Teams and drivers were among those paying tribute to Maria De Villota, who was found dead in her hotel room this morning.
The 33-year-old suffered a near-fatal crash at the Duxford airfield whilst conducting a straight line test for Marussia in July 2012.
De Villota was discovered on Friday morning at 7am Spanish time, exactly a year after her first public appearence since her crash. She had been in Seville to launch her book, ‘Life is a Gift’ on Monday.
Leading the tributes was Marussia, who released a statement on their website which read, “It is with great sadness that we learned a short time ago of the news that Maria de Villota has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria’s family and friends at this very difficult time.”
“Today is a very sad day for Spanish sport. We have lost a fighter with a huge smile.” Tweeted Spain’s Fernando Alonso, while Jenson Button added, “It’s horrendous news. Very tragic, the girl has been through so much, more than most people go through in their lives. It has been tough for her but this is horrific news and a real shock to the whole paddock and the world of motorsport.”
Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team-principal, echoed their words, telling BBC’s 5 Live, “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.”
Susie Wolff, development driver for Williams, said, “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. She had so many great plans for the future. She was just an incredible lady.”