Motor Racing: Salo to fill Schumacher's seat

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MIKA SALO will stand in for the injured Michael Schumacher at Ferrari, the Italian Formula One team announced yesterday. "Ferrari have reached a collaboration agreement for the current season with Mika Salo, who will drive car No 3 from the next GP of Austria," Ferrari confirmed in a statement.

The 32-year-old Finn, who has driven in Formula One for Lotus, Tyrrell, Arrows and BAR, is expected to begin testing immediately to be ready for the Austrian Grand Prix on 26 July. His move to Ferrari comes after he lost his drive earlier this season at Arrows and then replaced the injured Ricardo Zonta at BAR, for whom he competed in three races, including a seventh-place at the San Marino Grand Prix in April.

Schumacher broke his right leg in a high-speed crash at Silverstone on Sunday. The German is expected to miss at least the next four races and his hopes this season of becoming Ferrari's first champion since 1979 are over

Salo joins Eddie Irvine, who is joint second in the drivers' championship with Schumacher behind McLaren's Mika Hakkinen. With Ferrari, Salo will have the best car of his career and a chance to match his talents with the machinery.

Schumacher was travelling at 67mph when his Ferrari slammed into a tyre barrier after his front wheels locked during the British Grand Prix, motor racing's governing body, the FIA, said yesterday. An analysis of the car's black box recorder showed that he had been travelling at 191mph when he started to brake on the first lap. The front wheels locked at 127 mph, sending the car hurtling off the track, skimming across a gravel trap and into the barrier. The crash may have been caused by a loose screw in the braking system, Ferrari said yesterday.

"What has been established so far, is that the accident was caused by a sudden loss of pressure in the rear brake circuit. This was due to the loosening of a brake bleed nipple on the left rear caliper," the Italian team said, adding that the component had cleared a pre-race check.

"Ferrari will continue to try to establish the reasons for this failure."

Schumacher was released from hospital in Northampton yesterday. The 30- year-old driver and his wife, Corinna, were planning to fly to their home in Switzerland.

Bill Ribbans, the surgeon who carried out the operation on Schumacher's leg, said the driver was recovering well and was "in good spirits" as he left the hospital. "He is desperate to get back to motor racing as soon as possible," Ribbans said. "Injuries such as his would in a normal person take anything from three to four months to heal, but Michael is clearly a very determined and very fit gentleman."

Damon Hill will decide his Formula One future during a holiday in Spain this week. Hill was scheduled for a test session with the Jordan team at Monza in Italy this week but has instead opted to take a break with his wife and four children.