Fernando Alonso has been provisionally cleared to return to the track for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. The McLaren-Honda veteran was involved in a serious crash during the opening race of the season in Australia, on 20 March, when he clipped the left rear of Esteban Gutierrez's Haas on turn three of lap 17 and hit a nearby wall before barrel rolling across the gravel trap at high speed.
Alonso walked away from the accident with no obvious injuries, but was later found to be suffering from rib fractures and a small pneumothorax on the lung. Although initially hopeful of taking his place in Bahrain, the Spaniard was eventually ruled out on safety grounds after two sets of chest CT scans in Sakhir showed "insufficient resolution of the signs". He was booked in for a repeat scan and has now been given tentative approval to resume racing.
In a statement to confirm his return, the FIA said: "Since the accident at the Australian Grand Prix, McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver Fernando Alonso has been undergoing the process of "Reintegration" in accordance with Chapter II of Appendix L of the International Sporting Code. McLaren Honda have applied for Alonso to participate in the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix. As the injury to the driver was discovered some days after the Australian Grand Prix, the reintegration does not strictly fall within the text of the appendix.
"Therefore, the stewards have taken advice from the FIA medical delegate, who in consultation with the chief medical officer of the Chinese Grand Prix and the driver's doctors advise that he considers the driver provisionally fit to take part in the event... Therefore driver Fernando Alonso will be allowed to participate, subject to the provision below."
Alonso must undergo a further medical examination in the aftermath of the first practice session in Shanghai on Friday (15 April). If he is not fully cleared, then reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne will deputise again after his impressive 10th-place finish in Bahrain. Team-mate Jenson Button, meanwhile, is set to move on to his second power unit after being forced to retire last weekend.