María de Villota has spoken publically for the first time since her life-threatening testing accident which led to her losing her right eye, revealing that she recalls every detail of the accident and its aftermath.
The Spanish driver was conducting her maiden test appearance for the Marussia F1 team in the week before the British Grand Prix when she had her accident, which saw her collide with the back of the team’s transporter.
She suffered critical injuries in the accident – including severe facial injuries and the loss of her eye – and spent a month in hospital before returning home to continue her extensive rehabilitation.
While the accident knocked her unconscious and she was left in an induced coma, she told the Spanish-language Hola magazine that she still recalls every detail of the crash.
De Villota appears on the cover of this week’s edition, sporting a black eye patch and a dramatically shorter haircut.
In her first interview since the accident, she said: “I remember everything – even the moment of the impact.
“When I woke up everybody was around me and they didn’t even know if I was going to speak, or how I was going to speak. I started speaking in English because I thought I was on an FIA check-up and that the nurse was a trainer.
“Then my dad [former F1 driver Emilio de Villota] said ‘Please, María, speak Spanish, because your mother is missing half the things’, and then I became aware of everything: of what had happened, where I was and why.”
De Villota told the magazine that the accident – aside from causing a career-ending loss of sight – had also left her with continuous headaches and robbed her of her sense of smell and taste.
“I have headaches that they don’t know how long will last – maybe years,” she added. “I have to control my efforts a lot because of the cranial pressure. I have also lost smell, and taste, which is linked to smell. Now I like things with a very strong taste.”
She also recounted her shock at the extent of her injuries.
“In the beginning they were covering it [the eye] so I couldn’t see it,” she continued.
“The first day I looked at myself in the mirror I had 140 black stitches on my face, and they looked like they had been stitched with a boat rope, and I had lost my right eye. I was terrified.”
But the 32-year-old has since come to terms with her injuries, which have forced her to adopt a new set of goals, now that her hopes of becoming the next female F1 driver have been taken from her.
“The accident has given me a new perspective about life, about the things that matter,” she added.
“It has taught me that to achieve what you want you have to educate yourself in sacrifice through effort. Now I have just one eye maybe I perceive more things than before. Before this, my life was a race against the clock, and now I see you have to stop and measure things in a different way.
“The worst is now behind [me].”
And we certainly hope so too.