Former Formula 1 test driver Maria de Villota was found dead in her hotel room in Seville, Spain on Friday. A spokeswoman for the Spanish police told media, "We are assuming it was a natural death, but we cannot confirm anything." Officials also said that they did not expect that drugs or foul play contributed to the former F1 driver's death. An official investigation, including an autopsy, is expected to take place soon to confirm the cause of death.
De Villota's passing is particularly tragic given her extremely close brush with death that occurred during a driving accident last year. De Villota nearly died after crashing her car into a team truck while test driving for Marussia team in July 2012. She suffered several injuries, including serious head and face trauma and the loss of her right eye.
After her accident, de Villota said, "I did not see what was important in life, the clarity to say: ‘I am alive.’ It has given me my bearings, given me back what’s important. I accept it with the energy to say I am going to live out this chance 100 percent."
On learning of her death, Marussia issued a statement saying, "It is with great sadness that we learned a short time ago of the news that Maria de Villota has passed away...Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria's family and friends at this very difficult time."
The former race car driver was in Spain to present a book about her life entitled Life is a Gift, which is set for publication this week.