FEBRUARY 17, 1997

Magnussen hurt at Estoril

STEWART GRAND PRIX driver Jan Magnussen had to have six stitches in his lower leg on Saturday after a sizable testing accident in Estoril's Turn 2. The 23-year-old Dane lost control of the car and hit the barriers heavily. The force of the impact punched the lower front wishbone of the suspension through the side of the chassis and it sliced into the back of Magnussen's calf, trapping him in the car. He was quickly released and was taken to hospital in nearby Cascais where the leg injury required six stitches. He returned to the circuit in the afternoon and was hoping to be fully fit in time for the Australian GP in three weeks.

The prototype Stewart-Ford SF1 chassis will probably have to be written off although the team is trying to get the car back to England to see if it can be repaired. The problem is that the Portugal-Spain and Spain-France borders are currently blockaded by striking Spanish truck drivers. The team had always planned to have the second SF1 chassis flown in over the weekend and so the team will at least be able to test.

"Our first reaction is one of relief that Jan has not been seriously hurt," said team boss Paul Stewart. "Clearly this is a setback for a team as new as ours so close to the opening round of our first World Championship but we will do whatever it takes to make sure we are ready for Melbourne."