An unusual testing accident has developed into an unusual saga, as Fernando Alonso was once again making headlines today, as it was confirmed that he would miss the Australian Grand Prix, while his recovery from concussion continues. After deputising for the injured Spaniard in the final test, Kevin Magnussen will retake the reigns of the MP4-30 in the curtain raiser. Alonso is expected to be back for the Malaysian Grand Prix, but inevitably, eyebrows will be raised and conspiracy theories will re-surface.
I would like to point out that I am not keen on the speculation regarding the details of the accident and ensuing events. As fans, we have no idea as to the circumstances and as such, speculation is fairly academic. Hence, I am not about to give an opinion on any of the theories which are being debated on social media.
What I will comment on, is the sporting implications, because after all, this is a sports blog.
For Fernando, missing the first race may not have significant points implications. Ultimately, even the most ambitious of McLaren fan would find it difficult to argue that their team is set for a big points haul in the curtain-raiser, and simply reaching the chequered flag will be an achievement. In the context of his season, the first race is the best one to miss, as there is likely to be the least to lose.
What the double champion will miss out on is vital mileage. Neither Alonso nor Button have recorded effective mileage in the MP4-30 over the past four weeks, particularly in the case of the former, and this means that each and every lap carries a much higher weighting than in the case of Mercedes’ drivers, for example. It will surely be the on-track experience that Alonso will miss the most next weekend.
However, in terms of Alonso’s replacement, McLaren have a very competent driver in Kevin Magnussen, who will be a good fit for the role. It is a clear advantage that McLaren have such a strong talent in the reserve role who they can call upon in situations such as this. It is certainly not the way in which the Dane would want to make his return to the grid, but I have no doubt that he is ready to take full advantage of the opportunity and record the strongest possible result.
This year’s opening round will be the first race Fernando has missed since his season as a reserve driver at Renault in 2002. The paddock will certainly notice his absence next weekend. All that is left to be said is; get well soon Fernando.
Image Credit: "Barcelona Test 3 Day 2" By Rachel Clarke [CC-BY-NC] via Flickr