Feb.25 (GMM) McLaren’s media statement has not stopped rampant speculation about the crash that left Fernando Alonso in hospital for four days and counting.
Many insiders are blaming the Woking based team, not only for waiting 28 hours to explain the bizarre accident but then insisting it was entirely “normal”.
But drivers are rarely knocked unconscious and airlifted to hospital, and when they reportedly then pass every medical test, they are not normally kept in hospital for several days.
It is also not normal for a team’s detailed account of a crash to be so widely contradicted by other evidence.
For instance, trackside photographer Jordi Vidal has released an image that contradicts McLaren’s claim that Alonso ran onto the Astroturf on the outside of turn 3 before losing control in a gust of wind.
Vidal also denied McLaren’s claims that it was particularly windy at the time, and he agreed with Sebastian Vettel that the Spaniard was not driving at full speed.
Vettel, who was following the Spaniard at the time of the crash, recalled: “The speed was slow, maybe 150kph. Then he turned right into the wall. It looked strange. It did not look like a (normal) accident.”
La Gazzetta dello Sport quoted an F1 engineer as saying: “With the downforce in F1, McLaren’s explanation is plausible if he (Alonso) was pushing hard, as (Carlos) Sainz was.
“But not with the speed that Alonso was doing, as the photo taken just before shows that he was in the middle of the track”.
Close to Alonso throughout his career, Flavio Briatore told the Italian press this week that the 33-year-old does not remember anything about the crash.
Alonso’s friend Pedro de la Rosa steadfastly refused to comment on Tuesday after visiting his countryman in hospital.
Manager Luis Garcia Abad, meanwhile, told Spanish reporters that the impact instantly knocked Alonso out.
But La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes a McLaren mechanic as suggesting Alonso was not immediately unconscious.
“They (engineers) called Fernando, but only strange and muffled groans came over the radio, and then after a final moan there was silence,” the mechanic reportedly said.
Former McLaren driver Martin Brundle also furrowed his brow at the McLaren explanation, saying it is “unusual” for a driver to have apparently downshifted after losing control.
“Still seems strange such a relatively mild incident in F1 terms hospitalised him,” the Briton also said on Twitter.
The tangled tale has moved former F1 driver Ivan Capelli to call for more information to be released.
“Something strange happened,” he said, “but in formula one there is often silence.
“An answer has to be given to what happened, if only so that drivers can be relaxed before the start of the new season.”
Michael Schmidt, a highly respected German journalist for Auto Motor und Sport, wonders why McLaren has not released footage from Alonso’s on-board camera.
Not only that, at the Circuit de Catalunya, dozens of CCTV cameras capture footage from every inch of the track, “So there must be a film of the accident”, Schmidt insisted.
“If there is, why is it being withheld?”
Writing on his blog f1-insider.com, Sport Bild journalist Ralf Bach claimed: “FIA officials were behaving very strangely on Sunday evening — and the Federation is not even responsible for testing.”
Not everyone believes the conspiracies, however. Livio Oricchio, a veteran journalist, said he doubts McLaren-Honda or the FIA would be covering up Alonso’s electrocution by a faulty ERS system.
“Imagine the damage to F1 if another driver suffered a similar incident and the FIA had been aware of what happened to Alonso,” the Globo correspondent wrote.
Spain’s AS newspaper said Alonso could be discharged from hospital on Wednesday, the day before the final pre-season test action begins.