Fernando Alonso escaped serious injury after a freak crash on the final day of running at the pre-season test in Barcelona that left him in hospital overnight having suffered a concussion.
The 33-year-old McLaren-Honda driver, who was behind the wheel for just the fourth time since leaving Ferrari for the Woking-based outfit, was rounding the 150mph Turn Three when he suddenly veered right and slammed into the barrier side-on.
Alonso was taken by ambulance to medical centre at the Circuit de Catalunya, before being airlifted to the nearby local hospital for further tests including a CT and MRI scan.
A decision was made to keep the two-time world champion in overnight “as a precaution”, but despite the Spaniard being kept in intensive care, McLaren say this is simply a precaution and that Alonso is talking freely and has no major injuries.
The accident happened shortly before the lunchtime interval on Sunday, but the cause of the crash at this stage remains unknown. McLaren racing director Eric Boullier denied that the crash was caused either by Alonso suffering an electric shock or that he passed out at the wheel, but Sebastian Vettel’s account of the crash leaves many question to be answered.]
"Fernando's accident was just one of those things that happens in testing,” said Boullier.
"Fortunately, he's fine, but was concussed during the accident, which therefore required an overnight stay in hospital as a precaution. That's normal practice after a concussion.
"Inevitably, some media reports have sought to exaggerate the severity of the incident - it was just a normal testing accident."
But Vettel, who was behind the McLaren-Honda when it went off, admitted that the crash was not at full speed and that it looked “strange”.
"The speed was slow - maybe 150kph,” said the four-time world champion Vettel. “Then he turned right into the wall. It looked strange."
McLaren continue to be hampered by reliability problems that limited their running in Barcelona to just 104 laps across the four days. In comparison, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg completed 131 laps on Sunday alone.
They continue to be troubled by a faulty seal on the MGU-K part, on of the energy recovery systems on their new car, while the crash meant that extensive checks and repairs were required that saw the team end their running early despite the afternoon session still taking place.
Boullier added: "While the car wasn't particularly badly damaged, it was enough of an impact to warrant quite a lengthy check of the gearbox and power unit systems.
"Given the time needed to carry out such an analysis, we decided to bring the curtain down on our test a few hours earlier than anticipated.
"It's been a tough week for the whole team, but we'll be back, and pushing harder than ever, in Barcelona next week."
Independent News Service