Fernando Alonso has been cleared to race in this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix but he may not be cleared by the F1 press over the testing crash that caused his concussion forcing him to miss the first race of the season in Australia—and that’s because his explanation of the event contradicted McLaren’s.
McLaren said Alonso was conscious after the crash but Alonso says he lost consciousness in the ambulance or in the clinic at the circuit.
McLaren said he was knocked unconscious during the crash but Alonso says he was not and he had switched the radio off and the battery system off and was perfectly conscious.
McLaren said, categorically, that there was no evidence that the car suffered a mechanical failure and there was nothing abnormal but Alonso says it is clear that there was a problem in the car. He admits that there was nothing in the data but perhaps whatever it was, is not being tracked by telemetry.
McLaren said that that it was a gust of wind that caused the car to crash but Alonso said a hurricane will not move the car at that speed and if he had some sort of medical issue or loss of consciousness, he would have went off on the outside of the corner, not the inside.
Alonso also denies had thought it was 1995 or that he suffered any memory loss while McLaren said he had concussion with temporary memory loss saying:
I didn’t wake up in 1995, I didn’t wake up speaking Italian, I didn’t wake up all these things probably out there. I remember the accident and I remember everything the following day.
Ultimately Alonso says his steering locked right taking him off track. It must be said that I don’t think his comments were meant to cause friction within the team or contradict the team’s official statements but it is a little strange that the team and Alonso hadn’t worked together to make sure the press conference didn’t come across as McLaren were simply sharing things that weren’t factual. I don’ think Fernando is trying to throw McLaren to the wolves but it is a bit odd.
I am also charitable enough to realize that, as Alonso says, the team were guessing at potential reasons in the early moments after the crash…we all were….and still are. Regardless of the issue, McLaren have suggested that they’ve placed more sensors on the car to address even more possible systems measurements.
It’s hard to know but should Ron Dennis or Fernando go all Clarkson on one another at the office, well, we know how that will end. The statements were differing but not galaxies apart and ultimately the team wasn’t int eh car and the telemetry didn’t show anything which Alonso corroborates.
Alonso did share what I thought was two important things that were non-crash related.
When questioned about leaving Ferrari too soon given their pace in Australia and McLaren’s struggles, he said:
With performance that we have right now, it’s easy to criticize our team and my decision, but as I said, I’m first so, so happy. This is the most important, when you’re happy with yourself, you’re a healthy man inside – that is the first victory. That’s what I am now because I’m following my dream now.
Secondly, I could wait and achieve some nice results, probably yes, but after 14 years of F1 and two championships, podiums or fourth place or fifth place isn’t any more a nice result.
The other thing he shared is the reality of being an American and watching F1 when asked about watching the Australian GP on TV:
I didn’t pick the best race to watch. One it was very early in the morning so it didn’t help my enthusiasm about the race.
Now that’s a harsh truth and even McLaren can’t contradict that.
For full transcript of the Q&A with Alonso, see AUTOSPORT’s coverage here.