Test driver to fill in for Schumacher

2nd July 2004, Comments 0 comments

2 July 2004 , MAGNY-COURS - BMW-Williams test driver Marc Gene takes last year's winner Ralf Schumacher's place at this weekend's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours after the German was forced to pull out due to an injury he sustained at the US GP on 20 June. Medical tests have shown that Schumacher sustained a severe brain trauma and two fractured vertebrae in his spinal column in the crash which will force him to rest for up to 12 weeks, handing the opportunity to Gene to start the 35th grand prix of his c

2 July 2004

MAGNY-COURS - BMW-Williams test driver Marc Gene takes last year's winner Ralf Schumacher's place at this weekend's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours after the German was forced to pull out due to an injury he sustained at the US GP on 20 June.

Medical tests have shown that Schumacher sustained a severe brain trauma and two fractured vertebrae in his spinal column in the crash which will force him to rest for up to 12 weeks, handing the opportunity to Gene to start the 35th grand prix of his career.

"It is a shame that opportunities only come along when one of my colleagues has endured some kind of misadventure, but it is my job to make the best of such circumstances and ensure the team is not compromised by Ralf's absence," said the Spaniard, who previously drove for Minardi in 1999 and 2000.

"I have raced at Magny-Cours before, and I have clocked up thousands of kilometres in the FW26, so hopefully this will provide the basis for a good performance in France this weekend."

The Williams team will be delighted if it can repeat last year's result at Magny-Cours when Juan Pablo Montoya came in behind team-mate Schumacher to register a 1-2 for the British-German team.

While the Colombian was challenging Ferrari's Michael Schumacher for the title up to the second last race of the 2003 season, this year he is already 56 points adrift of the German, who is on 80 points after winning eight of the nine grand prix races to date.

Montoya's sixth place position in the drivers' standings hasn't been helped by the fact that he has been disqualified in the last two races while lying in the points.

In Indianapolis he was black-flagged for incorrect use of the spare car and retired when he was running third while a week earlier at the Canadian GP he and team-mate Schumacher were disqualified after their cars' brake ducts were ruled to have broken technical rules.

"I think the US Grand Prix is cursed for me. It was disappointing not to have scored any points at Indianapolis, as we really needed them," said Montoya.

The French Grand Prix marks the start of the second half of the championship but there are still plenty of points to collect. It is important to always look ahead in this business," he added on a more positive note.

"We are also taking some new parts out to France which should make the car more competitive."

Meanwhile McLaren-Mercedes, who have had an even worse season than Williams, accumulating just 17 points from nine races, launch the new MP4-19B car in France.

"It has run well in testing and I hope that it will run as reliably in the race as it did at Jerez (Spain, where the car was tested)," said Kimi Raikkonen, who lies in 11th spot in the drivers' standings on eight points.

Team-mate Coulthard also praised the new car. "As with the rest of the team, I feel it is a positive move and I am looking forward to seeing how it goes this weekend," said the Scot.

DPA

Subject: German news

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