Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso says he’s lucky to be alive after the horrifying crash that destroyed his McLaren-Honda and momentarily stopped the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
The Spaniard’s car flipped repeatedly and crumbled to pieces before hitting a barrier at turn three of the Albert Park circuit after he clipped the rear of Esteban Gutierrez of Haas Racing at full speed while trying to pass him around the outside on lap 17 of 57.
His wrecked car came to rest upside down but Alonso somehow managed to free himself from the mangled wreckage and hoards of debris unharmed.
“I’m extremely happy to be here, it was quite a scary crash,” Alonso said.
“I’m thankful for the safety of these cars … I’m alive thanks to the job of the last 10 to 15 years of Formula One.”
Both drivers were unharmed in the crash that both agreed was just a racing incident with neither driver significantly at fault.
Alonso said it felt like the crash unfolded in slow motion from inside his cockpit.
“Unfortunately I was flying so you see the sky then the ground then the sky then the ground … you want to stop but it doesn’t stop,” he said.
“It keeps going and going and going. It was quite scary but at the last moment the car stopped and I had a little space to go out and I said ‘I will go out quickly because my mother will be watching at home’.”
Gutierrez ran to Alonso’s aid and embraced his colleague when he realised he was unhurt.
“The most important thing is that we are both fine – it was a very scary moment and not very pleasant to see how his car ended up,” Gutierrez said.
“When I saw his car I came out as quick as possible and ran to him … obviously it was a big relief to see that he was fine.
“To be honest I think we were both a bit shocked from the crash. We came together and spoke a little bit but we’re all good most importantly.”
The accident triggered a red flag, bringing proceedings to a temporary halt before resuming, with Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg edging out teammate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag.
Sunday’s spectacular smash happened at the same corner former driver, now commentator Martin Brundle flipped his Jordan-Peugeot on lap one of the first F1 race at Albert Park in 1996.