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Firman to miss race after practice shunt 23 Aug 2003

Ralph Firman Jnr (GBR) Jordan 
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 7 March 2003

Hospital checks have confirmed Jordan driver Ralph Firman to be fine after his heavy shunt in first practice at the Hungaroring this morning. He will, however, miss Sunday's race and could be replaced by the team's Hungarian test driver Zsolt Baumgartner.

Firman was taken to hospital after his car lost its rear wing and crashed very heavily in Turn Four. The impact was sufficient to push the barrier support posts backwards, but fortunately the barriers contained the car.

Medics extracted the Englishman, who had suffered major g loadings but was moving within the car. He stood momentarily once he had been helped from the cockpit, but was then taken immediately to the Orszagos Traumatalogiai Intezet at nearby Sebeszeti Osztaly for a check-up.

"The tests showed Ralph to be in the clear but he will stay in hospital for 24 hours' observation as part of the routine in these situations," team principal Eddie Jordan said. "Professor Sid Watkins reported that Ralph had made a very quick recovery and had recognised him at the accident scene, and the check-up showed that he has nothing worse than bruising to one ankle. The head restraint did a superb job, and Prof said that it was badly damaged in doing its work."

Firman's likely replacement, Baumgartner, drove for the team in private testing on Friday, when he lapped 0.6s faster than his Jordan colleague. However, this session does not require a super-licence and so discussions are currently being held between the relevant parties to try and secure him one in time for qualifying this afternoon.

"As far as a replacement is concerned, I hope that we will be able to confirm that our test driver Zsolt Baumgartner will be driving for the remainder of the weekend, pending being granted the necessary super-licence," added Jordan.