Maria de Villota was found dead in a hotel room in Seville on Friday at the age of 33, to the shock of the Formula 1 community.
The former Marussia test driver had survived a horrific freak accident in 2012 in which she lost an eye, but had returned to public life and was believed to be in Seville to promote her autobiography.
Her family confirmed the news with a touching message on de Villota's Facebook page (originally in Spanish, translated):
She had to go to heaven like all angels. We are thankful to God for the extra year and a half that he left her with us.
Tributes to de Villota have been flooding in from drivers, teams and commentators alike. A statement from her former team Marussia reads:
It is with great sadness that we learned a short time ago of the news that Maria de Villota has passed away.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Maria’s family and friends at this very difficult time.
Here we round up the sentiments:
Tragic news of Maria de Villota passing away, our thoughts are with her family and friends! #Sad— Scuderia Ferrari (@InsideFerrari) October 11, 2013
So sad news emerging from Spain regarding Maria de Villota, my sincerest condolences to her family and friends— Heikki Kovalainen (@H_Kovalainen) October 11, 2013
Sauber's Monisha Kaltenborn on De Villota: "She had such a tragic experience, yet she had the courage to be out there, talk about it"— Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) October 11, 2013
Just saw this awful news about Maria De Villota. All my thoughts go to the family and friends.— Sébastien Buemi (@Sebastien_buemi) October 11, 2013
Even though we're far away, the whole team's hearts and minds are with the family of Maria de Villota at this terrible, terrible time...— McLaren (@McLarenF1) October 11, 2013
What a tragedy re death of Maria di Villota in Seville. Her book 'Life is a gift' due 2b published Monday. A brave lady & great ambassador— Mark Gallagher (@_MarkGallagher) October 11, 2013
Tragic news about Maria de Villota. Sat next to her just a couple weeks ago at FIA Drivers Comm meeting. Was doing a lot for women in racing— Karun Chandhok (@karunchandhok) October 11, 2013
Just stunned here in Suzuka by the terrible reports that Maria de Villota has died. My thoughts go out to her family & all at Marussia— David Croft (@CroftyF1) October 11, 2013
R.I.P. Maria Villota :(— Sebastian Vettel (@Sebas_Vettel) October 11, 2013