Fernando Alonso’s testing crash has triggered wild speculation about the cause.
So far, McLaren is saying nothing except that it was a “normal” crash necessitating medical checks.
“Fernando’s accident was just one of those things that happens in testing,” said team boss Eric Boullier, insisting the same is also true of his trip and stay in hospital.
“Inevitably, some media reports have sought to exaggerate the severity of the incident -? it was just a normal testing accident,” the Frenchman added.
However, experts, insiders and eyewitnesses insist the Alonso crash appears anything but ‘normal’.
McLaren, for a start, did not return to the track on the final day of Barcelona running, despite Boullier admitting the crash had not damaged the MP4-30 “particularly badly”.
Photos also do not depict heavy damage to the car, despite reports Alonso was initially unconscious and then had to be sedated for his trip to hospital.
“Why does a photographer report that his head was bent to the side before the crash?” German correspondent Ralf Bach wrote on his blog f1-insider.com.
“And why so much secrecy from McLaren-Honda?”
Sebastian Vettel was travelling directly behind Alonso at the time of the crash, and he said the sight of the slow-moving McLaren suddenly swerving into the wall was “strange”.
“It did not look like an accident,” German media reports quote the Ferrari driver as saying. “He then bumped a few times down the wall until I lost sight of him.”
The major German newspaper Bild is also asking questions, particularly after F1 newcomer Honda’s recent troubles with its electronic energy-recovery systems.
“Was Alonso unconscious or drowsy already because he inhaled toxic battery fumes?” the report wondered. “Did he receive an electric shock?
“The fact that Alonso’s team is silent and stopped testing immediately makes it even more puzzling,” Bild added.
Even the authoritative Auto Motor und Sport said: “Photographers reported that it looked as though Alonso deliberately steered into the wall.”
Flanked by Boullier who shook his head at the speculation, Alonso’s manager Luis Garcia Abad denied that dizziness could have been the cause of the crash.
“There was a tremendous wind,” he told Spanish reporters, “and it pushed him against the wall.”
The wind theory was initially ridiculed by insiders, but Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz also crashed on Sunday and he blamed the “very high” and “very inconsistent” wind.
Abad also played down suggestions of suspension or front wing failure, insisting “The impact with the wall caused everything else”.
“Everything happened in a normal situation for formula one,” he insisted.
“Anyway it’s not the time to talk about this. There is a man in hospital.
“We have not talked to him (Alonso) about it but we know that everything happened in conditions with a normal car. We have also not talked about the outcome of Madrid versus Elche,” Abad joked.
As for Vettel’s comments that the crash was “strange”, Abad answered: “Mr Vettel can say what he wants to say, that’s fine.” (GMM)