Shanghai: Fernando Alonso insisted there was "no risk" in allowing him to race at the Chinese Grand Prix after being given the all-clear Friday following a horrific crash at the season-opener last month.
The former world champion passed tests after Friday's first free practice in Shanghai and afterwards Formula One's ruling FIA said no further medical checks were needed unless the Spaniard develops any "abnormal symptoms". Alonso posted the 12th fastest time in morning practice as he returned after missing the Bahrain race two weeks ago with fractured ribs. He went one better in the afternoon, inching up to 11th. "As a result of a medical examination undertaken following Free Practice One... Fernando Alonso is fit to take part in all remaining sessions this weekend," an FIA statement read.
"However, as with this morning's session, in case of any abnormal symptoms the driver has been informed that he must stop his car immediately," it added.
"No further medical checks will be undertaken unless the driver presents any abnormal symptom." Alonso admitted he was "lucky to be alive" after his car flipped and went into a terrifying roll in Melbourne at close to 200 miles (320 kilometres) per hour. The 34-year-old, who spent several nights in hospital, insisted he had fully recovered. "A little bit of pain, no surprises there," said Alonso, who won back-to-back world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006. "But this is manageable, the pain -- and there is no other risk," he added. "I just try to be a little bit more careful with the movements I do when I sit in the car, when I jump out, just don't have any silly movements that can break the rib again."
McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne took Alonso's place in Bahrain and scored a point on his debut. Alonso's sickening crash raised renewed fears about driver safety, even though since Ayrton Senna's death at Imola in 1994, which prompted tightened security measures, Frenchman Jules Bianchi is the only F1 driver to have lost his life in a race.
Bianchi died following a freak accident at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014 when his Marussia car skidded off the track in pouring rain and crashed into a recovery tractor clearing wreckage from Adrian Sutil's stricken Sauber. Alonso's accident in Australia came a year after a crash during testing in Spain which ruled him out of last season's opening round.
His latest brush with disaster brought into sharp focus proposals to install a cockpit "halo" bar designed to further protect the drivers, although critics argued that it might have been harder for Alonso to climb out of his car if the device had been in place.