McLaren’s Alonso cleared for China return pending more tests

McLaren's Fernando Alonso admitted he was "lucky to be alive" after his high-speed accident at the Australian Grand Prix

Shanghai (AFP) – Former world champion Fernando Alonso has been provisionally cleared to return for McLaren at this week’s Chinese Grand Prix, Formula One’s ruling FIA said Thursday.

The double world champion, who suffered a sickening crash at the season opener in Australia, will undergo further tests after Friday’s first free practice to determine his “further eligibility”. 

Alonso insisted he was “120 percent ready” to compete in Shanghai.

“I feel good,” said the Spaniard, who sat out the Bahrain race two weeks ago with a fractured rib after failing a medical.

“I was mentally 100 percent in Bahrain but physically in a lot of pain,” added the 34-year-old following more medical procedures in Shanghai.

“I was ready to try and see if the pain was manageable with the rib broken, but now I’m mentally 120 percent and physically 100 percent. The pain level is zero.”

Alonso’s McLaren flipped and went into a terrifying roll in Melbourne after he clipped Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas at close to 200mph, but the two-time champion crawled from the wreckage before walking away.

He showed no ill signs on Thursday.

“It’s been the normal routine the last two weeks — running, bicycle, golf, tennis,” Alonso told reporters. “I’ve been sleeping okay for the last two weeks as well.

“I feel I will be 100 percent. If I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t fly here,” added the Spaniard, who won the world title with Renault in 2005 and 2006. “I will see how it goes after a few laps. If it’s not okay I will be the first to say.”

McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne took Alonso’s place in Bahrain and scored a point on his debut.

Alonso’s horror crash raised renewed fears about driver safety, even though since Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola in 1994, which prompted tightened security measures, Frenchman Jules Bianchi — who died following a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix — is the only F1 driver to have lost his life in a race.

A statement from race organisers which was delayed for hours, to Alonso’s chagrin, said the driver was “instructed by the FIA Medical Delegate and CMO to undergo a further examination immediately following FP1 to determine his further eligibility to take part in the remainder of the event.”

Alonso, who admitted he was “lucky to be alive” after his high-speed accident, also missed last season’s Australian Grand Prix after suffering concussion in a testing crash that kept him in hospital for several days.


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