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Gasly "predominantly at fault" for Alonso clash

NEWS STORY
11/10/2021

The Istanbul stewards explain why Pierre Gasly was handed a time penalty for his first corner clash with Fernando Alonso.

Heading into Turn 1 left-hander at the start of Sunday's Turkish Grand Prix, Sergio Perez was on the inside, with Pierre Gasly to his right and Fernando Alonso on the outside.

As they jostled for position, the AlphaTauri clipped the Alpine sending it into a spin and thereby dropping Alonso from 5th to 16th. "I was sandwiched," Gasly immediately told his team.

Usually, in the mad scramble for position at the start of a race, particularly in such conditions, such a clash would be viewed as a 'racing incident', but in this case the stewards felt Gasly was "predominantly" to blame.

"Gasly tried to negotiate Turn 1 with Perez on the inside and Alonso on the outside," they explained. Alonso was slightly in front of Gasly at the exit of the corner when both cars made contact, causing the Spaniard to spin.

"The Stewards determine that Gasly was predominantly at fault for the collision, as he did not leave enough space for Alonso on the outside.

"It should also be pointed out that the Stewards do not consider this incident as an unavoidable Lap 1 Turn 1 contact between two cars," they added, "as Gasly was not sandwiched between two cars when he touched Alonso’s car."

"If we go back to the start of the year, if you recall, pre the first event was that following discussions with the drivers and the teams we had to sort of ratchet back a little bit, the let them race principles in general," race director, Michael Masi subsequently explained.

"And one of them was first-lap incidents, and that if a driver was wholly to blame for an incident, then it would likely result in a penalty.

"And that one there was the stewards determined that Pierre was wholly to blame for the incident. And as a result, a five-second penalty was imposed."

Asked how that compared to the first lap clash at Imola involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Masi said: "If you look at the Max and Lewis one, it's one of those, the wholly or predominantly, under our regulations.

"So we've said, and the way that for ease of interpretation, let's call it, for everyone's benefit, is that if someone is wholly to blame on lap one, it will result in a penalty.

"If it takes two to tango, then it would be likely on lap one not result in anything, or if there's more than the two cars involved. But if it's quite clear, two cars, one has done it, then a penalty would happen."

Asked if Perez has played a part in Sunday's incident, Masi said: "That was one of the things why it probably took a little bit longer at the start to have a closer look at, is that obviously Sergio was on the inside, but once it was quite clear from all of the footage and everything available, that's why they determined that it was a five second penalty."

"There was contact and I haven't really seen the footage" said Gasly. "For me it was tight with Sergio inside me and Fernando was on the outside, so honestly there wasn't space, but yes there was contact.

"I did the penalty," he added, "I don't know if it was the right thing or not. I need to look at the footage first.

"I saw Fernando was there, I also saw Sergio was there, and I tried to go where I could. We know it is always usually not a good mix when there are that many cars. I don't have any other similar situation that comes to mind. That is just the way it is."

Ironically, Alonso subsequently picked up his own penalty for clashing with Mick Schumacher.

"Alonso tried to make a move on Schumacher at the inside at the approach to Turn 4, but never got in a position to complete the move and made contact with the inside rear wheel of the Haas, causing it to spin," said the stewards, who deemed that Alonso - like Gasly moments earlier - was "predominantly to blame".

The Spaniard was also handed 2 penalty points, his first since his return to the sport.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Istanbul, here.

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