Fernando Alonso will not compete at the upcoming Bahrain Grand Prix, after being ruled out on medical grounds. The double world champion was involved in a horrendous crash during lap 17 of the opening race of the 2016 season in Australia on 20 March, when his McLaren clipped the left rear of Esteban Gutierrez's Haas at turn three and was sent hurtling into a nearby wall at high speed.
It is a testament to the safety improvements that have occurred in Formula 1 that the Spaniard emerged from such an accident without any obvious injuries, although his new MP4-31 car sustained significant damage. Alonso, who said he was thankful to be alive, was initially expected to use a new power unit and a spare chassis in Sakhir, yet subsequent scans mean that he will not race at all across the weekend.
"Following an examination undertaken this morning at the Bahrain International Circuit Medical Centre, it has been decided that McLaren Honda F1 Team driver Fernando Alonso should not take part in this weekend's Bahrain Grand Prix," the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) confirmed in a statement.
"Two sets of chest CT scans were compared and it was decided that there was insufficient resolution of the signs to allow him to compete on safety grounds. A repeat chest scan has been requested before the Chinese Grand Prix and the results will be considered before allowing him to race there."
Alonso is a three-time winner in Bahrain, having triumphed in back-to-back years with Renault a decade ago before emerging victorious in his first race for Ferrari back in 2010. He came 11th last year during the early stages of a disastrous season for McLaren, which saw them finish ninth in the Constructors' Standings with just 27 points. The Woking-based team have confirmed that reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will make his F1 debut, alongside Jenson Button.
Reacting to the news via his Instagram account, Alonso said: "I tried until the last minute to race in Bahrain after the accident in Australia, [there] have been hard days logically after such an impact, but until the last second I try to race to help the team after the incredible work they have done this week. I understand the position of the FIA doctors and now I will try to help my teammate Stoffel Vandoorne to make the most of the weekend. Thanks to everyone. "