On the subject of Alonso

Fernando Alonso is not racing in Australia, and that has led to much inanity and conspiracy theorizing. I don’t see why there is such a kerfuffle on the subject or even about the accident. It is clear that he crashed and hit a wall. Perhaps he might have been going faster at the time but it was still a sizeable hit. He hit his head, probably on the side of the cockpit. The helmet and the cockpit surround foam did its job, but it was still a hit. He went to hospital and they said “best have a lie down and a cup of tea” so he followed their advice and stayed in hospital. Some of the team said things without checking the facts and suddenly we were in Dealey Plaza, looking for a grassy knoll. Alonso, they surmised, had been hit by a thunderbolt of electricity that had escaped the car, looped the loop, and landed on his nose. I think I even read a report blaming the Mafia. This was no doubt denied by Teflonso’s mate Flavio, who may have blamed Fidel Castro and Marilyn Monroe…

Hmm. Let’s get real here. Alonso banged his head. The doctors said “Voste te una commocio cerebral”. Fernando asked for some Nurofen. That’s it. With concussion one needs to be careful because a second impact can lead to a problem called SIS (no, not Secret Intelligent Service), which means Second Impact Syndrome, which is nasty. A second head injury causes diffuse cerebral herniation which for reasons that are still rather unclear is devastating and even healthy young people can die within a few minutes. Thus when a person is diagnosed with concussion these days they are told not to bang their head again. Now Fernando might wish to race and say “Forget the doctors” but the knowledge that insurers will almost certainly not pay out on a death cause by SIS because there was a clear warning from doctors about what could happen meant that he and the team could not risk it. On top of that, the team, and the federation come to that, in these litigious days, could not allow him to race lest there be liability claims made against them if  Fernando was to die during the event.

Thus he will sit on a beach somewhere and Kevin Magnussen will get the chance to show that the team was entirely wrong to dump him and keep Jenson – all assuming that the car can be kept running for a race distance…

161 thoughts on “On the subject of Alonso

  1. His SIS risk is forever? Or until his neurologists are satisfied that he has recovered to a satisfactory degree? Or don’t we know?

      1. Sorry this is more for the former F1doc, but how can one tell when concussion has finished and what is it anyway?

  2. Given the fact there are 2 F1 drivers gravely ill with head injuries it is not the climate to take chances. Welcome to the informed sporting world, it’s for the better for the athletes health as witnessed in multiple sports managing concussions.

  3. Of course, it is sensible for FA not to race in the circumstances described.

    The strangeness is in what produced the accident, rather its consequences.

    A gust of wind across the grassy knoll? The lurking presence of nemesis Sebastian Vettel´s Ferrari? Where was Nelson Piquet Jr at the time?

    So many questions…….

    1. I’m not sure there are many questions.

      He ran wide, clipped the astroturf, it pitched him into the wall. Easy mistake to happen, happens all the time.

    2. Whenever theres a grassy knoll involved you know theres going to be trouble, personally I try to stay away from them. The other thing that is important to remember is to add the suffix ‘gate’ to any controversy. Concussion-gate in this case, somehow all modern day controversies are linked to the Watergate hotel in Washington D.C

  4. Fernando’s vacation is clearly understandable as a result of the crash (see: Kubica, USA’07; Perez, Canada’11).
    The only interesting point is if it has anything in common with the cause of the crash (which is still unknown and might be so for a long time).

    1. There seem’s to be rather a lot of mystery surrounding Fernando’s accident …it’s been suggested that he took a 600 watt shock to the spine ? which caused him to black out, I have no idea of course I am just repeating what I have read this morning …

      1. 600 watt? What would that even be (ignoring the fact that it didn’t happen). You might measure a shock in voltage terms (600 volt) or energy terms (6MJ [mega joules]) but you would not measure it in power terms – it just makes no sense without knowing the duration of said shock (at which point you’re back to energy – power x time = energy as any school child knows).

        So the very fact that the report is in terms of watts means it is not sourced from anyone who knows anything!

        On the plus side, were there to be such a shock then the whole affair could become known as what-gate (see watt I did there).

  5. I am reminded again that we know less about the human brain that many realise. I have lost drivers I respected, admired and even adored over some silly reasons, losing one to SIS would be beyond the pale.

  6. ….so there is no truth in the rumour that a disguised Magnusson was spotted in the Barcelona hospital kitchens with a large bag of hemlock.


  7. Does Kevin’s use of 1 motor, effect Alonso’s 4 engines? Or can Mclaren/Honda experiement with the engine in Magnussen’s car, and just turn up the power to 100%

  8. Voste te una commocio cerebral <— if you were trying to write it in Spanish, you failed. This is portuguese. Maybe. Mixed with some catalonian.

