On Tuesday, Maria De Villota crashed in the Marussia MR-01 during testing, as a result of which she was rushed to hospital in critical condition. It has since been confirmed that she has lost her right eye. Having followed the Marussia team’s press releases and the social media reaction, I have been struck by two key features of motorsport.
Firstly, the accident confirms what we all know, but often conveniently forget: Motorsport is dangerous. Accidents happen, and the consequences can be serious. Every racing driver knows the risks involved, and some are unfortunate enough to be injured doing what they love. When Maria got into her F1 car on Tuesday morning she would not have expected to finish the day in hospital, but such a dramatic turn of events is the result of taking part in an inherently dangerous sport.
Secondly, and more importantly, the motorsport community is made up of people with genuine affection and concern for each other. Racing is competitive – sometimes to the point of generating conflict between teams and drivers – But there is a softer side to the sport, and this week it came out in full force. Twitter was flooded with messages of support for Maria, her family and the Marussia team. The messages came from teams, drivers and officials in Formula One, as well as racing fans and colleagues throughout the world. The Marussia team’s most recent statement included the following: “…we have been overwhelmed by messages of support for Maria, her family and the Team and we would like to express our sincere gratitude for those.”
Although the accident was a shocking reminder of the risks involved in racing, it resulted in an inspirational display of the unity in the motorsport community. The support will doubtless continue as Maria recovers.