NOT A NORMAL CRASH? Fernando Alonso (inset) is loaded into a helicopter at the Catalunya track in Spain. There is speculation that his crash was anything but normal. Image: AP / Manu Fernandez
BARCELONA, Spain - Fernando Alonso's crash during pre-season testing at the Catalunya circuit in Spain has triggered wild speculation but McLaren is saying nothing except the word "normal".
Alonso needed medical checks and possibly, according to the latest reports, about to spend a second night in hospital.
Team boss Eric Boullier, insisting the same was true of his trip and stay in hospital: "Fernando's accident was just one of those things that happens in testing. Inevitably some media reports have sought to exaggerate the severity of the incident – it was just a normal testing accident."
SPECULATION RUNS WILD
However, experts, insiders and eye-witnesses insist Alonso's crash was anything but 'normal'. McLaren, for a start, did not return to the track on the final day of Catalunya cruising, despite Boullier admitting the crash had not damaged the MP4-30 "particularly badly".
Photos in fact do not depict serious damage to the car, despite reports Alonso was initially unconscious and then had to be sedated for his trip to hospital.
German correspondent Ralf Bach wrote on his blog f1-insider.com: "Why does a photographer report that his head was bent to the side before the crash? Why so much secrecy from McLaren-Honda?"
Sebastian Vettel was travelling directly behind Alonso at the time of the crash and said the sight of the slow-moving McLaren suddenly swerving into the wall was "strange".
German media reports quoted the Ferrari driver as saying: "It did not look like an accident. He then bumped a few times down the wall until I lost sight of him."
TOXIC FUMES, ELECTRIC SHOCK?
German newspaper Bild is also asking questions, particularly after F1 newcomer Honda's recent troubles with its electronic energy-recovery systems: "Was Alonso unconscious or drowsy already because he inhaled toxic battery fumes?
"Did he receive an electric shock? That Alonso's team is silent and stopped testing immediately makes it even more puzzling."
Auto Motor and Sport said: "Photographers reported that it looked as though Alonso deliberately steered into the wall."
Flanked by Boullier, who shook his head at the speculation, Alonso's manager Luis Garcia Abad denied that dizziness could have been the cause of the crash: "There was a tremendous wind and it pushed him against the wall."
The wind theory was initially ridiculed by insiders but Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz also crashed on Sunday and blamed the "very high" and "very inconsistent" wind.
Abad also played down suggestions of suspension or a failed front wing. He insisted: "The impact with the wall caused everything else. Everything happened in a normal situation for F1.
"Anyway it's not the time to talk about this - there is a man in hospital.
As for Vettel's comments that the crash was "strange", Abad answered: "Vettel can say what he wants to say, that's fine."
VIDEO: Alonso airlifted from the Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona
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