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Alex Zanardi moved back to intensive care as condition becomes unstable

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MILAN — Italian auto racing champion-turned-Paralympic gold medalist Alex Zanardi was moved back into intensive care Friday after falling into unstable condition, three days after being transferred to a neurological rehabilitation center.

Zanardi was moved Tuesday from a hospital in Siena to the Villa Beretta rehab center in Costa Masnaga, a month after getting seriously injured in a handbike crash.

But the hospital which runs the center said Zanardi has been transferred to the intensive care unit at the San Raffaelle hospital in Milan after his condition became unstable. His son, Niccolo, expressed concern about the ability to communicate with Alex Zanardi and the length of the rehabilitation prior to him falling into unstable condition again.

Zanardi, 53, underwent three delicate surgeries at the Siena hospital to stabilize him and reconstruct his severely damaged face after crashing into an oncoming truck near the Tuscan town of Pienza on June 19 during a relay event. He had been on a ventilator in a medically induced coma since the crash.

Zanardi, lost both of his legs in an auto racing crash nearly 20 years ago, 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
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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.