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Kovalainen fighting fit, say McLaren 02 May 2008

Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) McLaren.
Malaysian Grand Prix, Rd 2, Preparations, Sepang, Malaysia, Thursday, 20 March 2008 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Mclaren is taken to the medical helicopter following his crash.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 27 April 2008 The car of Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Mclaren MP4-23 is removed. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 4, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 27 April 2008

McLaren are hopeful that Heikki Kovalainen will race in next weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix, following a rapid recovery from his high-speed accident at last Sunday's race in Barcelona.

Kovalainen spent a night in hospital following the crash, but was released on Monday evening having suffered nothing worse than concussion. He must now pass an obligatory FIA medical if he is to compete in Istanbul, but both team and driver are upbeat about his chances.

"I am feeling good, the stiffness in my neck has pretty much gone and I have been back training,” said Kovalainen on Friday. “I left Spain on Thursday and went back to Finland, where I have spent some time working with the team doctor at our facility there on ensuring I am fit for the race. Initially during the week we were doing some light training before starting on my full programme just before the weekend.

“The next stage for me is the fitness test at the track in Turkey on Thursday with the FIA. I can’t wait to get back into the car and race with the team next weekend, but at the end of the day that decision is out of my hands, the FIA will make it based on safety grounds only."

McLaren’s medical staff have been monitoring Kovalainen’s condition throughout the week, both in Spain and then at the Kuortane Sports Institute in Finland, and there has been no development of any secondary symptoms.

“Before traveling to Istanbul, we will organise a full neurological examination for Heikki with our specialists in Finland as a matter of course,” explained McLaren’s Formula One CEO Martin Whitmarsh. “He will then have the mandatory FIA evaluation on Thursday at the circuit, which is a routine neuro and physiological test completed after any concussion.

“Of course we have a plan in place should the FIA request Heikki sits this race out, as at all Grands Prix, but we have a race driver who is naturally impatient to get back out there and this is the aim of the team.”

If Kovalainen does not race, his replacement is likely to be McLaren reserve driver Pedro de la Rosa. If he does, he will use a new chassis - the one from Spain was inevitably a write-off and is still ‘under quarantine’ as McLaren complete their analysis of the accident.