Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Baku City Circuit, 2018

Williams lodge protest over Alonso’s return to the pits on lap one in Baku

2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

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Williams has lodged a protest with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix stewards against Fernando Alonso for the manner in which he drove back to the pits on lap one of the race.

The team has also asked the stewards to review the verdict on the lap one incident involving its driver Sergey Sirotkin, Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg.

Sirotkin was given a three-place grid penalty for this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix and two penalty points on his licence. Alonso went on to finish the race seventh, one place ahead of Sirotkin’s team mate Lance Stroll.

The stewards noted in a statement: “The team has requested the stewards review an incident involving cars 17, 27 and 35 in turn two of lap one of the race and the actions of the driver of car 14 in returning to the pits. (The stewards note that the reference to car 17 above is most likely incorrect and it should be car 14, namely Fernando Alonso).”

Williams has also requested the stewards consider the decisions it made regarding Esteban Ocon’s clash with Kimi Raikkonen on the first lap of the race and Kevin Magnussen’s collision with Pierre Gasly.

A hearing on the protest will be held in London at 10am local time tomorrow which team representatives have been invited to attend via teleconference. Any new evidence will be taken into consideration and if the stewards determine there is grounds to reconsider their verdict a review will be held at 11am.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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79 comments on “Williams lodge protest over Alonso’s return to the pits on lap one in Baku”

  1. ForzaAlonsoF1
    7th May 2018, 22:08

    Dear dear Williams, fluffing a stewards appeal by getting car numbers incorrect – perhaps pay a little more attention eh? Schoolboy error.

    1. Absolutely! Getting the drivers number wrong is inexcusable………its in big numbers on his car! As for Fernando getting back to the pits with both right side tyres fooked, well what did they expect him to do? Its a minor miracle he managed it, they should be offering him a medal!!! