Schumacher held out due to lingering crash effects

Updated: June 18, 2005, 11:24 AM ET
Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ralf Schumacher will not race in the United States Grand Prix because of the lingering effects from an accident he had during one of the practice sessions. Ricardo Zonta will replace him in Sunday's event.

Schumacher wasn't seriously injured when a tire failed on his Toyota during Friday's second practice session at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The car spun coming out of the final turn and backed into a part of wall protected by the energy-absorbing SAFER Barrier.

The German driver appeared to be in pain when he climbed from the car, but medical personnel checked and released him. He later went to a local hospital to have his eye examined after complaining of an irritation.

When he arrived at the track Saturday, an FIA medical delegate ruled that it would be unsafe for Schumacher to race because of the dangers a second hard impact could cause.

"This news is obviously very disappointing for myself and for the team," Schumacher said in a statement. "I wish the team all the best for the rest of the weekend and I'm confident that I will be back in time for this month's French Grand Prix."

Schumacher sustained a serious concussion and two broken vertebrae in this race last year when he crashed in almost the same spot. He missed six races as a result, and the FIA medical delegate feared a second accident this weekend could cause another concussion.

Zonta, a Brazilian, competed in the final event last season for Toyota as a replacement for Cristiano da Matta, who had been dropped by the team.

Like Schumacher, he also wrecked during Friday's practice session when he was driving a test car for Toyota. Team officials also blamed that on a tire failure.

Meanwhile, Michelin officials said they examined their supply of tires and couldn't determine what caused several failures during Friday's practice sessions. Out of safety concerns, the supplier asked FIA officials if they could ship a new batch of rubber from its warehouse in France to replace the tires that already have been distributed to the teams.

"We've been working with our people in Clermont-Ferrand in order to identify a product that we know is also capable of running at Indianapolis," Michelin said in a statement. "We are in a process of discussing this possibility with the FIA and are actively pursuing the dispatch of these tires to Indianapolis."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press