WALKING FROM THE WRECKAGE: McLaren driver Fernando Alonso was lucky to walk away from his near-fatal crash in Australia. Image: AP / Theo Karanikos
Cape Town - 2016 got off to a smashing start when Fernando Alonso clipped the left rear of Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas at full tilt.
The meaning of Down Under must’ve hit home when Oz flashed by, somewhere under Nando’s nose, in a close encounter of the 300km/h kind. Barrel-rolling at least halved the likelihood of a bottoms-up final goodbye.
READ: As it happened: 2016 Australian GP
Then came the shuddering thud. A fist of wrecked metal bounced off a tyre wall and lay smouldering, bottoms-up. Which one would it be? Tragedy? Or Formula 1’s greatest escape since Robert Kubica clattered Canadian concrete with a deceleration impact of 28g, in 2007?
As it turned out, Alonso had picked up a host of guardian angels during his brief heavenly sojourn. Placing palms on terra firma first, he slithered from the mangled mess, the papal crouch conjuring up images of His Holiness delivering a thanksgiving kiss after disembarking from a long flight.
There were overtones, also, of The Alien Who Crashed to Earth, or a chicken being hatched.
A Nando’s chicken, no doubt.
READ: Brutal Oz GP crash - Lucky Alonso thanks FIA
Yet, Nando is no chicken, as we know, even if his car is a turkey.
Which is what F1’s new knock-out qualifying system turned out to be, a turkey. Strange that it wasn’t immediately fried by F1’s big wigs.
Or maybe not so strange, once you have a better understanding of the game’s Machiavellian machinations. The new quali format was carried over to Bahrain.
F1 has never been shy to frustrate its fans.