Fernando Alonso suffered a huge crash at the opening grand prix of the 2016 Formula 1 season in Australia on 20 March. The McLaren veteran, a former two-time world champion with Renault, made contact with the back of Esteban Gutierrez's Haas on the approach to turn three during lap 17 at the Melbourne Circuit and was sent careering off into the nearby barriers at high speed.

Thankfully both drivers walked away from the smash unharmed, although Alonso's MP4-31 sustained significant damage. Speaking after the race, the Spaniard claimed he was fine and put the accident down to a racing incident.

"I feel good. I'm trying to put everything in place again in the body. It was a big, big crash," he told BBC Radio 5 live. "I tried to take the slipstream until the braking point and in the last moment it was a combination of factors that ended up in a crash, luckily we are both OK.

Soy consciente de que hoy he gastado una de las vidas que me quedaban, quiero dar las gracias a @mclaren , FIA por la seguridad actual de los monoplazas. A mis compañeros y a los aficionados por la preocupación mostrada y apoyo incondicional. Ahora a recuperarse y pensar en Bahréin, y subirme al coche para conseguir los primeros puntos!! 💪💪 I am aware that today I spent some of the luck remaining in life, I want to thank @mclaren, the FIA for the safety on this cars. Also my colleagues and fans for the concern and unconditional support. Now it's time to rest and think about Bahrain, and get back in the car to get the first points of this year !! 💪💪 #australia

A photo posted by Fernando Alonso (@fernandoalo_oficial) on


"I'm thankful for the safety of the cars – I am alive talking to you. I think it is a race incident. We both tried to fight and sometimes we forget we are at 300kmph and every little crash can become much bigger."

Gutierrez was absent from the grid last season after being dropped by Sauber at the end of the 2014 campaign, but was confirmed as Romain Grosjean's teammate for American debutants Haas back in November.

Speaking after the collision, Ferrari's former reserve driver said: "Thankfully we are alright. It was a very, very scary moment. The first thing I saw in the mirror I was really worried. I jumped out as quick as I could and ran to him. It was a really big relief he was OK.

"We didn't speak much. It was a real moment of shock for both of us. I just went to him to see if everything was fine with him. I braked into Turn 3 and everything came by surprise at the rear. I need to see the video to understand what happened."

Formula 1 has made great strides in terms of car and driver safety, although the sport suffered its first fatality in two decades last year when Manor's Jules Bianchi tragically died from head injuries sustained after he collided with a mobile crane during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka.