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Alonso disappointed to be penalised


Fernando Alonso denies any wrongdoing after being penalised for "potentially dangerous" driving whilst battling with George Russell.

As the Mercedes driver crashed it was initially thought that he had clipped a kerb, but in the moments after the race Alonso was summoned by the stewards after it was alleged he had brake tested the Briton.

Following their investigation the stewards issued a statement in which, while admitting that there was no evidence that Alonso had brake tested the Mercedes driver, by slowing on entry to Turn 6 on the final lap his driving was "potentially dangerous" - surely a claim that could be made in relation to almost any move during a race.

The stewards - who included Johnny Herbert, which led to much talk of a conspiracy on social media - handed Alonso a 20s penalty which dropped him from sixth to eighth.

"In the closing laps, George caught me quickly," said Alonso after the investigation. "I knew that he was coming, then he was in DRS range for five or six laps, so I was just doing qualifying laps to stay ahead. I wanted to maximise my exit speed from Turn 6 to defend against him.

"That's what any racing driver would do, and I didn't feel it was dangerous," he insisted.

"It's disappointing to get a penalty for what was hard but fair racing," he added. "Still, I'm glad that George is OK. It was not nice to see his car in the middle of the track."

Referring to the rqace overall, he said: We were a little lucky with the timing of the Virtual Safety Car when Lewis retired. Then I was pretty happy sat behind Checo because I could use the DRS to pull a gap.

"I lost a lot of time when Charles came out from the pits, but those seconds we gained proved to be gold dust at the end.

"This wasn't the best weekend for us in terms of pace," he admitted, "but our race was well executed: good strategy, incredible pit-stops, great reliability. I think we probably scored more points today than our pace merited - but we'll take that."

If Alonso's tactics were indeed "potentially dangerous", what of the fact that Russell was stranded in his car, which was on its side in the middle of the track, with the driver calling repeatedly for the race to be red-flagged immediately.

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1. Posted by Mad Matt, 28/03/2024 13:39

"@ffracer I see your point and like most people I've never driven a "winged car" in real life. The only other thing I will add is that having seen the trace (thanks to the 'official' Formula 1 Youtube channel with Jolyon Palmer) it seems Fernando slowed, touched the brake (not significantly) but then had to re-accelerate before finally braking again for the corner.

As far as I know that's pretty unusual for a professional driver, that's more like something I used to do when I did my first track day :-)

@Editor I probably agree with you about hate speech.. and I can see how this could get out of hand but there has to be a point at which over zealous defending becomes worthy of a penalty but in that case why not just call it "dangerous driving"? "

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2. Posted by Paulinho, 26/03/2024 10:08

"I do like Alonso, he's having a long and brilliant career in F1, and what's great is that all of the accidents or "unusual" things that have happened around him, have either never been his fault or he knew nothing of them, brilliant. "

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3. Posted by Editor, 26/03/2024 8:27

"What concerns me is the term "potentially dangerous", which has all the making of the type of hate law on the verge of being introduced in Scotland whereby one can call in the police if one thinks a comment - and this applies to actors and comedians on stage - might be perceived by someone, anyone, to be offensive.

Surely most moves on track could be seen as potentially dangerous, not least some of the skulduggery we have seen in the last couple of years whereby drivers deliberately, suddenly drop behind a rival at a DRS detection zone in order to get the benefit that follows when the DRS is activated.

This phrase opens up a potential hornet nest of issues."

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4. Posted by ffracer, 26/03/2024 7:40

"@Max Noble - love reading your articles, thanks for weighing in. Respectfully disagree with Alonso being charged here, for anything. He’s no alter boy but he did nothing to cause Russell’s mistake.

@Mad Matt - You laid out your points, like the FIA, but I respectfully disagree. I am not an F1 /F2/F3 driver, there are only a very few in this world gifted enough to possess a super licence, but Will only say that I’ve driven a winged open wheel and want to add this to why I am upset with Johnny Herbert, legendary in his own right to win in an F1 car and Le Mans after those incredible debilitating feet/ankle injuries, and Martin Brundle - yes I am calling him out too because he has a responsibility when he speaks on world feed - another world class racer who cut his teeth with some true masters of skullduggery, his F3 path was insane - that the telemetry showed that for 50 to 100 metres in a winged car in a mid to high downforce setup , not much at that incredible closing speed, and with Alonso’s foot touching the brake pedal- not anything for the FIA to warrant even braking - was decelerating because OF THE WINGS (think parachute), looked to see that Russell wasn’t tucked under his gearbox before he sped up (car slowed more than he wanted) and downshifted (for better torque) to blast out/maximize his exit for the looming DRS straight. Russell did not get a brake test. It was last lap and Alonso was getting ready for a street fight... and, I verily believe, that Russell panicked, carried too much speed and overshot the corner. We’ve seen massive accidents from that innocent deceleration before - Coulthard/Schumacher Spa 98, Webber/Kovalainen 2014? , Fittipaldi/ Martini teammates in the Minardis and on the front straight Monza 94? And that didn’t even happen here. Too harsh for someone else’s mistake. My humble two cents"

