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SEPTEMBER 15, 2001

Zanardi loses legs in Lausitz crash

ALEX ZANARDI has lost both his legs after a huge accident in the American Memorial 500 at the Lausitzring in Germany. The Italian is now in a stable condition in hospital in Berlin but he has lost one leg below the knee and the other above the knee.

Zanardi's car was accelerating out of the pits when it spun on to the track and was just missed by Patrick Carpentier and then hit by Alex Tagliani. The impact was at around 200mph and the front of Zanardi's car was torn off. Medical crews rushed him to hospital but both legs had been severed in the crash.

The Bologna-born driver made his name first 10 years ago when he finished second to Christian Fittipaldi in the Formula 3000 title with the Il Barone Rampante team. He then made his F1 debut in Spain as Michael Schumacher's replacement at Jordan. Again, his pace in the Japanese GP was a revelation and Jordan raved about him, but Eddie could not afford to run him in 1992. Instead, Zanardi stood in, ironically, for the injured Fittipaldi at Minardi. He was given a chance to race for Lotus in 1993 and in Brazil scored a point but later in the year suffered a huge accident at Eau Rouge. He was later left without a drive when Team Lotus closed down and in 1996 he went to America and driving for Chip Ganassi dominated the CART series, winning the title in 1997 and 1998. He was then signed on a three-year contract by Williams but the relationship did not gel and he was dropped by the team and replaced at the start of 2000 by Jenson Button. He had been rebuilding his career this year in America with Mo Nunn Racing and the Lausitzring seemed to be offering his first chance of a race victory.

The news of his accident sent many in the F1 paddock into depression as Alex has always been a popular man in F1 circles, even if his career was never quite what he wanted it to be.