27 | April | 2008

Blessing in disguise for Heikki

Family, team and fans can breathe again at the news coming from a hospital in Barcelona after Heikki Kovalainen’s heavy crash during the Spanish Grand Prix. The second check up in a hospital in Barcelona confirmed that the Finn got away from his shunt without any serious injury.
“For obvious reasons our main concerns during the race were with Heikki” said Ron Dennis after the race. “I am therefore extremely pleased to be able to report that he is safe and well. Heikki was airlifted to the Hospital General de Catalunya in Sant Cugat del Valles, for precautionary checks, and will remain there overnight. However, he has no broken bones and CT scans performed at the hospital confirm that he has no head injuries and the team is optimistic that he will make a full recovery over the next few days."
Until lap 22 everyhting looked normal for Heikki who had a decent start and established his pace behind BMW-driver Robert Kubica on 6th position. His strategy was aiming at overtaking Kubica during the pit stops.
However with a half lap to go until Heikki’s first pit stop something slit open the left front tyre of the MP4-23 causing a sudden deflation at the Campsa corner and an consequent crash into the tyre barriers in which Heikki was just a passenger. The car slipped underneath the barriers, and it took almost ten minutes for the trackside marshalls to free Heikki from his car.
When Heikki was finally on his way to the medical centre he gave his team and fans a thumbs-up, despite the neck brace.
One of the first to visit him was Anthony Hamilton, Lewis’s father, and he reported that Heikki was stable.
"First of all I am really happy to hear that Heikki is okay”, said team mate Lewis Hamilton. “During the race I saw a car had gone into the barriers and was told it was Heikki. As soon as the team knew he was okay, Ron came on the radio and told me which was a great relief."
The exact cause of the accident is still unknown.
“It is still too early to identify what triggered that deflation other than to say that it is likely to have been the result of a wheel rim failure,” explained Ron Dennis. “The impact was a relatively heavy one, but our car’s passive safety devices, designed in compliance with the FIA’s safety regulations, protected the driver in the way they were intended to do.”
The McLaren-Mercedes team hopes that Heikki will be fit and ready for action for the Turkish Grand Prix in two weeks time and expressed their gratitude to the FIA medical team.
On behalf of an army of Heikki’s fans we would like to wish him a very speedy recovery.
Race results are here.
© Jule Krause / Iryna Vale