First pictures of Ralf test

Ralf Schumacher made his return to the Formula 1 cockpit for Williams at Silverstone on Tuesday morning for the first time since his high-speed crash at the United States Grand Prix in June

First pictures of Ralf test

The German, who has been unable to drive since the crash because of fracturing two vertebrae in his back, will run for three days this week before making a final decision about whether he is fully fit for a return at the Chinese Grand Prix.

If he declares himself ready to race, then he must still undergo a fitness test with Formula 1 medical delegate Sid Watkins in China before being allowed to race. The team will likely put test driver Antonio Pizzonia on stand-by in case Schumacher cannot compete.

Schumacher had hoped to be back in the cockpit for last weekend's Italian Grand Prix but his plans were scuppered when his insurance company refused to cover him for the event, because it was within a 12-week window laid down after Indianapolis.



BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen, who has kept in close contact with Schumacher since the accident, said: "The insurance specialist said he needed 12 weeks off and that 12 weeks will be over by the time China comes around. Ralf did not want to get in the car uninsured."

Williams has been determined to get Schumacher back in the car this season, even though he is joining Toyota next year. The team believes it has lacked his vast race experience in developing the FW26 during his absence.

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