Formula one driver Maria De Villota has been found dead in a hotel room in Spain.
Initial reports suggest that the 33-year-old died of natural causes in Seville. She was in the Spanish city giving a talk about her autobiography ‘Life is a gift'.
A family statement read: 'Dear friends: Maria is gone. She had to go to heaven with all the angels. Give thanks to God for the year and a half more that we had left together. Signed. Family Villota'.
The former Marussia test driver De Villota was involved in a horrific accident in 2012 where she collided with a lorry in Cambridgeshire. She lost her right eye as a result of the accident, as well as sustaining severe head and facial injuries.
F1 teams and drivers, who have been preparing for this weekends grand prix in Japan, have expressed their shock at the tragedy.
Britain’s Jenson Button said: "It's horrendous news. Very tragic, the girl has been through so much, more than most people go through in their lives. It has been tough for her but this is horrific news and a real shock to the whole paddock and the world of motorsport."
He former team Marussia said: "It is with great sadness that we learned a short time ago of the news that Maria has passed away.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria's family and friends at this very difficult time."
De Villota was one of only few women to have driven a Formula One car. She made her test debut in 2011 for Lotus, before being signed by Marussia last year. She also competed in the World Touring Car Championship, and raced in the famous 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race in 2005.
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