Ron Dennis clears up Alonso crash rumors; confirms he was briefly knocked unconscious but was not concussed

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McLaren CEO Ron Dennis has moved to clear up some media reports regarding Fernando Alonso’s accident during pre-season testing in Barcelona last Sunday.

Alonso had to be airlifted to hospital following a heavy crash at turn three, but was deemed to be “uninjured and fine” following clear CT and MRI scans.

However, doctors opted to keep him under observation, and the Spaniard eventually left hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

The team put the incident down to the high winds that affected running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Sunday, but due to conflicting media reports, Dennis called a press briefing on Thursday to clear up the speculation.

“What I will say is a few facts,” Dennis said. “Fernando’s period in hospital was determined by the doctors, not by us. We were completely supportive. He had an accident here, everyone knows that.

“He was, as is always the case with a potential head injury, was sedated here. That was a completely normal process. He had completely clear CT and MRI scans, and at no stage through any part of the inspection process at the hospital was there any indication of any damage to his brain.

“There were rumours of electrocution. There was absolutely categorically no electrocution. In all the previous runs, Fernando was saying it was tricky because the wind is moving the car around. Our conclusions that it was related to the wind was based on his comments and the comments of a third party.

“If you then ask the question why he was in the hospital for three days, it’s because there was a period of unconsciousness. It was relatively short.

“When he came to rest, all we know is that the radio was on and we could hear him breathing. There were no other noises. They say it was seconds.”

Following medical advice, Alonso will not be taking any part in the third and final pre-season test of the season in Barcelona this weekend.

However, Dennis said that he does not see any reason why the Spaniard will not be able to take part in the first race of the season in Australia on March 15th. Should Alonso be unable to race though, Dennis confirmed that reserve driver Kevin Magnussen would get the call.

“I can’t foresee any reason why not but I’m not the doctor,” he said. “There will be some tests and processes laid down in the FIA. I can’t see any reason he won’t just sail through it. It’s not for me to determine.

“We have Kevin here. He will test. If Fernando didn’t drive, Kevin would drive. But it’s the sort of preparation that you would expect us to take to cover all eventualities as opposed to this being something that we put right up there. Why would we want to put Kevin in the car without him having driven it?”

Contrary to the original statement released by the team on the day of the accident, Dennis claims that Alonso was not concussed in the accident. However, he reinforced the fact that the Spaniard was physically fine.

“He is devoid of all injuries,” Dennis explained. “We can categorically say he has no injury. We can categorically say he didn’t suffer an electric shock. We can categorically say that, we believe, the car did not fail. Everything after that becomes subjective.”

“He’s not even concussed. The technical definition of a concussion is that you can see it in a scan. The possibility is that the change of direction happened so fast that actually it was like – it’s inappropriate to use the word – a whiplash of the brain. It didn’t actually touch anything. It didn’t bruise, it didn’t bleed.

“I’m not trying to conceal anything. I’m just telling you the facts: he is physically perfect. There is no concussion.”

Alonso is now resting at his parents’ home in Spain, and his condition will continue to be assessed in the run-up to the Australian Grand Prix.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

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“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”