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5. Posted by Pavlo, 26/03/2024 7:11

"@Mad Matt - what you quoted looks like a „brake test“, but stewards explicitly said it was not a brake test. Therefore what it was? According to the stewards, it was just „driving differently“, and I’m really surprised that driving differently is now prohibited, because this is what we want to see in F1, not a dull procession.
Stewards also mentioned that they reviewed the incident regardless of the resulting crash, which is obvious lies, there was just nothing to review had the crash didn’t happen.
What I see here is that Alonso slowed down just enough to get Russell behind him in dirty air, compromising his acceleration to the DRS zone while getting optimal acceleration himself. But not more than that, so that Russel didn’t crash into him. Nicely executed, perfectly legal and quite aggressive defending; but unfortunately Russell made a mistake and crashed, ruining quite interesting racing episode."

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6. Posted by Max Noble, 26/03/2024 1:36

"@Mad Matt - Agree with your observations, but then disagree with the penalty :-) As Alonso said himself afterwards on social media - is “playing cat and mouse and being difficult to overtake” all part of the sport? I think in this instance, especially as we had a ramming in the lower categories this weekend which had a smaller penalty for a bigger evil, it is once again how inconsistent the stewards are.

Russell should have been thinking something like, “What’s that cunning fox going to do in the final corners of the final lap?” And he should not have been caught unawares. As it was he was clearly thinking, “I’ve got you now! Move aside!” Only fractions of a second later to be thinking, “Oh shit…!”

Just because it was unanticipated does not make it wrong.


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7. Posted by Superbird70, 26/03/2024 0:08

"Russell got played. Pure and simple. Shoulda zigged when he zagged."

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8. Posted by kenji, 26/03/2024 0:00

"Tailgating can be a dangerous pastime. Russell's fault for not pre empting a 'foxy' move by the king of the pack!"

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9. Posted by Mad Matt, 25/03/2024 17:18

"I don't know if you read the earlier article but the evidence was:

Telemetry shows that
- Alonso lifted slightly more than 100m earlier than he ever had going into that corner during the race.
- He braked very slightly at a point that he did not usually brake
- He downshifted at a point he never usually downshifted.
- He then upshifted again, and accelerated to the corner before lifting again to make the corner.

We're told to leave a safe gap on a motorway because you never know what might happen. F1 cars follow each other at 320km/h barely a few meters apart, you need to be able to trust the person in front not to do anything too extreme or there will be an accident. In this case the telemetry showed enough for the stewards to feel this warranted a penalty, they don't do that very often for this kind of thing so I tend to feel it's justified.

(my understanding is that a down shift in an F1 car slows the car significantly)"

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10. Posted by Celtic Tiger, 25/03/2024 16:19

"A ridiculous penalty for a ridiculous reason by ridiculous people. No evidence of the complaint but penalized on a trumped-up charge anyways. What a clown show."

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11. Posted by Spindoctor, 25/03/2024 15:47

"I think this shows Russell's inexperience. A more experienced racer might have anticipated & left himself in a better position "

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12. Posted by Max Noble, 25/03/2024 14:03

"Just rewatched it. My view? Alonso slowed a touch more than usual, and Russell totally failed to allow for it with a daft closing speed given he had no where on track to go. Racing incident. Can we all grow up please?"

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13. Posted by yakker, 25/03/2024 11:46

"Agreed, Alonso knew Russell would try to get as close as he could before the drs zone, so he slowed (but didn’t brake) this caught Russell out. Unfortunately the lack of downforce then caused the accident. Fortunately Russell wasn’t injured. But it wasn’t dangerous driving just race craft."

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14. Posted by ffracer, 25/03/2024 9:55

"Great article. Seeing the mangled Mercedes in the middle of the track with no marshals helping a panicked Russell was unnerving watching the dangerous scene unfold.

Alonso is an ultimate racecar driver. A brilliant racer, three steps ahead of everyone and one who excels when immersed in close hard racing. To have to explain racecraft to officiating F1 personnel something that is taught in karting and racing schools is frustrating. My concern is that he leaves the sport because of this constantly bad officiating."

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