A well known F1 twitter individual commented following yesterdays driver press conference, that he thought there was no contradiction by Alonso of his team’s position on the crash in Barcelona testing.
My recommendation is that this individual start reporting on bowls.
Yesterday was dynamite. The prodigal son who shipped McLaren to the FIA costing them a $100m fine for cheating in 2007, returned to trackside ready to race once again for the Woking team. At the Fernando Alonso road show that was the FIA conference, the Spaniard looked relaxed and confident despite the whirlwind start to his season.
Notably, Alonso was most particular in what he had to say, and it is clear the Fred/Big Ron love – with which we were presented when the Spaniard was revealed as the Woking team’s new signing for 2015 – is gone.
Alosno told the BBC, “1 minute after the car stopped, I don’t remember anything more until I wake up in the hospital. Doctors say that due to the medication they give me for the transportation… it is normal that I lost this memory”
Having spoken to the driver, James Allen clarified, “It was only when he was in the medical centre that he was sedated an given some drugs to go on to the medical helicopter, that was the point at which he lost consciousness.”
So the first question is, why was Alonso airlifted to hospital following a relatively low speed crash in which he was not rendered unconscious? Neither driver nor the team have provided anything remotely satisfactory as an explanation. As we know, Alonso was not just driven to hospital for a check up, but was admitted to intensive care and spent three nights under medical observation, before the doctors were content to release him.
Whilst Fernando was undergoing the medical supervision in Spain, McLaren were stating, this was “a normal testing incident” and that the car was in no way at fault.
One of the explanations offered by McLaren was, that on the day of the crash the wind was gusting heavily and it may have destabilised Alonso’s car causing him to lose control.
Fernando could not have been more categorical, almost to the point of ridicule, in his rejection of McLaren’s ‘wind’ explanation. “Even a hurricane would not move the car at that speed. Also if you have any problem, medical issue, normally you will lose power and go straight to the outside, never to the inside. That’s one thing”.
James Allen revealed on Radio Five lives, “Behind the scenes, there’s a certain friction between them [McLaren and Alonso], Alonso’s not happy with the internal report that was put together, where McLaren insisted there was nothing wrong with the car. But he [Alonso] is saying there definitely was because the steering was a problem”.
In the FIA press conference, the discrepancy between the team and Alonso’s position was raised and the Spaniard was questioned as to why the team had refused to accept this could have been a car failure, he replied: “Well, I don’t think that they say this anymore.”
McLaren were asked whether they now accepted the car was at fault, they refused comment. However, the team did respond by again wheeled out Jenson Button to give his expert opinion on the matter. “I’ve looked at the data and I’m happy to drive the car,” Button said. “My view hasn’t changed on that’.
The Brisish world champion backed McLaren to the hilt. “We have a lot of sensors on the car and this team is very experienced in incidents and they – as with every team in Formula One – take every precaution possible in terms of safety.
“It’s one of those things, isn’t it? But after seeing the data and watching the steering trace, my view hasn’t changed from what it had when I saw the data initially. I feel comfortable getting into the car and driving it.”
So Jenson says – not a car fault. The implication being it was a driver error.
Fernando concluded by offering an olive branch to McLaren, “Some areas in the car instrumentation-wise that aren’t probably at the level to see this problem. A problem which may occur in this race. 20 years ago, F1 didn’t have that technology to spot that problem. Sure we are missing something in the data which we will spot in ten years’ time when there is more technology”
Yet he left his new team in no doubt whatsoever as to his position that the car was at fault adding, “I have zero doubt”.
McLaren would have hoped the return of a fit and healthy Fernando Alonso this weekend would put to bed the mystery surrounding what should have been a fairly innocuous incident in Barcelona. The reverse has happened.
Why Fernando is deliberately creating “friction” within the team is for now a matter of speculation. One theory would be, those within Woking who were opposed to signing Alonso are fighting some kind of rear guard action in an attempt to get the Spanish driver sidelined permanently on the grounds of long term medical doubts.
This story is not yet over – and it will rear its head again when the FIA publish their findings into the incident.