Maria de Villota Dies: Ex-Formula One Driver Found Dead In Hotel Room

 @nadinedeninnon.deninno@ibtimes.com on October 11 2013 8:18 AM

Former Formula One driver Maria de Villota was found dead in a hotel room in Spain Friday, apparently from natural causes.

According to a police statement to the Associated Press, 33-year-old de Villota was found in the Hotel Sevilla Congresos in Seville Friday morning. Authorities said an autopsy will be conducted and more information will be provided in the coming weeks.

On Friday, her Facebook fan page shared news of her passing. "Dear friends: Maria has left us. She had to go to heaven like all angels. I give thanks to God for the year and a half that he left her with us,” the message read.

The Marussia F1 team, for which she drove for several years, said in a statement: “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.”

Madrid-born de Villota was the daughter of Emilio de Villota, who drove for F1 from 1976-82.

Last year, de Villota made headlines after a crash during a test for the Marussia F1 team in England. She was seriously injured and hospitalized for a month, suffering from severe head injuries and losing her right eye.

According to reports, she was injured when her Formula One car hit a parked truck. She was doing straight-line tests of the Marussia race car when the vehicle collided with a stationary transporter lorry at the end portion of the test run.

In her career, de Villota drove in the World Touring Car championship in 2006 and 2007 and Superleague open-wheel series,  AP reported.

De Villota was in Seville as part of a conference called "What Really Matters,” hosted by an organization to inspire and teach young people "universal human values.” She was slated to present a book, “Life Is a Gift,” about her accident in July 2012.

The conference was cancelled after news of her death spread, AP reported, with conference organizers saying they are “transmitting their care and support to the family and loved ones of Maria de Villota."

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