McLaren upbeat for Alonso comeback in China

by Rachel Hack

The McLaren F1 team are confident ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix that driver Fernando Alonso will pass medical tests to allow him to race in Shanghai.

After being deemed unfit to race by the FIA on his arrival at the Bahrain Grand Prix last weekend, despite feeling fit and ready to go, the Spaniard was forced to sit out proceedings after a scan requested by the FIA showed he still had fractured ribs following the massive accident he experienced in Australia. For safety reasons the two time World champion was informed he had not been cleared to take part by the FIA medical team, which the team and driver reluctantly had to oblige. The Spaniard was replaced by McLaren young protégé Stoffel Vandoorne, who scored the Woking based squad’s first points of the season.

Alonso remained with the team at the Sakhir circuit to help Vandoorne with his preparations as the Belgian made his F1 debut, before heading home for some recovery time prior to China. Both Alonso and McLaren are hopeful and positive that the Spaniard will be back in the car in Shanghai, but although the Woking based squad will carry out their own medical tests ahead of Round 3, Alonso will also have to complete further FIA medical tests to a satisfactory level before he can be deemed officially fit to race.

Speaking to, McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier said “I think he’s confident, but he’s going to go through the scans. The FIA will inspect them and decide yes or no.”

Ron Dennis, CEO and Chairman of McLaren Technology Group, meanwhile was not overly impressed with the ruling, believing that it should be a team decision as to whether a driver should race or not: “There are lots of things where you seek advice but then you have freedom of choice. The question is, would Fernando have been a danger to other drivers?

“If you’ve got a cracked rib and you want to drive with it, it’s your business. It all becomes subjective, and that’s the bit I don’t like.”

McLaren will have to wait until they arrive in China for confirmation that Alonso will be driving the MP4-31 in Round 3 of the 2016 F1 World Championship, but the Spaniard has returned to training, which included some swimming and cycling, and is positive he will recover enough to receive the thumbs up and make a comeback in Shanghai.

The team had a stronger than expected showing in Bahrain, in the hands of 2015 GP2 champion Vandoorne, and are buoyant ahead of China that more performance can be unleashed at the next round. Things may finally be looking up for McLaren, who have been languishing at the wrong end of the grid for far too long now.

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