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07 December 2023

F1: Alonso to miss season-opening Australian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso of Spain and Ferrari celebrates on the podium after winning the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 12, 2013 in Montmelo, Spain. (GETTY)


Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso will miss the opening race of the 2015 season in Australia after suffering concussion in a crash in testing, his McLaren team confirmed on Tuesday.

"Fernando's doctors have recommended to him that, following the concussion he sustained in a testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 22nd, for the time being he should seek to limit as far as is possible any environmental risk factors that could potentially result in his sustaining another concussion so soon after his previous one, so as to minimise the chances of second impact syndrome, as is normal medical procedure when treating athletes after concussions," McLaren said in a statement.

"In order to limit those environmental risk factors, specifically, his doctors have advised that he should not compete in the imminent Australian Grand Prix meeting, which will take place on March 13th, 14th and 15th.

"Fernando has understood and accepted that advice, and the two McLaren-Honda cars will therefore be driven in Australia by Fernando's team-mate Jenson Button and the team's test and reserve driver Kevin Magnussen."

The 33-year-old Spaniard crashed into a wall at the track in Barcelona when he ran wide on the final day of the second pre-season test and had to be air-lifted to hospital under sedation.

Alonso spent three nights in hospital before being released and as a result sat out the final testing session in Barcelona last week so as to rest and recuperate at home in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo.

McLaren chief executive Ron Dennis claimed last week that he couldn't "forsee any reason" why Alonso would miss the season opener in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, Alonso himself posted a video on social media saying he would be back racing "very soon."

However, McLaren remain hopeful that Alonso will be cleared to race in the second Grand Prix of the season in Malaysia on March 29.

"Fernando's doctors acknowledge that he feels fit and well, and that he regards himself as ready to race, and, that being the case, they are comfortable with the fact that he has already recommenced physical training, with a view to preparing for a return to the cockpit of his McLaren-Honda car for the Malaysian Grand Prix meeting on March 27th, 28th and 29th," the statement continued.

"Indeed, his doctors are supportive of that ambition, satisfied as they are that he sustained no damage whatsoever during his testing accident on February 22nd.

"All at McLaren-Honda fully support Fernando's decision in respect of his doctors' advice."

Alonso has only just begun his second spell with the Woking-based team after an ill-fated one-season stint in 2007 when McLaren were expelled from the constructors' championship and fined a record $100 million dollars for spying on confidential technical information from Ferrari.

On top of Alonso's crash, McLaren have endured significant reliability problems in testing with their new Honda-powered MP4-30 car.

The team's racing director Eric Boullier admitted on Saturday that it may take until the fifth Grand Prix of the season in Barcelona for McLaren to be realistically competitive at the front of the grid.