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Cracked vertebra puts Glock out of Brazil GP
Cracked vertebra puts Glock out of Brazil GP
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Oct 2009   |  10:29 am GMT  |  40 comments

Timo Glock will miss the Brazilian Grand Prix next weekend after medical checks revealed that he cracked a vertebra in his huge qualifying accident in Japan.

Kobayashi will race for Toyota in Brazil (Photo: Darren Heath)

Kobayashi will race for Toyota in Brazil (Photo: Darren Heath)

Glock had a gash on his his leg following his accident, but according to a Toyota team statement, “subsequent medical checks in Germany have revealed a cracked vertebra. Doctors have therefore ruled him out of this weekend’s race.”

This is slightly surprising as one would imagine that the FIA medics would have wanted him X rayed in Japan after such a massive accident and an injury like this would surely have been picked up.

Kamui Kobayashi will replace Glock at Interlagos. The Japanese driver took part in Friday practice at Suzuka when Glock had a bout of flu, which came and went very quickly.

Toyota F1 President John Howett said: “Obviously everyone in the team is very disappointed and feels for Timo; we wish him a very speedy recovery. Based on the initial diagnosis, we fully expected Timo to return in Brazil but unfortunately a different injury has been revealed which prevents that.

“He will remain in Germany to recover and we hope he can recuperate in time for Abu Dhabi, although at this stage the situation is not clear.

“Kamui was the natural choice to step in and he proved in Suzuka that he is capable of holding his own. It is a difficult task for him but he knows the team will give him its complete support and we know he is motivated to make the most of this unexpected opportunity.”

It’s not for me to doubt the veracity of Toyota’s statement, but I felt in Japan that it might have been an idea for the team to give Kobayashi a whole weekend in the car, instead of doing things by the back door and just letting him out on Friday.

Maybe Glock really has got a cracked vertebra, but clearly there is a strong desire to give Kobayashi a run in the car and if it might make the difference for Toyota in getting support from the main board for the ongoing F1 programme then they should just do whatever it takes.

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  1. Hmmm, so how come they didn’t find this out after the crash then? Did they look for it? Or happened afterwards? Because if he had raced things could have been quite bad then. Not that I’m a doctor or anything…

  2. N Watts says:

    Why must we still have this non-truth culture in F1. Why can’t Toyota simply come out and say “We’re dropping Glock for Japan as he’s leaving us at the end of the season and we’d like the good PR of having a Japanese driver in a Japanese team for the next couple of races where we can take a look at his progress.”

    We all know what’s going on.

  3. Silverstoned says:

    worrying that the medics in Japan did not detect a “cracked vertebra”

    1. They’re not alone – when Ralf Schumacher crashed in the US GP of 2004, the medics in the USA missed his damaged back as well. Once again, it was the German medics who spotted the problem when he got home.

      Is a revision of the post-heavy-crash medical check procedure in order?

  4. Erik Cramer says:

    With the testing ban in place this is a good way around that to evaluate Kamui Kobayashi.

    1. Michael C says:

      You have very good point. And it’s not as if they have much to lose is it……… except perhaps being in F1 next year. I for one hope that this stupid testing ban gets reassessed sooner rather than later

  5. Howard Moon says:

    Blimey, in a season with 2 available seats at 10 teams, we’ve had 25 different drivers. It must’ve been a fair few years since we last had so many newcomers mid-season. All the best to Glock in his recovery regardless.

    1. Red Andy says:

      In 2005 we had de la Rosa, Wurz, Davidson, Liuzzi and Doornbos in addition to the 20 drivers who started the season.

  6. Alexx says:

    Hi James,

    Do they still enforce the 107% quali rule? Could Kamui be on the limit?

    1. Jack says:

      Kobayashi looked pretty good in practice at Suzuka so I reckon he will be fine.

    2. Unless he’s four percentage points slower than Badoer was, no. To be honest, I wouldn’t wish that much slowness in the context of the current grid on anyone…

    3. guy says:

      Have you heard of luca badoer?

    4. Just A Bloke (Martin) says:

      I would hope it is enforced. It is there as a safety measure to keep the speed differentials within reasonable limits.

  7. Sven says:

    Very strange. Glock did not complain of any particular pain in his back after the accident.
    Being a medic and a specialist at spinal disorders I am very surprised that a cracked vertebrae did not hurt a lot.

    1. Brace says:

      I especially can’t figure out how could they miss something like that in the first place.

    2. Amanda says:

      But initial reports on autosport as part of the statement released by Toyota themselves, talked of a “sore back”

      Yes but then again the FIA’s medics missing this one is rather strange.

    3. rpaco says:

      Very true, I get pain in the lower back even without a cracked vertebra (as far as I know :-))

    4. kookiez says:

      If i remember correctly (although it could have been another driver) it was reported by Ted that Glock was also complaining of back pain. What is most concerning is if this is true why it wasnt picked up earlier.

  8. Malcolm46 says:

    I’m not a doctor but…. how has it taken a week to find that Glock has this?!

