Date: 11th October 2013 at 12:48pm
Written by:

This morning Formula One was shocked to hear the news that Maria de Villota had been found dead in a hotel room in Seville aged just 33.

Initial reports suggest that she has died of natural causes.

Following her testing accident in July 2012 which resulted in the loss of her right eye and severe facial injuries, De Villota had become a motivational speaker and she had been due to give a lecture in Seville this week.

Along side her work as a motivational speaker Maria de Villota had also been working as an ambassador for the Women in Motorsport commission and motor racing safety campaigns.

Williams development driver and fellow female Formula One driver Susie Wolff learned of De Villota’s death whilst presenting on Sky Sports F1.

She didn’t comment live on air but later told the media.

‘Out of the paddock and out of the motorsport bubble, she was an incredible character, she was a fighter, She had such a spirit for life and what she came through was a testament to her strength of character and her positive outlook.’

‘After the accident she was so behind me and had such a lust for life, she was so happy to be alive and that she?d survived it and she had so many great plans for the future.

‘She was just an incredible lady, no matter about what she did on the racetrack. She was just an incredible character.’

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn worked alongside De Villota as an ambassador for the Women in Motorsport commission.

Following the news she told BBC Radio 5live: ‘It didn’t take her any time at all until she was back (from her accident) and was planning to maybe even drive, But more important for her was to really go out there and give other people the courage that you can still do so much, even if you have such a major setback.

‘She’s been one of the pillars of the work the FIA ambassador programme has been doing, because when you go out there you need to have credibility, a strong personality and you need to be able to reach out to people and that’s all she could do.

‘She had such a tragic experience and yet she had all that courage to be out there and talk about it and still to believe in that cause, and she always had that smile on her face.’

Some of the Formula One teams took to Twitter to pay tribute to De Villota:

Red Bull Racing: Christian Horner – ‘We were extremely saddened to learn of the loss of Maria de Villota…

Christian Horner – On behalf of everyone in the team, we send our sincere condolences to Maria?s family at this difficult time’

Mercedes AMG: Our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Maria de Villota following the tragic news of her passing today

Her courage, determination and hope were an example and inspiration to many. She will be sadly missed by our sport.

McLaren: Even though we’re far away, the whole team’s hearts and minds are with the family of Maria de Villota at this terrible, terrible time…

Lotus: Message from Eric Boullier: ?We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Maria de Villota earlier today. On behalf of the whole team?

?I would like to express our condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Maria. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time?

Sauber: We are shocked to hear about the death of MarĂ­a de Villota. Our sincerest condolences and sympathy to her family for this tragic loss.

Force India: Very sad news coming from Spain about brave Maria de Villota passing away. Our thoughts are with Maria’s family and friends in this moment.

Caterham: We’d like to echo the thoughts of the whole paddock and express our deepest condolences on the news of Maria de Villota’s passing. RIP.

Formula One Teams Association chairman and McLaren team principle Martin Whitmarsh told Sky Sports: ‘The whole paddock is very shocked by the news that Maria is no longer with us.

‘She was an inspiration not just to women in this sport, but also to all those who suffered life-threatening injuries. Her story, determination and subsequent inspiration flowed from F1 through sport as a whole, and to see the images of her in Barcelona on the grid earlier this year, surrounded by a throng of jubilant children, told a great story.

‘Maria participated in the Manhattan Fans’ Forum on behalf of her team, Marussia F1, last year, and made a lasting impression on the fans who attended. She will be sadly missed, and we wish to pass on our sincere condolences to her family.’