Maria de Villota Dies; Formula One Test Driver Was 33

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Former Formula One test driver Maria de Villota was discovered dead in a hotel room in Seville, Spain, earlier today. She was just 33 years old.

Her death comes a year after nearly dying in an awful racing accident. An autopsy showed that lingering injuries from her wreck likely caused her death.

De Villota's sister, Isabel, said an autopsy indicated that she had died in her sleep around 6 a.m. due to "neurological damage" from her crash in July 2012.

De Villota lost an eye in the accident but had since seemingly recovered from the wreck, even driving again, writing a book about it, and getting married.

Spanish police said her death was from "natural causes" and that there was no indication of foul play. They said de Villota's manager alerted staff at the hotel.

De Villota was injured in a crash during testing for the Marussia F1 team in England, losing her right eye and sustaining other serious head injuries.

De Villota, a Madrid native, was the daughter of Emilio de Villota, who competed in F1 from 1976-82. Her family used de Villota's Facebook page to say:

"Dear friends: Maria has left us. She had to go to heaven like all angels. I give thanks to God for the year and a half that he left her with us."

F1 officials and drivers at the Japanese Grand Prix were stunned by her death.

"My deepest condolences go to theĀ  family," said FIA president Jean Todt.

"Maria was a fantastic driver, a leading light for women in motorsport and a tireless campaigner for road safety. Above all she was a friend I deeply admired."

"She was an inspiration not just to women in this sport, but also to all those who suffered life-threatening injuries. If anybody represented strength and optimism, it was Maria."

"Her sudden death is a big loss to the motorsport world."

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