LONDON – A Formula One test driver is facing life-threatening injuries after her car smashed into a team vehicle Tuesday during testing at a British airfield.
Maria de Villota, a driver for Marussia F1, was at the end of her first run when her car hit the team's support truck at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, north of London.
The 32-year-old Spanish driver joined the Russian-owned team in March and this was the first time she tested the MR-01 car.
De Villota was taken by ambulance to the major trauma center. An ambulance spokesman said her injuries were life-threatening and that she was treated by paramedics at the scene before being moved to nearby Addenbrookes Hospital.
"Maria is conscious and medical assessments are ongoing," the F1 team said in a statement.
Police said de Villota was involved in a "low-speed accident" in which she crashed into the stationary team vehicle at the end of the straight-line test session.
She is the daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota and the sport's first full-time female driver since Italy's Giovanna Amati was with the Brabham team in 1992. De Villota previously tested for Renault and had racing experience in Spanish F3 and the Daytona 24-Hour race.
Fellow drivers and former world champions Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso expressed support for De Villota on Twitter.
Alonso, the F1 standings leader for Ferrari and a Spanish compatriot, wrote: "I just got home and found out (about) Maria's accident, we called the family and hopefully we will know more soon ! All my energy with you!"
McLaren's Button said: "Terrible accident For Maria de Villota, Marussia F1 team test driver. My thoughts are with Maria and her family at this very difficult time."
Marussia started in Formula One with Virgin Racing in 2010. It rebranded as Marussia for the start of this season after Russian sports car manufacturer Marussia Motors bought a controlling stake.
It has yet to pick up a point this year, entering this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The team's drivers are Timo Glock of Germany and Charles Pic of France.