| FORMULA One test-driver María de Villota has spoken out in public for the first time since her devastating accident at Duxford (Cambridge).
Madrid-born María, 32, said she was 'very upset' when surgeons told her she had lost an eye as a result of the crash during her first-ever test-drive as part of Team Marussia.
“I said, 'you're a doctor and you need two hands to operate; well, I'm a racing driver, and need two eyes to drive',” María reveals.
She said that when she first saw herself in the mirror, she was 'terrified'.
One of the few women involved in Formula One, her crash on her first day at work sent shock-waves through the motor-racing community.
The collision left her with multiple head and face injuries, which required numerous operations lasting several hours on her brain and bone structure in order to save her life and limit the damage.
But María says she has survived 'largely thanks to the love and support' she received from family, friends, members of the public and the Grand Prix fraternity and that, although her driving career is over, 'there is life after Formula One'.
She says she will continue to be 'very closely involved' in the sport, however, and will do her best to promote and encourage women's presence in motor-racing.
“It's in my DNA,” she confesses.
After just three months, the horrific scars she suffered are already beginning to fade and will be relatively easy to disguise once they have completely healed, María assures.
In the press conference, she was seen wearing a patch over her missing eye, and a smart blue suit, with her blonde hair now short due to the head injury operations.
But in spite of her ordeal, only the eye-patch leaves any real indication of the impact of the accident, and she has not lost her looks.
“I'm going to do everything I can to take advantage of this second chance life has given me,” María stated.
She was not expected to survive, and says her family and friends 'look at her as though she is a walking miracle'.