Australian F1 chief Andrew Westacott rubbishes Melbourne boycott rumours

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Nothing to worry about: Australian Grand Prix CEO Andrew Westacott.

Australian Grand Prix organisers have dismissed suggestions a number of Formula One teams are threatening to boycott the race over safety fears surrounding McLaren.

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Fernando Alonso’s crash during the second pre-season test last month in Barcelona, which rendered the Spaniard unconscious and resulted in a three-day stay in hospital, has left many observers perplexed.

To avoid the prospect of second-impact syndrome, Alonso is to sit out next weekend’s season-opening grand prix in Australia, returning for the subsequent race in Malaysia on March 29.

McLaren have categorically made clear there was no car or systems failure that led to the incident at the Circuit de Catalunya on February 22, instead blaming a freak gust of wind.

The explanation is seemingly unconvincing to some and it has led to suggestions of concern from other teams, to such an extent talk of a boycott has apparently been mentioned.

But Australian Grand Prix Corporation CEO Andrew Westacott has refuted such gossip.

He said: “We’re talking to the teams, Formula One and the FIA multiple times every day and a boycott certainly hasn’t been raised or discussed.

"All the teams are coming to Melbourne; they’re excited about the start of the new season, the freight is on its way, Formula One personnel are on site at Albert Park setting up the broadcast and from our perspective it’s 100 per cent all systems go.

“We hold no fears about anything apart from containing the enthusiasm of the Australian public across the four days.”

Meanwhile, Spanish newspaper El Pais has claimed Alonso suffered memory loss so severe after his crash that he forgot he was a Formula One driver.

The newspaper claims McLaren driver Alonso thought it was 1995 when first questioned by doctors after the incident in Barcelona on February 22.

It further reports the Spaniard responding to routine questions about his identity by saying: “My name is Fernando, I race karts and I want to be a Formula One driver.”

Alonso began his Formula One career in 2001, and according to the Spanish newspaper report he had no initial recollection of his drives for Minardi, Renault, McLaren and Ferrari, before his memory returned.

Kevin Magnussen will stand in for Alonso for McLaren when the season starts Down Under a week tomorrow.

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