Fernando Alonso has walked away from a 250 m.p.h. crash at Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix, reports Autosport. Fernando was unhurt, although his car was smashed to pieces.
— Mattzel89 (@Mattzel89) March 20, 2016
Alonso, driving for McLaren, was involved in an crash on lap 17 while trying to pass Esteban Gutierrez. Fernando “clipped the left rear of the Haas at high speed as they reached the braking zone into Turn 3 and then hit the gravel sideways.”
“The McLaren went into a series of rolls, with clear air between the car and the ground, before hitting the wall hard at the edge of the gravel trap.”
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) March 20, 2016
The crowd watched in horror as Fernando Alonso’s car flipped violently along the track, eventually coming to halt against the barriers. Alonso managed to climb out of his mangled car unaided and collapsed onto the ground.
As track marshals ran to help, Alonso was moved a safe distance away. Fernando was later taken to the medical center. After being given the all-clear by doctors, Alonso spoke about the accident after the race.
“Obviously I’m trying to put everything in place again in my body. It was a big, big crash. I tried to take the slipstream of Gutierrez into the braking point, and it was a combination of factors that we ended up with a crash.”
Although still shaken up after escaping from the crash, Alonso showed as much concern for the McLaren as himself. Fernando said it was unfortunate that the team is only on “zero points” after the first race and would probably have to replace the car’s engine. Jenson Button, who drives alongside Alonso at McLaren, only managed 14th place.
“It’s disappointing because we start the championship with zero points and we’ve probably damaged the power unit so we have to take the second one immediately…”
— GPUpdate.net (@GPUpdate) March 20, 2016
Despite insisting “I feel good,” Autosport notes that Alonso said that he wasn’t sure where he was after his car stopped somersaulting.
“You are just flying and then you see the sky, the ground, the sky, the ground and you don’t know. You want to stop and it doesn’t stop, it keeps going and going and going. It was quite scary.”
Gutierrez, who drives for American F1 newcomers Haas, was also uninjured after the crash with Alonso — which forced a restart of the race due to debris on the track. Alonso and Gutierrez later agreed that the crash was the result of a “racing incident,” although stewards are investigating.
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 20, 2016
In 2015, Fernando Alonso was forced to miss the Australian Grand Prix due to a head injury. Alonso was involved in a crash in Spain during pre-season testing.
Formula 1 crashes like the one suffered by Alonso are far less likely to cause serious injury or death than a few decades ago. However, the sport remains incredibly dangerous. The most recent fatality was in July, 2015, when Jules Bianchi died from head injuries sustained in an accident during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
Although there have been disagreements over safety measures — most recently over the “halo” cockpit cage — it is quite possible that only a few years ago Fernando Alonso wouldn’t have survived a crash of this magnitude.
After the race Alonso posted a message of thanks to McLaren, the FIA, and his fans on Instagram.
Soy consciente de que hoy he gastado una de las vidas que me quedaban, quiero dar las gracias a @mclaren , FIA por la seguridad actual de los monoplazas. A mis compañeros y a los aficionados por la preocupación mostrada y apoyo incondicional. Ahora a recuperarse y pensar en Bahréin, y subirme al coche para conseguir los primeros puntos!! ???????? I am aware that today I spent some of the luck remaining in life, I want to thank @mclaren, the FIA for the safety on this cars. Also my colleagues and fans for the concern and unconditional support. Now it's time to rest and think about Bahrain, and get back in the car to get the first points of this year !! ???????? #australia
A few laps after the Alonso crash, there was yet more drama when Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari caught fire, according to the Guardian. Driving into the pits Raikkonen told his pit crew ” ‘something’s broken’… the ‘something’ was a giant flame burning centimetres above his bonce…”
LAP 24/57: The drama continues
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 20, 2016
The Grand Prix was won by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes, taking his second win at the Albert Park circuit. Current world champion Hamilton took second place after a poor start left him in sixth place on the first lap, while Sebastian Vettel completed the podium.
[Photo by Theo Karanikos/AP Images]