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The conspiracies surrounding Fernando Alonso’s 2015 pre-season testing crash

Fernando Alonso's 2015 pre-season testing crash led the way for many conspiracies after the investigations didn't quite add up and remains a mystery still

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Some things in Formula 1 cannot be explained, and some fans still cannot understand what happened to Fernando Alonso during pre-season testing in 2015.

Fernando Alonso needed medical assistance after his crash at Turn Three in Barcelona (Image Credit: Sky Sports)

Ahead of the 2015 Formula 1 season, teams performed the usual pre-season testing in Barcelona. On the Sunday of testing, Fernando Alonso was driving his McLaren-Honda when he crashed into the wall at Turn Three. Driving at 135kmh, the crash sent him to the hospital with a concussion.

He had CT and MRI scans performed and was kept in the hospital overnight for precautionary measures. The McLaren Racing Director at the time, Eric Boullier, spoke on Alonso’s condition, saying: “Fortunately, he’s fine, but was concussed during the accident, which therefore required an overnight stay in hospital as a precaution.

“That’s normal practice after a concussion. Inevitably, some media reports have sought to exaggerate the severity of the incident – it was just a normal testing accident.”

The crash sparked concerns because many claimed that it was “strange” for such a crash to occur at a slow speed. The events that followed caused even more worry and left space for many conspiracy theories.

Here we will analyse the aftermath of this crash and some of the theories that were created with it. This is one of the crashes most spoken about among F1 fans. It can never be forgotten, especially since the tyre marks are still on the Catalunya track as one F1 fan shared.

What were McLaren’s findings?

No footage of the crash was released by either McLaren, any broadcasters or the FIA. The motorsport body didn’t even publish the findings from the investigations made. This lack of information fuelled the suspense among fans and the media.

Jenson Button didn’t go out to test his McLaren that afternoon. During four days in Barcelona, McLaren recorded 104 laps. It was considered a poor amount considering that Mercedes, Williams and Lotus had done even more on the Sunday alone.

Boullier added to his comments, saying: “While the car wasn’t particularly badly damaged, it was enough of an impact to warrant quite a lengthy check of the gearbox and power unit systems. Given the time needed to carry out such an analysis, we decided to bring the curtain down on our test a few hours earlier than anticipated. It’s been a tough week for the whole team but we’ll be back and pushing harder than ever in Barcelona next week.”

Ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Alonso was ready to race once again. Many journalists had questions what might have happened. As reported by Chris Medland, Alonso said that the “steering locked during his testing accident and McLaren has changed the steering rack among other things.”

Was Alonso unconscious in the car?

Many thought that Alonso lost consciousness when he hit the wall. It was mainly because there was no response from him on the team’s radio, which raised many worries.

However, he told the media: “After the hit, I was kissing the wall for a while and then I switched off the radio first because it was on and then I switched off the master switch that we use for the batteries to switch off the ERS system so the marshals can touch the car.

“I was perfectly conscious at that time. I lost consciousness in the ambulance or clinic at the circuit, but the doctors said this is normal because the medication that they put you under for the transportation and the checks that they do in the hospital and MRI and evaluation needs this protocol and medication.”

The doctors suggested that Alonso should’ve missed out on the Melbourne race because of second-impact syndrome. This can cause a second concussion when the effects of the first are still easing. It can even cause severe brain damage and at times, even be fatal.

Theory 1: Fernando lost control because of the wind

Sebastian Vettel was behind Fernando Alonso when the incident happened. He said:

“The speed was slow – maybe 150kph. Then he turned right into the wall. It looked strange.”

This quote gave fans even more to think about. These comments created so many more questions that Vettel had to come out to the media once again and clarified what he meant to say.

As reported by ESPN, Vettel was asked whether it was windy at Turn Three, which might have been the cause of the incident. Vettel said: “Yes, I think it was. I think Carlos [Sainz] had an accident [at Turn 3] where he lost the car, it was very windy on that day. I’m not sure what exactly happened.

“I was right behind but I didn’t really see. I was a bit too late so I couldn’t see how the accident started, I only saw the last bit where he hit the wall. But what happened before I don’t know, I cannot judge.

“I went to McLaren straight away after it happened and basically told them what I saw and asked Fernando if he was okay – at that stage we didn’t know. It’s still shocking to know he still needs to recover but the most important thing right now is that in general he is fine.”

But on the contrary, Alonso then said that it wasn’t the wind. During the Malaysian GP presser, the Spaniard told the media: “I don’t know if you’ve seen the video but even a hurricane would not move the car at that sort of speed.”

Fernando Alonso hit the wall at Turn Three in Barcelona (Image Credit: Sky Sports)
Theory 2: Alonso received an electric shock from the MP4-3

Another conspiracy is that Alonso received an electric shock from the McLaren. This was after the Spanish newspaper, El País, reported that he told doctors that it was the year 1995 when questioned. The newspaper claimed that Alonso said:

“I’m Fernando, I’m in karts and want to become a Formula 1 driver.”

Reports also said that he doesn’t remember any of the crash incident. People thought that a shock might have been the cause of his memory loss. Some people also believe that the reason Alonso is still driving, aged 41, is because he thinks he’s younger than he actually is.

However, McLaren came out again and said that Alonso received no such shock. As reported by PlanetF1, McLaren CEO at the time, Ron Dennis, said: “There was absolutely categorically no electrocution. In all the previous runs, Fernando was saying it was tricky because the wind is moving the car around. Our conclusions that it was related to the wind was based on his comments and the comments of a third party.

“We can categorically say he didn’t suffer an electric shock. We can categorically say that, we believe, the car did not fail. Everything after that becomes subjective.”

He added that Alonso was in fact unconscious for some time when he was still in the car. He said: “When he came to rest, all we know is that the radio was on and we could hear him breathing. There were no other noises. They say it was seconds.”

Did Alonso really forget his F1 career?

This was a controversial and personal matter for Alonso. It was a big statement to make and that is why McLaren felt the need to address it. Alonso took to Twitter to joke about how people thought he had amnesia.

Boullier spoke to the media once again and insisted that the incident was exaggerated. The concussion wasn’t as dramatic as people made it out to be. He told Sky Sports F1: “It was just a normal concussion [with] a loss of temporary memory. It’s not as dramatic as you read in the media. Everything is back to normal.”

The case closed with Alonso and McLaren saying that it was most likely a problem with the steering wheel. This doesn’t stop conspiracists from creating theories though. There are still some mysteries that were never shown to the public such as the findings.

The theory about the wind doesn’t add up. One party says that the gust of wind caused it, and another says that not even a hurricane can move the car. So some things that different people said do not add up.

The secrecy has kept F1 fans sceptical. However, at least we know that Fernando Alonso remembers becoming a two-time World Champion with Renault.

Featured Image Credit: Formula 1

  1. Pondering a mysterious incident from nearly eight years back is pointless & besides, a simple reason for the footage absence is that broadcasting pre-season testing wasn’t a thing yet & no one with a camera happened to be on the relevant circuit section at the right moment.
    However, not releasing findings was weird, given FIA did so with Hubert’s fatal accident, for example.

    1. There IS footage of the incident, Alsonsos and Vettels onboard recorded it as well as the local CCTV F1 requires these days for track safety. There have to be multiple angles of the incident.

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