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Fernando Alonso "thankful to be alive" after Australian Grand Prix Formula 1 horror crash

Fernando Alonso believes he is lucky to be alive after his enormous accident with Esteban Gutierrez in the Australian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso "thankful to be alive" after Australian Grand Prix Formula 1 horror crash

Fernando Alonso believes he is lucky to be alive after his enormous accident with Esteban Gutierrez in the Australian Grand Prix.

The Spanish driver hit the rear of Gutierrez’s Haas F1 car on lap 16 and slammed into the barriers at high-speed before rolling through the Turn 3 gravel trap.

Alonso’s McLaren was totally destroyed during the violent impacts and the double world champion described his was gratitude to escape without injury.

Fernando Alonso

He said: “I’m thankful I’m alive and that nothing serious happened – it was a big shunt.

“A combination of factors caused Esteban and me to end up crashing. I was in the car flying and bouncing around – I could see the sky, then the ground, then the sky again. Then, when the car landed, I saw a little gap and I got out quickly to make sure that my mum, who was watching the race on TV at home, could see that I was okay.

“But, soon afterwards, my thoughts switched to frustration and disappointment, because we missed an opportunity to get some points in the first race of the season, and we probably lost a power unit too because the car is more or less completely destroyed.”

Fernando Alonso

Alonso, who was making his first appearance in the Melbourne event for two years because he missed the 2015 race as he recovered from concussion sustained in a pre-season crash, also paid tribute to the safety innovations the FIA has made in recent years to improve safety in F1.

He said: “We risk our lives every time we get in a Formula 1 car: these things happen, but I’m extremely happy to be okay.

“The reason I’m still alive is probably thanks to all the fantastic work the FIA has done over the past 10 or 15 years to improve safety, work they continue to do. And I’m also grateful to everyone at McLaren, who built me such a strong and safe car.”

Crash “a racing incident”

Fernando Alonso

After the race the stewards declared the accident as a racing incident and Alonso dismissed any notion that Gutierrez had caused the crash by braking earlier than expected or deviating from his line in the braking zone.

He said: "If he did, it's because he tried to brake for his own racing line and I need to anticipate that as well.

"But you are so focused on the slipstream, you only see a rear wing. You don't have any more vision of the track.

"I took the slipstream in quite an extreme way and tried to overtake at the last moment. Probably I braked a little bit too late. It's a combination of things. We are both OK, that's the most important thing."

Esteban Gutierrez Fernando Alonso

Gutierrez, who checked on Alonso straight away after the accident, agreed that their escape from injury was the most significant outcome of the crash.

He said: “The most important thing is that Fernando and I are both OK.”

Consequences for Halo

Even before the race had got underway in Melbourne there had been much discussion over the FIA’s plan to introduce the Halo cockpit protection device into F1.

Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari provoked a fierce debate when it tested its own version of the structure during pre-season testing and F1’s race director, Charlie Whiting, explained that the device is “on-course” to be on the cars in 2017.

After Alonso’s accident, which ended with his MP4-31 upside down against a barrier, forcing him to climb out of the wreckage, some people have argued that has the Halo structure been in place it might have caused more damage or prevented him from escaping the remains of the car.

When asked about the effects a Halo device may havehad in yesterday’s crash, Alonso said more testing was needed to ensure the structure would not become a problem in the event of a crash.

He said: "It's something that we need to look at and we need to investigate because obviously I had a little space to get out and it was easy for me to get out.

"We need to see if with the halo that would become more difficult."

Jenson Button

But Alonso’s McLaren teammate, Jenson Button, believes it would still be better for F1 to implement the Halo system as it could be incorporated into existing extrication techniques.

He said: "There was no need for him to get out in that situation. There's more safety risk of things hitting our head than anything happening when the car's upside down.

"It's very unusual that there would be an issue with fuel spillage or anything like that because you have the safety cell and the way that the fuel tanks are, it won't happen.

"I think it's better to have a Halo system. They would tip the car over of course to get him out, so it takes a bit longer, but he was OK so it doesn't matter."

Fernando Alonso

What did you make of Alonso’s accident? Has it altered your feelings about Halo? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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