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Page last updated at 06:48 GMT, Monday, 28 April 2008 07:48 UK
Spanish Grand Prix
Circuit de Catalunya, Montmelo, 25-27 April, 2008



Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren after his crash at the Spanish Grand Prix
Kovalainen's car was deeply embedded in the tyre barriers

McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen has emerged uninjured from a 150mph accident during the Spanish Grand Prix.

The Finn was taken to hospital after being hit on the head in the crash, which was caused by a tyre deflation.

McLaren boss Ron Dennis said Kovalainen had concussion but had suffered no injuries and should be able to take part in the Turkish race on 11 May.

"The doctors are quite optimistic at this stage because there is no damage, bruising or bleeding," Dennis said.

"We are 99.9% sure that a wheel failed, which is very unusual. It was a brand new wheel effectively so we'll have to analyse the components [to find out what happened]."

He said he expected Kovalainen, who was initially knocked unconscious in the accident, to be kept in hospital overnight for observation.

I was terrified for whoever it was because I saw the impact was quite heavy

Lewis Hamilton
Kovalainen's McLaren team-mate
On-board camera footage shows McLaren's left-front tyre suddenly deflate in the middle of the right-handed Campsa corner, one of F1's most difficult.

The car headed straight off the track, and appeared to lose very little speed before ploughing into the five-layer tyre barrier on the outside of the corner.

Initially there were serious concerns for the 26-year-old - the cockpit of the car was buried under the tyre barrier and it took F1's medical team 10 minutes to extract him while the race was neutralised by a safety car.

The first pictures of the car also showed that the nose, which protects the driver's legs, had been badly damaged.

But once out of the car, Kovalainen could be seen giving a thumbs up to the crowd as he was lifted into an ambulance on a stretcher.

Heikki Kovalainen's McLaren after his crash at the Spanish Grand Prix
The front of Kovalainen's McLaren was torn off in the crash

McLaren F1 chief executive Martin Whitmarsh said: "He was lucid in hospital. In fact, he was jolly, which is typical of Heikki.

"Heikki was lucky because it was a big accident. The force was 26G - it is a higher G-force than you get if you are strapped into the ejector seat of a military aircraft.

"When you see the state of the chassis, it is a frightening thing to look at."

Kovalainen was running first at the time of the crash, although he had moved up from sixth place as those ahead of him made their first pits stops for fuel and tyres.

Team-mate Lewis Hamilton said he had feared for the Finn when he first saw the accident.

"As I passed I just saw a car in the wall and it was red," Hamilton said.

"I didn't know if it was Heikki or one of the Ferraris, but then the team told me it was Heikki, although at that moment they did not know how bad he was.

606: DEBATE
"They later came on the radio and said he was OK, just slightly concussed.

"I did see a little glimpse of the footage on the TV [a giant screen at the circuit], and it looked reminiscent of my incident last year at the Nurburgring.

"I was terrified for whoever it was because I saw the impact was quite heavy.

"It obviously wasn't a great day for Heikki, but I'm glad he is OK and I'm sure he'll back."

Hamilton said he put the accident out of his mind for the rest of the race.

"If you let those things get into your mind you are in trouble," he said.

"You end up making mistakes or you then put yourself in the wrong position, so for me it didn't cross my mind once.

"I was quite confident. The team did a great job and the car was reliable, and after two bad races (Malaysia and Bahrain) to be back on the podium is fantastic."




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