Tests have revealed Williams-BMW's Ralf Schumacher suffered two spinal fractures during his crash at the US Grand Prix and could be out of F1 for the rest of the season.

Tests have revealed Williams-BMW's Ralf Schumacher suffered two spinal fractures during his crash at the US Grand Prix and could be out of F1 for the rest of the season, which ends with the Brazilian Grand Prix on October 24.


Williams-BMW test and reserve driver Marc Gené, a veteran of 34 Grand Prix starts, will take the German's place at Magny-Cours this weekend.


Doctors on Wednesday confirmed that Ralf sustained two fractures in his spinal column, and will require a recovery period of up to twelve weeks.


It is not clear when Ralf will be fit to race again and in the light of yesterday's medical diagnosis, future decisions regarding driver nominations will be taken at a later date.


Gené has raced at Magny-Cours twice before and has completed 13 000 km of testing in the FW26 so far this season.


"It is a shame that opportunities only come along when one of my colleagues has endured some kind of misadventure, but it is my job to make the best of such circumstances and ensure the team is not compromised by Ralf's absence," the Spaniard said.


Frank Williams commented: "I wish Ralf well for a full recovery, and I hope to see him back racing before the end of the season. In the meantime, we are fortunate to have a driver of Marc's calibre to fill the void."


The Williams driver, who turned 29 on Wednesday, said afterwards that he could remember nothing of the accident.


"To be honest, I imagined my birthday would be rather different. Yesterday's diagnosis was a real blow," Ralf said. "But so be it. What's happened has happened. The injury is worse than feared. I have to get through it".