McLaren-Honda’s Fernando Alonso and Williams driver Valtteri Bottas have been ruled fit to compete at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix, after both passed final medical assessments at the Sepang circuit today.
Both were forced to sit out the season-opening Australian Grand Prix less than a fortnight ago. Alonso remained at home in Spain while he recuperated from a pre-season testing accident that left him with concussion, while Bottas picked up a back injury in qualifying at Albert Park and was forced to withdraw before the start of the race.
The medical delegate of the sport’s governing body, the FIA, put both drivers through a series of fitness tests at the circuit medical centre on Thursday, which both passed.
“In accordance with normal procedures, McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso was this morning examined by the FIA Medical Delegate and Chief Medical Officer at the Sepang Circuit Medical Centre,” an FIA statement reads.
“During the examination the driver passed all mandatory fitness tests and has thus been declared fit to race in this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix.”
Bottas confirmed that his Williams FW37 will have revised pedal set-up and seating position to mitigate the risk of an injury relapse after he suffered an annular tear to a disc in his back in Melbourne.
“We have a really good idea [of what caused the injury], so we have changed the seat and pedal position,” the Finn said in an open media call.
“It was like someone putting a knife in [when the injury occurred]. Then the pain was ramping up until midnight, but luckily it started to ease off, and in the morning I would have been ready to race.
“I did pass the [pre-race medical] tests, but they had all the access to the material we got from the hospital, like the MRI and all that stuff, and maybe they thought it’s better in the longer term. It was very disappointing not to be able to race, but I respect the decision of the FIA. Now they say I’m fit to race, which I also feel, so that’s good.”
Alonso, meanwhile, contradicted the McLaren team’s explanation of his testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last month, which it put down to a sudden gust of wind unsettling his MP4-30. The Spaniard instead hinted at a steering failure, claiming he felt his wheel “lock to the right” moments before he impacted the Turn 3 wall.
“There is not in the data anything clear that we can spot, but definitely we had a steering problem in the middle of Turn 3 – it locked to the right,” Alonso said during the FIA Press Conference on Thursday.
“I don’t know if you’ve seen the video, but even a hurricane will not move the car at that speed,” he added, rejecting the wind gust theory purported by the team.
“I approached the wall, I braked in the last moment and I downshifted from fifth to third. Unfortunately on the data we’re still missing some parts, probably also the acquisition data on that particularly area of the car.”
The two-time World Champion also took the opportunity to rubbish some of the wilder speculation about his accident.
“I didn’t wake up in 1995, I didn’t wake up speaking in Italian, and all of these things that were out there. I remember the accident and I remember everything that following day,” he confirmed.
Image via McLaren