FORMULA One rookie Justin Wilson was taken to hospital after being injured by his HANS safety device in the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang yesterday.
Minardi boss Paul Stoddart said that the 24-year-old Briton was suffering a paralysed arm due to a suspected pinched nerve caused by a collar system designed to protect drivers on the race track.
“He's got a completely paralysed left arm and shoulder, no feeling in the entire arm at all,” said Stoddart.
“The initial medical report is that it's a pinched nerve where the HANS has been sitting on it.”
Wilson was first taken to the circuit medical centre and then to hospital.
“It transpires from what little we know that the HANS had slipped in the first 10 laps and of course that then allowed him to move around far too much in the cockpit which has added to the pressure,” said Stoddart.
The HANS head and neck safety device has been made mandatory in F1 this season for the first time and several drivers have struggled with it.
Ferrari's Brazilian Rubens Barrichello blamed it for his crash in Australia two weeks ago and was allowed to race without it in Malaysia with a special dispensation on medical advice after meeting race stewards.
That fact angered Stoddart, who only discovered that Barrichello had been exempted after the race and felt that Wilson's best efforts had been wrecked by the device.
Stoddart said the team initially suspected a steering problem with the car because they could not make out Wilson's speech but it then became clear that the Briton was struggling to turn the wheel.
“We told him to come in and then we got a clear transmission on the radio saying he could no longer turn the car,” said Stoddart.
Wilson limped back to the pits and it took the team eight minutes to extract him from the car.
Stoddart said that he expected the tall driver, who barely fits into the car at the best of times, to be released later and be passed fit to race in Brazil in two weeks' time. – Reuters