Ralf Schumacher sidelined by injury

Ralf Schumacher will miss not only the French Grand Prix but also the British GP, and possibly most of the remaining races of 2004. The Williams driver suffered what was originally thought to be only bruising and back pain after his heavy crash at ...

Ralf Schumacher sidelined by injury

Ralf Schumacher will miss not only the French Grand Prix but also the British GP, and possibly most of the remaining races of 2004. The Williams driver suffered what was originally thought to be only bruising and back pain after his heavy crash at Indianapolis but it seems the damage is worse than that.

Ralf Schumacher.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.

Doctors at a clinic in Bad Nauheim, where Schumacher is being treated, diagnosed two spinal fractures and advised that Ralf spend two or three months recovering. This could put him out of action at least until Monza in early September, or until Suzuka at the begining of October. There is only one more race after Suzuka, Brazil.

"The injury is worse than we originally feared, but there is nothing I can do now but try to get through it," Schumacher told his website. "I am already looking forward to the moment where I can sit in the car again."

Williams has announced team test driver Marc Gen? as Schumacher's replacement for France this weekend. As it is not known how long Ralf's recovery will take, the team will make further driver decsions at a later date.

"It is a shame that opportunities only come along when one of my colleagues has endured some kind of misadventure, but it is my job to make the best of such circumstances and ensure the team is not compromised by Ralf's absence," said Gen?.

If Schumacher does remain out of action for the rest of the season, there may be some other driver line-up changes quicker than expected. Schumacher is thought to be heading for Toyota next year and Williams is keen on Mark Webber to replace him. If Ralf does not plan to make a return, Williams could try to effect Webber's transfer sooner.

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