| SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Sept 2
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, Sept 2 Ferrari's
Formula One leader Fernando Alonso suffered his first retirement
in more than a year at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, but
still felt a lucky man.
The Spaniard was shunted out in a spectacular first corner
pile-up, triggered by Frenchman Romain Grosjean colliding with
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
The Lotus flew across the front of Alonso's red Ferrari,
fortunately missing the double champion's helmeted head by
After the impact, Alonso remained in the car, which started
smouldering as a marshal rushed to it with an extinguisher, in a
worrying moment for his watching team and all Ferrari fans.
"I feel OK, just a little bit of pain on the back, just
because of the hit," he said after going to the medical centre.
"There is disappointment because of the lost race points,
but also lucky because in five days I can be back in the car in
The next race is Ferrari's home Italian grand prix and
Alonso will go there with a 24-point advantage in the
championship, with eight races remaining.
Team principal Stefano Domenicali was a relieved man,
especially because the team had lost communication with Alonso
after the impact.
"Having a car flying almost over his head could have been
really dangerous," he said.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who was celebrating
a pole to flag victory by his driver Jenson Button, agreed that
Alonso could consider himself fortunate.
"It looked scary, didn't it?" he told Reuters. "It just
reminds us...we become slightly nonchalant. We see so many big
enormous shunts and we are just used to the driver hopping out.
Fortunately on this occasion he did.
"You realise that they come inches away from not hopping out
of the car on those incidents so...fortunate for him and the
sport that we got away with a big accident today."
Alonso and Domenicali both felt that young and inexperienced
drivers like Grosjean, who was handed a one-race ban for the
incident, needed to be disciplined to prevent repeats in future.
"I think that certain drivers should try and take fewer
risks at the start: it's a bit of a tendency currently in the
junior formulae," said Alonso.
"It would be better if right from the start of their career,
they got used to respecting more strictly the rules relating to
behaviour on track."
The crash left the leader one race short of equalling
Michael Schumacher's record of 24 successive points-scoring
races, and the Spaniard and his team felt sure he would have
been on the podium otherwise.
"Today, looking at the pace of the race, he would have been
easily on the podium and easily second. It's easy to say after
but honestly looking at the pace...it's a big disappointment,"
(Editing by Matt Barker)