Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Bahrain International Circuit, 2016

Rib fracture could delay Alonso’s return

2016 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso confirmed a rib fracture has kept him from competing in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix and the injury could also rule him out of the next race in China.

The McLaren driver was ruled out of action for the upcoming weekend following a medical evaluation at the circuit. Alonso told reporters in the FIA press conference he was “a little bit disappointed, obviously”.

“We want to race, we are competitive drivers so when you come here and you can’t even try it’s always said but it’s understandable. I respect the decision, I try until the last moment to be able to race and at least to try in the practice.”

Alonso said he was prepared to attempt to cope with his pain levels inside the car but concerns over the potential consequences of a further injury to the ribs have kept him out.

“There have been some painful days, some pain at home,” he said. “But I was ready to go through this pain somehow in the car and make sure that I could race because at the end of the day the pain is manageable if you don’t think too much and adrenaline driving.”

“But there are some other risks, the doctors think. It’s a risk management and minimise everything is the logic of things. A little bit sad for that but it’s the only way to go.”

Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2016
Stoffel Vandoorne will substitute for Alonso
Alonso admitted he’s “not a hundred percent” certain whether he’ll be able to start the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks’ time. A further FIA evaluation will be required before then.

“The risks are very, very small but I understand that we all want zero risk. It’s just a question of time that the rib go a little bit together. For this is the next ten days, should be OK, but we can’t guarantee it. Maybe ten, maybe five, maybe twelve but it’s just a normal rib.

The crash left Alonso with minor pneumothorax – sometimes referred to as a collapsed lung – which was diagnosed after he returned to Spain last week.

“I was OK Sunday, some knee pain but not big things,” said Alonso. “I had the green light from the doctors to leave the track and everything was OK. On Monday I had a little bit of overall pain but nothing too serous.”

“And then I flew back, I arrived in Spain, the pain was similar or a little bit more so we decided to do a proper check, [CT] scan. And I had a small pneumothorax on the lung.”

“So we took the advice from the doctors to relax at home and make everything come to normal and we repeat the scan last Monday. The pneumothorax is gone, more or less, but I have some rib fractures.”

“So because of that the risk of driving, because Formula One is a very unique sport, unique position on the car and the G-forces, a fracture could move that into the lung as well. So it’s not like a broken leg or a broken arm that you can deal with the pain, this is in the chest, there are some organs there and we cannot do much more.”

Despite being unable to drive this weekend Alonso says he will remain at the circuit.

“The team told me ‘you will fly back home’ but I said no way. I want to hear the cars, I want to help Stoffel [Vandoorne], I want to see there new updates in the car, how they work.”

While the McLaren’s seat was reported to have broken in the impact, Alonso said his injuries were caused by the severity of the G-forces experienced during the crash.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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42 comments on “Rib fracture could delay Alonso’s return”

  1. Holly crammmp! The guy had fractured rib and walked away as if nothing serious happened. And I play a Greek tragedy whenever I hit my pinky toe on a chair.

    1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
      31st March 2016, 14:13

      @omarr-pepper I wasn’t aware any more evidence was required to suggest that Fernando Alonso simply isn’t human…

      1. Having cracked a rib myself I’m impressed that he wanted to race. Sitting still is fine but the moment you laugh or sneeze it’s extremely painful so I can imagine the g-forces involved in even a normal race would make him very uncomfortable.

    2. broken ribs are more annoying than anything

    3. Pinky toe into chair is near death experience

    4. Stepping on a plug….. Or your foot slipping off the pedal on a bike so it spins around and smacks you in the shin. Fun times.

    5. Having both broken my ribs several times and run into chairs with my pinkytoes i can easily say the later hurts way more. With that said i would also choose the later anytime becouse its a highly temporary pain vs long and grinding pain which makes you wish for anything but that.

      Driving around a formula 1 car i think you could endure both without a problem, you got your adrenaline pumping and your focus set on other things than minor nuisances. Remember last year Bottas wanted to drive but his back hurt so bad he couldnt even complete the safety test to get out of the car.

