Fernando Alonso’s 305kph crash in Melbourne earlier this season saw the Spaniard experience a peak lateral deceleration of 45G.
The FIA have revealed startling details about the double World Champion’s crash, during which he sustained a fractured rib and a small pneumothorax.
Some of the data was obtained via the Accident Data Recorder, the ‘black box’ of F1 cars, while other information came from the new high-speed camera, which was installed in every car from the first race of this season.
Alonso hit the back of Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas at the Albert Park circuit while travelling 313kph. He slowed marginally to 305kph at the point of the impact.
The FIA explained: “After the initial impact, Alonso’s front-right suspension was destroyed, and the car veered left towards the outside wall.
“The wall collision was made with the front left corner of the car, resulting in a peak lateral deceleration of 45G, with high acceleration levels also recorded by the ear accelerometers, demonstrating the forces on the driver’s head.
“The High-Speed Camera, which took video frames of the driver every one hundredth of a second, showed that Alonso’s helmet made contact with the left inside face of the headrest twice during the impact, corresponding with two peaks seen on the ear accelerometer data.
“The car rebounded and proceeded to slide along the circuit towards the gravel trap. With front-left, front-right and rear-left suspensions destroyed, the car was heavily leaning laterally on its left side as it travelled over the grass. This left side dug into the gravel, which rolled the car and propelled it into the air, recording a lateral deceleration of 46G.”
The end stage of the accident was just as scary as Alonso’s McLaren rolled and even became airborne.
“The car travelled in the air, rotating approximately 540 degrees (1.5 times) and was airborne for 0.9 seconds,” the statement continued. “On landing it made its initial contact with the ground on its rear impact absorbing structure, experiencing a peak longitudinal acceleration of 20G.
“The car then rotated about its rear before falling and eventually coming to a stop on the left side of its engine cover, just before the tyre barrier.
Alonso walked away.”
Laurent Mekies, Global Institute’s General Manager Research, believes that the footage obtained by the camera will go toward making motor racing a safer sport in the years to come.
“What we want to understand is the exact dynamic of the head, neck and shoulders in a high-G crash and how they interact with the other parts of the cockpit environment – the padding, the HANS, belts and anything else that can be in the space of the driver,” he explained.
“This camera allows us to better understand the exact forces on the head to a given displacement, the elongation of the neck, how it engages with the headrests, how the headrests perform and what we need to do to produce the next generation cockpit environment.”