Maria de Villota was known for her courage, strength and determination. (Photo: Getty Images)

was known for her courage, strength and determination. (Photo: Getty Images)

The community pays its respects to Maria de Villota, who passed away Friday morning at the age of 33.

Her family led the tribute, stating: “Dear friends. Maria has left us. She had to go to heaven like all angels.

“We are thankful to God for the extra year and a half that he left her with us,” the de Villota family said, referencing a 2012 testing crash which left her with severe head injuries and resulted in the loss of her right eye.

De Villota’s ability to turn tragedy into triumph touched many of her peers, including FIA President .

“Maria was a fantastic driver, a leading light for women in motor sport and a tireless campaigner for road safety,” Todt said. “Above all, she was a friend I deeply admired.

“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. Maria was a beloved member of the FIA family. Our thoughts go to her family today.”

McLaren team boss called de Villota an “inspiration,” pinpointing her bravery and determination.

“She was an inspiration not just to women in this sport, but also to all those who suffered life-threatening injuries,” he said. “Her story, determination and subsequent inspiration flowed from F1 through sports 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.”

Monisha Kaltenborn, the first female team principal in F1, stated: “If anybody represented strength and optimism, it was Maria. 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.

“Maria was an example of someone who never gave up, she always had a smile on her face and we will dearly miss her.”

Williams developmental driver recalls being motivated by numerous messages of support from de Villota ahead of her first significant test.

“She very much said to me after: ‘It’s up to you to go out there and show them that it [a female driver in F1] is possible’.

“I can remember her sending me the message before the test. She said: ‘I can imagine you are starting to get apprehensive, but don’t think twice about it. You can do it. Just do what you do’.

“She knew that women could compete at that level and that’s why, after her accident and her not being able to do that anymore, she just wanted someone to know it was possible. She had such a spirit for life. What she came through was a testament to her strength of character and her positive outlook on life.”

Teams and drivers also took to Twitter to pay tribute to de Villota.











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