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Fernando Alonso's Formula 1 return at the Chinese Grand Prix not guaranteed

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Fernando Alonso's Formula 1 return at the Chinese Grand Prix not guaranteed
Apr 12, 2016, 6:27 PM

Fernando Alonso is still not certain he will be able to return to Formula 1 racing at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso is still not certain he will be able to return to Formula 1 racing at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver was forced to miss the last race in Bahrain as a result of rib and lung injuries he sustained in his crash with Haas F1’s Esteban Gutierrez at the Australian Grand Prix last month.

Fernando Alonso

Alonso was keen to drive at the Sakhir circuit but was prevented from doing so by the FIA’s medical team and he will have to prove his fitness in Shanghai before the governing body clears him to race.

The double world champion had said in Bahrain that he was “99 per cent sure” he would return to action in China, but Alonso explained that it not certain that would definitely be the case.

He said: “It was disappointing to be told I couldn’t race in Bahrain, but I fully respected the decision of the FIA medical team.

Fernando Alonso

“While I hope I’ll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I’m continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal.”

McLaren’s reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne replaced Alonso for the Bahrain weekend, and the 2015 GP2 champion finished tenth on his F1 debut to score the team’s first point of the season.

Alonso praised Vandoorne’s efforts and described how missing the race had given him the opportunity to learn how McLaren’s operations worked from outside the cockpit.

XPB.cc Stoffel Vandoorne

He said: “Stoffel did a great job in Bahrain, and although Jenson [Button] suffered reliability issues, it was positive to see that both cars ran quite strongly during the weekend.

“It was also interesting for me to see the race weekend unfold from a different perspective, which helped me to understand everything that goes into getting the cars on track and learn a lot about the different processes, although I’d still prefer to be racing!”

Fernando Alonso Ron Dennis

Bahrain “bittersweet” for Button

Button grabbed headlines when he finished third in Bahrain’s FP2 session, but the 2009 world champion retired from the race with a power unit problem.

However the British driver was still able to take encouragement from his practice speed and the car’s performance in the race before the mechanical problems struck.

Jenson Button

He said: “The Bahrain race weekend was bittersweet on my side of the garage. We definitely saw another step in the car’s performance from Australia as we keep learning more about the handling and characteristics of the car, and bring new upgrades to each grand prix.

“Friday practice was a real positive, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it stick in qualifying and then suffered reliability issues in the race.

“Saying that, until the point when we lost power, the car had felt very good, and I’m hopeful that we can continue that momentum in Shanghai and make the most of the package we have.

Jenson Button

Button also urged McLaren and its engine supplier, Honda, to improve reliability on the MP4-31 for the race in China. The 36-year-old as not scored points since the 2015 US Grand Prix, one of only four top ten finishes he recorded last year.

He said: “As always though, we need to work hard on our reliability. We’ve definitely seen an improvement in that area, but anything less than 100 per cent is never enough, and it’s important we take advantage of our progress to bring home the points we deserve and have something to show for all of our efforts.

Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda’s F1 project boss, explained that an internal combustion problem had ended Button’s race in Bahrain and that it would be replaced for the Shanghai event.

Yusuke Hasegawa

He said: “There was a mechanical issue on Jenson's ICE which we will replace for the upcoming race weekend. The situation has been thoroughly investigated, and will be rectified in all future engines to be used.”

Do you expect Alonso to be back in the car for the Chinese Grand Prix? Has McLaren impressed you so far this year or does the team still have work to do? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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