Injured driver De Villota speaking to family

Seriously injured Spanish test driver Maria De Villota is no longer under sedation and can speak to her family and doctors, her Marussia Formula One team said.

The 32-year-old has been in hospital for eight days since suffering life-threatening head and facial injuries in a freak accident during a straight-line aerodynamic test at Duxford airfield in eastern England.

Marussia said her recovery during that time had been remarkable.

The British-based team said De Villota had been awake since Sunday morning.

"Since that time, Maria has been making small but significant steps," the statement added. "Her family remain by her side and she is communicating freely with them and the medical team."

De Villota, whose father Emilio was a Formula One driver, was driving the Marussia for the first time and returning slowly to mechanics when witnesses said it abruptly accelerated into the back of a parked team truck with the impact at helmet level.

Reuters