Spanish Formula One test driver Maria de Villota, one of the few women to come near to competing at the top of the sport, has been found dead in a hotel in the southern Spanish city of Seville, a police spokeswoman said on Friday (October 11).

De Villota, 33, lost her right eye and fractured her skull in a horrific accident at a straight-line test at Duxford airfield in England in July 2012. She recovered from life-threatening injuries but no longer competed.

De Villota was appointed test driver for Anglo-Russian Formula One team Marussia last year, before her crash. However she never took part in a general test with other drivers.

Only a handful of women have driven Formula One cars in the last decade and none has come near to racing one in competition.

Exactly one year ago, on October 11 2012 she appeared in front of the public for the first time since the crash and spoke about her recovery and thanked the surgeons who had saved her life.

Presented by Adam Justice

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