SPANISH Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso says he has used up 'one of his seven lives' after walking away from an horrendous smash at the first Grand Prix of the season in Melbourne, Australia.
The twice-world champion's McLaren was totally destroyed as a result of the violent smash which ensued after he struck the rear end of Mexican Esteban Gutiérrez's Haas with his front offside tyre as he tried to overtake him, and spectators initially feared the worst.
But Alonso, limping slightly, walked into the paddock and waved at his fans as he left the devastating scene on foot.
Owner of McLaren Ron Dennis announced a few minutes later that the Asturias-born driver was 'okay' and had not suffered any injuries, and McLaren-Honda chef d'équipe Eric Bouillier reported that Alonso was 'not even in a state of shock' and that 'everything was okay'.
The spectacular crash happened on lap 17 of the 58, and Alonso's car spun round 360º twice before overturning.
Gutiérrez also walked away from his damaged car and immediately went to Alonso's aid after confirming by radio that he himself was unscathed.
The UK's Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), who came second behind his German team-mate Nico Rosberg and ahead of the latter's compatriot, Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari), sent Alonso a message later saying: “Glad you're okay.”
Shortly before Alonso's crash, his former team-mate, Finnish Kimi Räikkönen's Ferrari burst into flames in the pit lane.
Räikkönen decided to bail out when his car started belching out black smoke, then a fire broke out just above his helmet.
The Finn also managed to get away unharmed, but his car is thought to be a write-off.