Michael out, Mikhail in

Russian teenage racer Mikhail Aleshin will substitute for injured Michael Ammermüller in this weekend's GP2 race meeting in Barcelona, team ART Grand Prix announced. Ammermüller's left wrist fracture, caused by a track incident with Japan's Kazuki Nakajima in Bahrain, has failed to heal sufficiently to allow him to compete in Spain.

Although the German driver went to the surgery table days after returning to Europe, he is not yet fit to race. "We had no complications, the operation went according to plan", Dr. Andreas Priol is quoted as saying by Ammermüller's website. "But the healing of a fracture like that is difficult and can last up to 12 weeks."

ART Grand Prix managers decided that fellow Red Bull-backed driver Mikhail Aleshin should take over the #1 car on the Circuit de Catalunya. The Moscow-born driver became the first Russian to win a race in a European single-seater championship in 2005, when he was racing in Formula Renault. He was also involved in his country's A1GP campaign in the 2005/06 season. More recently, Aleshin won the first race of the 2007 World Series by Renault at Monza in April, with Carlin Motorsport, and now stands fourth in the points table.

"I'm very excited, but I'm also feeling a little apprehensive," Aleshin said. "It's not the ideal way to make my GP2 debut, going straight into a race with no testing. I'm delighted and very grateful to have been given the chance to substitute for Michael this weekend. I hope I can do a good job for the team."

Although he has strong ties in his native Russia, Aleshin lives in Spain, having competed a number of years in Spanish lower formulae, so it makes no wonder that he was the one to be picked for the 'home' race in Barcelona.
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