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Ralf back as testing resumes 14 Sep 2004

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, United States Grand Prix, Practice Day, Indianapolis, USA, 18 June 2004

Williams star expected on track after six races away

Ralf Schumacher is due to return to the cockpit today, almost three months on from his high-speed accident at Indianapolis. Schumacher is expected to test for three days at Silverstone in preparation for his anticipated race return for Williams in China.

The German driver has missed the last six races after fracturing his spine during the crash at the United States Grand Prix in June. He had declared himself fit to return last weekend at Monza, but insurance requirements prevented him from doing so.

This week’s test and a routine FIA medical should, however, be the final hurdles ahead of his competitive comeback at the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on September 26. At Silverstone he will be working alongside Marc Gene, Williams’ third driver, who stood in for him at the French and British rounds.

The BMW-powered team are among several testing this week. Also expected at Silverstone are close rivals McLaren, who have just three races left in which to challenge Williams for fourth place in the constructors’ championship. Spa winner Kimi Raikkonen will be on track on Wednesday and Thursday, while Alexander Wurz tests on Tuesday and fellow tester Pedro de la Rosa on all three days.

Toyota will run Olivier Panis, Ricardo Zonta and Ryan Briscoe for the three days as they continue development of the TF104 ahead of China and their home race in Japan. Jordan will have German tester Timo Glock at the wheel of the EJ14 on Tuesday, while Renault are expected to carry out a three-day Silverstone programme with Fernando Alonso and Franck Montagny.

The other major test session of the week will take place at Jerez. The Spanish circuit will play host to Bridgestone runners Ferrari and Sauber from Tuesday to Thursday, with the world champions almost certain to also run an additional programme at one of their own tracks in Italy.

All schedules are provisional and subject to change.