By Alan Henry in Barcelona

April 28, The Guardian

Lewis Hamilton last night said he was "terrified" after his team-mate, Heikki Kovalainen, slammed off the track into a tyre barrier at about 145mph during the Spanish grand prix. The Finnish driver was trapped in the cockpit of his shattered McLaren for about 10 minutes before he could be released and taken to the circuit medical centre for an urgent check-up.

The car went off the track at turn nine on lap 22 of the 66-lap race, which was won by Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, with Hamilton third. Although Kovalainen gave the thumbs-up as he was removed from the accident scene strapped to a stretcher, he was suffering from concussion and was taken by helicopter to a local hospital where it was expected he would be kept overnight as a precaution.

As Kovalainen wrestled to keep his car on its planned trajectory through the fifth-gear right-hander, the left front tyre exploded and the car skidded straight on, ploughing into a protective tyre barrier and becoming lodged underneath.

"As I passed I just saw a car in the wall and it was red," said Hamilton. "I didn't know if it was Heikki or one of the Ferraris but then the team told me it was Heikki, although at that moment they did not know how bad he was. They later came on the radio and said he was OK, just slightly concussed. I was terrified for whoever it was because I saw the impact was quite heavy."

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photo: Heikki Kovaleinen is helped from his McLaren Mercedes after his crash. (Photograph: C Thurston/Action)