In the build-up to this weekend’s 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix, the FIA have announced that both Fernando Alonso and Valtteri Bottas, who missed the season-opening Australian Grand Prix due to injury, will race this weekend after the pair passed all safety and medical checks.
Alonso was injured during the penultimate pre-season testing days after a strange incident at the wheel of the McLaren-Honda. The team cited strong wind at Catalunya as the reason for Alonso’s off-track excursion and also stated that Alonso had been unconcious and then woke up thinking it was 1995 and that he was yet to reach Formula One; let alone win his two world championships in 2005 and 2006. Alonso refuted all these claims however in today’s drivers press conference:
“After the hit I was kissing the wall for a while, then I switch off the radio first because it was on. And then I switch off the master switch, that we call just for the batteries, to switch off the ERS system because I saw the marshals coming and if not they cannot touch the car. So I was perfectly conscious at that time,” Alonso stated in the press conference,
“There is a time that I don’t remember in the hospital from two o’clock to six o’clock or something like that but everything again was normal due to the medication they give you to go into the helicopter and there is some tests in the hospital. Everything as I said was normal, I didn’t wake up in ’95, I didn’t wake up speaking in Italian, I didn’t wake up in all these things that probably were out there.”
Alonso also claimed that he “definitely had a steering problem” at the time of his accident, which again goes against what was previously stated by his team.
Both Alonso and Bottas were announced as having passed all FIA checks today, with the Williams team releasing the following statement shortly after:
“Following the injury that Valtteri sustained to his lower back during qualifying for the Australian GP, he has been with a leading physiotherapist who has been working with Valtteri and his trainer to make sure he received the best treatment possible ahead of this weekend’s race.
“The team has always been fully supportive of Valtteri and his determination to return to the cockpit and following final approval by the FIA medical team in Malaysia today, we are pleased to confirm that Valtteri will be back in the FW37 this weekend for the Malaysian Grand Prix.”
Williams also announced today that former Sauber and Force India driver Adrian Sutil will take the role of reserve driver at the team. The team were unable to field a driver in the place of Valtteri Bottas in Australia due to an FIA regulation preventing driver changes after qualifying. The team later went on to say that neither their test driver Susie Wolff or their development driver Alex Lynn would have taken Valtteri’s seat as they were not the reserve driver. This is most likely what led to Sutil’s signing.
“To work for Sir Frank Williams and his team means a lot to me,” said Sutil. “I would like to thank everyone at Williams for their belief in my qualities and the opportunity to work with such a successful and competitive outfit.”
In other news, after failing to start the Australian Grand Prix due to software issues, Manor F1 team are “100 per cent” certain of getting out on track this weekend with drivers Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi.
“We made a lot of progress in Australia and most of the software glitches were solved by Sunday afternoon as we didn’t waste any time there,” Said team principal John Booth, “The car build here has gone really well and we should be rolling out at 10 in the morning. With these cars, you are constantly troubleshooting, but we think we are in a position to fire the cars up once we get the batteries in.”
The Malaysian Grand Prix event at the Sepang International Circuit gets under-way tomorrow morning with the two Friday practice sessions, with Qualifying and the Race following on Saturday and Sunday. After a dominant performance in the opening round in Australia, Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes look to be the favourites coming into the second round, with Rosberg looking to close up after seemingly having no answer to his team-mates pace.