. Had they been at an actual track, there would have been little to no risk of Maria (or any other driver in similar testing circumstances) hitting the loading bay of a truck as she would have returned to the pit lane which is a considerably more safer and friendly to F1 cars than on an airfield.

    I am not saying this is Maria’s or Marrussia’s fault- Completely the opposite. If the FIA had sanctioned a proper test schedule in which teams could test at tracks where drivers, cars, spectators and team personell would be more safe, then this would not have happened

  8. Moron (@fokkinmoron)
    5th July 2012, 21:58

    I really hope she makes a speedy recovery. My prayers and thoughts are for her and her family.

  9. The question is, why would you have ANYTHING near an F1 car that is at the drivers head height? Obviously not thought out very well, there is no way an F1 car should be approaching any object at any speed that could under freak circumstances hit a drivers head. Maria would have been safer flipping the car, and crashing into a wall at 200kph like Webber in 2010.

    1. @ivz To be fair, the drivers come in and out of the pits all the time so you can’t possibly remove any type of obstacle. There was also be dangers but clearly something has gone wrong on this occasion. Plus, the object itself wasn’t on the part of the circuit being used. It’s unfortunate, very unfortunate, but you can’t remove EVERY obstacle.

  10. I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t say the same thing if you favorite f1 driver is injured or killed in one of those freak accidents. I remember in This year’s Indy 500 how castroneves or Kannan (don’t know which one of the two) almost was hit in the head by a tire that was traveling At least At 80-100 mph. The tire pass just above his helmet and i’m pretty sure that would have been the 2nd death in less the 6 months for indu cars. So I would really support the canopies even if it helps or makes the difference in at least one racer. I’m Alonso’s biggest fan and would not like to see him or any other driver getting injured just because the odds of freak accidents are low. But as you know when it your time is time and nothing can be done. After all it is true that the drivers know the risks and that they get paid millions but they are the one who make our(racing fans)lives a bit less complicated, exciting,etc with their moves, performances,etc. many of you know what it feels every race weekend to watch your favorite driver do amazing things. How some of us get mad or stY mad for the entire week because our driver made a mistake,crashed,didn’t win,etc or how happy we are when he wins the rAce. So for that reason I pray to god no matter who the driver is to never have another death in f1 , Indy,motogp,etc. I Must admit I completely stopped watching Indy cars and motogp after wheldon’s and simocelli’s deaths (I watched it live).To me the biggest problem is not the helmet or the head being exposed , but it is the visors. If I’m not mistaken senna,de villota, massa had their injuries because the visors are really weak and if I’m not mistaken they cAn’t or it is almost impossible to do something to them to make them 100% reliable or strong enought to withstands an impact.

    1. The visors nowadays are reinforced, double glazed. They’re very strong. I think you’ll find their helmets saved Massa and di Villota’s lives.

  11. Nice words from Hamilton and Alonso. They do always take this sort of thing extremely seriously which is very reassuring, unlike the 60’s.

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