In Depth

Fernando Alonso 'lucky to be alive' - see the worst F1 crash in years

McLaren driver emerges unhurt while Nico Rosberg is first past the flag in the Australian Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg started the new F1 season as he finished the last, winning his fourth race in a row as he triumphed in the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

The German finished in front of team-mate and defending champion Lewis Hamilton, who started badly from the front of the grid and could not overhaul Rosberg after falling to sixth. Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari rounded out the podium.

But an exciting race will be best remembered for a spectacular crash involving McLaren driver Fernando Alonso, who was able to walk away from the wreckage of his car after it barrel-rolled into a barrier and disintegrated.

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The terrifying accident happened on lap 18, when the Spanish driver clipped the rear of Esteban Gutierrez's Haas at 200mph and flipped over in the gravel before coming to rest in the barriers.

It was "one of the most spectacular accidents the sport has seen for years", says the Daily Telegraph. Alonso admitted he was "lucky to be alive".

His McLaren was destroyed in the crash and "the sport breathed an enormous sigh of a relief as Alonso crawled out of the car". He and Gutierrez, who also crashed out as a result of the incident, embraced as they left the scene.

"Pieces of carbon fibre were scattered like confetti across the Albert Park track," says Jonathan McEvoy of the Daily Mail. "[Alonso's] McLaren was not a crumpled mess; it had almost vanished off the face of the earth. Just the cockpit remained defiantly separating the Spaniard from this place and the next life."

It was, he notes, testament to the safety improvements in F1 for it was hard to "believe that from this scene of mayhem a human life could emerge".

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