SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso sought to clarify the situation surrounding the pre-season crash that forced him to miss the season-opening race in Australia, the Spaniard saying he never lost consciousness or suffered memory lapses as a result of the accident.
Alonso moved from Ferrari to McLaren at the end of last season but confusion surrounding a winter-testing crash in Barcelona last month left him facing 30 minutes of questions about the incident on his return to the Formula One paddock ahead of this week’s Malaysian Grand Prix.
“Everything was like a normal concussion,” Alonso told reporters on Thursday, hours after passing tests at the Sepang International Circuit that gave him the green light to mark his return to a team with whom he raced for one campaign in 2007.
”I went to the hospital in good condition and there is a time that I don’t remember for about four hours but that was completely normal due to the medication they gave me to go into the helicopter.
“I didn’t wake up in 1995... I didn’t wake up speaking in Italian or any of the states that were reported. I remember the accident and all the things from the following days.”
The cause of the crash remains something of a mystery to both the driver and his team but the double world champion was certain the blame could be laid upon a steering issue.
“There is nothing clear in the data that we can spot and say ‘it was that’ but we definitely had a steering problem in the middle of turn three,” he added.
“It locked to the right... I approached the wall and applied the brakes at the last moment and downshifted from fifth to third gear but there are still some missing parts on the data we have acquired about what exactly happened.”
Alonso was quick to play down one of the early theories that a strong gust of wind had caused the accident, insisting that the locality of the crash had not helped the situation.
“There was no gust of wind, even a hurricane would not move the car,” he said.
”Honestly, with the accident being in Spain it got a lot of attention that day and some of the first answers the team gave at the initial press conferences... were just guessing at what caused the accident.
“That created a little bit of confusion but you cannot really say anything for certain for three or four days so the wind theory did not help.”
Pressed further, Alonso was able to recount the entire crash in minute detail before adding that the incident did not make him fear for his future and that he had no regrets about moving to a team struggling at the back of the field with its new Honda engine.
”I am not afraid,“ he said. ”It’s a very normal thing. I felt ready to go to Australia but the doctors said it was too early so we waited for one more race.
”I am one of the happiest people in the world. Really, I have a tough challenge ahead of me. It is difficult but will taste better when we do it.
“I understand that now we are too far back an will be heavily criticized which is fair because we are not where we want to be but it’s a long-term project that requires a lot of work.”
Editing by Patrick Johnston