NOW HEADING FOR HOME: Fernando Alonso smiles during 2015 Formula 1 testing at the Catalunya racetrack in Montmelo, Spain, on Friday. He crashed on Sunday. Image: AP / Manu Ferrnadez
BARCELONA, Spain - McLaren’s Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso will miss this week's final pre-season test in Barcelona despite leaving hospital on Wednesday after a severe crash three days earlier.
The Spaniard smiled and waved to reporters and fans as he left the hospital at around 2.30pm Spanish time.
McLaren said in a statement that the 33-year-old would return to his family home in northern Spain for further rest and recuperation and would not be back in the car before the Australian season-opener on March 15.
MAGNUSSEN TO DRIVE
"He will sit out this week's final winter test, at which he was due to share driving duties with Jenson Button," the team added. "Kevin Magnussen, McLaren-Honda's test and reserve driver, will replace him."
Button will be first in the car at the Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday (Feb 26 2015). Denmark's Magnussen raced for the team in 2014 when it was using Mercedes engines; now the cars are Honda-powered.
Alonso had been in hospital since the crash on Sunday with speculation running wild about what really happened before he hit the Turn 3 wall. McLaren issued a detailed statement on Monday blaming “gusting wind” and ruling out any mechanical failure but that explanation, and Alonso's lengthy stay in hospital, failed to silence all of the doubters.
'ONE OF THOSE THINGS'
The car did not appear to have significant damage and Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, Alonso's replacement at the Italian team, told reporters the Spaniard's crash had appeared “strange”.
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier initially played down the crash as a "just one of those things that happens in testing" and has rejected speculation that Alonso might have been rendered unconscious by an electrical fault.
That was "simply not true".
The team has not, however, said how fast Alonso was going before the impact or given a precise reading of the deceleration force he endured.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2015 F1 season – fresh reports every day.