F1: Doctors inform Maria de Villota's family that her death was linked to testing accident that she suffered last year

De Villota was found dead in a Spanish hotel yesterday morning 15 months after she lost her right eye in a shocking accident at Duxford Aerodrome while testing for Marussia

Maria de Villota's family have claimed her death on Friday was as a direct consequence of the testing accident she was involved in last year.

A statement issued by the family read: "Maria left us while she was sleeping, approximately at 6am (on Friday), as a consequence of the neurological injuries she suffered in July of 2012, according to what the forensic doctor has told us.

"Maria is gone, but she has left us a very clear message of joy and hope, which is helping the family move on in these moments."

The body of former Marussia test driver De Villota, who was just 33, was discovered at the Hotel Sevilla Congresos in Seville early on Friday.

Dr Joaquin Lucena Romero, head of forensic services at the Institute for Legal Medicine, later confirmed De Villota's death "was due to natural causes".

The Health and Safety Executive have made clear, however, they are still investigating potential links between the incident at Duxford Aerodrome 15 months ago and her death.

On that occasion, with De Villota conducting straight-line aerodynamic testing for Marussia, the Spaniard was involved in a freak accident when she ran into a stationary service vehicle.

De Villota lost her right eye, and almost her life, but following a month's recuperation in hospital she eventually made a remarkable recovery

A HSE spokeswoman has stated the organisation "would expect to be kept informed of any new evidence".

The De Villota family, who have confirmed Maria will be buried in Madrid "in the most strict intimacy", have made no mention of whether there is a legal case to answer on safety grounds at the aerodrome.

Marussia were at least cleared last year with regard to any potential fault relating to their car.

The Grand Prix Drivers' Association, meanwhile, have announced they are to hold a minute's silence ahead of the drivers' parade at Suzuka in the build up to the Japanese Grand Prix.

A statement released by the GPDA read: "All F1 drivers of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association are very saddened to hear of the tragic death of our former member Maria de Villota.

De Villota posted this picture on her Twitter account yesterday with the caption: De Villota posted this picture on her Twitter account yesterday with the caption: "With my friend Manuel, and I speak of him in @ yo_dona Nice to see him again and talk"  

"She has been an active member and contributed to driver safety in a very enthusiastic and most professional manner.

"Her positive attitude, maturity and extreme commitment will never be forgotten and are something we have learned from. Maria will be missed and always remembered by all of us.

"The F1 drivers will have one minute silence just before the drivers' parade tomorrow, and the podium will be dedicated to Maria.

"In this incredibly difficult time the F1 drivers would like to extend to her family and friends their most sincere condolences."

PA

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