Maria De Villota’s car hit a lorry while testing at Duxford in 2012
The car of former Formula 1 test driver Maria De Villota was “fighting” her moments before she crashed into a lorry, documents have revealed.
De Villota lost an eye at Duxford Airfield while testing for Marussia and died a year later, aged 33.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) report says De Villota’s helmet hit a tail-lift, despite the driver thinking she would miss the lorry.
Last month, the HSE chose not to prosecute Marussia for the crash.
De Villota died from neurological injuries sustained in the crash. Her family said it was considering claiming compensation.
Part of the investigation report was released to the BBC through the Freedom of Information Act after the HSE came to its conclusions.
Maria De Villota lost her right eye in the test crash and died a year later from related injuries
It said on 3 July 2013 De Villota, daughter of F1 driver Emilio, was carrying out her first straight line test for the now-defunct Marussia at the Cambridgeshire airfield.
After reaching speeds of up to 149mph (240 km/h), the Spaniard’s car collided with a support lorry, which had its tail-lift positioned at eye-level, when she was stopping.
The report said it was a standard lorry, which had an “unusual” and “larger” tail-lift than on a normal race trailer.
Prior to the drive, the HSE documents said De Villota was sent instructions from the race engineer on the day, but they did not include anything about stopping the car or which gears should be selected when arriving in the temporary pit lane.
She then drove a saloon around the track, but the stopping procedure was again not explained to her.
The driver was taken to nearby Addenbrooke’s Hospital for treatment
After two successful runs in the F1 car, De Villota was returning to the marquee garage when her front wheels locked when braking.
As the gears were engaged and the car was fitted with engine idle control, designed to maintain revs at about 4,100 rpm to avoid damage, it was essentially “fighting” De Villota and she was “pushed” along the runway into the lorry, the report said.
De Villota pressed a button to unlock the clutch and disengage the gears before the crash, but nothing happened. A gear change from second to first was also rejected by the engine idle control, the documents added.
She had previously told engineers she could not operate the clutch when the steering wheel was at full-lock, which it was at the time of the crash.
The tail-lift had been left in a position which “not only created the risk of injury, but was also protruding outwards at the level of the DP’s [deceased person’s] eye”, the investigation said.
Maria De Villota was unveiled as a Marussia test driver four months before her crash
When questioned afterwards, De Villota said she thought she would miss the lorry and did not see the tail-lift.
The report said De Villota had many years’ experience as a racing driver and had driven F1 cars for Lotus Renault at circuits in France and Spain.
It said Marussia, owned by Manor Grand Prix Racing, was “relying on the skill and experience of the driver”.
Manor said it had “nothing further to add to the HSE’s comments”.
Source by bbc