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article imageMaría de Villota, Spanish Formula One driver has died in Seville

By Anne Sewell     Oct 11, 2013 in Sports
Seville - 33-year-old María de Villota, former Formula One reserve driver, was found dead in her hotel room in Seville on Friday morning. There are no signs of violence but investigations continue. The world of motorsports mourns the loss.
María de Villota Comba was a Spanish racing driver — the daughter of former Formula One driver Emilio de Villota, and sister of Emilio de Villota, Jr., who similarly competed in Formula Palmer Audi.
At present, mystery surrounds the cause of her death in the hotel room at Hotel Sevilla Congresos.
A police spokeswoman said, "The body of this person has been found in a hotel in Seville, there are no signs of violence but we need to wait for the autopsy."
So far, "everything points to a death by natural causes" the spokeswoman added.
Before her death, De Villota had been recovering from serious head and facial injuries, which she sustained during an accident in straight-line testing as the Marussia Formula One team test driver.
De Villota lost her right eye in the accident, which occurred at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire in 2012.
De Villota's family posted a message on her Facebook page:
"María has left us. She had to go to the sky like all the angels. I give thanks to God for the extra year and a half he left her with us."
Tributes to a pioneer in women's sport are pouring in, as the news has shocked the world of motorsport.
Two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso told Spanish sports daily Marca, "I am in a state of shock. They have just told me."
"We need to pray for her and be very close to her family. María was very loved by all of us and by all of the motorsport family."
President of the Spanish Automobile Federation, Carlos Gracia also added his condolences.
"I have just found out. It is a very hard to take. There is no explanation for what has happened," he told Spanish National Radio. "She was a great person and an example for everyone."
Her legacy continues, as Williams development driver, Susia Wolff recalled how De Villota asked her to carry on for her and all women drivers following her accident.
"She very much said to me after it, 'It's up to you to go out there and show them that it (a woman driver in F1) is possible.'"
"She knew that women could compete at that level and that's why, after her accident and her not being able to do that anymore, she just wanted someone to know it was possible. She had such a spirit for life. What she came through was a testament to her strength of character and her positive outlook on life," she added.
ABC News reports that in July, De Villota married her boyfriend Rodrigo Garcia.
De Villota was visiting Seville to participate in the conference "What Really Matters," whose mission, according to the organizers, is to inspire and teach young people "universal human values."
The conference was canceled once the organizers learned of her death. The organizer issued a statement "transmitting their care and support to the family and loved ones of María del Villota."
On Monday, De Villota was to present a book, Life is a Gift, detailing her ordeal following her driving accident.
Sauber's Monisha Kaltenhorn, the first female team principal in F1, said of De Villota, "If anybody represented strength and optimism, it was María. Her sudden death is a big loss to the motorsport world."
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