María de Villota will make an emotional return to the Formula 1 paddock at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, which will mark her first public appearance at a Grand Prix since she suffered career-ending injuries in a testing accident last year.
The 33-year-old was critically injured in a freak testing accident for the Marussia F1 team last year, when she collided with the loading tailgate of one of the team’s trucks during a straightline test session at Duxford last year.
The Spaniard suffered massive head injuries, including the loss of her right eye, which ended her motorsport career.
After a lengthy recovery, de Villota has remained in contact with the motorsport community, and now serves as a senior member of the FIA’s advisory committees.
Returning to her home event will be a fitting and ultimately emotional affair, but de Villota is keen to thank those in the F1 fraternity who supported her following her accident.
“It’s my first race after the incident, so I have found it a little harder to sleep,” de Villota, daughter of former F1 driver Emilio, said to Europa Press.
“It will be hard, as I greatly miss it, but I want to see all of the drivers at home; I think we’ll see a great race.
“I want to thank many people that I have not seen since the accident, and I’ve been unable to acknowledge their support [until now].”