The FIA has released further details of Fernando Alonso's accident at the Australian Grand Prix this year, including the massive G-forces experienced by the driver.
Alonso hit the rear of Esteban Gutierrez's Haas while attempting an overtake at over 300km/h on the run down to Albert Park's Turn 3. The collision saw him slam into the trackside wall before his car flipped into the gravel trap at the end of the straight. Alonso walked away from the accident with nothing more than a rib fracture, underlining the safety of modern Formula One cars.
A combination of in-ear accelerometers and new high-speed cameras pointed at the driver's head allowed the FIA to gather huge amounts of data on the accident. In the most recent issue of its quarterly magazine Auto, the governing body gave a detailed account of the forces involved in the accident.
"The McLaren driver crashed into the back of Esteban Gutiérrez's Haas Formula One car at the end of the DRS zone between Turns 2 and 3 of the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne," the article said. "He was travelling at 313kph as he began his overtaking manoeuvre and had slowed marginally to 305kph at the point of impact, when his front-right wheel made contact with the rear-left wheel of Gutiérrez's car.
"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 car travelled in the air, rotating approximately 540 degrees (1.5 times) and was airborne for 0.9 seconds. 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."
The Auto article explains that the next step in understanding accidents will be gathering biometric data such as the driver's heart rate and sweat levels.
"I hope that we will be able to put something on a driver before the end of the season, at least in a test," Laurent Mekies the FIA Global Institute's General Manager Research said. "Biometric data will help us to assess the driver's conditions before, at the time of the crash and after the crash, as far as the rescue operations are concerned."
More high-speed cameras are also planned to allow researchers to witness in detail the stresses put on the driver's body.
"You could imagine a million things tomorrow - you could imagine us trying to estimate the loads on the actual upper body of the drivers through the safety belts, for instance," Mekies added. "It is something that will never stop as much as safety research will never stop and we will continue to push the boundaries to gain a deeper understanding."