Focus - Firman returns to the Jordan fold 24 Aug 2003
Ralph Firman arrived in the Hungary paddock this morning, complete with crutches and a limp following his enormous accident during practice yesterday morning. The Jordan star spent last night in hospital, suffering from concussion and a badly bruised left angle, but there is no long-term damage and he expects to be fit for the Monza test the week after next.
His memory of the accident is vague.
"I was accelerating onto the straight and I felt a sudden surge in acceleration," says Ralph. "When an engine is about to blow, the same thing happens, so I thought that was about to happen this time. It was only when I hit the brakes that I knew I had a problem. The car suddenly swapped ends and the last memory I have is skidding over the gravel backwards. The next thing I remember is talking to Professor Sid Watkins in the medical centre. I guess that will come back in due course."
Ralph left the track at 305kph and his impact with the tyre wall - which wrecked the EJ13 chassis - was 46-g. To put that into perspective, it's twice the impact of Jenson Button's car-wrecking shunt at Monaco's chicane earlier in the year.
Although Ralph spent the night under observation in hospital, Formula One's Professor Sid Watkins paid him a visit this morning and declared him psychologically fit to drive, so it looks like being only a short break prior to his return to the cockpit. He is returning to his parents' home in Norfolk this week for some TLC.
Perhaps the only piece of good news for Ralph this weekend is that his team mate Giancarlo Fisichella has agreed terms to join Sauber next season. So, for the sake of continuity, Eddie Jordan may decide to keep Ralph for a second season of Formula One racing.