Alonso contradicts McLaren version of crash events


Eric Boullier described the crash during the second Barcelona test of the new driver Fernando Alonso as a “normal testing crash”, though over the days which followed this was clearly not the case.

Sebasitian Vettel’s version of the events was quite different as he described the McLaren driver’s incident as ‘strange’.

Since then various theories have abounded as to the cause of crash including electric shocks, pre crash blackouts and alien intervention.

Fernando Alonso has now been cleared by doctors to drive for McLaren this weekend and attended the FIA drivers’ press conference in Sepang. He was questioned over his recollection of the events surrounding his off.

“There was a lot of attention on that day and probably the first answers the team and my manager had was some guess,” Alonso revealed. “But you cannot say anything for three or four days until I remember. That would have become even worse. They said the theory of the wind but obviously it was not a help.

Fernando confirms his opinion of the cause of his crash. “We had a steering problem in the middle of Turn 3. It locked to the right, I approached the wall, I braked at the last moment, I downshifted from fifth to third.”

“Unfortunately on the data, we’re still missing some parts. The data acquisition on that particular area of the car is not top,” he added.

Despite the fact that Ron Dennis asserted the car was not at fault and Jenson Button had poured through the data produced by Alonso’s car declaring he could see nothing out of the ordinary, Alonso is adamant there was in fact a problem with the car. “It is clear that there was a problem on the car. It’s not been found on the data at the moment. There is not a clear answer.”

Stories emerged in the Spanish media that when marshals and the medical team arrived on the scene, Fernando had lost his memory. It was reported Alonso believed himself to be an aspiring F1 driver – though he did confirm his name.

It is standard procedure given potential concussion a doctor would ask the patient their name and other simple to recall information.

However, today Fernando rubbishes these stories. “I remember everything. It was a sunny morning, [I remember] all the set-up changes, all the lap times. Vettel was in front of me before Turn 3 but cut the chicane to let me go.

“After the hit, I was kissing the wall for a while, then I switched off the radio first because it was on, then I switched off the master switch. I was perfectly conscious at that time.

“I lost the consciousness in the ambulance or in the clinic at the track.

“The doctors said this is normal because the medication they give is for the helicopter transportation and the checks they do in the hospital like the MRI and evaluation need this protocol, it needs this medication, so it’s normal.”

The urban myths, which have been developed about Alonso’s crash in Barcelona, may never now be fully banished, though should fade as the focus will return to the state of the MP4-30 Alonso is about to drive.

25 responses to “Alonso contradicts McLaren version of crash events

  1. Isn’t it always the fault of the car in the driver’s opinion? Isn’t it always the drivers fault in the team boss’ opinion? Isn’t is always bernie’s fault in our opinion? 😂

  2. Ron said the crash was partly due to a sudden gust of wind…

    Alonso said…”No, definitely not. I don’t know if you’ve seen the video, but even a hurricane will not move the car at that speed.”

    It would be nice if that ‘missing piece of data’ would somehow materialise.

    • Yes, so confirmation that there is a video, and they’ve reviewed it. We’ll see it someday, I suppose.

      More importantly, is the following:
      * Alonso was running a different “steering rack and things” from what Jenson and Kevin have been using “for the last couple of years.”

      * Alonso and McLaren are going back to the “steering rack and things” that the other McLaren drivers have been using.

      * Over at AMuS, Michael Schmidt’s embarrassing error in his analysis of the valuable black box data is confirmed.

      Herr Schmidt said Alonso slowed from 215km/h at corner entry, but Alonso instead confirms Mr. Andrew Benson’s analysis of teams’ GPS data, that this incident started at mid-turn (at 215km/h).

      We saw here Michael Schmidt’s resulting error in the famous article, “Mysterious 3 seconds” via the excellent translation provided here by our own Señor Hippo.

      One of the best “pressers” ever! 🙂

  3. Given that this is F1, the “alien intervention” theory is starting to be the more plausible one.

    Occam’s Razor, you know 🙂

    • Probably right. Boullier had alien investors at Lotus, Ron has had alien title sponsors, therefore Alonso had alien intervention. What a team player, our Fred!

    • To be fair to Ferrrrrrnando, he did say that it’s normal that he had memory problems due to the (precautionary) medications they gave him in the chopper, which is a fair point albeit a bit clumsily formulated (or should I say fer-mulated 🙂 )

  4. Beautiful. Fred hasn’t even raced in his return and there’s already a drift with Ron. It can only get better… 😉

  5. Judge, we obviously looked at the same transcript, but I’m not seeing the contradictions that you’re pointing out.

    “Sebasitian Vettel’s version of the events was quite different as he described the McLaren driver’s incident as ‘strange’.”

    As mentioned earlier, Vettel was quite behind, at much slower speed, under an uncomfortable angle. He didn’t see the start of the crash, only the ending. Of course that would seem “strange”: at one point the car is somewhere in front of you, you blink, and next time you look the car is already in the wall.

    “Despite the fact that Ron Dennis asserted the car was not at fault and Jenson Button had poured through the data produced by Alonso’s car declaring he could see nothing out of the ordinary, Alonso is adamant there was in fact a problem with the car.”

