Maria de Villota has revealed that she remembers everything from the life-threatening Formula 1 testing accident in which she lost her right eye earlier this year.
The Spanish driver was carrying out a straight-line test for Marussia before the British Grand Prix, when she crashed into the back of a team transporter. De Villota suffered serious injuries in the accident and spent a month in hospital before she was well enough to return home.
Although she was unconscious for a long time, de Villota says she can recall all the details of the crash and its aftermath. She also says that as well as her eye injuries, she continues to suffer from headaches and has lost her sense of smell and taste.
"I remember everything – even the moment of the impact," di Villota told Spain's Hola magazine, in her first interview since the crash. "When I woke up everybody was around me and they didn't even know if I was going to speak, or how I was going to speak. I started speaking in English because I thought I was on an FIA check-up and that the nurse was a trainer.
"Then my dad said, 'Please, Maria, speak Spanish, because your mother is missing half the things,' and then I became aware of everything: of what had happened, where I was and why."
The 32-year-old says her injuries have made her realize the value of other things in life beyond racing.
"The accident has given me a new perspective about life, about the things that matter," she said. "It has taught me that to achieve what you want you have to educate yourself in sacrifice through effort. Now I have just one eye maybe I perceive more things than before. Before this, my life was a race against the clock, and now I see you have to stop and measure things in a different way."
De Villota admitted she was shocked the first time she saw her injuries, but she is sure that the worst is now behind her.
"In the beginning they were covering it [the eye] so I couldn't see it," she added. "The first day I looked at myself in the mirror I had 140 black stitches on my face, and they looked like they had been stitched with a boat rope, and I had lost my right eye. I was terrified. I have to undergo more surgery soon, but the worst is now behind."
She added: "I have headaches that they don't know how long will last – maybe years. I have to control my efforts a lot because of the cranial pressure. I have also lost smell, and taste, which is linked to smell. Now I like things with a very strong taste."