Friday, 11 October 2013

Maria De Villota

There was a time when the year would start with a number of drivers, and end with a different number. Or a different set of drivers in the really bad old days.

But over time, that changed. Things improved with safety and circuits. Attitudes changed as the money flowed on, gone were the days when watching a man burn to death was considered acceptable, it wasn't good from a PR perspective to have your brand associated with a writhing body on a Sunday afternoon.
So the F1 world and motorsport in general cleaned up its act and people forgot that this thing can kill. Drivers still got hurt. But more often than not they got pulled out of the wreckage and if not walked away, usually hobbled to the car.

Then Roland died and everyone was shocked. Then Ayrton died the next day and people were reminded that those drivers out there were not indestructible after all. And the process of making things safer for everyone was renewed, until today when were reminded that its not always the race track that can kill.
Maria De Villota, was never likely to make it into an F1 race. But she did drive and F1 car and almost lost her life in the process. A stupid dumb accident (none of which was her fault it should be emphasised) blinded her in one eye and almost killed her. But it didn't and she recovered and got on with a new life. All those safety measures that started with those drivers in the 70's saying enough was enough, helped save her life that day.

But they couldn't help save her life today. At the time of writing I have no idea why she died. I can't imagine for a moment that she would take her own life, she had a book about the experience of almost dyeing to promote, she was a passionate speaker on women in motorsport and she had a new found love of living a life almost prematurely ended. So no, I don't think she would have chosen to end it all on a whim.
Which leaves the fear that F1 might have claimed her after all.

Whatever the cause Maria De Villota was part of a vanguard to blaze a trail into the top echelons on motorport, she wasn't the first but by God she had better not be the last.

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