Prost poised to return

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The Independent Online
Motor racing

Alain Prost, the former world champion, may be considered as a replacement driver for Mika Hakkinen, the McLaren-Mercedes team manager, Ron Dennis, said yesterday. The Frenchman has already agreed to undertake testing and development work for McLaren.

Hakkinen suffered head injuries during a crash in the opening qualifying session for last week's Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide and may not recover in time for the opening races of the 1996 Formula One season. The Finn was yesterday moved out of the intensive care unit.

Paul Bannon, the neurosurgeon attending to him, said Hakkinen was "making steady progress", could move his limbs and respond to commands and would return to Europe when there is no risk involved.

The driver also suffered a fracture to the base of his skull that prevented him breathing and forced race doctors to perform a tracheotomy at the track before he was taken to hospital.