Kovalainen cleared to race at Istanbul

Kovalainen cleared to race at Istanbul

Thumbs-up, good to go. McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen has been passed fit to compete in this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park. Kovalainen crashed heavily while leading the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago in ...

Thumbs-up, good to go. McLaren Mercedes driver Heikki Kovalainen has been passed fit to compete in this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park. Kovalainen crashed heavily while leading the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago in Barcelona.

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren Mercedes gets the "ok" to drive from the Istanbul Park Medical Center to drive at this weekend's Grand Prix.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Kovalainen was knocked unconscious upon impact and spent a night in hospital for tests after the left front wheel rim failed and allowed the tire to deflate as he entered Turn 9. Out of control at 145 mph, the car speared into and under a tire barrier with such force that emergency workers spent 10 minutes to extract Kovalainen, who had revived by the time he entered an ambulance.

Professor Jean-Charles Peitte, the FIA's medical delegate, and Dr. Cem Boneval, race chief medical officer at Istanbul Park, examined the Finn on Thursday and pronounced him sound to race.

"I am obviously very pleased with the decision by the FIA medical team," Kovalainen said. "I arrived here today feeling confident that I would pass the FIA test as I feel 100 percent and if I had not felt 100 percent, I would have told the team already and stayed at home."

Kovalainen spent time training in Finland before turning up at Istanbul Park.

"My preparation for this weekend has gone well and we have done a lot of fitness training," he said. "Obviously, a big thumbs-up for all the FIA safety standards and the guys in Spain who worked hard to get me out of the car safely."

Kovalainen, 26, downplayed the incident.

"I think the accident probably looked worse than it was for me. I had a little headache but was back in training almost immediately. I now look forward to the rest of the weekend and the rest of the season."

McLaren determined the failure was caused by manufacturing defect.

"It has been established that, owing to a process fault during manufacture, the outer clamp surface of the wheel was given a clear lacquer coating," a team statement read. "As a consequence of this fault, the clamp load that attached the wheel was not to specification. In running, the consequent loss of load caused the wheel to fret and distort, leading to its eventual failure."

McLaren said manufacturing procedures have been adopted to prevent repetition of the incident.

Kovalainen heads into the weekend in sixth place in the FIA World Drivers' Championship. His 14 points puts him two points behind BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld, six points behind teammate Lewis Hamilton, and 15 points down from leader Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari, his fellow Finn. Ferrari's Felipe Massa is defending race winner.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Heikki Kovalainen
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren