JUNE 22, 2004
The second Williams at Magny-Cours
Ralf Schumacher is now back at his home in Austria, recovering from a heavy concussion and bruising to his back following what is believed to be the biggest accident yet recorded by the FIA data recorders. Our sources say that Ralf was subjected to something in the region of 70G when he went backwards into the wall at Indianapolis at around 190mph. Ralf was released from hospital on Monday and flew home to Austria, telling German reporters that he had no memory of the crash.
It is virtually certain that Ralf will miss the French Grand Prix, not because he may not be physically fit in time but rather because of fears that he might have another accident and a second concussion. This is very dangerous and it is likely that Formula 1 doctor Professor Sid Watkins will insist of more time before allowing Schumacher to race again. It should be remembered that Schumacher suffered a serious concussion less than a year ago in testing for the Italian GP and was forced to miss the event. On that occasion he was replaced by Marc Gene and although the Spaniard did a good solid job it was not a remarkable performance and it is possible that if Ralf does miss the French GP (and potentially the British GP a week later) there could be a different replacement. Williams might take the opportunity to try out a couple of youngsters that have been under consideration for the available drive in 2005. There are believed to be two men in question: Antonio Pizzonia and Anthony Davidson and logically it is wiser for the team to use its second test driver, who knows the car well rather than trying out someone who is completely new to the team. The choice of a replacement may depend on contractual clauses in Gene's contract as some third drivers have the proviso that they will be chosen if one of the regular drivers is not available.
We should know the answer within a few days as the team is likely to use this week's Jerez test to run any potential replacement. Pizzonia is due to run in Spain and we believe that there is also a second test going on at Michelin's Ladoux facility near Clermont-Ferrand. The team hopes to introduce new bodywork at the French GP in an effort to improve the cars.
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