Maria de Villota (1980-2013) was a Spanish racing driver and a daughter of the former F1 driver and team owner Emilio de Villota. She participated for twelve seasons in different touring car and single-seater competitions.
Her racing career ended after she was badly injured in July 2012 in an accident at Duxford Aerodrome in England where she was doing a test with Marussia F1 Team. She died in October 2013, at the age 33, because of cardiac arrest.
Maria de Villota with her father Emilio
A daughter of Formula 1 champion
Maria's father is Emilio de Villota, who recorded two starts (in 1977) and thirteen more unsuccessful qualifying attempts in the Formula 1 World Championship. His greatest success was a championship title in the British F1 Championship in 1980, a year when Maria was born. After a retirement from racing, Emilio founded his racing team and racing school, focusing on helping his daughter and son Emilio Jr in developing racing careers.
Five seasons in the Spanish Formula 3
Maria started his car racing career in 2000, entering the Formula Toyota Castrol 1300 and then spending five seasons in the Spanish Formula 3 from 2001 to 2005. She raced with different teams, not scoring wins.
Her best result was the tenth place in 2002. He managed to score one podium in the 2005 F3 Copa de Espana.
Maria de Villota was driving the #52 Ferrari at 2005 Daytona 24 Hours
Racing with Ferrari at Daytona
In 2005, Maria made a one-off appearance in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series, joining Mastercar team at Daytona 24 Hours. She was driving the #52 Ferrari 360 Modena Challenge, sharing a car with Luca Drudi, Gabrio Rosa and Luis Monzon. They finished 10th in GT class.
She was also driving a 360 Modena in the Ferrari Challenge Europe series, finishing 8th in a Trofeo Pirelli classification in 2005 and 11th in 2006.
De Villota raced with Chevrolet in the WTCC and ADAC Procar series
Two WTCC attempts in a Chevrolet Lacetti
In October 2006, De Villota made a debut in the World Touring Car Championship, driving the #48 Chevrolet Lacetti for Maurer Motorsport in the Spanish round at Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
In 2007, Maria completely switched to touring car racing, participating full season in the ADAC Procar series. She was driving a Chevrolet Lacetti for Maurer Motorsport, scoring one victory and seven podiums to finish third in Division 1 classification, behind Franz Engstler and Andrey Romanov. In May 2007, he returned to Circuit Ricardo Tormo to drive again Chevrolet Lacetti in the WTCC round.
In 2007, Maria also participated in three rounds of the Spanish GT Championship, driving a Ferrari 360 Modena GTC for Scuderia Playteam.
Maria de Villota was representing Atletico Madrid in the Superleague Formula
Back to formula racing in 2008
In 2008, Maria returned to single-seater racing, participating in one round of the Euroseries 3000, driving for father's team in the second round at Spa. In 2009, she was invited to drive for Atletico Madrid, operated by Alan Docking Racing, in the Superleague Formula. She participated in two rounds, at Donington and Estoril, finishing best in seventh place in six races. She also appeared in three rounds of the Formula Palmer Audi.
In 2010, she spent an almost full season in the Superleague Formula, participating in nine rounds with Atletico Madrid/Alan Docking Racing. Her best result was the fourth place at Nurburgring. In the 2011 Superleague season, De Villota participated only in the first round at TT Circuit Assen.
Maria de Villota as Marussia F1 Team's test driver
Testing Formula One cars
In August 2011, Maria entered the Formula 1 world, joining Lotus Renault GP team in a test at Circuit Paul Ricard. She was in negotiations to become Renault's official test driver but, in March 2012, it was announced that she was hired by Marussia F1 Team for a test driver role.
On July 3, 2012, she crashed the Cosworth-powered MR01 F1 car during a test at Duxford Aerodrome in England. She hit a stationary truck at the end of the test track, suffering serious head and facial injuries. A day later, it was reported that she had lost her right eye.
Maria lost an eye in a horrific accident
Premature death in October 2013
De Villota made her first public appearance after an accident in October 2012. She stated that she wants to be involved in promoting safety in motorsport.
In July 2013, she married Rodrigo Garcia Millan. Two and half months later, she had been found dead in her hotel room in Seville. An autopsy confirmed she had suffered a cardiac arrest. In a time of her death, she was preparing a launch of her book 'La vida es un regalo' (Life is a Gift).