    "Usted tiene una conmoción cerebral". This is real Spanish. You're welcome.

      1. Now this is the kind of attention to detail that makes Joe’s blog such a superior read. “Vostè té una commoció cerebral, senyor Alonso”, at which point Fernando would probably have replied “¡Háblame en cristiano!”

        1. Well if Google Translate says it’s right it must wrong! It’s not too terrible these days but you need a basic understanding of the language to correct the errors. Don’t depend on it.

    1. It may be Portuguese but in another universe. That whould be: você tem uma concussão. No need to mention the brain because concussion is implies the head. You’re welcome.

  9. Sorry for Alonso – But it is a little (well-deserved) comfort for us Danes who were dissapointed to see Kevin get the axe.. Go Oz!

  10. One has to say, people will rather believe a conspiracy theory than the science.
    As I recall from my training Concussion is defined as a transient loss of cognitive function. What happens in any rapid deceleration is that the cerebral hemisphere rotates around the axis of the pedicles. This results in the stretching of certain neuronal pathways responsible for maintaining consciousness.
    The severity of the concussion is determined by the level of Retrograde amnesia. Alonso could not even remember the accident or events leading up to it. Second impact syndrome relates to uncontrolled brain oedema that results from another brain impact soon after an initial insult. It’s serious because this brain swelling is resistant to standard treatment and can result in death, particularly in young children.
    That is why there has been so much furore over concussed players returning to play in Rugby and Football.
    For those of us practicing Sports Medicine the two areas that are are guaranteed to result in being sued are negligence and return to play directives. It’s better to err on the side of caution otherwise you’ll Be funding some ambulance chasers offspring through university and beyond. Here endeth the lesson. HTH

    1. Apologies for the typo. I meant rotate around the Cerebral Peduncles.
      As an aside there a number of psychometric tests to assess level of impairment. These tests are commonly used preseason in the NFL.
      Any players post injury tests are compared to the preseason ones to determine impairment.
      I’m Afraid I don’t know what directs the FIA have instigated but I suspect they just leave it to the respective Doctors. The mind boggles that the FIA could ever have achieved recognition status by the IOC.

      1. A number of NFL players have openly admitted to flunking these pre-season tests. The reason for this is so that they when concussion protocols are instigated during the season after a potential injury, it is easier for them to achieve the pre-season baseline.

        Some people will always try to game the system even if it is potentially to their physical or mental detriment.

      2. “The mind boggles that the FIA could ever have achieved recognition status by the IOC.” – Never a truer word spoken.

    2. “One has to say, people will rather believe a conspiracy theory than the science.”

      If you know nothing about either, what’s the difference!

    1. My 7 year old suffered a mild concussion after slipping and banging his head whilst playing “tig” (*regional variations may apply) in the playground, and even for that the doctors said no PE or sport for 3 weeks. In that context, it seems entirely logical that Fernando’s doctors would tell him to take a few weeks off before exposing himself to even “normal” F1 G-forces, never mind those associated with a potential impact.

  11. I don’t think so. If this were just a concussion as a result of the crash, Alonso’s management would have made a simple statement in the days after. They didn’t, because they don’t know what the problem is. Something happened to Alonso, which caused him to crash. (This is why McLaren were so adamant the car was not to blame.) And since Alonso’s medical condition is his to disclose, Dennis is forced to be vague. (To even suggest there might be a problem, would have serious consequences.)

      1. I don’t mind condescension, Joe, especially if boosts your confidence. Re Alonso: no, I don’t think he will return, which is terrible. For the man himself, but also for us. Formula 1 will not be the same without him.

        1. You raise a great point. It reminds me of a great book I read called the Truth Seekers written by a statistician with an interest in debunking conspiracy theories.
          His favourite pastime was to challenge ‘ the moon landings wee faked brigade ‘. He even took one renowned non believer to an observatory to show him the reflectors placed by the Apollo landings to measure the distance from Earth to the Moon. He asked this guy who put them there if there were no moon landings.
          The guy then came out out with a more outrageous conspiracy theory to explain. Just goes to show you can’t reason with the irrational.

      2. Love this whole post Joe…put me in really good mood despite a difficult day ahead 🙂 Silly season before it even begins! Done.

      3. I sold this guy a raincoat and some cigars just last week….makes you wonder….

        OT: I am curious on how Magnussen is going to perform…and wasn’t there a slight possibility he would become a second driver for Manor…maybe (/probably…?) if they don’t make it to Melbourne he is warmed up already!