  9. Warwick says:

    I’m sure your whole body hurts after a shunt like that! I’ve seen mountain bikers and other athletes hurt their back and not be in too much pain – it depends on the severity of the crack.

  10. Nikki says:


    and as others have said, how on earth did the Japanese hospital not pick that one up?

    *sending healing vibes*

  11. Paul says:

    I don’t understand why Toyota would want to assess Kobayashi for next year. Anyone who has been following him in GP2 would know that he doesn’t have the pace to be an F1 driver any time soon. They have a much better Toyota-backed Japanese prospect in Nakajima if they must have a Japanese driver nexxt year.

  12. Hugo says:

    It sounds weird,true,but I doubt they could be lying about an injury of this kind.Also I think that Glock ,as any person, would love to hear more about his health from his personal doctors and I assume he already did so since he has not said the opposite he has to be injured.

  13. Ilanin says:

    It is not entirely unreasonable to suggest that they didn’t X-ray his back but only his legs, since they were what appeared to have been damaged by the crash.

    That said, I do tend to agree with everybody else’s suspicions here.

  14. Haggis says:

    When was the last time we had two drivers missing from their cars through race injuries at the same time?

  15. Werewolf says:

    With Nakajima almost certainly out of F1, Japan risks having no driver next year. Thinking back to the furore when Honda dropped Sato, the home image benefits from running a Japanese driver next year maybe considerable and, I guess, could sway the board.

  16. Rhys Xanthis says:

    Perhaps he aggrevated ths spinal injury he received last year in his shunt at Hockenheim (I think?)

  17. Norman says:

    I smell a Schumi comeback!!!!

  18. Matt Barton says:

    I am sure that Glock was thoroughly checked out after the crash. In fact, the whole effort by the trackside medical team seemed very thorough that weekend in particular…remember the draped sheets around Glock (all a bit M*A*S*H), and Alguersuari being carted off in an ambulance, despite having walked away from his crash?

    Maybe we should now expect a press release from the FIA, defending its medical checks and denying that Glock has a damaged vertebra. Possible payback and shame for John Howett, following the FOTA fall-outs earlier in the season, especially his alleged attempted walk-out of a meeting with Max.

  19. guy says:

    James, why would glock go along with this given he loses his drive at the end of the year?

  20. guy says:

    What’s in it for Glock, James?

  21. Darren says:

    mmmm, yes toyota we believe you,

  22. ClareA says:

    I admit that it could be deemed as suspiscious but the same thing happened to Ralf Schumacher after his crash at Indy in 2004. He was checked by doctors in the US and cleared but when he got home they discovered that he had fractured his back.

  23. Osteogeek says:

    Actually, if the fracture is a hairline fracture and not displaced, it will not show up immediately on x-ray. This is because X-ray shows up differences in density and it is not until the fracture heels, or starts to heel that it shows up as a feint white line. I have just studied radiology so feel qualified to dispel any formative conspiracy theory or claims of negligence here. Sorry guys. I’m not sure what sort of expert Sven is, but it is quite possible to fracture a vertebrae and not feel it. As many as 6% of the population carry such a condition, mostly unaware of it and it is particularly common in sportsmen (and women) involved in contact sports.

  24. F1 Kitteh says:

    The technical term for his injury is called KobaVerterbraGate

  25. mayhemfunkster says:


    I think that was quietly dropped when Minardi were struggling in the early 2000s and the grids were in danger of dropping below 20. (or was it 18 at the time?)

    If it is due to wanting to try drivers its a shame for Timo, but also shows that the testing regs really don’t work in practice.

    I always thought the problem with in-season testing was that it was every day of the week and incessant. I don’t see any particular problem with 2 big european in-season tests, maybe at the 1/3 and 2/3 points of the season, with some appropriate car/mileage restrictions etc.

    Or is that too simple!?

  26. Pete says:

    So last year it was Glock affecting the championship results in that tense last lap – maybe this year Kobayashi will be bringing the second Toyota into play to affect Button vs Vettel?

  27. Opposite Lock (Ken) says:

    My wife is an physican (Internal Medicine). I asked her about this when Schui announced his fractured neck and scull. She tells me that it can quite easily not show up in the initial X-rays and MRIs. A fine fracture often doesn’t show until the bone begins to heal and then the new bone shows up the original fracture. It is especially true of MRIs.

    It isn’t necessarily a deception. It can be a case of the injuries not showing up on the scans taken immediately after the accident.

  28. Érico says:

    As we say in Brazil, “ou caga ou sai do mato”. That’s what Toyota should do already and spare everyone the fooling around. IMO, their biggest error since day one was driver policy. They always insisted for too long with guys who were simply unremarkable and not good enough to lead a team to victories. That’s includes Trulli, no matter how nice he might be.

  29. Maverick says:

    Am I right in believing that Kobayashi has a 10-place grid penalty to look forward to in Brazil as Toyota have already fitted Glock’s 9th engine after he crashed out?


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