RACING driver Maria de Villota has been found dead in her hotel room in Sevilla.

The former Marussia test driver, who lost her right eye in her first test for the team at Duxford aerodrome in July 2012, was found by emergency services at around 7:30 this morning.

According to reports the body was found with no signs of violence, and an autopsy will be performed to ascertain the cause of death.

A statement from the De Villota family read: “Dear friends, Maria is gone. She had to go to heaven with all of the angels. Give thanks to God for the year and a half we had left together. Signed, the Villota family.”

De Villota was reportedly due to launch her book, Life is a Gift, on October 14, an account of her accident and her recovery since.

In the accident her car hit a truck at the end of a test run while returning to a garage area while travelling between 30 and 40mph. She was taken to hospital but lost her eye.

She was the first female driver to test for a contemporary Formula 1 team since Katherine Legge in 2005 and had previously raced in Spanish F3, Daytona 24 Hours, the World Touring Car Championship and the Superleague Formula Championship.

Find out more about Maria de Villota´s accident here.

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