SEPANG, Malaysia (AP) McLaren driver Fernando Alonso says he has ”zero doubts and zero concerns” about returning to the car at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix after the preseason testing crash that ruled him out of the Formula One season opener.
Alonso was passed fit for Sunday’s race after undergoing more medical tests on Thursday, and then faced a media conference to try to explain the mystery about his testing accident which resulted in a concussion and forced him to sit out the Australian Grand Prix.
Alonso said his car suffered a steering lock which sent it off the track at a slow-speed corner and into a wall, but said a review of data did not explain what caused it. He also said he did not lose consciousness in the car but as a result of medicine he was given for transportation by helicopter and subsequent testing.
”I was perfectly conscious at that time (of the accident), in the ambulance and in the clinic at the circuit,” Alonso said. ”The doctors said (losing consciousness later) is normal just from the medicine they give you to put you in the helicopter or do the tests in the hospital.”
The incident, which is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the sport’s governing body, has given rise to a wide range of theories about the cause of the accident and skepticism about the Spaniard’s true medical condition, which saw him hospitalized for three days.
Alonso grinned as he dismissed some of the more imaginative reports, saying: ”I did not wake up (thinking it was) 1995, and I didn’t wake up speaking Italian, or any of these other things out there.”
He also scotched reports that he received an electric shock from the car, or suffered some sudden trauma that resulted in him steering off the Barcelona track.
”If you have any problems or medical issues, you go straight to the outside, not to the inside (of the track),” Alonso said.
While he dismissed those theories, he acknowledged ”there are no clear answers” as to what did cause the steering failure.
”It’s clear there was a problem in the car, but it not found in the data,” Alonso said.
Much of the confusion came from conflicting statements from the McLaren team, which initially said there was no problem with the car and even suggested he could have been blown off the racing line by wind.
”Some of the confusion comes from the very early quotes and very early explanations,” Alonso said.
The team has fitted extra sensors on the car for this weekend’s race in Malaysia, and reverted to the standard steering rack used last year instead of the design that Alonso had initially requested to suit his driving style.
He said the scrutiny of the data and parts and his examinations since the accident meant McLaren had ”the safest car right now” and he was ”the most checked driver medically in history.”
Williams driver Valtteri Bottas also passed medical tests on Thursday that will allow him to race in Malaysia, having suffered a torn disc in his lower back during qualifying in Australia which ruled him out of that race.
To alleviate pressure on the injury, Williams and Bottas have repositioned the seat and the pedals.
”I don’t want to go into the details, but it’s quite a big amount to make sure everything is in a neutral position with the back so when the compression comes, it goes to all the discs with similar pressures,” Bottas said.
”It has healed really well and it’s going to keep getting better and better all the time. I have no pain and the doctors have told me that the pain is going to be the limitation, not the safety.”