Analysis: The missing document that nearly stopped Alonso's F1 return

The lack of a medical certificate from the Spanish motorsport federation confirming Fernando Alonso was fully fit caused the lengthy delay in him getting the all-clear from the FIA to drive in China.

Analysis: The missing document that nearly stopped Alonso's F1 return
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren with Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Ron Dennis, McLaren Executive Chairman and Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren in the garage
Fernando Alonso, McLaren on the grid

Alonso had to wait more than seven hours on Thursday for the FIA to give him provisional approval to return to the cockpit following his Australian Grand Prix crash.

The Spaniard still has to face a further medical check after first free practice on Friday though.

The delay in the decision, which was made shortly after 6pm on China, prompted speculation that an issue had cropped up.

And it has emerged that key to the matter was a 'certification' from Spain's ASN confirming that he was fit.

FIA demands

A clause in the FIA's International Sporting Code about medical checks for injured drivers says: "In the case of incapacity for a period of 10 days or longer, this control takes place in an identical fashion during the first competition in which the driver wishes to compete, after he has obtained certification of his recovery and confirmation of his reintegration from his ASN."

In theory, after missing the Bahrain Grand Prix it would have meant Alonso needed a certificate from the Spanish authorities prior to the FIA medical test at the circuit, something which it is understood he did not have early on but was later sourced.

However, one issue that came up was whether or not Alonso was deemed to be incapacitated for 10 days, as his injury had only come to light after the Australian Grand Prix.

In light of the uncertainty about this clause, and the fact that the FIA's doctors were satisfied that he was 'provisionally' fit, the stewards deemed that Alonso would actually be exempt from the need for a Spanish ASN certificate.

Had they not given that exemption, and had the certificate not been later sourced, then Alonso would not have been allowed to compete.

Paperwork

Instead, according to FIA documents, Alonso only needed to fulfil another clause in Appendix L, which means a driver can compete if he passes an FIA medical ahead of the event.

That in the end is what happened, and confirmed what Alonso had said earlier in the day that medical checks are sometimes not the work of the moment.

"Sometimes it is a longer process that we would like or think from the outside because there are some things behind and some procedures and some paperwork or whatever," he said.

"It is not that you arrive there, you are okay and we all feel okay. Still before it is written it takes a little bit of time and I guess it is the thing that has been happening."

What the rules say

Article 3 of Chapter II of Appendix L of the FIA's International Sporting Code deals with the recovery of drivers – and was central to the Alonso affair on Thursday.

Here is what the rules state:

Reintegration

From the date of the accident or the discovery of an illness or disability as covered in Article 1.5 of the present regulations, no driver may take an active part in sporting events entered on the FIA international calendar until they have received authorisation from the ASN.

In the event of an accident resulting in incapacity for a period of 10 days or longer, and following receipt of a document attesting that the patient is healed or recovered, or of a hospital discharge form, the National Medical Commission or the doctor approved by the ASN shall demand that the patient visits them for the reintegration or that he should undergo a complete annual medical examination procedure.

All the illnesses or disabilities mentioned in Article 1.5 of these regulations must be submitted for an opinion to the National Medical Commission, or in its absence to a doctor approved by the ASN.

Particular measures for the FIA Championships in F1, WEC, WTCC and WRC

a) in the case of no incapacity or incapacity of less than 10 days, a medical control will take place at the next competition in which the driver concerned is due to participate; this will be carried out under the authority of the FIA Medical Delegate and the Chief Medical Officer;

b) in the case of incapacity for a period of 10 days or longer, this control takes place in an identical fashion during the first competition in which the driver wishes to compete, after he has obtained certification of his recovery and confirmation of his reintegration from his ASN.

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