  2. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    31st March 2016, 14:11

    McLaren’s press team are going to have to get inventive if Vandoorne starts beating Jenson before Alonso returns…

    1. They might have to think of something, Vandoorne is a champ at driving a GP2 car after all =D

      1. oooooooooooooooooo shots fired

    2. Based on limited evidence, if Stoffel can match Alonso’s pace he’s got Button beat. Jenson was way off the pace in Australia, not sure why but Fernando was clearly ahead

    3. It’s not going to happen… I hope :)

  3. this really reveals just what a violent a crash it was. and also the quality of the safety cell – if the car tears itself to pieces (even the seat!) but the driver walks away then everything has worked as it should. missing one race is a small price to pay for escaping that shunt.

    1. +1, if one or two races is all then it’s a huge relief for all of us

  4. Small pneumothorax, definitely the right decision.

  5. Isn’t this a chance for Alonso to recover calmly, but at the same time, to see if McLaren has really made enough progress to be excited about? He will definitely miss this race, maybe China too. If the car is a dog again, he can wait until things improve, or decide this to be his last season and return for a couple of farewell races.
    And then join Webber at WEC and become a champion again.

  6. I really hope he makes a quick recovery. He’s not going to be world champion this year, so maybe sitting out at China is OK for him if that means returning fully healthy for Russia and more importantly for Spain where they are going to get their first big package of upgrades.

    Get well soon, Nando!

  7. Had no idea of this and its unconfirmed but apparently Alonso has Poland Syndrome, an underdeveloped (or in some cases, completely absent) pectoral muscle? This injury probably doesn’t help…

    1. i just googled it and there are pics he is indeed missing on side of his chest muscles never heard of this before
      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2187524/Formula-One-driver-Fernando-Alonso-soaks-sun-Majorca-bikini-clad-model-girlfriend-Dasha-Kapustina.html

  8. Fudge Ahmed (@)
    31st March 2016, 17:08

    Just feels more and more like Nando’s career is at its end. There’s only so many years of disillusion one can take, Honda seem nowhere and nobody’s saying is but Alonso at the peak of his game would never have run into the back of Gutierrez to begin with! Sad really.

    1. Don’t be that way, that sort of accident was an “accident”,a sporting incident, you would not have wrote your comment if he was in a winning car. Honda had made a huge step from this time last year, they are not “nowhere”, they are at the pace of Mercedes customer engine teams now with McLaren, and much more to come guaging by the huge improvement.

    2. In fairness the man is used to going wheel to wheel with drivers who drive inch perfect. Against a consistent driver like Ricciardo, Vettel or Hamilton they can practically brush wheels with how precise they are.

      Against a driver like Gutierrez, Alonso placed too much confidence in how he expected him to position the car.

      While Alonso is adult enough to hold his hands up and accept that as the car behind it’s on him, I doubt it would have happened against a driver closer to the front of the field.

      1. @philipgb, you are being excessively harsh on Gutierrez given Haas demonstrated that the crash was caused due to the energy recovery systems cutting in abnormally early on Gutierrez’s car, with Ferrari taking the blame for the faulty component.

        Drivers like Ricciardo, Vettel and Hamilton would still have been caught out by the fact that the car effectively began braking by itself – the sudden difference in closing speed made it impossible for either driver to physically react in time, making a collision inevitable from that point onwards.

        1. ANON, faulty component or radio control from the Ferrari pit wall ? ;-)

        2. I didn’t know that about the ERS, my bad.

    3. The sort of mistake MSC used to make on his return… But we still loved to see him race…

  9. With more details emerging of quite how injured Alonso was, I think Max Mosley’s somewhat dismissed comments regarding ’20 Years ago that sort of accident would’ve killed him’ seem to make more sense now – he clearly already knew.

  10. His accident was his fault, a big rookie mistake. But he is not a rookie at all!!!
    It is time to retire and go home, old man.

