According to McLaren, Fernando Alonso will sit out of the Australian Grand Prix after a series of tests to determine if here were any health issues remaining. McLaren said:
Having performed an exhaustive series of tests and scans – some of them as recently as yesterday evening – McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso’s doctors have informed him that they find him asymptomatic of any medical issue; that they see no evidence whatsoever of any injury; and that they therefore describe him as entirely healthy from neurological and cardiac perspectives alike.
However, Fernando’s doctors have recommended to him that, following the concussion he sustained in a testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 22nd, for the time being he should seek to limit as far as is possible any environmental risk factors that could potentially result in his sustaining another concussion so soon after his previous one, so as to minimise the chances of second impact syndrome, as is normal medical procedure when treating athletes after concussions.
In order to limit those environmental risk factors, specifically, his doctors have advised that he should not compete in the imminent Australian Grand Prix meeting, which will take place on March 13th, 14th and 15th.
Fernando has understood and accepted that advice, and the two McLaren-Honda cars will therefore be driven in Australia by Fernando’s team-mate Jenson Button and the team’s test and reserve driver Kevin Magnussen.
Fernando’s doctors acknowledge that he feels fit and well, and that he regards himself as ready to race, and, that being the case, they are comfortable with the fact that he has already recommenced physical training, with a view to preparing for a return to the cockpit of his McLaren-Honda car for the Malaysian Grand Prix meeting on March 27th, 28th and 29th. Indeed, his doctors are supportive of that ambition, satisfied as they are that he sustained no damage whatsoever during his testing accident on February 22nd.
All at McLaren-Honda fully support Fernando’s decision in respect of his doctors’ advice.
While he seems healthy enough to begin training again, there are serious health concerns should he experience another concussion so close to the one he suffered in testing. The impact is compounding and it seems the doctors don’t want him to take the risk. To be honest, neither do I. In fact, I think this decision is terrific and shows measured restraint and professionalism on both Alonso’s and McLaren’s part.
Fernando is one of the sport’s greatest and his car is already on its back foot heading into this season. The team have admitted that they most likely will not see real progress until Spain. They have, in Kevin Magnussen, an ace reserve driver who knows what he’s doing and this, for me, is the right decision.
I would rather have a healthy and stable Alonso return in Spain, say, than push it and risk further injury. It’s the right move, McLaren, and lets hope Fernando fitness training helps his healing process and we see him back soon…but not too soon.