de Villota death confirmed due to 'natural causes'

Maria de Villota most likely died from natural causes resulting from the lasting effects of her 2012 F1 testing accident, medical sources have confirmed.
Maria de Villota (ESP) Marussia F1 Team
Maria de Villota (ESP) Marussia F1 Team

Maria de Villota's untimely death has been blamed on 'natural causes' resulting from the freak testing accident she suffered in 2012.

Despite having returned to public life, and embraced an alternative future in motorsport as she became a member of both the Spanish national authority and the FIA's commission for women in racing, the 33-year old was found dead in a hotel room on Friday, just days before she was due to launch her autobiography Life is a Gift in the city.

The F1 Grand Prix Drivers' Association has said that there will be a one minute's silence on Sunday before the drivers' parade in memory of de Villota and that the podium would be dedicated in her honour.

"Her positive attitude, maturity and extreme commitment will never be forgotten and are something we have learned from," a statement from the GPDA read. "Maria will be missed and always remembered by all of us."

With the F1 paddock at Suzuka reeling at the news, and the Marussia team - with whom she had started the fateful test at RAF Duxford - especially hard hit, it was revealed in Spain that the head injuries she incurred had more than likely contributed to her death.

"Maria left us while she was sleeping, approximately at 6am, as a consequence of the neurological injuries that she suffered in July of 2012, according to what the forensic doctor has told us," a statement read by de Villota's sister, Isabel, confirmed.

As well as suffering a fractured skull and other severe facial injuries, the Spaniard - who had competed in powerful Superleague Formula cars on her way up the ladder - also lost her right eye following a collision with a support vehicle in the makeshift testing pits. While her circumstances could have led to speculation about the cause of death, de Villota had done nothing but embrace life as she recovered from the tragedy.

"I have a new opportunity to live at 100 per cent," she claimed during her first public engagement last October, "I have motorsport in my DNA and there's no way I can stay away from that world. I want to keep fighting because I believe so strongly in women being part of motor racing. I am sure that the best [part of my life] is still to come."

Since then, she has not only been an active member of the FIA commission, but also found time to marry her personal trainer. Initial coroners' reports suggest that either a stroke or brain haemorrhage led to a cardiac arrest while de Villota was sleeping.

"Maria is gone, but she has left us a very clear message of joy and hope, which is helping the family move on in these moments," her sister concluded, adding that Maria would be laid to rest in Madrid 'in the most strict intimacy'.

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