    1. Compassion is clearly one of your stronger suits…

      1. RaceProUK (@)
        1st April 2016, 3:06

        If I had to guess, I’d say he’s still bitter about Singapore ’08; it seems simply wearing the team colours is enough for some’fans’ to accuse someone of conspiring to cheat.

        1. Or perhaps Alonso accidentally ran over his dog while riding his bicycle and he’s yet to forgive him! ;)

  11. Apex Assassin
    31st March 2016, 21:16

    I’m sure Vandoorne will be able to race the Saubers and Manors just as well as Alonso and probably better than Button with less whinging in either case.

    1. Less whinging?

      I think that’s an incredibly unfair comment given how patient the have both been this year and last year. Yes there have been outbursts but they’ve both been positive drivers trying to support their team.

      1. Button, king of polite remarks..

  12. I think instead of focusing about Halo, maybe the biggest risk in F1 now is internal organ damage? Aside from seatbelt and HANS I don’t think there’s any other protection for the driver for dealing for non physical impact injuries? Considering the last Halo related accident in F1 is Bianchi (where Halo theoretically won’t save him either) and Massa (a super freak accident and the helmet design already revised for that kind of accident), versus Alonso ribs, Alonso concussion, Bottas back injury and Raikkonen spinal injury, maybe the protection research is better directed to inside of the cockpit area instead. Having the drivers wearing ear accelerometer is a really good move FIA done this year but sadly it buried under Halo debate and political stuff.

    1. Well, there is only a limit to what yo can protect inside the body.. . Infact all is geared to this goal and FIA could hardly do more… Save inflate foam within the cars… Or magic..

      A few ribs after a crash like that is quite ok I reckon…

      1. @jureo Sure there will be limit, but I think it never discussed before. We surely can research something to complement/improve seatbelt and HANS?

    2. A good way to prevent high G impacts would be to scrap the proposed higher downforce for 2017, and the higher cornering speed that will come with more downforce.

      High cornering speeds also mean higher speeds just before the corner, where many crashes take place.

      1. @slotopen No, what I ask is improving the protection not lowering the risk bar. This kind of high velocity/high G impact protection probably can be used too for jet fighters or planes in general, or even your everyday road car.

        1. @sonicslv
          It sounds good in principle, but the human body is a moving thing, and different parts of the body’s internal structure have different densities and physical characteristics. Any high-G impact will cause the body’s skeleton and internal organs to move according to mass and density, which is how a lot of these sort of injuries happen. Stabilising the body by having it strapped securely into the car is about the best you can hope for in terms of limiting the impact on the body, but realistically the best possible thing you can do is to minimise the amount of G experienced in a high speed accident by having deformable structures on the car – as they already do – which take some of the force out of the impact before the rigid structures are impacted.

          As I say, they already do this, and the cars have come on leaps and bounds in this respect. Look at accidents from 20 years ago and it makes you wince when you see how rigid the entire car is. All of that force is transferred through the chassis to the driver. But of course it’s a balance – you could make a car with giant deformable structures which would minimise the impact to the driver massively, but the cars also need to be light and aerodynamic, so the potential for adding these kind of structures is limited. I’d say they’re already close to the limit of what is possible at the moment.

          1. Yeah, I guess worthwhile to research…

          2. @mazdachris I think you misunderstand me. We can’t do anything to human body limit, but we sure can design other factor.

            All advances in safety in F1 cars is all about preventing outer physical injury and in that regard the car is really safe now. However the effect of high G to the internal organ is never really addressed and I think it posed much bigger risk and the driver doesn’t really need to be in big accident to get injured like Bottas and Raikkonen case. In this regard, the safety level of F1 car 15 years ago and now is more or less same.

            Also I don’t believe that they close to limit at all. We can still play with the safety belt, or the racing suit. Maybe some new shock absorbing material around the safety cell that only add couple millimeters or centimeters width. Even if it only reduces the G load experienced by the driver by further 10%, it already a significant achievement.

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