The Australian Grand Prix was overshadowed by Fernando Alonso’s accident with Esteban Gutierrez at Turn Three on lap 16.
Despite the violence of the crash, Fernando was able to extricate himself from the car unaided, and was then taken to the circuit medical centre for routine checks, before being declared okay by the doctors. His car fared less well – both the chassis and the power unit were heavily damaged, and the resulting debris was scattered so extensively that it prompted a red-flag stoppage to clear up the mess.
“I’m thankful I’m alive and that nothing serious happened – it was a big shunt.”
“A combination of factors caused Esteban [Gutierrez] and me to end up crashing. I was in the car flying and bouncing around – I could see the sky, then the ground, then the sky again. Then, when the car landed, I saw a little gap and I got out quickly to make sure that my mum, who was watching the race on TV at home, could see that I was okay! It was a racing incident – I’m very happy we’re both fine, which is the most important thing. But, soon afterwards, my thoughts switched to frustration and disappointment, because we missed an opportunity to get some points in the first race of the season, and we probably lost a power unit too because the car is more or less completely destroyed. We risk our lives every time we get in a Formula 1 car: these things happen, but I’m extremely happy to be okay. The reason I’m still alive is probably thanks to all the fantastic work the FIA has done over the past 10 or 15 years to improve safety, work they continue to do. And I’m also grateful to everyone at McLaren, who built me such a strong and safe car.”
— Fernando Alonso
“I’m really glad Fernando was able to walk away from that accident – I’m sure he’ll remember that one for a few weeks. It’s amazing how far these cars can be catapulted when they touch tyres; under braking, it can all happen very quickly when it goes wrong. But the fact that his car survived shows how far the sport has come in terms of safety.”
— Jenson Button
“Before I say anything else, I want to praise two things: the structural integrity of modern-day Formula 1 cars, and the safety features of modern-day racetracks. Fernando’s shunt was a big one, and the fact that he was able to walk out of his car after such a heavy impact is impressive indeed. He visited the FIA medical centre immediately after the accident, and was formally okayed by the doctors there. ”
— Eric Boullier