De Villota car ‘pushed into lorry’

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Last month the HSE (Health and Safety Executive) announced they would not be prosecuting Marussia or any of its personnel following their investigation into Maria de Villota’s crash during a test at Duxford Airfield.

Whilst Maria recovered from the initial surgery, she apparently died as a result of the neurological injuries she suffered in the crash.

Under the freedom of information act, the BBC have pressed to have the HSE report disclosed. It reveals Maria had not been given proper instructions on how to slow and stop the car.

Having performed two straight line speed tests, de Voillota was returning to a temporary pit lane and the front wheels of the car locked under braking.

The BBC report, “because the gears were engaged and the car was fitted with engine idle control, designed to maintain revs at about 4,100 rpm to avoid damage, it was essentially ‘fighting’ De Villota and she was ‘pushed’ along the runway into the lorry, the report said.

De Villota pressed a button to unlock the clutch and disengage the gears before the crash, but nothing happened. A gear change from second to first was also rejected by the engine idle control, the documents added.

She had previously told engineers she could not operate the clutch when the steering wheel was at full-lock, which it was at the time of the crash”.

De VIlotta collided with the tailgate of a truck that had been left at head height – causing her tragic injuries.

Marussia said that in terms of car control, they were “relying on the skill and experience of the driver” who had driven F1 cars for Lotus Renault at circuits in both Spain and France.

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10 responses to “De Villota car ‘pushed into lorry’

  1. Wow. That’s not good. I’m always amazed how their seems to be no accountability for these sorts of things anymore. Yes something went wrong but no one is ever responsible.

    • Except for the poor person who suffers as a result of the “accident”. I had had more respect for John Booth and Graeme Lowden; now . . .?
      Lack of accountability – Endemic to Western society. Let’s see now, how many ‘bankers’ were held accountable following the financial disaster? Oh yeah – one here in the U.S. The corporations (aka “persons” here in the U.S. thanks to the Supreme Court) simply pay fines, and pass on the costs to their stakeholders while the execs fly free. Until responsible people go to jail, nothing’s gonna change, I fear.

    • The British HSE is very strict with the rules, they investigate an accident I had a work 15 years back now. They left no stone unturned, it was the HSE’s own investigating officer who strongly advised me to make take legal advice and make a compensation claim. The company I worked for were fined nearly £30,000 and I received £10,000 in compensation. The insurance company just rolled over on liability as the investigation had been so meticulously carried out by the HSE.
      So what I’m trying to say, is that I have faith in the British Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and if they found that there was not enough evidence to support a conviction then I believe them. That is not to say that the evidence isn’t there, it just means they couldn’t find enough of it to make a charge stick and they can’t say things or even imply things in the public domain about any suspicions they may hold personally, without causing a massive and not to mention, expensive backlash.

      Someone may speak out, one day……..

      • No I get where you are coming from, all that may not have been enough to declare rules had officially been broken, or frankly perhaps the whole area isn’t adequately covered since it’s really such a niche thing. Still, it does seem from their accounting of the incident, at least by De Villota’s own testimony, that several things did not work as far as getting the car out of gear and that as in the Bianchi incident, software was involved. Maybe they need to hire some Russians from Goldman Sachs to do their coding.

        • @mattpt55
          “as in the Bianchi incident, software was involved.”

          Actually, we now know less of the Bianchi crash than of de Villota’s. By all accounts the Bianchi report summary was a biased, self-serving, self-exonerating, blame-shifting whitewash. I’d be very curious to see what they find if a proper institution investigated the Suzuka accident to establish the facts. And if software was indeed an issue in the Suzuka accident and the FIA knew of it beforehand, this was an F1 car in a live F1 session sanctioned by the FIA and deemed safe by the FIA…

          • Surely also these were two very different cars? A fairly basic 2012 car compared with a 2014 car with complex interaction between multiple propulsion systems and a braking system which included regeneration. I’d suspect there was very little common code between the two.

          • Actually one of the few facts we do have is that the FailSafe mechanism which is supposed to deactivate engine when brakes and throttle applied 100% didn’t work due to Marussia set up. I believe it to have been custom software for something that they blamed but don’t recall ATM and lack time to look right now. Will add later if I can find.

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