Tuesday April 29, 2008
Kovalainen can suit up for Turkish GP, say McLaren
BARCELONA: McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh said on Sunday that he expected Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen to be released from hospital in Barcelona following his 240kph crash during the Spanish Grand Prix.
Whitmarsh said Kovalainen, 26, had no visible injuries and added that he expected him to be back “fit and well” very soon.
“There are no visible injuries, but he has obviously banged his head and as a precaution he was taken hospital for them to check on the concussion,” the McLaren chief executive said.
“He was complaining that he hit his elbow, but I think that is quite normal. There are no signs of serious injury, so that's good news.
“And I am sure that once they have checked him out, he will be back fit and well very soon.”
Kovalainen's car speared off the circuit on lap 22 of Sunday's 66-lap race won by fellow-Finn Kimi Raikkonen in a Ferrari. His car appeared to suffer a front left tyre failure as he entered turn nine of the Circuit de Catalunya.
Doctors at the track examined him first at the circuit medical centre before he was taken to a nearby hospital for further precautionary checks.
Whitmarsh added: “I'm not a doctor but all the signs are that he will be fine by the time we get to Turkey for the next race.”
He said he believed that the accident was caused by a wheel-rim failure, which broke the front left wheel and made it impossible for Kovalainen to steer the car round the corner.
“We can detect from the data that we had a sudden deflation of tyre pressure,” he said.
“We don't believe it was a tyre failure. There was evidence of part of the rim becoming detached. It wasn't a classic structural failure.
“Potentially a bit of debris, a stone or maybe part of the car got inside the rim, which caught it, machined it and the rim failed, which then caused that sudden deflation.”
Kovalainen's McLaren team-mate Briton Lewis Hamilton, 23, said that the accident reminded him of his own high speed crash during qualifying for the European Grand Prix at the Nuerburgring circuit in Germany last year.
He saw a replay of the accident on the circuit's giant screens while running behind the Safety Car following the accident.
Hamilton drove on to finish third.
“I am glad for Heikki that he is okay,” said Hamilton.
“I came past and saw there was a car in the wall and it just looked red and didn't know if it is was us or one of the Ferraris, but I saw a glimpse of the footage on the TV and it was reminiscent of my experience at the Nuerburgring.
“The team told me it was Heikki and Ron came on the radio and said he was okay but slightly concussed. I am sure he will bounce back.” – AFP