De Villota's crash did not occur at high speed, but the impact was sufficient to fracture her skull in several places.
The cause of the crash has still not been determined. At first, it seemed clear that the car had suffered some kind of failure, launching de Villota into the truck. A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and private investigation commissioned by Marussia both concluded that the car was not at fault.
“We are satisfied that the findings of our internal investigation exclude the car as a factor in the accident,” Marussia said. “We have shared and discussed our findings with the HSE for their consideration as part of their ongoing investigation.
Marussia's team principal acknowledged that the wider investigation "will be a very long process," and "it will be some time before we know the final outcome."
De Villota spoke about her crash, her hospitalization, and her recovery for the first time last month. She said that she remembers everything from the accident, including the crash itself. Now she considers herself a changed person. De Villota spoke at a press conference in October, explaining how she took the news that she'd lost her eye.
“One of the surgeons who had operated on me came up to me and said "Maria, we saved your life,” she said. “I don't know if you remember you had a big accident but you are here with us. It's been hard, but we are happy we saved your life. But we need to tell you you have lost your eye."
Racing drivers are notorious for just thinking about driving after a crash. Maria was focused on how she could get back into a car: “In that moment, I asked the surgeon: ‘Do you need both hands to operate?' and he said yes, and I said "Well, I'm a Formula 1 driver and I need both eyes."
It wasn't long before she recognized the gravity of her injuries. This realization changed her outlook on the crash, and her life.
“But then you realize it is something unprecedented, that you are feeling fine, and you realize that you see more than before,” de Villota said. “Because, before the accident, I only saw Formula One, inside a car, competing, and I didn't see what was really important in life. At that point I wasn't appreciating the biggest thing, which was the person who had saved me.”
Back to Racing
She still has some surgery ahead of her. As of now she has lost some cranial matter and suffers from headaches that may last years or never go away at all. Amazingly, she still wants to get back into driving.
It is not a question of desire; the loss of her eye is the deciding factor. She pointed out that there are some drivers who have lost an eye who still have racing licenses here in America.
While she will never be a top-level F1 driver, de Villota still hopes to contribute to testing safety. She may even have a chance to participate in aero testing in the future.
De Villota appears to be on track for a full recovery. She has been smiling, and she looks healthy. Her eye patch has not dampened her enthusiasm.
“When I saw myself I thought, 'Who is going to love me looking like this?'” she said. “But since then I've realized they have loved more than in a whole life. I have enough love to cover this life and the next.”