Formula One: Alonso 'would have died' 20 years ago

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A crash like the one suffered by Fernando Alonso in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix would have been fatal in a previous era, former FIA president Max Mosley said on Tuesday.

Alonso’s McLaren was sent into a terrifying barrel roll after he clipped Esteban Gutierrez’s Haas at close to 200mph, but the two-time champion crawled from the wreckage before walking away.

Since Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola in 1994 prompted tightened security measures, Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who died at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, is the only F1 driver to have lost his life in a race.

Asked if Alonso would have survived a similar accident 20 years ago, Mosley told British newspapers: “I don’t think he would have.

“You wouldn’t know for sure without a detailed analysis, but generally speaking those sorts of accidents resulted in serious injury or death.

“Happily that seems to have stopped. There are still freak accidents, like Jules, but those sort of serious racing accidents, you do expect the driver to walk away. That wouldn’t have been the case 20 years ago.

“This was thanks to (former FIA chief medical officer) Sid Watkins and a team of really competent people and the teams themselves.

“It needed to be looked at scientifically and that was the big change after Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola in 1994.

“It’s very satisfying to see Alonso walk away. You work hard and it’s very satisfying when you see the results. It was quite an impressive crash.” Mosley’s reign as FIA (International Federation of Automobiles) chief between 1993 and 2009 coincided with a big safety push that continues today, with the planned introduction of the Halo device to protect drivers’ heads.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016 – 18:25
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