No matter how you slice it, Fernando’s decision to not drive in Australia is a proof of his intelligence, maturity, and understanding of “the big picture”. My assumption is that he is suffering from concussion. Although there are curious elements in the story we’ve been told, if we “simply” put together a few relatively objective tidbits, they would appear to spell “concussion”:
- an impact to the head
- talk of loss of consciousness
- talk of retrograde amnesia (loss of memories of events BEFORE the trauma)
What we’re worried about is twofold. In order of importance this would be: concern about a driver whose brain was not functioning optimally at the helm of an F1 car, and concern about second impact syndrome.
(here are links to previous posts about concussion, or MTBI):
That’s why it’s crucial that all symptoms and signs (respectively subjective and objective) of concussion are totally resolved before resuming competition. Let’s briefly remember two things – both of them correlations. First of all, we have to remember that the correlation between the force applied to the head and the severity of the concussion is quite . . . coarse. Every ER doc has seen patients with huge hits who are only mildly concussed, as well as patients who’ve only tapped their heads mildly and are totally in outer space! This might help us understand how Fernando could have a concussion that’s enough to keep him out of action this long with an impact that was, all things considered, not that heavy (although I HAVE heard it was, in fact, high speed). The second correlation that’s notable for its weakness is between the severity of the concussion and the time it takes to get over the symptoms. My conclusion? There’s nothing suspicious here . . . yet. Statistically speaking, there’s an extremely high probability that Fernando will be fine for Sepang. What about if not? I think that if for some reason Fernando doesn’t drive in Malaysia, we’ll certainly have more information by then – because at that point, we’d very clearly be into new territory (still conceivable, but . . .) in terms of concussion recovery in our sport. Lastly, I’m immensely proud of this sport. This is a mature decision, clearly prioritising what’s important. It indicates just how pervasive the culture of safety regarding head injury is in Formula 1 – a wonderful legacy of Prof Sid!