Ralf to miss Italian GP

Williams-BMW star Ralf Schumacher has failed the medical that would have allowed him to race in next weekend's Italian Grand Prix. Antonio Pizzonia will once again substitute for the injured German at Monza

Ralf to miss Italian GP

Schumacher suffered two fractured vertabrae when he crashed during June's United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. He also suffered concussion in the crash, as he did in pre-Monza testing last year, but it is the back injuries that are keeping him out of action.

Since his crash, Toyota has signed the German up for the 2005 season, and it must be more than a little concerned about this latest set-back in his recovery. A Williams statement said: "Ralf's recuperation continues well, and the German driver is expected to test after the Italian Grand Prix."

Schumacher's continued absence is great news for stand-in Pizzonia, who was robbed of a likely maiden grand prix podium in Belgium at the weekend due to a gearbox failure while running third. Although his qualifying form has been more miss than hit, technical director Sam Michael has been impressed.

"My opinion of Antonio has gone up a lot," said Michael. "We've seen his ability in the car for many years. Obviously his career has been up and down for a while, but it's a shame he didn't make it onto the podium in Spa. He has shown what he can do. He's done a very good job."

The inaugural Chinese Grand Prix on September 26 is the next race that Ralf could return to Williams.

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