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Ralf confirmed for Chinese Grand Prix 17 Sep 2004

Ralf Schumacher (GER) Williams tests for the first time since his accident at the United States Grand Prix in June. Formula One Testing, Silverstone, England, 14 September 2004. World © McNeil/Sutton

Ralf Schumacher will return to the Formula One grid in Shanghai next weekend, the Williams team have announced. Schumacher, who missed the last six grands prix following his Indianapolis accident, has been declared fit after conducting a successful three-day test at Silverstone this week.

Schumacher, who fractured two vertebrae after colliding with the wall during the United States Grand Prix on June 20, will have been away from competition for a total of 14 weeks and is naturally eager to return.

“I was very happy to be back on the track at Silverstone and very pleased to find that the car has improved a lot since the last time I drove it,” said the German. “As I expected, I didn't experience any pain in my back at all and I felt ok physically, thanks to the training I'd done over the past couple of months.”

Schumacher, who moves to Toyota for 2005, is one of the few drivers to have already visited the Shanghai International Circuit, venue for what will be the first ever Grand Prix on Chinese soil.

“No one knows the Shanghai circuit which makes this race very exciting,” commented Schumacher. “It's always fun going to a completely new track because everyone is equal in their lack of knowledge.

“I've seen the drawings of the circuit and I visited about a year ago but the track wasn't totally finished so there wasn't much to see apart from the buildings and grandstands which were under construction. I will be doing some PR work before flying out to China but then I can't wait to get there and have a good race.”

Schumacher heads to China lying 11th in the drivers’ championship, having scored 12 points from the opening eight races of the season.