FERNANDO ALONSO & THE CURIOUS CASE OF CONCUSSION

Fernando AlonsoI could have jumped on one of the various bandwagons sooner, admittedly, but none of them seemed suitable; none of them felt right. I’m talking of course of the conspiracy theories and fabricated tales surrounding Fernando Alonso and the incident that has sidelined him from 2015’s curtain raising Australian Grand Prix.

Medical personnel cite concussion as the reason for Alonso missing the season’s first race, a result of his seemingly innocuous crash during the final winter testing session in Barcelona. I have little doubt that that’s the true reason; a second bump to the noggin within 21 days of the first can have serious ramifications, and when it comes to head injuries, Formula One knows all too well to take them seriously.

So while explanations coming from McLaren and Alonso’s medical staff sit comfortably with me, many others are questioning them. From online forum users to former Grand Prix winners, there are some who are seeking more to the story.

David Coulthard, winner of thirteen Grand Prix and owner of Formula One’s most famous chin, has said that “something does not add up” regarding Alonso’s injuries, or lack of.
“There is conflicting information coming out, saying there are zero signs of any injury but then three days of hospital for concussion.

“It does not add up. He does not need three days of privacy, he can go to his own private residence and have that”, says Coulthard.

Coulthard doesn’t offer an alternative to the concussion excuse, that is left to the famous story maker and conspiracy starter, the world-wide-web. Out there in cyber space the theories are endless, and in many cases, remarkably entertaining…

It’s no secret that Fernando covets a drive in the Mercedes for 2016 – it’s no secret that most drivers covet the same thing – but for 2015 Alonso needed a stopgap; his options were remarkably slim for a champion of his calibre. Ferrari were reluctant to sign the Spaniard for just one more season, keen to keep him for longer or not at all. Likewise, any other team interested in Alonso – and who wouldn’t be? – would be keen to retain his services for more than just a single year.

Some dared to suggest he even take a sabbatical, a year away from the sport, playing a waiting game until a seat becomes free at the all-conquering Mercedes outfit.

Alternatively, the double-champion could sign a three-year contract with the returning McLaren-Honda partnership. If their new car emulated that of the dominant McLaren-Hondas of the past, then Fernando may just have landed himself in a car that can challenge the Mercedes; a third world title might finally have been on the cards. But if the car wasn’t up to the task, Fernando would need to get himself out of the contract in order to free himself for the following season. Would an injury or illness that could sideline him for much of the season render his contract null and void?

Does Alonso have a performance clause in his contract that gives him an out if he fails to reach a certain championship position? Missing a few races could help, and at the same time not tarnish his reputation as potentially the top driver the sport has.

Given the McLaren-Honda’s dismal performance and reliability during the pre-season tests, a crash followed by concussion appeared mightily convenient…

Poppycock! For entertainment purposes I should perhaps champion the theory that Alonso would fain injury to avoid driving the McLaren, with the greater plan of joining Mercedes next year, but I simply can’t subscribe to it, for two reasons:

Firstly, it’s not unreasonable to suggest that Fernando is nearer the end of his Formula One career than the beginning, meaning he is too old to be playing those sort of games; what time he has left in Formula One is too precious to be faking injuries and ripping up contracts. Having said that, is Alonso simply looking for the fastest route into the fastest car, knowing that the light on his career is getting dimmer, not brighter? Alonso

If it’s true, if it’s all an elaborate rouse to miss a race or two, get out of the McLaren early (for the second time in his career) and have one last push for a third title in the Merc’ then Alonso has failed to take into account one thing: Ron Dennis.

McLaren’s CEO doesn’t suffer fools gladly and he wasn’t born yesterday. He’s not delusional either, he’ll know Fernando casts green eyes toward Hamilton and Rosberg’s Mercedes and so will have doubtlessly made damn sure Alonso’s contract was as water-tight as it could get – the Spaniard has ‘played’ Dennis at that sort of game before; Ron won’t allow it to happen again and Alonso will be aware of that.

It leaves us with this: for whatever reason Fernando Alonso crashed his McLaren, suffered a knock to the head and has been advised to sit out the first Grand Prix of the year. Nothing more to than that, I’m afraid.

As entertaining as some conspiracy theories are, I fear this tale is cut and dry. I do however, hope I’m wrong, it would make for quite a story and, Fernando Alonso in a Mercedes? Tantalising, isn’t it?

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