Fernando Alonso will learn on Sunday whether he has a chance of making his first appearance of the season in Malaysia next Sunday.
The McLaren driver, who missed the opening race in Australia a week ago after suffering concussion in testing in Barcelona last month, will be tested by three FIA-appointed specialists at the University of Cambridge.
However, that is the first of three hurdles the Spaniard will have to clear before he can race. If the trio of medical experts pass Alonso fit to travel from his Dubai home to Malaysia for the race, he will then be asked to pass the scrutiny of two further examiners.
On Thursday, he will have to meet the chief medical officer of the Sepang International Circuit and the medical delegate of the FIA, Jean-Charles Piette. They will require him to pass the FIA’s impact test, a 40-minute examination that will analyse his suitability to race by comparing his reactions and cognitive skills with his score taken from an earlier test.
McLaren are anxious that their £25m signing for the season will be fit to race after a wretchedly disappointing first outing in Melbourne, where their lone finisher, Jenson Button, came last.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport,Alonso’s non-appearance in Australia has cost insurers €1.8m (£1.3m), because of a clause requiring the driver to be fit for every race. Insurers will cover the cost unless it is found that the team was responsible for the driver’s absence.
Meanwhile, the Observer can reveal that Mercedes offered to pay 50% of any potential loss in a vain attempt to save the German Grand Prix. The team also undertook to promote the race, in what would have resulted in a total outlay of several million euros.
On Friday, the FIA World Motor Sport Council announced that the race had been dropped from the calendar because “the commercial rights holder and promoter did not reach agreement”.
The race was scheduled to take place at the Nürburgring on 19 July. When talks with the track’s new owners broke down in the winter, it was hoped to switch the event to Hockenheim, but that, too, proved difficult.
A Mercedes spokesman said: “The organisation of the race calendar and of individual events is a matter for the FIA, the commercial rights holder and the individual promoters. In principle, we do not believe it is the job of the competing teams to provide financial support for individual events and we do not believe this is a sustainable model for the future.
“Nevertheless, the German GP is a core race on the Formula 1 calendar and we have a significant interest in this race taking place. Mercedes-Benz has participated in discussions and offered a significant contribution to support a successful German GP, at the Hockenheimring, in 2015. This offer was, unfortunately, not accepted.”
So Germany, the country that gave the motor car to the world, which won both world championships last year, and which, in Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel, have the two most dominant drivers of the modern age, no longer features on the itinerary, joining other traditional venues – including France, Portugal, Argentina and San Marino – on the scrapheap.
Rumours also persist about the future of Monza, which has been in operation since 1922. F1, though, has embraced such unlikely – but well bankrolled – venues as Shanghai, Bahrain, India, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and South Korea.
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