F1 analyst Peter Windsor believes Fernando Alonso suffered a blackout prior to his mysterious testing crash in 2015, with McLaren-Honda staff ruling out a mechanical failure as the cause.
Alonso spent an unhappy four-year spell at McLaren after arriving from Ferrari after the 2014 season, with the two-time World Champion often struggling to conceal his frustration with Honda’s underperforming power unit.
The Spaniard infamously referred to the powertrain as a “GP2 engine” over team radio during Honda’s home race at the 2015 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, with McLaren and Honda eventually parting ways at the end of 2017.
Fernando Alonso 2015 McLaren-Honda testing crash revisited
Alonso’s second spell at McLaren got off to a terrible start in pre-season testing, when he crashed at the long-right hander at Turn 3 at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Alonso was airlifted to hospital and was forced to miss the opening race of the 2015 season in Australia due to a concussion.
With F1 testing not televised at the time, no footage of Alonso’s crash is available for public consumption and the findings of an FIA investigation into the accident have never been published.
McLaren claimed that Alonso’s accident was caused by an “unpredictable gust of wind” yet, in his return to action at the second race of 2015 in Malaysia, Alonso himself argued it was “clear [that] there was a problem in the car” and put the incident down to “locked steering.”
Wild rumours also suggested that Alonso had been electrocuted in the cockpit at a time when Honda were struggling to get up to speed in the era of V6 hybrid engines, but it must be stressed these have never been proven.
Speaking via his YouTube channel, 1992 title-winning Williams team manager Windsor has revealed he was told by McLaren team members at the time that mechanical failure was ruled out by the team, claiming Alonso did suffer a medical incident behind the wheel.
He said: “Fernando’s often said: ‘When I retire, I’ll tell the whole story about McLaren.’
“Which I can only assume means: ‘How McLaren treated me badly, didn’t give me the best car and everything I needed and favoured Lewis [Hamilton in 2007].’
“I can’t imagine it’s anything more than that. I can’t imagine that it is: ‘And they sent me out in a car that failed and caused me to have a massive accident in Barcelona.’
“I don’t think it would be that. If it is, I’d be shocked because I don’t think it was the case.
“It was a weird shunt, because he came out of Turn 2 – the second part of that first corner chicane – and went through Turn 3. He went through 3 and in the middle of 3, he turned right and went over the grass and crashed into the bank on the inside.
“Which is not the way you can lose a Formula 1 car. That wasn’t a driver error in that sense.
“It might have been some sort of failure on the car, some sort of steering failure or maybe brake failure – not that he was on the brakes at the time, but there might have been a disc explosion or something a bit weird.
“Or he had some sort of blackout.
“And that’s what I understand to be the case. I think he did have some sort of blackout and I’m not sure he knows why that occurred or anybody else does.
“My understanding is that is what happened and it wasn’t a mechanical failure, from talking to people at McLaren who were involved at the time.
“A bit of a mystery. Big mystery, actually.”
Windsor was positioned in Race Control at the time of Alonso’s accident, revealing the role he played in the rescue effort moments after the impact.
And, he claimed that McLaren staff were already touchy about the crash at that stage, recalling how he was ushered out of the room by a member of the team in an “odd” encounter.
He explained: “I remember I was in Race Control at the time and I saw it on CCTV. People said: ‘Look, Fernando’s gone off!’
“There was one medical guy and I said: ‘Look, you need to get out there because he’s not out of the car yet.’
“And I think it was Dave Robson – before he went to Williams, he was at McLaren – who came out and said [to me]: ‘What are you doing here? You shouldn’t be in this room.’
“I felt I played my part in getting a few people down there quite quickly and trying to help, but I thought it was a bit odd that somebody would take the trouble to do that in the middle of a crisis.”
Honda became Red Bull’s engine supplier in 2019, powering Max Verstappen to three consecutive World Championships between 2021 and 2023.
In May last year, Honda announced that they will switch to Aston Martin, Alonso’s current employers, in time for F1’s next regulation changes in 2026.