AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Alex Zanardi transferred to rehab center after handbike crash

1 Comment

SIENA, Italy — Alex Zanardi, the Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist, was transferred to a neurological rehab center Tuesday, a month after getting seriously injured in a handbike crash.

The Siena hospital that had been treating Zanardi since the June 19 crash announced that the athlete had been released for rehabiliation but, in accordance with Zanatrdi’s family, did not say where he was taken.

Later, an official at Valduce hospital in Como confirmed Zanardi had been moved to the Villa Beretta rehab center – which is run by the Valduce – in Costa Masnaga, northern Italy.

Before entering the rehab center Zanardi, 53, underwent three delicate surgeries at the Siena hospital to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face since he crashed into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza during a relay event.

“His clinical condition and vital signs have shown he’s on the road toward stability, which allowed for the reduction and suspension of the sedative, and therefore the possibility to be transferred to a facility where he can receive the necessary neuro-rehabilitation,” said Valtere Giovannini, director of the Santa Maria alle Scotte Hospital.

“(Zanardi) has shown extraordinary strength, which is a precious gift that he’ll need on the new challenge beginning today,” Giovannini added.

Zanardi, who lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, had been on a ventilator in a medically induced coma since the crash.

The hospital would not say if Alex Zanardi was awake or not when transferred to rehab. Zanardi suffered serious facial and cranial trauma, and doctors have warned of possible brain damage.

Zanardi won four gold medals and two silvers at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. He also competed in the New York City Marathon and set an Ironman record in his class. He was a winner and two-time champion in the CART series who also drove in Formula One and IMSA.

Last month, Pope Francis penned a handwritten letter of encouragement assuring Zanardi and his family of his prayers. The pope praised Zanardi as an example of strength amid adversity.

Sergio Perez still has coronavirus; will miss second consecutive F1 race

F1 Sergio Perez out
Laurent Charniaux/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

SILVERSTONE, England — Sergio Perez will be out for a second F1 race at Silverstone this week after again testing positive for the coronavirus.

The Mexican driver had hoped to return to Formula One after spending seven days in quarantine, but his Racing Point team said this morning he had tested positive.

“He is physically well and recovering,” the team said. “The whole team wishes Sergio and his family well and we look forward to his return.”

That means German veteran Nico Hulkenberg again fills in for Sunday’s 70th Anniversary Grand Prix after having also replaced Sergio Perez when he was out for the F1 British Grand Prix at the same venue last week. Hulkenberg did not start that race because of an engine problem.

There are two consecutive weekends of racing at Silverstone as Formula One tries to pack in races following the pandemic-delayed start to the season.

Perez became the first Formula One driver to test positive for coronavirus, and it had been unclear whether he would be available to drive after the period of quarantine was extended to 10 days.

Racing Point also was in the news Friday after being hit with a 15-point penalty in the Formula One constructors’ championship and fined 400,000 euros ($470,000) Friday for using brake ducts based on those from last year’s Mercedes cars.

The stewards ruled that Mercedes was the “principal designer” of the parts, and that Racing Point made only minor changes to computer design data it received from Mercedes.

Rival team Renault filed protests about the legality of the brake ducts, which were added to the “listed parts” under F1 rules for 2020. That means teams must design their own. Racing Point argued it was merely using information about the Mercedes parts to inform its own design.

Racing Point uses customer engines from Mercedes and has admitted basing its 2020 car design on photographs of last year’s Mercedes car. The similarities led to the Racing Point being nicknamed the “pink Mercedes” when it was first seen in testing ahead of the season.

Racing Point can appeal the ruling. The points deduction drops the team from fifth to sixth in the standings, below Renault. The ruling doesn’t affect the points totals for Racing Point’s drivers.