      4. Well written article Joe, however there are some loose ends that are worth discussing. Don’t you think sharing the footage from on-board camera would have helped understand things better ? When did Alonso loose consciousness, before the impact or after ? Concussed owing to the impact or lost body control before that? Alonso doesn’t remember much. Mclaren claims to have gome through Telemetry data which largely looks okay. Each side say they are good with things as they stand now while everything is clear as mud.

      5. Joe, what do make of Bernie and Coulthard’s comments regarding this accident? Still think it is too crazy to think that something doesn’t add up?

    1. Something happened to Alonso-Yup he lost control of the car due to wind induced aero issues dropped a wheel on the grass and had a clumsy spin.

      McLaren were so adamant the car was not to blame-Yup car didnt break, aero instability due to wind coupled with a marginal line on corner entry.

  12. Hi Joe,

    I get the reasoning behind why Alonso stays out of the car but I still wonder if he would do the same if the car was looking like a title contender. Does he have the freedom to take the risk and set aside the doctors advice?

  13. While this is undoubtably the right, prudent thing to do, I can’t help but think he’d be racing if testing had shown them to be on the pace….

    1. Did you not read my post? There is no way he could race with the legal issues that this would open up.

    2. Joe is certainly an expert on Alonso, which nobody can deny.
      But I have also scoured scrolled for news, unaware that Joe is also a doctor and a legal eagle.
      Even so, I can’t help thinking, like John Andre, that a healthy man would not be convalescing if Honda had delivered a PU with a serious winning profile 🙂

      1. You should go read Gary Hartstein’s blog; you might learn something and not be so smug about what you don’t know.

    3. I think so too JJ. Alonso is likely figuring that Kevin can do another 4 days testing and setup as it is unlikely to be costing him points. If FA insisted he was OK to the doctors, I think they would pass him fit.

      1. No, it is the decision of the doctor not the patient. The doctors are the experts which is why they are consulted. Then insurers, licencing bodies etc act on their advice.

  14. It’s perfectly understandable that they should be extremely cautious considering recent events involving head injuries and their devastating effects.

  15. There’s two things in this that I can’t square though:

    1) The accident seems near identical to what happened to Maldonado over in qualifying last year and there was no question of him not getting back in the car for the race. I can’t believe it’s the only side impact of that size that has happened in the last couple of years when looking at some of the Monaco crashes for example.

    2) Several reports said that he spent the first two nights of his hospital stay in intensive care. There’s a big difference between spending 3 nights in hospital drinking Nurofen with your tea as you lie down, and an even larger one spending 2 of those in intensive care.

    1. Re point 2) Alonso is more than rich enough to ensure he could have the best out-patient care in Spain – that he remained in hospital so long speaks volumes. Regardless of reports which may or may not be accurate about him being in intensive care, his medical people and/or the local medical people deemed it necessary to keep him in hospital.

      1. It’s not a finance issue, but one of appropriate care. I wonder how long it took him to return to his normal state of mind and if that was what was behind it.

  16. People see conspiracies in everything these days. This is just advancement. SIS is a very real and dangerous thing, and in a litigious world especially, it’s better to sit out.

    Martin Brundle’s Monaco crash shows both how we have progressed, and how dangerous a concussion is. For those who don’t know, he had a massive smash in qualifying, walked away and made his way back to the pits. He had concussion, but as is often the case, he didn’t know. He ran and jumped into the spare car, and Ken Tyrrell leaned over him and said something along the lines of ‘OK, you’ve got 5 minutes to put a lap in’ to which Brundle replied ‘Thanks – which track are we at?’. Tyrrell reached into the car and turned it off.

    I am one of those who is often against the pestering nanny-state and ridiculous health and safety laws, and I believe danger is an essential part of racing – it’s what makes it gladiatorial. However, that doesn’t mean ignoring known likely risks.

  17. I can’t help wondering whether, had the crash involved Hamilton or Rosberg, either of the two serious title contenders would accept resting and letting their rival go an expected 25 points clear from the outset.

    I suspect Alonso’s decision has at least been influenced by the difficult time McLaren have had through winter testing, it’d be a big shock if Magnussen can repeat his 2014 Australian heroics.

    1. The same legal and insurance constraints that Joe cited would apply to Hamilton or Rosberg also.

      You are right about the shock that would be. I don’t think Alonso is giving up much by missing the opportunity to tootle around near the back of the field until some part of the PU croaks.

  18. Sorry Joe, but something still smells fishy. Even this post. I tend to agree with Martin Brundle. This situation doesn’t add up.