    Well, Dennis explained that there was nothing in the data to suggest that the issue was with the car. Recall that at the time the electrocution and gushes of poisonous gases and scorched engines were particularly tasty-looking theories swirling around, and Big Ron was doing his utmost to diffuse all that nonsense. And just like Big Ron, Fred himself points out that the data doesn’t show anything out of ordinary:

    “Obviously with the team we have been very close working on that and with the FIA, they were very helpful all the times, and we were in close contact, all three parts constantly and yeah, *there is not in the data anything clear that we can spot and we can say it was that, the reason*.”

    No contradictions there, as far as I can tell… Fred points out that to him there was an issue with the car, but McLaren’s data and telemetry cannot confirm this. So what was Big Ron to do? Say that there was an issue with the car, not knowing if that was indeed the case? Even after Alonso’s recollections, they cannot pinpoint anything in the data…

    And this quote by Fred surely deserved inclusion:

    “FA: I fully trust the team. They’ve been looking at every single component of the car for a month, they’ve been simulating the efforts, they’ve been doing so many tests, they’ve been changing every single part that they had some doubts about so I think we have the safest car right now, because of all the studies that they’ve done. And after one month, I’m probably the most medically checked driver in history so we should be fine, both of us.”

    Lastly, Fred’s explanation confuses me:
    “But definitely we had a steering problem in the middle of turn three. It locked into the right and I approached the wall I braked in the last moment, I downshift from fifth to third, and yeah, unfortunately on the data we are still missing some parts. ”

    I’m not buying that. If the steering wheel “locked into the right”, assuming that it was in extreme right-most position, then how come he didn’t hit the wall fully head-on? From the vague data that we have on this crash, it seems Alonso tried and managed to slightly correct the oversteer and avoid a head-on impact. How could he have done that with a locked steering wheel?

    Is it possible Fred won’t admit to simply having lost the car? And without any other evidence, he could get away with such an explanation? Drivers are not always frank on these matters, and I still recall Nasr blaming Wolff for their coming together in testing…

    • Well Landroni… There are other rumours laying the blame at the door of Alonso… But connected to the personal health of our Spanish Samurai. 😉

      • Sure, and Alonso rubbishes them head-on (strange it wasn’t included in the article, either):
        “Also, if you have any problem or any medical issue, normally you will lose the power and you will go straight to the outside, never to the inside. In a Formula One car you still need to apply some effort on the steering wheel. ”

        “After the hit I was kissing the wall for a while and then I switch off the radio first, because it was on, and then I switch off the master switch for the batteries to switch off the ERS system just because I saw the marshals coming and, if not, they cannot touch the car. So, yeah, I was perfectly conscious at the time. ”

        He clearly did NOT lose consciousness during the accident, from turn-in to arrival of marshals…

    • landroni said, “If the steering wheel “locked into the right”, assuming that it was in extreme right-most position…”

      Your assumption is clearly incorrect.

      Alonso doesn’t mention full lock, the tire marks show he wasn’t at full lock, the crash itself shows he wasn’t at full lock, and it would be very unusual to turn the wheel to full lock at 215km/h.

      The phrase “full lock, or “full steering lock” refers to turning the steering wheel to it’s maximum limits. I suspect that is how you’ve become confused.

      When Alonso says “It locked into the right”, lock would be a binding in the steering system. McLaren couldn’t find evidence of that binding, but they’re PR used the phrase “heavy” instead of locked.

      From all that Alonso has said today, “locked” appears to be more honest.

      • Thanks, VM, good points.

        So basically both McLaren and Alonso say that the steering wheel “locked”, but they cannot as yet understand *why* it did so.

  6. Judge – I noticed a slight error in this article.

    Ron Dennis said in his infamous lunchtime Ronspeak interview, “Changing down gear, steering, braking… there is nothing we can see that is abnormal. Jenson looked at the figures and said ‘well, that’s a bit strange’…”

    While this article says, “Ron Dennis asserted the car was not at fault and Jenson Button had poured through the data produced by Alonso’s car declaring he could see nothing out of the ordinary…”

  7. Interesting to note that the two fellow drivers who had the most direct knowledge of Alonso’s crash, (Vettel on track near the crash, and Button looking through Alonso’s data traces), were both concerned because it was a strange crash.

    A steering failure is unusual, and strange.

    Finally, we should note that TJ13 (Adam, I assume) called it correctly as it happened during the live testing blog cast on that day:

    “Alonso seemed to have whacked the car sideways into the wall on the inside of the corner, as if on purpose. Two possible reasons would be either a substantial failure in the steering system, leaving the car out of Alonso’s control or a break failure with the driver attempting to deccelerate the car…”

    • Nope that was the Hippo 😉 Adam took over at 2pm. But it didn’t really take a magician to work out that the car didn’t veer off to the inside of the corner by a gust of wind 😉

      • Well, I do beg your pardon to have credited Adam instead of yourself.

        Well done to spot the obvious (though unusual) answer, steering system failure!

    • Not “breaks” again guys……..brakes are those things on cars….breaks are…oh never mind…maybe this will irritate someone else for a change?

      • Rob – That’s partially my fault because I should’ve corrected the quote.

        We should keep in mind the quote was lifted from TJ13’s live webcast / blogcast of testing. In addition, the writer wasn’t a native English speaker. Finally, I did’t go back and check, but he was probably already called in comments from back in the day when he wrote, as well.

        Not that you’re wrong, but… here is some perspective.

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