Alonso’s problem explained

Fernando Alonso has a hairline crack in a rib. This was not spotted in the first medical examination after his crash in Melbourne, but came to light when he had a medical examination in Bahrain on Thursday. While this would not have stopped him racing on Sunday, it represented a potential danger and so the FIA decided not to allow him to race, on the basis that he might suffer much more serious damage if he was in another big accident.

54 thoughts on “Alonso’s problem explained

  1. yeah can’t imagine the pain at 4 or 5 g in a corner or under braking. you don’t wan’t to deal with that for 2 hours straight. bugger that. hope he heals soon.

    1. Apparently Mark Webber did just that in 2005 when he raced with broken ribs in Australia and Malaysia…its a shame the FIA don’t give the competitors the freedom to make the call themselves anymore.

  2. I cannot beleive I am going to say this, but with reminders in recent years that F1 is still dangerous, is it really a smart idea to set out to make cars faster for 2017? The cars/engines will get quicker through development surely?

    I think in the main fans would rather a thrilling dice for position arriving at a corner at, say, a 180mph approach/70mph apex, rather than follow the leader to the apex at 200mph approach/80mph apex or whatever. Alonso’s accident would not have been helped by travelling a fair bit faster either.

    I just can’t see what is going to be achieved apart from making accidents bigger.

  3. The level of sanitization in Formula 1 these days is another reason people are turning over to watch something else.

    Perhaps the FIA should be letting Alonso be the arbiter given that ultimately, it is his safety at stake here. Gone are the days when Formula 1 drivers were seen as the risk takers who would put everything on the line for ultimate glory.

    For those who will argue that the competition can not go against medical advice and place drivers in situation of unnecessary risk, why is it then that we see MotoGP riders do this on a frequent basis? It is not uncommon for riders to be carrying fractures of the limbs, collar, wrist or ribs, often incurred during the same race weekend.

    F1 is becoming very ‘uncool’ due to over-regulation and this is another example of this.

    1. Perhaps the FIA should be letting Alonso be the arbiter given that ultimately, it is his safety at stake here.

      And the safety of his fellow competitors, not to mention the marshals.

        1. How is this any different from when FIM permit riders to race against doctor’s orders? If its possible in motorcycle sport why is it NOT possible in motorsport?

      1. There will always be some margin of risk given motorsport is inherently a dangerous activity, much in the same way as boxing, mixed martial arts, skiing, rugby, mountaineering, yachting, tour de france and countless other sports yet all of these activities permit ‘endangered’ competitors to continue competing unless concussion is involved. The most direct comparison is MotoGP whereby the very same injuries are generally accepted as ‘part and parcel’ of the sport…not just by the individuals but also their fellow competitors and the marshals. Why are F1 competitors treated with comparative kid gloves?

        1. I think that’s not a good comparison. F1 drivers are strapped very tightly into their cars, and in case of a serious accident they may have to be extricated from the cars. The situation is very different from MotoGP. Alonso’s injuries could have been made worse just by being strapped into the car or having to be extricated in the event of a serious accident.

          I think there’s also a distinction to be drawn between injuries that occur during an event and those that are known to exist ahead of the event. Would a boxer be allowed to compete if it were known ahead of the weigh-in that he had fractured ribs?

          I think this is OK. F1 is very much safer than it once was and that’s a good thing. And it’s safer because of regulation and the rigorous enforcement of those regulations. Max Mosley was once asked if “crashgate” and “spygate” were the most difficult times during his Presidency. He said no, and in the grand scheme of things they weren’t that serious or that worrying: because nobody died, nobody sustained career-ending injuries.

          I hear what you are saying about motorsport not being 100% safe, and you’re right. But my view is that FIA are right to manage the risks that they can manage.

        2. To dob myself all the way in, I wish other sports were as particular about injuries as F1 is.

          I find it astonishing that international cricket, for example, has not put in place a mandatory specification for protective helmets, accompanied by a rule that stipulates that when a batsman takes a blow to the head the helmet he is wearing must be discarded, must be replaced by a new one (that meets the standards) and may not be reused.

          1. Agreed on the cricket helmet replacement however will just have to agree to disagree with on whether F1’s currently level sensitivity is how it should be across the board or whether that’s a step too far (should rugby players by dressed up in similar attire as american footballers for the sake of safety?).

            Its worth noting that there is precendent of F1 drivers racing with cracked ribs in previous era – Webber in 2005, Coulthard in 2000 and Lauda in 1976. Given that Ron Dennis has gone on record and stated that he felt the the FIA were wrong to step in, clearly there is disagreement within F1 circles as to whether this was necessary.

