Two-time world champ lauds FIA’s safety measures

Fernando Alonso is lucky to be alive. The Spanish driver admitted to such after a horrific crash at the Australian Grand Prix. The debacle left his McLaren race car completely obliterated. Alonso was engaged in a heated duel with Haas Racing driver Esteban Gutierrez in the 17th lap of the race when his right tire clipped the back of Gutierrez’s car. That contact sent the number 14 McLaren-Honda race car straight into the wall where it smashed to pieces before flipping multiple times and flying all the way to another wall at the end of the run-off area. The car eventually rested upside down in a smoldering heap.

Alonso miraculously walked out of the crash as soon as the car came to a rest, drawing huge sighs of relief from his family, team, and everyone who saw the incredible crash. Watching in real time, it’s easy to see why a lot of people were worried about Alonso. The car not only smacked the wall at high speed, but the momentum of that crash caused the car to flip over multiple times in the air before crashing violently into the dirt.

The crash immediately brought out the red flag, causing the entire race to be stopped temporarily. It eventually resumed with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg taking the checkered flag ahead of teammate and defending world champion Lewis Hamilton. But with respect to the two Mercedes drivers and third-place finisher Sebastian Vettel, Alonso’s crash has become the main talking point from the race as it has once again put a spotlight on the Formula One’s move to improve the safety conditions for its drivers during race weekends.

Alonso was quick to give credit for the advancements the sport has made with regards to the safety of the cars themselves. Anybody who saw the crash likely counted on the worst before seeing Alonso walk away unhurt. The crash also brought flashbacks to the accident that led to the death of Jules Bianchi. It may have been different circumstances, but seeing such a wreck makes people think of the worst-case scenarios. Alonso said so himself, so if there’s anybody who knows how lucky he is to still be alive, it’s definitely him.

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0Why it matters0

I didn’t catch the accident live, but I had the race playing in the background. When the announcers started raising their voices, I turned around in time to see the wrecked McLaren-Honda race car rest upside down on the gravel. I don’t know if seeing it on replay for the first time made it worse, but I can imagine that it happened so fast in real time that people who saw it live couldn’t process what had just happened. Whatever the case may be, I’m just happy that Alonso walked out of there. He admitted to having sore knees but for the most part, it looks like he’s going to be okay. That’s tremendous news!

Race officials also indicated that it’s launching an investigation to determine the conditions that led to the crash and whether sanctions would be imposed on either of the two drivers. The sanctions seem unlikely from my standpoint considering that both drivers have already said that it was simply a “racing incident.”

On another level, the accident also shines a light on new safety measures being implemented by the FIA, particularly the halo-style cockpit that’s scheduled to be used in 2017. I know it was just news a few days ago, but it would be interesting to see how the teams, Formula One, and the FIA, approach Alonso’s crash from the standpoint of implementing the cockpit for next season. Alonso being able to walk out from the accident made me remember F1 technical director Charlie Whiting’s comments about a risk assessment being done on the cockpit to determine if it doesn’t pose a risk to drivers in other aspects of a crash. I bring this up because if the halo cockpit was already in place in his car, would he have been able to get out as quick as he did without it? Something to think about, right?

Source: Formula 1

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