Fernando Alonso prepares to drive McLaren car simulator

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Mclaren driver Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso did not take part in the Australian Grand Prix on Medical advice

Fernando Alonso is to drive the McLaren simulator this week as he plots his return to the track.

The double world champion missed the first race of the season in Australia to recover from concussion suffered in a crash in pre-season testing.

"We have a programme to help Fernando back to racing and he plans to be in a simulator," said a McLaren spokesman.

Alonso, 33, will go through data from last month's accident in Barcelona when he meets with engineers.

McLaren have already prepared a 38-page report and found no evidence of any faults with the car.

Alonso, who spent three days in hospital after the crash, also plans to take official FIA medical tests this week.

The Spaniard, who joined McLarenon a three-year contract worth $40m (£27m) a year. needs to pass these before being allowed to race again.

Alonso in F1
Was the youngest driver to start an F1 race for Minardi in 2001Last won a race in Spain in May 2013 for Ferrari
Won two titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006Won four races during his previous season with McLaren in 2007

Similar to a flight simulator used by pilots, the F1 simulator reproduces kerbs and bumps from a specific track.

It is normal practice for drivers to prepare for the next race in a simulator, but the session will also help Alonso determine whether his senses have fully recovered from the effects of the accident.

Sources close to Alonso say that he has been concerned by the crash, the causes of which so far are unexplained, and especially by his loss of memory in the immediate aftermath.

Alonso is determined to race in the next grand prix in Malaysia on 29 March and has posted photographs of his preparations on Twitter.external-link

Alonso crash
McLaren say they found no faults with the car after Alonso's crash

He was in contact with McLaren over the course of a dispiriting Australian Grand Prix weekend.

Jenson Button finished outside of the points in 11th, while Kevin Magnussen, Alonso's deputy, retired before the race began.

Alonso was encouraging about the team's potential, his fundamental message being that success will be all the sweeter following difficult times.

Racing director Eric Boullier has said the team can "build" on the first race distance achieved by the Honda engine, after Jenson Button finished 11th and last in Melbourne.

But he admitted "it may take more than a couple of years to catch up".