Outspoken former F1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has counted himself among scores of experts, pundits and fans who have been left “confused” by the Fernando Alonso saga.
Spaniard Alonso spent four days in hospital and is now sitting out this week’s Barcelona test action, after a crash described by McLaren-Honda as “normal” that Ron Dennis said on Thursday left him “categorically not injured”.
But Alonso’s participation in Melbourne in two weeks is also now in doubt. Like scores of others in the world of F1, 1997 world champion Villeneuve thinks many elements of the story do not add up.
“You certainly can lose control of the car,” said the French Canadian, “for technical reasons, a loss of concentration.”
“Even because of the wind,” Villeneuve is quoted by Italy’s La Repubblica, “even though I know the Indianapolis 500 when you are hurtling around with the wind at 360kph.
“If you are at the limit, you can make mistakes. But I have read so many things about this incident, among them that the speed was not very high. So when you think that this happened to a driver like Alonso, it sounds weird.”
“Now I’m not a doctor, and I have not spoken to him, but as I understand it, the hit was not very hard. Maybe it was a bad impact angle, I don’t know, but it’s a story that leaves me a bit confused,” Villeneuve added.
“The thing that troubles me is the sense of mystery: they (McLaren) have told us many things and who knows if the truth is among them,” said the usually-outspoken 43-year-old.
One conspiracy theory is that Alonso, 33, suffered some sort of seizure or fainting episode, while Dennis on Thursday vehemently rejected claims Honda’s immature energy recovery systems electrocuted him.
“I cannot say yes or no, I have no information,” Villeneuve insisted. “This ‘power unit’, however, I don’t like — the idea of drivers waiting for a light to come on before they get out of the car because of electric shock, or the marshals having to wear these gloves.”
“I have nothing against progress,” he added, “but when it comes to something that adds nothing to the show, it is a ridiculous and unnecessary danger,” he added.
If Alonso’s hospital stay was due to a blow to the head, however, Villeneuve urged the Spaniard to recover fully before driving again.
“The head is not a leg or an arm,” he said. “I would bet he will be in Melbourne, because we are drivers and we want to be in the car. But in 1999, I took a crazy blow on the head at Spa and 20 minutes later I was back in the car. I stopped after one lap because I was seeing stars.”
“When it comes to the brain, a second blow can be fatal,” said Villeneuve. “Fernando has the blood and the courage of a driver, but he should listen to the doctors.”