The qualifying session for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka was delayed for over an hour after a dramatic crash by Allan McNish. Thankfully the Toyota driver was intact but it was a very nasty moment.
Heading into the 130R corner at high speed, the car suffered from understeer and as McNish struggled to correct it, the back end spun out. The Toyota jumped a service road and hit the barrier rear on with enough force to smash right through the armco. McNish got out all right but was obviously very shaken, lying on the grass for some moments before being escorted to the medical car, limping slightly.
The right rear of the chassis was destroyed and the left badly mangled: the general consensus was that McNish was very lucky that the car went through backwards. Reports from the medical centre were that the Scot had slight concussion and knee pains but was otherwise unharmed.
The session was red-flagged for quite some time as the marshals repaired the damage. Where McNish hit was an unusual place, the joining of the armco itself and the tyre section of the barrier, and the repair crew seemed to spend some time standing around scratching their heads.
Some anxious faces were in not only the Toyota garage but the entire pit lane. It's as yet unknown what caused the crash but McNish's team mate Mika Salo was not too worried.
"It is very difficult to say what happened, but it is a corner where there have been a lot of accidents," said the Finn. "I've had a big accident there. It's a difficult corner. It's just about flat out, so it's very easy to drop a wheel off and get into a slide. Allan seemed fine, so I have no worries about him, or about me going out again."
Professor Sid Watkins said he will make a decision tomorrow on whether McNish is fit to race but the Scot said afterwards that he was alright:
"First of all, I feel fine. I have had a check-up and my knee is sore, but I am confident of getting back into the car tomorrow morning. Basically, everything felt good through the 130R corner but the car suddenly snapped into a big oversteer and I reversed heavily into the barrier. My natural instinct after the crash was just to make sure everything was still in working order and thankfully it is. I have got to see the medical crew tomorrow morning for a check-up but I am confident for tomorrow. The best thing is to get back in the cockpit as soon as possible."