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Fisichella has a big one...

EDDIE JORDAN's decision to hire two young drivers for this season may prove to be expensive as Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella find their feet in Formula 1.

Schumacher looked on the verge of an accident throughout qualifying in Australia and at Silverstone on Tuesday Fisichella had a big accident as he tested in slippery conditions. The Italian was unhurt in the crash.

The accident happened on Tuesday morning when Fisichella was five laps into a race simulation test. He went wide at the exit of Stowe Corner, put his left rear wheel over a curb and spun at high speed into the barriers, hitting the wall backwards at around 135mph. According to the telemetry, the car stopped moving within 0.72s of the impact, indicating that there was very little deflection in the impact. A similar crash at Stowe in January 1994 left Benetton driver JJ Lehto with a fractured fifth vertebrae, which effectively ended his career in F1.

Fisichella was saved from injury by the fact that all 1997 F1 cars must have a rear impact-absorbing structure attached to the gearbox which can withstand an impact of 780kgs at 27mph without any deformation in front of the rear wheel centerline.

Fisichella was also helped by the fact that modifications made to the F1 headrests in recent years helped to cushion the blow. He was, nonetheless, severely shaken by the crash. First on the scene was Ralf Schumacher who stopped to help his team mate before medical assistance arrived. Fisichella was taken to the Silverstone medical center and from there to the hospital in Oxford for tests but the only injuries he suffered were bruises to his knees, from hitting the inside of the monocoque.

The deformable rear-impact structure on the car also meant that the car was not seriously damaged and was repaired in time to be sent off to South America at the end of the week.

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