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Schumacher held out due to lingering crash effects

INDIANAPOLIS -- Ralf Schumacher will not race in the United
States Grand Prix because of the lingering effects from an accident
he had during one of the practice sessions. Ricardo Zonta will
replace him in Sunday's event.

Schumacher wasn't seriously injured when a tire failed on his
Toyota during Friday's second practice session at Indianapolis
Motor Speedway. The car spun coming out of the final turn and
backed into a part of wall protected by the energy-absorbing SAFER
Barrier.

The German driver appeared to be in pain when he climbed from
the car, but medical personnel checked and released him. He later
went to a local hospital to have his eye examined after complaining
of an irritation.

When he arrived at the track Saturday, an FIA medical delegate
ruled that it would be unsafe for Schumacher to race because of the
dangers a second hard impact could cause.

"This news is obviously very disappointing for myself and for
the team," Schumacher said in a statement. "I wish the team all
the best for the rest of the weekend and I'm confident that I will
be back in time for this month's French Grand Prix."

Schumacher sustained a serious concussion and two broken
vertebrae in this race last year when he crashed in almost the same
spot. He missed six races as a result, and the FIA medical delegate
feared a second accident this weekend could cause another
concussion.

Zonta, a Brazilian, competed in the final event last season for
Toyota as a replacement for Cristiano da Matta, who had been
dropped by the team.

Like Schumacher, he also wrecked during Friday's practice
session when he was driving a test car for Toyota. Team officials
also blamed that on a tire failure.

Meanwhile, Michelin officials said they examined their supply of
tires and couldn't determine what caused several failures during
Friday's practice sessions. Out of safety concerns, the supplier
asked FIA officials if they could ship a new batch of rubber from
its warehouse in France to replace the tires that already have been
distributed to the teams.

"We've been working with our people in Clermont-Ferrand in
order to identify a product that we know is also capable of running
at Indianapolis," Michelin said in a statement. "We are in a
process of discussing this possibility with the FIA and are
actively pursuing the dispatch of these tires to Indianapolis."