  19. One of the most experienced and, arguably, one of the two best drivers in present Formula 1 runs off at turn three at relatively low speed because of some wind, brushes against a distant wall sideways, stays in the hospital for four days and misses the next race in two weeks. What`s so strange about that ? True, his former assistant and stunt man, Nelson Piquet Jr, had a much more serious accident in Singapore with no medical consequences at all. But then, there was no wind in Singapore…

    I’m terribly Joe, I always take your writing for law, but this time around “I’m not buying it”. I don’t go along the “grassy knoll” theories about an electrical shock due to a simple fact: the car is isolated from the ground by four big rubber “isolators” but something has happened before hitting the wall. What it was, remains behind closed doors.

    1. I don’t believe electricity was involved, but you’re wrong to think it has anything to do with earth. Electric current flows in a circuit … try standing on a 1m rubber block (which will isolate you from earth) then put a jump lead from a car battery (also on the rubber block, if you like) on one ear and another on your tongue. You will quickly regret it.

      The batteries in F1 cars are, I suspect, the equivalent of 100s of car batteries (and of course a completely different technology) – they will operate at high voltages (I would suspect 100s of volts) and will be able to deliver 100s of amps. Easily enough to be instantly lethal if applied to the fragile human.

      BUT, because they are so dangerous the regulations will have forced the designers to have double isolation safety systems to minimize the risk of such an event … which is why I doubt it happened – Alonso crashed and head injuries feature high up on the perceived risk radar … simple as that.

  20. SIS was what led to the death of Mark Donohue. After his shunt at Österreichring in 1975, he said he felt fine, even sitting up and talking, but then had a huge relapse 3 days later. If the doctors then had the knoweldge of SIS they have now he would have had much better care and might even be alive today.

  21. Concussion is a very current topic in Rugby. I don’t comment on the blog anymore, but as this is not only F1 related I think it ‘s worth putting in my 2 cents.

    Jonathan Sexton – Racing Metro, Ireland and Lions fly half has been a recent high profile demonstration of the caution now surrounding this and the need to allow time to recover. Following a number of impacts in November playing for Ireland he missed 3 months for Racing – Not ideal when your challenging for the Top 14 and Champions Cup. However the club accepted the recommendation and got on with it.

    In rugby (look for a video of George North suffering twice against England last month) the impacts are visible but even still the final diagnosis and recuperation raises eyebrows – our sports stars play sport and we need to reconcile they get injured and its not always overt.

    Give him time, SIS is real and the risk is ever present in any sport that can have a high force sudden impact. What if Alonso hit a wall in Melbourne or last week in Spain and then missed the next 4 or 5 races…

  22. The NZ Rugby Union has a very strict policy on head injuries, last week a player was not allowed back on the field after what would have been thought a few years ago to be not very bad.We do not want athletes in any sport having ongoing issues in later life,meanwhile, Alonso has been very wise to listen to the doctors.

  23. Why unnecessarily risk compounding any current medical issues given the current state of the McLaren Honda package. He’s unlikely to be a championship contender this year and any outcome that would result in a win for the team in Australia would be freakish in the extreme.
    As ever, a great post Joe. Keep up the good work and have a great F1 season.

  24. “A second head injury causes diffuse cerebral herniation which for reasons that are still rather unclear is devastating”. The problem with swelling of the brain is that there is no where to go but down. The pressure forces the base of brain down through the only opening in the skull which leads to the spinal cord. At the opening the mid-brain, as it is called, is extremely important One part, the medulla is easily the most important part of the brain. It’s functions are involuntary, or done without thought. We would not be able to live without the medulla because of the myriad of crucial tasks it performs including regulating blood pressure and breathing. As a part of the brain stem, it also helps transfer neural messages from the brain to the spinal cord. It is worries about this herniation that produces so much caution.

  25. Stepping off that ‘grassy knoll’ for a moment . . .

    If the treatment for Alonso’s concussion is indicative of the way the medical profession currently views the severity of the issue then it begs the questions –
    How many drivers will need to take extended breaks throughout this season?
    If an end-of-season WDC or WCC is at stake will the rest period be reduced?

    Stepping back up onto that well-trodden mound . . .

    Just another device to spice up a flagging series
    And keep F1’s chattering classes on their toes –
    They are the series’ life-blood after all.

  26. I agree with your piece Joe. However, from a PR perspective the issue has been handled terribly by McLaren. Look at the press release announcing that Alonso would not be driving in Australia… Hardly gushing in the dangers of SIS and many references to “his” doctors.

