F1: Fernando Alonso Attacks Mclaren Over 100mph Crash

Alonso, who missed Australian GP, blamed steering fault for testing accident.
F1: Fernando Alonso Attacks Mclaren Over 100mph Crash

Fernando Alonso had barely passed the medical exams which allow his return to Formula One before he was hurling grenades towards his McLaren team with an explosive testimony of the accident which threatened his career.

With not a single race completed, a gaping chasm has opened up between Alonso and McLaren. He placed the blame for his testing crash squarely on a car fault, while the team maintained there was no data to show a mechanical error, a view supported by the Spaniard's team-mate, Jenson Button.

The result is McLaren and their driver are fundamentally at odds over the accident which put Alonso out of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix with a concussion.

Alonso repeatedly rubbished McLaren's narrative, ridiculing the suggestion that a "gust of wind" may have played a role in the seemingly innocuous crash on Feb 22.

The two-time champion also claimed the accident in pre-season testing did not knock him unconscious - contrary to assertions by Ron Dennis, the team boss - and denied reports he thought it was 1995 - when he came round after the crash.

For good measure, he added that the team's handling of the affair had not been "helpful".

McLaren's subsequent decision not to respond to Alonso's extraordinary comments in the drivers' press conference was revealing. They stuck by the evidence of an internal 37-page report which concluded there was nothing to suggest the car had failed.

The unspoken implication was that Alonso is not being straight. Speculation has swirled over the past month as to whether the 33-year-old blacked out or had some kind of medical episode before he lost control, rather than his explanation, that the steering jammed.

The Daily Telegraph understands that Alonso only told McLaren about his steering theory in the last week or so and after their report had been compiled by their engineers. It demonstrated that even at this early stage in their relationship, eight years on from his last stint at the team, which ended in acrimony over the 'Spygate' affair, communication between them is poor.

The FIA, motorsport's governing body, has privately investigated the accident at the Circuit de Catalunya, but will not be making its conclusions public. However, it is understood that it found no reason to dispute McLaren's claim that the car did not fail.

Alonso said last night he remembered the entire crash and only lost consciousness when he was given some drugs by doctors in the medical helicopter, yet another quirk of the whole affair.

"Even a hurricane will not move the car at that speed," he said. "Definitely we had a steering problem. I think some of the confusion comes from the very early quotes and explanations, because the attention was very high at that moment."

The Spaniard has form when it comes to mischief-making inside a team. He played a crucial role in the emergence of the 'Spygate' affair and barely scraped through the scandal which saw him win the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix when his Renault team-mate crashed on purpose. Ferrari, who he left at the end of last year, were glad to see him out of the door.

When Alonso came here with the Italian team last year Sherlock Holmes - otherwise known as Benedict Cumberbatch - was here to hand out the gongs. Formula One needs him back urgently to solve this mystery. Alonso claims the steering locked, sending him into the wall at around 100mph. McLaren have previously said there is no evidence of this - although they have added an extra sensor to check the components. Ergo, something happened with Alonso.

Former drivers say privately it is highly unlikely Alonso lost consciousness before the crash, given his trajectory and the fact he was braking up to the point of impact. But the weight of McLaren and of the most experienced driver in F1 has given the car a clean bill of health.

"I've gone through every single, tiny detail, and I can't see any issues whatsoever," Button said. "That gives me confidence to get in the car and drive. I wouldn't have driven the car if I knew it could have happened to me."

Whatever car Alonso and Button are driving this weekend, it will be slow, with McLaren-Honda still way off the pace. It was all the more unbelievable therefore when Alonso ended the press conference by declaring himself among "the happiest people in the world". Executives at McLaren will not be after this debacle.

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The New Indian Express