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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Žišková

Alonso's mysterious 2015 Barcelona crash

What happened to Fernando Alonso back in 2015 at Barcelona testing is, despite all those years, still an unsolved mystery.

While writing this article I got inspired by a well-known „F1 conspiracy theories iceberg“. It is a thing where all the possible and impossible conspiracy theories from the world of Formula 1 are put in one place, to be precise, in some kind of order and are also on different levels. Feel free to google it, but I warn you beforehand that you might fall into a never-ending rabbit hole...

Perhaps, we should start this topic with a basic knowledge of what is generally known to us – public.

In 2015, Fernando Alonso was driving for McLaren alongside with his teammate Jenson Button. As is common for Formula 1, there are a testing sessions ahead of new season just before the opening race.

February 22, Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona 2015

During his final session, Alonso crashed against the inside concrete wall at Turn 3, but couldn't get out of the cockpit. Marshals and medics immediately ran to him trying to free his body from the car's construction. Meanwhile, an ambulance arrived at the place taking the driver to the circuit's medical centre. From that place he was airlifted to the hospital, where he remained in the Intensive Care Unit for three days, which is quite interesting, because the team said that he seemed to be okay.

Even the FIA got involved regarding to this strange situation.

The car wasn't heavily damaged and it was a low-speed incident. The data by other teams showed that Alonso lost control at 135 km /h and hit the wall at 105 km /h. After this crash he had to withdraw from the opening race in Australia.

Lack of information about his crash and his health condition worked as a trigger factor for people to start conversations and explaining their own theories. Before we dive into some of them, I would like you to read an official McLaren's statement regarding this situation.

As you may have noticed, the team in its statement actually addressed the rumours about the real cause of the crash.

Now, a moment we all have been wait's time to get into the most popular conspiracy theories:

1. Alonso suddenly fainted and crashed into the wall. (pre-crash)

2. Toxic battery fumes intoxicated him which resulted into feeling a bit dizzy and eventually going off the track. (pre-crash)

3. Memory loss (post-crash)
  • a German journalist claimed that when Alonso woke up he was speaking Italian and still thought he was driving for Ferrari.

  • Spanish newspapers gave away the other version. They claimed that after Alonso suffered a memory loss he had to take a whole week to recover his memory.

  • this memory loss presumably changed him permanently – he was supposed to wake up thinking he was 13 years old, still driving karts and wanting to become a Formula 1 driver.

  • other sources are talking about him and how he still feels young. That would explain why he keeps racing even when he's actually 41 years old – an age when the most drivers would be thinking of retirement.

Alonso however denied these rumors in the interview before the Malaysian Grand Prix.

4. Alonso was electrocuted by Honda's ERS (=Energy Recovery Systems) (pre-crash)
„Fernando took a 600 Watt hit with serious consequences. Difficulty focusing and temporary obstruction of the veins.“ – Fabrizio Barbazza, a former F1 driver, who apparently knew this from his sources.

People are even saying that this theory was supposedly covered up to protect Honda's reputation, which would explain the denial of it. Alonso was, according to some reports, unconscious for a few seconds, but team initially denied this.

McLaren vs. Alonso

What happened is that McLaren kept saying it was a 'normal testing accident'. However, people in the paddock and some eyewitnesses insisted that factors of Alonso's crash remained unexplained.

“Our findings indicate that the accident was caused by the unpredictably gusty winds at that part of the circuit at that time...; We can categorically state that there is no evidence that indicates that Fernando's car suffered mechanical failure of any kind“ - McLaren in their statement

But, Fernando said it was a steering issue - steering column locked his wheel to the right side that caused him to crash into a wall.

"It's clear there was a problem in the car.....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

McLaren pointed out that this gusty wind also had affected other driver similarly (Carlos Sainz Jnr. crashed later that day). The thing is that judging by the speed and car's damage, it is quite hard to believe that it was just unpredictable gusty wind that sent Alonso to the hospital for 3 days.

Footage? None!

The crash was filmed from many different angles and there was even a video from Vettel's onboard camera. Naturally, also the CCTV cameras of the circuit recorded footage of the incident, but the FIA kept it for the further investigation.

If you are asking why haven't we seen any videos, here's the answer...

Neither, the CCTV nor on-board footage has ever been publicly released.

And this makes the situation even more stranger and, of course, it only added a fuel to the already burning fire when speaking of conspiracy theories.

Another factor that makes this situation interesting is that Sebastian Vettel was driving directly behind Alonso at the time of the crash. He said that "the sight of the slow-moving McLaren suddenly swerving into the wall was strange'" and, "It did not look like an accident. He (Alonso) then bumped a few times down the wall until I lost sight of him."

Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad had different thoughts: "Everything happened in a normal situation for Formula 1." he said. Reacting to Vettel's comments that the crash seemed "strange" he answered: „Mr. Vettel can say what he wants to say, that's fine.“

McLaren's former team boss Ron Dennis also said something that is worth of mentioning: "Fernando felt something wrong with his steering; I'm not going to disagree."

Here's a very brief and chaotic summary of what happened afterwards: McLaren said that the cause was unpredictable gusty wind. But Alonso denied that and said that there was something wrong with the car, specifically with the steering. Then Vettel claimed that the accident seemed really strange to him. However, Alonso's manager denied Vettel's words and said that it was a normal situation and basically Vettel can say whatever he wants. But, some eyewitnesses agreed that Alonso's crash was anything but normal. Finally, Ron Dennis said that he's not going to disagree with Fernando's thoughts on steering problems.

Phew. Confusing, right?

Now, you reached the finale of this article, which also means it is a time to put away our tinfoil hats.

Maybe the truth will be finally uncovered in Alonso's biography, if he ever decides to write one.



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