McLaren driver Fernando Alonso has acknowledged he is fortunate to be alive after a “horrendous” high-speed accident with Esteban Gutierrez during Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix.
Onlookers were shocked when two-time world champion Alonso’s car hit a barrier and flipped several times after he collided with Gutierrez at Albert Park’s Turn 3.
Alonso was travelling at full speed prior to the crash and was caught by surprise when Haas driver Gutierrez braked early approaching the turn.
The Spanish driver, attempting to overtake, hit the back tyre of his rival and smashed into a wall before his car flipped repeatedly and landed upside down.
Incredibly, Alonso removed himself from his car and walked away. The near-complete disintegration of his car showed just how lucky he was.
Watch the dramatic crash below:
Gutierrez was heard on team radio asking about Alonso’s condition before the pair – who were both sent to see medical staff – came together, shook hands and embraced.
The crash was described as “horrendous” by ex-Formula One driver and commentator Mark Webber.
Alonso said: “I’m thankful for the safety of those cars and that I’m alive.
“Sometimes we forget that we are at 300 km/h and every little crash can be much bigger.”
Gutierrez added: “It was a very, very scary moment. I jumped out as quick as I could and ran to him. It was a really big relief he was OK.”
Ricciardo’s “really good result”
The sole Aussie in the race performed superbly, with Daniel Ricciardo climbing from eighth on the grid to finish fourth.
He enjoyed lengthy stints in second and third, giving him a sniff of his first official podium on home soil – having had his second-place finish in 2014 stripped off him for exceeding the maximum allowed fuel flow during the race.
And although his tyres didn’t last on Sunday, the 26-year-old was understandably proud of his efforts.
“It’s a better result than we expected,” he said.
“I’m happy with that, but more than anything, I’m happy with the pace we had.
“We were still not as quick as Ferrari or Mercedes, but at parts of the race we weren’t really far off …fourth is still a really good result.”
Ricciardo recorded just two podium finishes in 2015 due to the speed of his car but said he was encouraged by the ‘spirit’ in the Red Bull team this year.
‘And then you start singing Summer of ’69‘
Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were famous for not getting on in their days as Red Bull team-mates.
And when Webber, fresh from his new job on the Network Ten broadcast, turned up on the podium to interview Vettel and Mercedes pair Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, he was doused in champagne by his old rival.
The length of Vettel’s pour – and the fact Webber, in a suit, was absolutely soaked – could have incited an angry response from the Australian.
But Webber laughed the incident off and the pair appeared to get on well as he asked questions.
Either that or they’re very good at pretending.
When Vettel asked the Aussie if he wanted some more champagne, Webber told him he gets ‘drunk very fast these days’.
“I know you do, and then you start singing Summer of ’69,” Vettel quipped.
– with AAP