Formula One test driver Maria de Villota has lost her right eye and suffered intense facial and head injuries as the result of a collision with a team transport truck during a Marussia F1 test at an airfield in England on Tuesday, the Associated Press and Autosport.com are reporting.
Although still in critical condition, she is stable in hospital, the team said in a statement Wednesday.
Marussia said a surgical team at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge "embarked on a lengthy procedure to address the serious head and facial injuries sustained" in the accident.
The team said the operation began Tuesday afternoon and she was in the operating room until Wednesday morning.
"We are grateful for the medical attention that Maria has been receiving and her family would like to thank the Neurological and Plastics surgical teams," said team manager John Booth in a statement.
"However it is with great sadness that I must report that, due to the injuries she sustained, Maria has lost her right eye.
"Maria's care and the well-being of her family remain our priority at this time. Her family are at the hospital and we are doing everything possible to support them.
"We ask for everyone's patience and understanding with regard to updates on Maria's condition. We will provide further information when it is appropriate to do so and with consideration for her family.
"In the meantime, we would all like to take this opportunity to praise the emergency services at Duxford Airfield, who were on stand-by yesterday, as is usual procedure for a Formula One test.
"With regard to the accident, we have embarked on a very comprehensive analysis of what happened and this work continues for the moment.
"Finally, 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."
In the accident Tuesday, Marussia F1 said her car hit the racing outfit’s support truck at the end of her first run at Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire, north of London, at 8:15 a.m. GMT.
It was the first time the 32-year-old Spanish driver, who joined the Russian-owned team this season, tested the MR-01 car.
De Villota had been taken by ambulance to the major trauma centre following what police called “a low-speed accident,” where the test driver apparently crashed into the stationary team vehicle as she came to the end of a run at the straight-line test session.
De Villota is the daughter of former F1 driver Emilio de Villota and joined Marussia as a test driver in March, becoming the sport’s first full-time female driver since Italian Giovanna Amati with the Brabham team in 1992.
De Villota had previously tested for Renault and had racing experience in Spanish F3 and the Daytona 24-Hour race.
Fellow drivers and former world champions Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso expressed sympathy and support for De Villota in messages on Twitter.
Ferrari driver Alonso, the current F1 drivers’ standings leader and a Spanish compatriot, tweeted: “I just got home and found out (about) Maria’s accident, we called the family and hopefully we will know more soon ! All my energy with you!”
McLaren’s Button wrote: “Terrible accident for Maria de Villota, Marussia F1 team test driver. My thoughts are with Maria and her family at this very difficult time.”
Marussia started in Formula One as Virgin Racing in 2010. It rebranded as Marussia for the start of the current season after Russian sports car manufacturer Marussia Motors bought a controlling stake.
It has yet to pick up a point this year ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The team’s race drivers are Timo Glock of Germany and Charles Pic of France.