The chief medical officer of the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps has responded to critical comments made by F2 driver Juan Manuel Correa about the way the FIA dealt with him in the immediate aftermath of his crash last August.
In an interview with RTL/n-TV.this week, Correa complained that “there was nobody from the FIA or someone who looked after me” as he lay in critical condition in hospital.
It was Correa’s parents who subsequently made the decision to transfer their son from a hospital in Liege to a specialist centre in London.
The driver spent several days in an induced coma, and still faces a lengthy rehabilitation process to regain full mobility. However, fellow driver Anthoine Hubert was killed in the initial collision.
But Spa CMO Christian Wahlen – who has been a member of the FIA committee for 25 years – insisted that the medical care given to Correa was exemplary right from the moment of the accident.
“Correa received immediate medical attention at the scene of the accident, administered by the circuit-appointed doctor who is an experienced anaesthetist,” he told RaceFans.net.
“The activities of medical staff attending the accident were coordinated by FIA deputy F1 medical delegate and F1 rescue coordinator, Dr Ian Roberts.
“Juan Manuel received continuous care as he was transported by ambulance to the track medical centre. On arrival he was stabilised by the trauma team, who are under my responsibility at this Grand Prix.
“After consulting with Dr Alain Chantegret, the FIA F1 medical delegate, it was clear from the nature of his injuries that Juan Manuel needed to be transferred immediately by helicopter to the care of the Center Hospitalier Universitaire Liège to receive more specialist medical and operative care.
“In my role as chief medical officer and as an FIA medical delegate, I remained in constant contact with the hospital, and also visited Juan Manuel on Monday 2 September, where he was recovering well from the surgery to his feet.
“That same day, [FIA Medical Commission President, Professor] Gérard Saillant contacted Juan Manuel’s father Juan Carlos to assure them that he was at their disposal.
“On Tuesday morning, Correa had respiratory problems. The same day, his family made the decision to transfer him to a specialist clinic in London. to receive orthopedic treatment on his right foot at the earliest opportunity.”
After he had made sufficient recovery in London, Correa was discharged from hospital and was eventually able to return home to Miami
The 20-year-old says that he has every intention of returning to competitive motor racing as soon as he can, but admitted that he is “uncertain” he will ever make a complete recovery from his injuries.
A report into the circumstances behind the multi-car accident at Eau Rouge has been compiled by the FIA and is understood to have been presented to the FIA World Motor Sport Council in December.
However details of its findings and recommendations to ensure there is no repeat of the tragic event in future have yet to be publicly distributed.