Alonso crawls unhurt from wreckage of his McLaren F1 car
Fernando Alonso said he was “lucky to be alive” last night after surviving one of the most spectacular accidents the sport has seen for years in the Australian Grand Prix.
Alonso’s McLaren was destroyed in the 200mph crash, which saw his car barrel roll across the gravel after hitting the back of Esteban Gutierrez before flipping over and finally landing to rest.
The sport breathed an enormous sigh of a relief as Alonso crawled out of the car following one of the most terrifying incidents in recent memory. The Spaniard said he got out quickly so that his mother, watching on television, knew he was safe. The pair embraced as they walked away from the rubble.
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso, left, and Haas driver Esteban Gutierrez shake hands following a collision during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, yesterday. Picture/AP.
Alonso was checked over by the doctors and declared fit and healthy, other than having sore knees.
He admitted that he feared this could be his last accident, paying tribute to the work of the FIA, motorsport’s governing body, in improving safety.
“I’m thankful I’m alive and that nothing serious happened - it was a big shunt,” Alonso said.
“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 OK.
“We risk our lives every time we get in a Formula One car. These things happen, but I’m extremely happy to be OK. 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.”
Ron Dennis, the McLaren chairman, added: “He’s OK. I’m sure his marbles are rattled a little bit.”
The horrifying accident happened on lap 17 as Alonso was chasing Gutierrez, heading towards the braking zone for turn three, arriving at some 200mph.
The Spaniard moved to the outside. Gutierrez’s line had been consistent but was moving slightly to the left.
Alonso’s right-front tyre hit the left rear of the Haas, sending him straight into the wall at the side of the circuit.
The gravel trap then launched his McLaren into the air. The wreckage was almost unrecognisable.
The accident was reminiscent of one here 20 years ago when Martin Brundle, driving for Jordan, went careering into the air after hitting another car at the same corner.