Fernando Alonso says he has been preparing for the Chinese Grand Prix like he approaches any F1 race but won't know if he can compete until he gets the green light from the FIA medical team on Thursday.
Alonso was banned from racing in Bahrain after failing the FIA medical due to his injuries sustained in his massive shunt after colliding with Esteban Gutierrez in the Australian Grand Prix.
McLaren-Honda reserve and third driver Stoffel Vandoorne duly stepped in for the two-time F1 world champion and notched up the team's first point of 2016 on his Grand Prix debut.
The Spanish driver has praised Vandoorne for his efforts in Bahrain and is expecting to be back in the cockpit in China but must pass an FIA medical before being allowed to take part in the race weekend.
“It was disappointing to be told I couldn't race in Bahrain, but I fully respected the decision of the FIA medical team,” Alonso said. “While I hope I'll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I'm continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal.
“Stoffel did a great job in Bahrain, and although Jenson suffered reliability issues, it was positive to see that both cars ran quite strongly during the weekend.”
Focusing on the positives of being out of the car for Bahrain, Alonso says he enjoyed getting a fresh perspective on the teams efforts but is keen to get back to racing at Shanghai which holds happy memories for him.
“It was also interesting for me to see the race weekend unfold from a different perspective,” he said. “It helped me to understand everything that goes into getting the cars on track and learn a lot about the different processes, although I'd still prefer to be racing! I've always enjoyed driving in China – I've won there twice before – and I hope we'll be able to have some good battles on track and see more progress this weekend.”
If Alonso is to fail the FIA medical checks for a second successive race weekend, McLaren-Honda has primed Vandoorne to jump back into the MP4-31 in China.