Formula 1 paddock pays tribute to de Villota

By on Friday, October 11, 2013

Maria-de-VillotaMembers of the Formula 1 paddock have been paying tribute to Maria de Villota, who has died at the age of 33.

De Villota, who survived a horrific testing accident in 2012, was found dead in a hotel room in Seville.

Jean Todt: FIA president: "Today is a tragic day for motor sport. My deepest condolences go to the De Villota family. Maria was a fantastic driver, a leading light for women in motor sport and a tireless campaigner for road safety. Above all, she was a friend I deeply admired. Through her courage, strength and determination, she transformed her personal misfortune on the track into a powerful message for road safety that was heard at race tracks and beyond around the world. Maria was a beloved member of the FIA family. Our thoughts go to her family today

Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn: "We are shocked to hear the news of María de Villota’s death and would like to offer our sincerest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to her family and friends for this tragic loss. If anybody represented strength and optimism, it was María. Her sudden death is a big loss to the motorsport world as she was an important ambassador for relaying important messages to the youth, and particularly girls that aspire to a career in motorsport. María was an example of someone who never gave up, she always had a smile on her face and we will dearly miss her."

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh: "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."

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier: "We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Maria de Villota earlier today. On behalf of the team here in Japan and back at Enstone, I would like to express our condolences to the friends, family and colleagues of Maria. Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso: "It’s hard to talk about Maria de Villota right now, as I had only just taken my helmet off, when I was told about her death and at the moment, I still can’t believe it and need a while to stop and think about it. Of course, it’s very sad news for the world of motorsport as Maria was loved by everyone. Now, all we can do is pray for her and for her family."

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa: "I feel really sorry for what has happened. It's a very sad day for motorsport, for sport in general. She was somebody who was trying to do the best she could to become a Formula 1 driver. She was very close and it's difficult to accept what has happened."

Ferrari development driver Pedro de La Rosa: "We were very close, all the racing community, but especially us being Spanish. She had a lot of strength, she was very happy. She had gone through a terrible year but she was now just married and she was so happy. I spoke with her two days ago and I'm very sad for her family. I learned from her a lot of things. One of them is that she was always smiling and always trying hard to be a better person and I will take that with me. She went through such a difficult scenario, losing an eye, fighting hours and hours in hospital to be again the Maria that we all knew. She managed all that and that's the incredible thing. She was genuinely extremely happy, that's why we're all so sad, because she was a super woman and we will never forget her."

BMW driver Timo Glock: "Maria was a great colleague. She was an ambitious and passionate racer! I am deeply saddened. My thoughts are with her family."

McLaren driver Jenson Button: "It's horrendous news. Very tragic. The girl has been through so much - more than most people have gone through in their lives and what most will go through in their lives. It has been tough - this is horrific news. It's a real shock to the whole paddock and the world of motorsport."

McLaren driver Sergio Perez: "I only heard the very bad news about Maria de Villota at the end of the session. It’s incredibly sad to learn this news about somebody you know. My thoughts are obviously with Maria and her family during this terrible time."

Red Bull driver Mark Webber: "It's been a very difficult last year and a half for her after the accident. She was such a beautiful and friendly lady with such a great nature and a warm heart. We're thinking of her and as her family stated. She's up with the angels."

Force India driver Paul di Resta: "Very sad news about Maria. She was an incredible person and big personality in our sport. My thoughts are with her family and friends."

Caterham test driver Heikki Kovalainen: "So sad news emerging from Spain regarding Maria De Villota. My sincerest condolences to her family and friends."

Tennis player Rafael Nadal: "It's very bad news for the world of sport in general, for Spanish sport especially. It's very difficult to say things on day like today. Stay positive. All the best for her family. Very difficult to find a word because is a very sad, sad day for all of us. I hope she didn't suffer in that last moment, that's the only positive thing I think. The rest of the things are all very, very negative."

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