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Heidfeld Says He Cannot Race with HANS

Sauber's Nick Heidfeld says he cannot race with Formula One's mandatory new head and neck (HANS) safety device and fears that he might crash if forced to use it.

"In theory it is a good thing but in practice it doesn't work for me," Autosport quoted the German driver as saying. "I don't know how it will be possible to use it at Melbourne.

"At the moment, there's no way. For me personally, I feel it is more dangerous because I couldn't concentrate for a whole race. It would start to hurt and I could lose concentration and crash."

The season starts in Australia on March 9 and the HANS device, a U-shaped collar that sits on the drivers shoulders and is attached to the helmet to prevent the head from jerking forward in the event of a crash, must be worn. The system has been used extensively by NASCAR and open-wheel racers in the United States.

Sauber tried out the device for the first time at last year's Italian Grand Prix but while Brazilian Felipe Massa reported no problems, Heidfeld said it gave him a headache and did not wear it for the race.

The German tried to use it in testing in Barcelona this year but suffered head and collarbone pain after just one lap. Other drivers, notably Canadian Jacques Villeneuve and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, have also expressed strong reservations about racing with the device.

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