    The other highly amusing side to this is the picture of Alonso leaving hospital wearing a top emblazoned with a rather large Oakley logo. Given they are not a McLaren Sponsor (sorry – Partner), this must have sent Ron apoplectic!

    It wouldn’t be the first time McLaren had parted company with a former World Champion during a season… Just saying, that’s all…!

    1. Remember the reports – when he came round he (reportedly) thought he was still driving for Ferrari? Nothing to see here.

  27. All it goes to show how lucky drivers were in the past Joe in the sense that, as far as I know thinking quickly, no driver has died as a result of SIS (someone may correct me on that) particularly before the advent of Sid and his excellent team. Of course it hasn’t been explained, again as far as I know, just how long to leave between ‘hits’, which means they don’t know. It is unusual for a driver to be rested but, as you explained, it must be influenced by insurance and other matters which after MS’s accident makes everyone more mindful.

  28. The biggest problem here is the kind of persons involved.
    Alonso and Dennis had lie before… so why should one trust them?

    If the accident was with a Sauber and Peter (or Monica) came to say “it was the wind”, I will believe them.

    But Alonso or Dennis??

    For sure there is more in this story than has been told, in particular with the moments BEFORE the crash.

    (and… why after the accident Alonso has not appeared with any clothes, caps, anything related to the Mclaren team??)

    It is very sad that there are not any true journalists out there to dig up more deeply…

  29. >all assuming that the car can be kept running for a race distances< so the driver battle between KMag and Button is endurance then? Who can make the car last the longest and /or be further a head? Do we need an equation for speed achieved and how long the engine held together? What about battles holding off or passing other drivers, that will count in wear and tear. Going to be hard to figure this one out! Buttons smooth style is less aggressive on tires so maybe helps on keeping the Honda chocolate teapot from melting! However least anyone forget the Merc engine when they first enterd f1 in the current era was so much of a choccy teapot they called it an ilmor until it learnt to behave!

    And who endured all that unreliability to make it come good? Yep Ron Dennis and McLaren! Ron will need all that practice with the media to handle the why did it blow up questions! Practice makes perfect I guess.

  30. This is the most amusing story of the preseason. Thanks for the common sense Joe. Although, I’m surprised and disappointed that I have not yet read a report of Kevin Magnussen being spotted hanging upside down out of a window with a smoking tranquillising gun, which caused Alonso to lose consciousness… Which is clearly the cause for the accident in the first place. At least in cuckoo land.

  31. Doctor says, “He shouldn’t race”.

    In the movies, the brave driver would ignore this advice and race.

    In the real world, the insurance contract says, “If a driver races against medical advice, we won’t accept liability for injury or damage to the driver, to property or to third parties including marshalls and spectators” and therefore Ron says, “Suit up, Kevin”

    Why is this so hard to understand?

  32. While I completely agree with his decision on medical grounds and understand the legal perspective too, how is it that MotoGP riders are not prevented from racing while suffering from broken limbs, collarbones and ribs etc..? One would imagine the insurers would take a similar stance with these riders were they to lose their life or find themselves paralysed by ignoring medical advice. Any idea why its different in this case?

    1. It is true that MotoGP rider are obviously harder, racier and generally more awesome than F1 drivers 😉 – however even in MotoGP you would not be allowed to race with concussion, because even the simplest fall could end up being a catastrophe.

  33. Love your way of saying things how they are. Some people need to stop trying to find the conspiracy behind every story. There isn’t one.

  34. Did we ever find out what actually caused the accident? “Wind” seemed a bit of a weak answer to this uneducated observer.

  35. I agree Joe – far too much being read into this situation. The medical facts are straightforward and incontrovertible: Alonso had a serious concussion and the treatment is rest and to avoid any risk of another one within 6 – 8 weeks.

    The poorly worded or downright confusing press statements by those in the sport are what caused all the problems. I read one that said “Doctors advised that Alonso needs time to heal…” and then a few sentences later “… Alonso suffered no injury whatsoever.” To heal you have to have an injury from which to do it!

    Move along people – nothing to see here…

    1. “Move along people – nothing to see here…”

      Hummm…interesting…I thought this was from Blade Runner but it turns out to be from Men In Black, who also had nothing to hide. 😉

  36. The photos of Alonso don’t look quite right- He looks clearly shaken, and unconfident. Could this be his Moss moment? Does he have it in him to develop this car and try to win another world championship in what, 3-5 years?

    1. If you are talking about the photo of him sitting in bed and giving a thumbs up then I agree with you. However that could well be the way you look when you are concussed. However I think he will be fine.

    2. Well so would you when you came round and realised that as the premier F1 driver you’d made an absolute twat of yourself!

