Fernando Alonso says locked steering caused Barcelona crash
Spaniard contradicts McLaren's explanation and describes 'gust of wind' theory as a 'guess' and 'not a help'; Alonso also denies being knocked unconscious, waking up and thinking it was 1995
By Mike Wise and James Galloway
Last Updated: 29/03/15 7:10am
Fernando Alonso has contradicted McLaren's explanation for his accident in testing and insisted that the crash was caused by a steering lock.
Speaking ahead of his F1 return at this weekend’s Malaysia GP, the Spaniard said he remembered everything about the crash at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on February 22 and rubbished claims he woke up after being knocked out believing the year was 1995.
More dramatically, the McLaren driver also flatly denied the team's announcement that a gust of wind was to blame for the loss of control and said he believed the steering locked on his MP4-30.
"Obviously with the team we have been very close working on that and with the FIA, they were very helpful all the times, and we were in close contact, all three parts constantly and yeah, there is not in the data anything clear that we can spot and we can say it was that, the reason," Alonso said.
"But definitely we had a steering problem in the middle of turn three. It locked into the right and I approached the wall I braked in the last moment, I downshift from fifth to third, and yeah, unfortunately on the data we are still missing some parts."
Speaking to the media for the first time since the accident on his return to the paddock at Sepang, Alonso was asked to confirm whether the crash at the high-speed Turn Three right-hand corner was caused by driver error or an unpredictable gust of wind. "No, definitely not," he replied.
"Even a hurricane will not move the car at that speed. Also, if you have any problem or any medical issue normally you will lose the power and go straight to the outside, never to the inside. In a Formula 1 car you still need to apply some effort to the steering wheel."
Alonso's car bumped and grazed the inside wall exiting Turn Three before coming to a halt. He was taken to the track's medical centre before being transferred by helicopter to a nearby hospital, where he stayed for three nights.
Recounting the specifics of the crash, Alonso suggested his steering wheel "locked" as he rounded the corner, which sent him onto the collision course with the wall.
He admitted, however, that McLaren couldn't be sure what caused the problem due to the immaturity of the technology monitoring that part of the car. They have now added an extra sensor.
In a media briefing at Barcelona, Ron Dennis told reporters that the 33-year-old "was unconscious for a relatively short period of time" after the impact with the wall.
However, the driver himself has said that the only time he lost consciousness was after being administered medication for his transportation to hospital, something the doctors told him was normal.
"Everything was more or less a normal concussion. I went to the hospital in good condition," he said. "There is a time I don’t remember in the hospital, from two o’clock to six o’clock or something like that, but everything again was normal due to the medication that they give you to go into the helicopter and do some tests in the hospital.
"Then everything was normal. I didn’t wake up in ’95. I didn’t wake up speaking in Italian. I didn’t wake up in all these things that probably were out there [in the media]. I remember the accident and I remember everything that following day."
He added: "I remember on the Sunday morning all the set-up changes, all the lap times. [Sebastian] Vettel was in front of me before Turn Three but cut the chicane to let me go exiting the pitlane and after the hit I was kissing the wall for a while and I switched off the radio first because it was on.
"Then I switched off the master switch for the batteries to switch off the ERS system just because I saw the marshals coming and if not they can't touch the car. So I was perfectly conscious at that time."
With Alonso's recollection of events contradicting some of the initial statements made by McLaren and their management in the days following the Barcelona crash, the Spaniard admits the confusion caused was not helpful.
"Obviously with the accident, with the repercussion of the accident, the news being in Spain, a lot of attention on that day, probably the first answers or the first press conference that the team had and my manager and all the staff had around these first early days, it was just some guess," he said.
"The wind, maybe other possibilities, and that creates a bit of confusion obviously. But you cannot say nothing for three or four days until I remember everything because [during] these three or four days [the situation] would become even worse. So I think they said the theory of the wind etcetera, but obviously it was not a help.”
Alonso also revealed that he had requested some changes to the steering rack on his return to McLaren at the start of the year to suit his driving style, but "here we will go back to the normal driving rack they have been using for Jenson and Kevin [Magnussen] over the last couple of years".
But despite conceding that "maybe it will never be" clear what caused his steering wheel to lock at Barcelona, the former world champion insisted he had no safety concerns about returning this weekend.
"Of course there are some actions for this race but there are zero problems or worries on my side. Everything is okay," he added.
Sky Sports F1 will show every session from the Malaysia Grand Prix weekend live and available on the move with Sky Go. The race starts at 8am on Sunday, with comprehensive build-up underway from 6:30am