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de Villota’s death “a consequence of neurological injuries”

Oct 12, 2013, 9:42 AM EDT

File picture shows Marussia Formula One test driver Maria de Villota of Spain Reuters

Maria de Villota’s death has been linked to the injuries that she suffered whilst undertaking a straight-line test in the UK last July.

The 33-year-old died yesterday morning, and her sister Isabel has released a statement on Saturday.

“Maria left us while she was sleeping, approximately at 6am, as a consequence of the neurological injuries that she suffered in July of 2012, according to what the forensic doctor has told us,” the statement read.

“Maria is gone, but she has left us a very clear message of joy and hope, which is helping the family move on in these moments.”

de Villota’s death has rocked the Formula One world during the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, with many drivers and teams paying tribute to the Spanish driver who McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh called “an inspiration.”

Her accident last July left her with severe head injuries and resulted in the loss of her right eye, ending her motorsport career. However, de Villota appeared in the paddock at the Spanish Grand Prix back in May and was a beloved member of the Formula One family.

Drivers and teams will hold a minute’s silence before this weekend’s race in memory of the Spaniard.

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