  37. I believe it is only a matter of time before all sports that might involve head impacts have mandated sit-out periods following a first concussion, 2nd concussions etc. At which time the grassy knoll types will move on to something else.

    1. I take it you’ve read GH’s comments now via BBC F1? Or Google his blog, always entertaining. No speculation, just plain speaking. Everyone will just have to wait and see what happens after the first race eh?

  38. Hi Joe,

    There’s a number of reports stating that Alonso has told close friends and family members that he had a shock in his spine prior to the crash… i’m assuming this is just page filler for the tabloids?

  39. I do not see how anyone can possibly question a driver protecting his health. Here in the States and Canada their are a number of veteran NFL and NHL players suffering from mental problems due to concussions and the poor treatment given them.

  40. hooray! finally a sensible article on the topic. Some of the other F1 sites seem to have donned the tin foil hats on this one…

  41. Indeed, head concussions is serious business. The National Football League here in ‘Murika is up to eyeballs in head trauma scandals. Good for and good on Alonso for sitting this one out.

    Besides, he has nothing to lose. The Honda power unit didn’t come out of the box breaking lap times and gobbing miles. There’s a snowball’s chance in hell Alonso will ever win a championship again, and much less winning Melbourne next week. It’s even doubtful McLaren can finish in the points.

  42. So, it’s all doom and gloom!
    Jeez, I doubt if AJ, Dan or Mario would have a second thought about making Australia! And don’t count out McLaren Honda, those Japanese hold their cards close! Also, Jenson has every right to be in that car.

  43. Then why was Ron Dennis so adamant that “he is physically perfect with no damage whatsoever. No concussion, no nothing …” ? A point he reiterates twice in his statement.

      1. “So he was wrong” Really Joe? I’d expect that from Matt Bishop but not you. Perhaps that is from Matt?

        1. I am telling you what I think. If you want to believe in fairies that is your choice. The bloke crashed. He hit his head, sounds like it was on both sides of the cockpit. The doctors are being sensible. Dennis is not infallible and he sometimes says things that are wrong. We will announce a sponsor on such-and-such a date… That is not a conspiracy. In my experience 95 percent of conspiracies are just screw-ups. This is just such a screw up.

          1. “Never attribute to a conspiracy what you can attribute to human stupidity.” Works every time. Anyway, I understood that Ron said that there was no evidence *in the scans* for a concussion, doesn’t sound that adamant to me. The doctors probably diagnosed based on the symptoms, not the scans.

          2. Alonso woke up missing 20 years of his life, yet Dennis said “he is physically perfect with no damage whatsoever. No concussion, no nothing …”

            That’s not just saying “things that are wrong” – that’s a clear lie. What else is he lying about?

  44. I think it’s very obvious that Joe is part of the cover up. My sources tell me the electric eel which forms an integral part of the Honda battery system actually got out and went up Alonso’s overall legs, stinging his private parts and causing him to crash. He’s not racing because he still has a swelling in the general area and can’t get his pants on. Fact.

    1. As I understand it, the ‘eel’ was in fact an electric snake, the result of stem cell manipulation, which would account for the extra days in hospital and extended recovery time. An electric shock is instant and recovery time is quick, whereas venom requires the regrowth of soft tissues…

  45. I avoided commenting on yours and James Allen’s sites till I got some proper information, and I think that qualifies.

    ****** heck.

    Thank you for the SIS information.

  46. The medical (and insurance) side makes perfect sense – and is a feather in the cap for F1’s medical people.

    What caused the accident seems murkier at first glance, although I read somewhere that he was going faster through that corner than at any previous lap, so an unfortunate reminder of the limits of the car and the track would seem likely, though not definitely, the truth. This is after all a very new car that could have had any number of niggles or unexpected reactions that would not qualify as “problem with the car” in Ronspeak.

    The PR side of all this hasn’t been stellar, although that’s probably as much to do with the accident occuring in a relative news vacuum as anything else. So: plenty of scope (and time) for constructing grassy knolls, but ultimately no reason to (as far as we know now).

    1. Dear Joe, all
      There’s one thing about a conspiracy theory, it beats the s*#t out of being bored!!
      To quote Julius Caesar -‘men will willingly believe what they want to!’

      I mean, keeping Fernando out of the car for Melbourne, based on (a) the informed opinion of specialist medicos and (b) the decisions of risk assessors, is just too banal! After all, this is F1, it ALWAYS has to be sinister, underhanded, nothing-is-what-it-seems, doesn’t it?
      Ron has been told that if he puts Fernando in the car before he is fully recovered, the worst possible scenario is that he could die.
      No, that is just not Machiavellian enough. I mean, if you follow that line, you might just come to the possibility that, underlying it all, might be something called ‘simple human decency’!!
      That such a decision would be concordant with the ‘culture of safety’ that has developed since the death of Senna should, of course, not be taken into consideration.