      1. Might as well pack up and not race at all given there’s a chance that could with any of the competitors. Yes the risk is increased but if the driver wanted to race (which he says he did) then why not let him at least try? Nicki Lauda was permitted to race twice in 76 and David Coulthard once in 2000 (Spanish GP) with broken ribs. Back in 1968 Jackie Stewart won the German GP with a broken wrist too.

    2. He had a collapsed lung and the cracked rib meant it could re-occur, I don’t think the FIA or McLaren would send him out in that state. I’ve had a pneumothorax/chest drain and it hurts like hell to breath just lying in a hospital bed still let alone under high G-forces in an F1 car.

      1. Seems like Ron Dennis wanted Alonso to race based on the following quotes, “I don’t think there was anything that could have come out of this that would have jeopardised any one’s safety in regards to the other drivers and it’s really for Fernando and the team to affect a decision.” and “The doctors in Europe disagreed with the doctors here so it wasn’t a black and white decision.”

      2. There is always some ancient precedent from a time when there was less regulation and less concern about safety. Drivers used to race with cloth helmets and no safety belts. Should that be allowed now? There was a time when medical care and protocols were not uniform and controlled by FIA as now, but left to individual promoters (who usually were not particularly concerned as long as they got their show).

        That was then. This is now. Now we do have a FIA medical team at every race with proper facilities and with authority.

        Sid Watkins’s statement at the 2000 race said BRUISED ribs, and DC was examined and passed fit – he did not overrule the medical team, was not permitted to race despite having injuries that Watkins felt were grounds for exclusion.

        1. McLaren released an official statement after Watkin’s own that clarified that the initial thought that Coulthard had escaped with heavy bruising was erroneous and that the injuries were more serious than initially believed.

          The McLaren statement included the following quote, “The inspection established that David has a bruised right chest wall and that the eighth, ninth and 10th ribs on his right side are cracked,”.

          Not quite sure either Coulthard, nor Webber’s decision to race in the Australian and Malaysian GPs with similar injuries in 2005 (he fractured his rib and damaged the surrounding rib cartilage.) would fall under the category of an “ancient precedent when there was less regulation and less concern about safety”. Again, to confirm Webber’s condition he has been quoted as saying “I had food poisoning in one race but I still finished it – Fuji in ’07. I’ve also competed with fractured ribs …”

          Would however agree that the competition today is overregulated, a sentiment that many spectators agree with hence the migration of many followers to a less hyper-sensitively governed form of contemporary motorsport such as MotoGP where the decision on whether to race with such injuries falls mainly upon the competitor concerned.

    3. yes, nut the boys at SKY says he should not race, that he should retire, remember, he was never and is not one of “ours”

  4. If Sunday was the last race of the season and Fernando was leading the championship would he have been able to race? Is there a clear process here that means that F1 doesn’t look silly in the event of the above?

    I’m saying this not from a perspective of criticism just trying to understand the process. I only imagine that this could be really controversial if an individual says I want to risk it and accept the consequences – which they do every weekend anyway.

  5. Very sensible. Murphy’s Law would state that if he should not have an accident with his medical condition, he probably would.

  6. Nice to see the FIA finally show some backbone. They did the right thing here, When it comes to safety they are second to none.

    1. I doubt it. As Alonso says, it’s not the same as breaking an arm or a leg. When Dunlop raced with a cracked rib and crashed again, he lost even more recovery time.
      I follow MotoGP and it is amazing how these riders race with broken collar bones, hands, arms and legs, but rib injuries are another matter.

      (incidentally, you’ll notice that rib injuries are also a special case in other sports where the competitors regularly compete with injuries).

      1. You are correct that rib injuries are far more debilitating however there is a precedent of racers (albeit MotoGP ones), racing with such afflications (I have completed the remainder of a kart race myself with a seperated rib and the ride home on my own motorbike was not pleasant, nor the recovery afterwards). While I would understand if Alonso himself were to step in and say it were just not possible, I’m struggling to understand the liability aspect whereby the FIA feel compelled to intervene when FIM has had a long history of letting the competitors and their teams being the best judges. Why the disparity between the two governing bodies?

    1. I have the same gut feeling. He’s used up quite a few of his 9 lives, why risk the last one for a mid-field finish.

      1. That’s the same stupid tabloid gossip that Sky F1 constantly repeats (and gets wrong). Why on earth would he be present in Bahrain if that were the case?? It’s not the hardest thing in the world to figure out…SMH

    2. Not a chance. If that was the case he would have gone home. He stayed on to work with the team. I think his actions speak louder than your words.not an Alonso fan, but I have respect for his actions towards vandorne and sympathy for the hatchet job article on BBC website. I hope that journalist is shunned by Alonso and the team in future. Just completely uncalled for .

