October 11th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Tributes have been pouring in for Maria de Villota since the news of her death broke this morning. One such tribute came from Ferrari ace Fernando Alonso who said:
“It’s hard to talk about Maria de Villota right now, as I had only just taken my helmet off, when I was told about her death and at the moment, I still can’t believe it and need a while to stop and think about it. Of course, it’s very sad news for the world of motorsport as Maria was loved by everyone. Now, all we can do is pray for her and for her family."
There are far too many tributes that have been released to put them all in one article, but here are some of the thoughts that have been expressed by people inside Formula 1:
Monisha Kaltenborn, Sauber team principal: “We are shocked to hear the news of María de Villota’s death and would like to offer our sincerest condolences and heartfelt sympathy to her family and friends for this tragic loss. If anybody represented strength and optimism, it was María. Her sudden death is a big loss to the motorsport world as she was an important ambassador for relaying important messages to the youth, and particularly girls that aspire to a career in motorsport. María was an example of someone who never gave up, she always had a smile on her face and we will dearly miss her.”
Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren team principal: "The entire F1 community is very shocked by the news that Maria is no longer with us. She was an inspiration not just to women in this sport, but also to all those who suffered life-threatening injuries. Her story, determination and subsequent inspiration flowed from F1 through sport as a whole, and to see the images of her in Barcelona on the grid earlier this year, surrounded by a throng of jubilant children, told a great story. Maria participated in the Manhattan Fans’ Forum on behalf of her team, Marussia F1, last year, and made a lasting impression on the fans who attended. She will be sadly missed, and we wish to pass on our sincere condolences to her family.”
FIA President Jean Todt said, "Today is a tragic day for motor sport. My deepest condolences go to the de Villota family. María was a fantastic driver, a leading light for women in motor sport and a tireless campaigner for road safety.
“Above all she was a friend I deeply admired,” he added. “Through her courage, strength and determination she transformed her personal misfortune on the track into a powerful message for road safety that was heard at race tracks and beyond around the world. María was a beloved member of the FIA family. Our thoughts go to her family today.”