  47. For all the conspiracy theorists a little bit of medical science: When one is electrocuted the body produces symptomatic enzymes which are readily available in the bloodstream for testing for a considerable time after an electric shock event.
    There are NO reports of such blood test results finding these markers and I understand that the FIA has already ruled this out as a line of enquiry.

  48. The main thing that surprises me is that racing drivers can get medical insurance for racing accidents? When did that start?

    And how much does it cost?

    1. Nord Krauskopf started K&K Insurance as a beneficiary fund for injured racers in 1952. Sporting related activities, including motorsport, form the core of K&K’s business. There is also a club racing insurance fund by Robbie Rice, son of the late Indy 500 driver Larry. Larry Rice was a K&K agent after his racing career before starting his own firm for club racers in 1998.

      Insuring motorsport was what allowed them to insure other sporting events.

  49. I look at this as a feather in the cap of F1. They have led the way in safety and this is just another example. If this decision was made by F1 good for them, if it was Alonzo, good for him,it would show he is not only intelligent on the track but also off. The health of the driver is more important than a race or two, and as you stated the insurance company has a major hand in this.

    Looking forward for the GP 2015 review. If you haven’t signed up I would strongly recommend.

  50. Hi Joe
    I read your blog since the very first beginning. Usually I take what you write as veridical.
    But this time, I lost my faith on you.
    Either you are stupid (I know you’re not) or you know very well that Mclaren is hiding something but for some reason you can or you don’t want to write about.
    It is a pity.

    1. May I suggest an old English expression: Go jump in the lake! You come here for my opinion. If you don’t like it, don’t come here… And sorry you don’t get a refund on a free service…

  51. I find it rather surprising that most of you are so sure this is just a concussion, even going so far as to ridicule anyone thinking otherwise. And I don’t think it is conspiracy-thinking at all to at least entertain the thought there might be more to this story, in light of all that has happened since the crash.
    The most likely scenario to me, is that Alonso had a black-out (these things do happen) which caused him to crash. Nothing either he or McLaren have said rules this out, they have simply evaded the question by suggesting other plausible circumstances and consequences (the wind, a resulting concussion, et cetera). And in the meantime they have run, or are still running, tests to find what is actually wrong with him. Which makes perfect sense, because to even hint at a black-out or whatever is wrong with Alonso would have very serious consequences.

    Suffice to say, I hope I’m wrong and you all are right.

      1. Joe, you have a long record of being in the know about matters F1, so I will bow to your superior wisdom here, and with a sigh of relief. I would be very very happy if we can enjoy Alonso’s scruff of the neck driving style for a long time still.

    1. “The most likely scenario to me, is that Alonso had a black-out”

      Maybe he was texting a mate and looked down at the wrong moment. I once nearly drove into the back of someone whilst doing that.


  52. It was almost 40 years ago when Mark Donahue suffered a head injury while crashing in F1 practice in Austria. He seemed alright that evening, and died suddenly the next day.

    Head injuries are serious and need special awareness. Does it really take 40 years to realize this?

  53. Here’s the real conspiracy that the paid conspirators had to coverup with their electric diatribes.

    El Nano had driven a enough laps in the new McHonda to discover that while it’s terribly unreliable, it’s also terribly slow. Having wasted 5 years prodding prancing horses, at that moment on the track, he made a split second decision – languishing around 10-12th place only to DNF for some/most of the season or languishing around the pool nursing a good bourbon and a big headache. Touch choice. But, he made it.

    This is the true story, because I read his mind. Unfortunately, my lofty, but limited psychic abilities don’t speak catalonian. But, no matter. I’m pretty sure this is what he was thinking moments before a gust of wind caught out the aero and he put a wheel on the turf and smacked the wall.


    1. Alonso involved in a conspiracy involving a deliberate crash? Good Lord, who would ever believe such a thing?…

      1. Sadly Mr Piquet’s actions mean we have to suffer more conspiracy theories. Comments he crashed on purpose were ‘out there’ within minutes, and for once the loons were correct. For once.

  54. The cynic in me says, if the McLaren-Honda were as fast as the Merc or even Ferrari, Fernando would be in the car at Australia and not on the sideline.

