Heikki Kovalainen is expected to leave hospital this evening, having undergone tests to ensure he hasn’t suffered any head injuries or bone damage. Although the Finnish driver was briefly knocked unconscious following his impact with tyre barrier at Circuit de Catalunya, he has said to be in high spirits and is looking forward to a quick recovery in time for the Turkish Grand Prix on May 11th. Heikki will have to pass a mandatory test prior to being allowed to race in Istanbul, but the team are confident their driver will be perfectly fine to continue competing in a fortnight.
I have a slight headache and a stiff neck, but apart from that I am feeling well and in good spirits. Heikki Kovalainen.
Considering Heikki impacted the barrier at what must have been close to 140mph, his injuries are impressively minor. Heikki was rested in hospital due to concussion, but a CT scan revealed no other damage to his head.
What is especially important is the fact that the monocoque withstood the heavy impact, so credit should also be given to everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for that. Heikki Kovalainen.
And looking at the photographs of the remains of Heikki’s MP4-23, the monocoque appears to have done its job perfectly. The entire front of the car was destroyed in the impact, but it is clear that the area from the footwell backwards remains visually intact, exactly where the life-cell begins.
The accident saw Kovalainen spear off the track at high speed and clout the tyre wall almost head-on. The accident is similar to that of Michael Schumacher’s at Silverstone in 1999. In that particular incident, the world champion’s Ferrari went straight on at Stowe corner at high speed and dug in deep into the tyre wall. Schumacher suffered multiple breaks in his legs which forced him to sit out the remainder of the season.
Kovalainen’s McLaren also penetrated the tyre wall deeply, and a photograph taking from the line of impact shows just how far into the wall the Finn went. Also visible from the photograph is the rise in the tyres, suggesting they lifted as the car went in, pretty much null-and voiding any measure of safety they are meant to provide. My memory is a little vague on the Schumacher incident, but I do remember the tyres not providing as much help to the German as we thought they were meant to.
Safety barriers aside though, it is good news that Heikki will eventually walk away from this scary crash, and I’m sure we all look forward to seeing his return in the McLaren in a week-and-a-halves time.
My focus is on getting better as soon as possible so I can pass the FIA medical inspection required to allow me to race in Turkey.
I don’t remember anything from the accident or what happened afterwards but would obviously like to thank all the circuit emergency staff, the FIA medical team at the track and the doctors at the hospital for all their efforts in looking after me. Heikki Kovalainen.
Heikki also insisted that while it was clearly a problem with the wheel that caused the accident, the team still don’t know exactly what happened and will wait until further analysis has been completed before specifying the reason for the tyre failure.