Ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix on the weekend of the 3rd of April, it has been revealed that McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso will not race at the Sakhir circuit. He will be replaced for the race by McLaren reserve driver and GP2 winner Stoffel Vandoorne.
Two-time champion Alonso was involved in a serious accident with Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez at the Australian Grand Prix, and although his injuries had not been life-threatening his car had been nearly completely crushed in the incident, which saw the McLaren-Honda roll at high speed into the barriers; the accident prompted red flags at the race.
Today, it was revealed that the Spaniard had undergone another medical examination ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, with an official FIA communique stating that two sets of CT scans had been compared, with doctors finding “insufficient resolution of the signs to allow him to compete” in the race.
Our sources can reveal that Alonso sustained serious bruising to the chest in the accident, and as a result of that bruising not having healed completely, he will be unable to compete in Bahrain.
This means reserve driver Vandoorne, who has been in the role since 2014, will make his Formula One debut. The 24-year-old, who won the GP2 series with ART Grand Prix in 2015, currently races in the Super Formula series.
Belgian Vandoorne has shown both speed and consistency in GP2, and in his title win was a staggering 108 points ahead of his closest rival, former Manor F1 driver Alexander Rossi. He will drive alongside Alonso’s McLaren-Honda teammate and 2009 world champion Jenson Button, who finished in 14th at the Australian Grand Prix, which was won by Mercedes AMG-Petronas driver Nico Rosberg.