  55. i wonder how many of your posters were on the east coast of spain that day

    the telemetry exists to show that alonso went wide and lost the car … under normal circumstances you would expect a driver of his calibre to recover but if you get caught by a gust of wind at a moment like that anything can happen and clearly did
    don’t believe the gusts were that bad ? I was due to be travelling up that coast that day and thought it advisable to stay home ; I asked the pilot at the local port why the bulk carrier due in that day hadn’t arrived …response…he went out with the tugs and tried to bring it in but the hawsers snapped due to the the severity of the gusts and he had to send it back out to sea until the winds dropped

    and alonso had a more competitive car he would race anyway ? i think we have moved on from those days !

    1. ^this.

      the telemetry also shows that he was breaking hard after going off circuit, so there is no question of him being unconscious, blacking out, having a fit or whatever before the moment of impact.

      There’s nothing going on now until the first race of the season so people’s imaginations are running away from them. Thanks to Joe for bringing a bit of sense back to things, as usual.

  56. First post here.

    let me recap some of the not so clear points

    1. jordi vidal taking picture of ALO at turn 3 and explained later that ALO was already much slower vs previous laps. ALO then moves to the right, like going to park, and hit the wall. no counter movement

    2. type of impact vs ALO condition are not a common match these days. ie: very light contact (like 1000s every year) and very high damage.

    3. ALO not moving for 10’+

    4. EMERGENCY evacuation by Heli.

    5. Doctors at the hospital say: all fine, only a concussion (all fine or a concussion ?), but ALO staying 3 nights!!

    6. ALO out after 4 days with NO ONE single branded item (first time in F1 history!)

    7. ALO says he is fine and looking forward to Australia

    8. MCL says all fine. wind maybe. but car perfect. ALO doctors (not MCL doc) say he is fine

    9. NO telemetry. NO on board camera.

    10. ALO go back to hospital for a check-up. Results say ALL fine but NO RACING in Australia, because of possible SIS. But if the check up is fine, the decision of NOT racing in Australia is based on the fact that he had a, dangerous or not, concussion…and they had this information from day 1. Why not announcing the Australia miss days before.

    11….and still NO BRANDED item picture of ALO around….

  57. Makes perfect sense. Sit out – until your 100% physically ready. I did not think of the insurance implications.

  58. According to the Spanish press and others (we all know everyone regurgitates from one source), when Alonso regained consciousness he answered the rescuers questions really wrong.. (name\what were you doing\what do you wanna do in the future?). Apparently he said something like his name was Fernando, he was 13, driving go karts and one day wanted to be driving F1 !!!! If that’s not bollocks (who knows these days), it’s a good 20y of retrograde amnesia which might explain the helicopter, 3 days in the hospital and rest post Australia… That would scare the $##$ outta me too !

  59. Former Touring car driver and chief technician of the austrian ASN Heribert Werginz stated in an interview “he couldn´t imagine hybrid failure resulting in an electric shock because the system is monitored in a milliampere range and is shut down on the slightest irregularity. Furthermore, you need a closed electric circuit which was not there. “If the positive pole would be fixed on the steering column and the negative pole on the drivers seat, then maybe. But I am absolutely sure Mc Laren doesn´t want to get rid of one of their drivers.”

    I wanted to tell this statement because of the strange stories a la Barbazza (“600 Watt” :-)) which definetely have a hidden agenda against the hybrid system used in Formula 1.

  60. Its being reported that when Alonso came to, he thought it was 1995. There is more to the story than what’s being told, if that is the case. Let’s hope all is ok with the 2x champ.

  61. People assume that there are only 2 posibilities for Alonso’s condition leading up to the crash: Unconscious or conscious and perfectly fine.

    There are other posibilities One of them is that he became dizzy and temporarily blinded but remained conscious. This can happen from lack of proper bloodflow to the brain. I KNOW because it has happened to myself probably about 50 times in my lifetime. I have permanently low bloodpressure. My doctor says it’s harmless. But it does come with some quirks. The worst side effect is that sometimes, if I’m ill or have an infection, I can pass out right after peeing or if I rise from a sitting position too fast. But mostly I just become dizzy and it simply turns black for my eyes. When it happens I try to keep it steady and slowly sit down, untill I can see again.

    If Alonso for whatever reason had reduced bloodflow to his brain, became dizzy and lost eyesight. What would he do? He would likely break as hard as he could but NOT correct his direction, even if he was drifting towards the wall. Which is exactly what the GPS data is saying he did.

    I’m not saying this is what happened. Just that there are many other posibilities than passing out or getting an electric shock. And this one fits the actual events.

  62. ah ah! imho ALO is not well. they might hope to understand but at the moment is not well. Maybe not even clear why. Possibly won’t drive again.

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