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Renault incensed at Alonso penalty

NEWS STORY
10/09/2006

Following the grid penalty, which sees him demoted by five places, following claims that he 'blocked' Felipe Massa during the final phase of qualifying, Fernando Alonso has hit out at the decision and the 'sport'.

Speaking to reporters at a specially arranged press conference this morning, the reigning World Champion said: "If this is blocking anyone intentionally, we will have a lot of problems from now on in qualifying. If this is blocking also I don't understand how we will race today if this is the minimum distance.

"I am a sportsman," he continued, "I love the sport, I love the fans coming here, a lot of them from Spain. And I don't consider any more Formula One like a sport."

The incident, which was viewed by race stewards, who also spoke to both drivers, came after the Spaniard had suffered a tyre failure. Having made it back to the pits for fresh tyres, and to have his car checked for damage, the Spaniard eventually qualified fifth, three places behind title rival Michael Schumacher. Then came Felipe Massa's claim that the Renault driver had blocked him and prevented him from taking pole.

Renault boss is as incensed as his driver: "Fernando never intentionally wanted to stop Massa," said the Italian, who has already crossed swords with the FIA this year, claiming that the FIA is favouring Ferrari.

"It was quite dangerous as well to send Fernando out again," he admitted, "but we are fighting for the championship and the people need to see the show. He made the chequered flag for his final quick lap by one second.

"We told him by radio that he done like a qualifying lap on his out-lap," Briatore continued. "He did the perfect job and had no intention of slowing Massa. We don't want to argue about the decision, only to tell you what is our position. We are sad that this happened."

The normally placid Pat Symonds, is equally angry, claiming that due to the unique slipstreaming opportunities at Monza, Massa actually benefited from having Alonso ahead of him.

"It's a funny thing at Monza," said the Englishman, "you spend half your lap trying to get a tow and half trying to avoid traffic. I think here Massa has got a good tow, he got some advantage from it. I think going into Parabolica, where he did lose some time, I'm not at all convinced that it was through loss of aerodynamics. I think only Ferrari can really answer that but we've seen similar data on our cars this weekend.

"If you go into Parabolica a little bit too deep, you do saturate the front tyre and get a little bit of understeer and have to come off the throttle," he continued. "You do lose time, but it's a pretty normal thing.

"We seem to have forgotten that prior to 2003, this is what qualifying was all about," added the French outfit's Technical Director. "All we want really is just to be involved in a sport and nothing else."

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