Spanish driver Maria de Villota was seriously injured last week when she was testing the Marussia-Cosworth Formula 1 car at the Duxford airfield in the U.K.
Maria sustained life threatening injuries when the race car hit one of the team's support truck after it suddenly accelerated. She suffered severe facial and head injuries and sadly lost her right eye.
We wish Maria a speedy recovery and we hope to see her back behind the wheel of a race car.
She is not the first race car driver to sadly lose an eye in a freak accident. On July 2nd 1972, Austrian driver Helmut Marko (yes, the same Dr. Marko who is today the advisor to the Red Bull Racing team) lost his left eye.
Marko's BRM was running behind Emerson Fittipaldi's Lotus during the French Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand. Suddenly, one of the huge rear tires threw a stone straight at Marko's helmet. The stone pierced the visor, permanently blinding his left eye and ending his racing career.
However, nothing in the FIA International Sporting Code prevents someone with just one valid eye to compete in motor racing.
Article 1.3.1 of the Appendix L reads as follows:
“In the case of an acute ocular disease inducing visual loss or visual field alterations, a minimum period of two years is necessary before considering the driver for further ophthalmological assessment. In this case, specialised ophthalmological tests, including tests on his field of vision and stereoscopic vision, must be carried out. It is also suggested that, wherever possible, a real-time test be carried out at the circuit. These decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.”