De Villota sees beyond the track after losing eye

Marussia Formula One test driver Maria de Villota of Spain smiles during her news conference in Madrid on Thursday October 11, 2012. (Sergio Perez, Reuters)

Marussia Formula One test driver Maria de Villota of Spain smiles during her news conference in Madrid on Thursday October 11, 2012. (Sergio Perez, Reuters)

In an emotional first news conference since the accident, De Villota insisted there is a place for women in the male-dominated world of Formula One and she hopes someone will pick up where she left off.

The 32-year-old Marussia driver wore a patch over the right eye, which she lost when her car smashed into a support vehicle on July 3 during testing at Duxford Airfield circuit in Cambridgeshire, eastern England.

"Before, I only saw Formula One, I only saw myself in a car competing and did not see what was important in life, the clarity to say 'I am alive'," she told reporters at the headquarters of the Spanish sports council.

"This eye has given me my bearings, given me back what is important, and I accept it with the energy to say I am going to live out this chance 100 percent."

De Villota said she did not know what her future would be now.

"I want to carry on fighting because I strongly believe in women in the world of motor sport," she said in the packed news conference, joined by personalities including Spanish rally driver Carlos Sainz.

"Now I do have a physical impediment but before I didn't and I want someone else to take over," she said, noting the achievement of Austrian Monisha Kaltenborn, new principal of the Sauber F1 team.

De Villota, who underwent lengthy surgery after the crash for serious head and facial injuries, showed few scars from the accident other than the patch covering her lost eye.

De Villota, the daughter of former Spanish Formula One driver Emilio De Villota, was given a test drive by Renault last year and had previously raced in Spanish Formula Three and the Daytona 24 Hours.

Women drivers remain a rarity in Formula One.

In April this year, Williams signed German touring car driver Susie Wolff as the team's development driver.

But the last woman to enter the F1 world championship was Italian Giovanna Amati, who failed to qualify for three races at the start of the 1992 season with Brabham.

Five women have entered F1 races in the past, the most prolific being Italian Lella Lombardi, who started 12 grands prix in the 1970s.

Marussia began racing in 2010 under the Virgin banner. The team rebranded as Marussia in 2012, with Charles Pic driving alongside Timo Glock. – Sapa-AFP

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