Sato on Heidfeld crash in Spielberg 2002


( – In the Grand Prix of Austria 2002 occurred in round 28 the "miracle of Spielberg". When the 25-year-old Nick Heidfeld lost control in his Sauber after a driving mistake in turn 3 on the then A1-Ring, he crashed his tail at about 270 km / h almost unchecked in the sidewall of the Jordan of Takuma Sato. Both survived the accident almost unhurt, which still surprises the Japanese today.

Takuma Sato, Nick Heidfeld

Nick Heidfeld crashes at full speed into the Jordan of Takuma Sato zoom

Sato was at the time in the race in a duel with Williams driver Juan Pablo Montoya. When restarting the Colombian drove on the inner track of the Remus curve. "I gave him space," remembers Sato in the podcast 'Beyond the Grid' to the duel.

Seconds later he stood with his heavily demolished Jordan in the gravel. "We drove side by side in the direction of the hairpin when I suddenly felt an incredible impact, I thought a meteor would hit me and never in the world could Juan Pablo meet me like that."

Sato could not believe that he was hit by Heidfeld, who was clearly behind him at that point in the race. "It was just such an incredible impact," he still knows. He remained conscious during the collision. "There was just pain and I almost fainted."

Takuma Sato

Sato injured his legs, which made the recovery difficult zoom

His body had a lot of pain especially in the legs, so he felt as if paralyzed. "The cockpit was completely broken, you could see the gravel that had come through the hole in the monocoque, my legs were trapped in the monocoque, and I just thought, Jesus!"

After the crash, a knee injury and tissue damage was noted on the right thigh. After an initial examination by Professor Sid Watkins in the track hospital Sato was flown to the University Hospital in Graz and observed there for one night.

Seconds after the accident he finally felt his legs again. "That's when I knew I was still in one piece, that helped me." To date, Spielberg was his "most certainly" biggest accident in his career in 2002, says the Indy 500 champion.

He was lucky in the accident – thanks to Jordan technical director Eghbal Hamidy. "If it had happened five years earlier, my legs would probably have been more damaged," Sato believes today. Hamidy designed the EJ12 and was known for having the highest nose ever.

"Why I say this: A big piece of magnesium metal, the hardest part of a Formula 1 car, hit me off Nick Heidfeld's car at one of the weakest points in my car, and thanks to the high nose, the transmission hit under my knee . "

The knee was probably missed by only a few inches. "If it had been a normal nose, then you can imagine what disaster it would have become, I got away without any major injuries, which was amazing." At the following season's race in Monaco, he was back on the grid.

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