Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne are both in China and the thinking is that both will be back to their standard roles for this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, Alonso back in his No. 14 McLaren MP4-31 Honda with Vandoorne watching from the reserve role.
That being said, Alonso hasn’t been cleared yet and isn’t taking for granted that he will be.
“It was disappointing to be told I couldn’t race in Bahrain, but I fully respected the decision of the FIA medical team,” Alonso said in the team’s advance release.
“While I hope I’ll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I’m continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal.”
Racing director Eric Boullier put in a subtle jab at the doctors in referencing Alonso’s absence from Bahrain.
“Despite the decision from the FIA medical team that Fernando was not able to race, the team prepared admirably for the weekend, and Stoffel did a fantastic job to score his and the team’s first championship point of the year, in his debut grand prix,” he said.
“Once again, Stoffel will be on standby until Fernando has his routine meeting with FIA doctors on Thursday, and until then we will be readying ourselves as normal. Fernando has been recuperating at home and training as usual, and we, like him, hope to see him back in the car. We’ll accept the outcome – whatever that may be – and plan accordingly.”
The two-time World Champion did gain a fair bit from being on the sidelines, watching as Vandoorne made his Grand Prix debut and ultimately scored a point with 10th place.
“Stoffel did a great job in Bahrain, and although Jenson (Button) suffered reliability issues, it was positive to see that both cars ran quite strongly during the weekend,” he said.
“It was also interesting for me to see the race weekend unfold from a different perspective, which helped me to understand everything that goes into getting the cars on track and learn a lot about the different processes, although I’d still prefer to be racing!
“I’ve always enjoyed driving in China – I’ve won there twice before – and I hope we’ll be able to have some good battles on track and see more progress this weekend.”
Alonso has still been active on social media since arriving in China, with a few images below:
Vandoorne will at least be to China sooner than Bahrain!