  7. Now that makes it clearer, though it’s strange it could not be spotted in the first examination and Alonso himself felt no physical discomfort as a result of it, at least nothing we were told of but only now Alonso is saying he was feeling pain all these days…

  8. Wait. They’ve only *just* discovered this? Yah no, I don’t believe that. Alonso will have a bunch of soft tissue damage. They knew that from at least the day after. A cracked rib is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

  9. He’s obviously disappointed not to be cleared to race but I applaud hid decision to stay for the weekend “to help Stoffel and to work with the team”.

    I suspect this was also partly intended to avoid the sort of media sniping that he encountered after the Barca crash last year….

  10. Just goes to show how well built these cars are, and how effective the safety rules are nowadays that a cracked rib is all he suffered after that huge crash.

    Hope he recovers soon!. Also best of luck to Stoffel for the weekend!

  11. Dear Joe, all
    Nice to see the FIA make a sensible decision.
    Rib damage of any sort is more often than not is usually accompanied by excruciating pain- even laughing can be so painful as to make you weep. Or, for that matter, pressure from the safety harness, under braking. Sudden stabbing pain can impair concentration. Not a good thing when you are driving at extreme speeds in close proximity to others doing the same.
    Cheers
    MarkR

  12. I know about cracked ribs, as I cracked one when riding my push bike years ago.
    Agony when trying to get out of bed. I wouldn’t like to be strapped in an F1 car with one and try to race.

    1. Yet that’s exactly what Nicki Lauda did in 76 and David Coulthard did in 2000 (Spanish GP). Back in 1968 Jackie Stewart won the German GP with a broken wrist too.

  13. Not sure where your source of medical information is from but Alonso’s injuries were/are far more serious than a hairline cracked rib ??? .
    Do your home work Joe Blogs 👎🏼😤

    1. Actually I did exactly that, but i did it before the press conference at which he gave more details, so why not put things into proper perspective and not be so rude.

  14. The radio report I heard this morning said he also had a collapsed lung confused and misleading reporting as usual from the tabloid press in aus.

  15. I consulted Dr Google. No I don’t have cancer but it does say approx 6 weeks for a rib to repair itself. A stretch to say Alonso might miss Russia too?

  16. Sorry for Alonso, but he’s lucky that this is his only injury after a crash like that… I hope that he heals quickly and is back on track soon…..

    But who on earth wrote that original FIA press release? It wasn’t as if someone was answering a live Q&A session in a foreign language and fumbled their words. That could be forgiven. This was a prewritten, and presumably approved, press release. To use language such as: “two sets of chest CT scans were compared and it was decided that there was insufficient resolution of the signs to allow him to compete on safety grounds” is hardly a clear explanation of the actual situation.

    But since the FIA have seemingly no interest in listening to F1 fans, why bother to take the time to communicate properly with them either….

    Rant over.

    1. I forgot about that – he raced with heavy strapping and a load of pain killing injections. Finished on the podium in at least one of those races.

  17. Don’t tell the bikers, they’ll be laughing for weeks. Beyond being painful it doesn’t sound very threatening.

        1. Hey Joe. From the BBC Story “Fernando Alonso out of Bahrain GP with rib injury following lung collapse” Alonso also stated on TV he had a pneumothorax, which is the medical term for a lung collapse, air getting in the chest cavity around the lung.

  18. I find it interesting that Fernando, Dave Redding and Ron Dennis (but not Eric Boullier) went to the FIA and attempted to get them to allow Alonso to drive. Ron doesn’t come off looking too concerned about his driver’s safety here, especially after last years lies about Alonso’s concussion.

    1. I thought it was rather amusing to see Alonso put Johnny Herbert in his place (unexpectedly on live TV) when he said Alonso should retire. A shame he couldn’t race, although it was really great to see Vandoorne racing this weekend — he did an excellent job. Hopefully he will be racing full-time for McLaren next season no matter who he replaces.

      1. Johnnys a commentator not a Champion according to Fernando, the dirty look he gives Johnny as he walks away was the best, he made Johnny look quite the uncomfortable fool – payback on live t.v is a bitch. Herbert deserved that by writing that speculative nonsense, it seems there is competition amongst these bingo callers to gain some prominence. It seemed like a desperate article at the time he may think twice about doing an Eddie Jordan prediction next time.

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