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Alonso given thumbs up to return

Fernando Alonso got the all-clear from doctors to compete in the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday after recovering from a horrific crash last month.

Alonso given thumbs up to return
Dan Istitene Getty Images

Fernando Alonso got the all-clear from doctors to compete in the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday after recovering from a horrific crash at the season-opening race last month.

The former Formula One world champion passed tests after Friday's first free practice in Shanghai, after which the sport's ruling body the FIA said no further medical checks were needed unless the Spaniard develops any 'abnormal symptoms'.

Alonso posted the 12th fastest time in morning practice as he returned for McLaren after missing the Bahrain race two weeks ago with fractured ribs.

“As a result of a medical examination undertaken following Free Practice One... Fernando Alonso is fit to take part in all remaining sessions this weekend,” an FIA statement read. “However, as with this morning's session, in case of any abnormal symptoms the driver has been informed that he must stop his car immediately. No further medical checks will be undertaken unless the driver presents any abnormal symptom.”

Alonso admitted he was “lucky to be alive” after his car flipped and went into a terrifying roll in Melbourne at close to 200 miles (320 kilometres) per hour. The 34-year-old, who spent several nights in hospital, insisted after arriving in Shanghai that he was now free from pain. “The pain level is zero,” said Alonso, who won back-to-back world titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006. “I feel 100 percent. If I wasn't sure I wouldn't fly here.”

McLaren reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne took Alonso's place in Bahrain and scored a point on his debut. Alonso's sickening crash raised renewed fears about driver safety, even though since Ayrton Senna's death at Imola in 1994, which prompted tightened security measures, Frenchman Jules Bianchi is the only F1 driver to have lost his life in a race.

Bianchi died following a freak accident at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2014 when his Marussia car skidded off the track in pouring rain and crashed into a recovery tractor clearing wreckage from Adrian Sutil's stricken Sauber.

Alonso's accident in Australia came a year after a crash during testing in Spain which ruled him out of last season's opening round. His latest brush with disaster brought into sharp focus proposals to install a cockpit 'halo' bar designed to further protect the drivers, although critics argued that it might have been harder for Alonso to climb out of his car if the device had been in place.