No action taken over De Villota Marussia crash

2012 F1 season

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No action is being taken following the Health and Safety Executive’s investigation into Marussia test driver Maria de Villota’s crash in 2012.

De Villota, the daughter of former Formula One driver Emilio de Villota, was having her first run for Marussia, which now competes as Manor. She collided with the team’s support truck while testing at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, sustaining serious head injuries and losing the use of her right eye.

The following year De Villota was promoting her autobiography when she died at a hotel in Seville, Spain. Her family said the cause of death was related to the injuries she suffered in the crash.

The Health and Safety Executive has now concluded the investigation it began in 2012. “No enforcement action is being taken,” a spokesperson confirmed. The team and De Villota’s family have been notified.

Two weeks after the crash Marussia said its own investigation had “[excluded] the car as a factor in the accident”.

2012 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
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22 comments on “No action taken over De Villota Marussia crash”

  1. Has the FIA said anything? It is obvious that there’s no criminal action from this disaster. The only think should be done in future tests is to have the FIA reach out to the teams and enforce a safety guideline to ensure these agricultural tests won’t end up with agricultural endings.

  2. OmarR-Pepper - Vettel 40 victories!!! (@)
    26th May 2015, 14:18

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but, are small teams missing some safety standards? It was terrible to know about MdV accident, but who had that truck so near the road? And, would Jules be all okay if his car had been a top-team one? I mean, was his Marussia weaker than the rest of the field, for budget reasons maybe?

    1. In neither case did the car itself make any difference. In both crashes, no Formula 1 car would have been any safer, as the object they struck was at head height. de Villota hit the truck while parking in the paddock, after coming in from the track. Her car accelerated suddenly (Marussia have been cleared of any blame for this, so perhaps her mistake), and went under the truck, striking her head. Bianchi’s car struck the back of the crane which was more or less at head height, meaning that none of the usual impact-structures were able to attenuate the impact of his head with the crane. Both, in their way, freak accidents, and not ones that F1 cars could easily be designed to withstand.

    2. All of the cars have to pass the same crash tests and conform to the same safety standards, given the type of accident Jules was involved in I seriously doubt he’d come out of it any better if he were in a Ferrari or Red Bull.

    3. @omarr-pepper I don’t think small teams “miss” any standards but there are indeed different manufacturing methods, for instance some teams use 3D printed titanium roll hoops and I guess others use machined hoops from a single block, both conform to the rules and crash test standards but I bet there must be a difference if there’s a crash violent enough that gets past those standards.

      1. A roll-hoop protects against a roll, not a lateral impact…

        1. Ok, ignore that, misread the context of the statement.

    4. petebaldwin (@)
      26th May 2015, 16:15

      @omarr-pepper – With more money comes better aero and lighter weight but none of the teams will spend resources making their car’s safer once they have already passed the FIA tests.

      1. if the car were a couple feet higher the car would have hit the truck and not her head. This has nothing to do with the teams, it has everything to do with having a truck in the way, just like having a heavy tractor in the way at a perilous turn cost Jules his life. if there is room enough to go under, chances are the head is going to hit first.

    5. @omarr-pepper The car BIA drove passed the safety tests the W05 did – and while the budgets are different, I think the difference goes to speed and not safety.

      1. has nothing to do with the car, it has to do with driving an F1 car next to vehicles that pose safety hazards. It’s an operational safety issue, it has nothing to do with the car, except that F1 cars are small and close to the ground/open cockpit.

    6. Don’t forget that Marussia created the initial design for the side impact protection structure which was adopted by all the teams from 2014, so they should know a thing or two about safety.

    7. @omarr-pepper No, small teams are not missing any safety standards.

      Remember FIA’s own investigation in Jules accident said nothing about the car. Just a thought, if anything, faster cars are more dangerous because they are faster and they pass the exact same tests as the slower ones. Less speed, less energy.

    8. The truck wasn’t near the road.

    9. Although it’s not explicitly a safety feature, I think I remember Nico Rosberg commenting that Bianchi’s Marussia would have had less grip than the front running teams, and that that may have contributed to his accident.

      1. Less downforce because the Marussia’s aerodynamics were not as good as the frontrunners. That may have had the effect of making the car more vulnerable to aquaplaning than a Mercedes travelling at the same speed through the same river running across the track. It’s difficult to pin the blame for the crash on the car’s lack of aero, though.

  3. Wasn’t it something to do with the anti-stall that kept the car moving when she expected it to stop? Some reason why with her left foot already on the brake she couldn’t stop the car in time.

    And the truck had the tailgate half lowered to use as a step for getting in and out.

    So I’d have thought there would be some lessons to be learned, by F1 if not at a national HSE level. After all she must have been a good driver by general standards even if she was new to the car.

  4. So why did she crash ?

    1. Read between the lines.

      De Villota made a mistake with tragic consequences.

      1. Did she park the f…. truck over there? HSE should be ashamed!

        1. There is a line to be drawn between where personal responsibility ends and the responsibility of others begins.

          I’m not trying to absolve HSE of ultimate responsibility, the HSE investigation has done that. What I interpret, and it is just an interpretation, is that all the H&S requirements had been met, but they were overcome by an unanticipated action. It’s not possible to account for everything, some freedom has to be excercised. The alternative is to not allow any potentially dangerous activity to take place.

  5. I had a look to see if Maria’s book was available in English, but it seems that only the Spanish edition has been released.

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