Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso admitted he was lucky to be alive after surviving a huge crash that destroyed his McLaren-Honda and momentarily stopped the Australian Formula One Grand Prix, just a year after he was involved in another major smash.
?It was a scary crash,? Alonso said. ?I’m lucky to be here and happy to be here, and thankful to be here – especially to the (governing body) FIA and all the safety, thanks to that probably I’m alive.?
The crash took place early in the race, as he was doing around 200mph on the tail of Esteban Gutierrez of Haas Racing while trying to pass him around the outside on lap 17 of 57.
Alonso clipped the rear left wheel of the Mexican’s car at full speed into the third corner of the Albert Park circuit. Gutierrez was drifting gently from the middle of the track to the outside as Alonso switched positions, and when the Haas started to slow the McLaren’s right-front wheel tagged the left rear of the Haas.
The Spaniard?s car was then launched into air, flipping multiple times and sending shards of debris flying off the vehicle’s body before it crumbled to pieces as it reached the gravel trap.
Despite the wrecking crash that landed his car upside down, Alonso somehow climbed out of the mangled wreckage unaided and appeared to be unharmed.
A red flag was waved as a consequence of the incident, halting the race entirely for about 15 minutes, a rare occurrence in Formula 1.
Alonso revealed that his thoughts immediately turned to family back home after the crash saying: ?I was flying, so you see the sky then the ground, then the sky, then the ground.?You want to stop but it doesn’t stop. It keeps going and going and going. It was quite scary, but at the last moment the car stopped and I had a little space to go out and I said, ?I will go out quickly because my mother will be watching at home.??
Interestingly, Alonso also survived another crash back in February 2015, when was so badly concussed following a crash in Spain while testing for the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, that he forgot the past 20 years and thought it was still 1995. During that incident he was going at 150mph for pre-season testing and was rushed to hospital where he spent three days under observation.
Race control said Alonso’s contact with Gutierrez would be investigated but the Spaniard said neither driver was to blame.
?We were racing, I kept in the slip-stream as late as I could and at the last moment I tried to move.
?It’s tough, you can only see the rear wing, you don’t have the full view of the track. And same for him, he’s defending and can’t see what the other guy is doing. So we are both happy.?
Gutierrez ran to Alonso’s aid and embraced his colleague when he realized he was unhurt.
“The most important thing is that we are both fine – it was a very scary moment and not very pleasant to see how his car ended up,” Gutierrez said.
“When I saw his car I came out as quick as possible and ran to him … obviously it was a big relief to see that he was fine.
“To be honest I think we were both a bit shocked from the crash. We came together and spoke a little bit but we’re all good most importantly.”
Both Alonso and Gutierrez were later taken to the medical centre for assessment following the incident.