McLaren's troubled preseason almost took a tragic turn Sunday when Fernando Alonso was severely injured in a crash during a Formula One test run.
Alonso was airlifted by helicopter to the hospital after his McLaren went off the track and collided with the wall at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit.
McLaren said the two-time former world champion was "conscious and able to speak" while receiving first aid at the circuit's medical center, but that he was taken to hospital for "precautionary checks."
The team later added that Alonso was "uninjured" after several hours of tests and observation. McLaren said "he was given CT and MRI scans as precautionary measures. He was uninjured, but will remain in hospital."
Team director Eric Boullier said that Alonso received a concussion from the accident.
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"Fernando's accident was just one of those things that happens in testing," Boullier said. "Fortunately, he's fine, but was concussed during the accident, which therefore required an overnight stay in hospital as a precaution. That's normal practice after a concussion."
The Spaniard crashed after completing 20 laps. The accident occurred at turn three, when Alonso went off course and the right-hand side of his car hit the wall.
Neither the team nor track officials have reported the cause of the crash. Boullier said the car was not badly damaged. McLaren did not specify Alonso's speed at the time of the crash.
The 33-year-old Alonso rejoined McLaren this season after a disappointing fifth and final campaign with Ferrari. He won back-to-back world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006 before spending one season at McLaren in 2007.
Alonso has 32 career grand prix victories, the last of which came here at Montmelo in 2013.
Ferrari tweeted: "All the best Fernando."
Testing resumed at the track after a slight delay following the lunch break.
Fellow Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr. also saw his Toro Rosso go into the wall at turn three, but he emerged unscathed.
Sainz Jr. and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg said the track was very windy, although neither mentioned any connection to the crashes.
"It was difficult to understand in the car because every run was different from corner to corner," Rosberg said. "Depending on where the wind was coming from, the car felt totally different. So it really made testing extremely tough today. Even the sun was making it tricky at the end once the wind dropped down, as it was just on the horizon. Some of the corners were absolutely blind so you just had to commit to it by memory."
McLaren had started the day with a plan to let Jenson Button take over from Alonso in the afternoon. But following the accident it called the session over.
Alonso's accident follows a difficult preseason for McLaren, with its new engine maker Honda. The team based in Woking, England, registered the fewest total laps of any team through the first tests in Jerez.
It then had to cut short both of Button's shifts behind the wheel on Thursday and Saturday due to a faulty seal.
McLaren will have four more days of tests here next week before the season starts in Australia on March 15.
"It's been a tough week for the whole team, but we'll be back, and pushing harder than ever, in Barcelona next week," Boullier said.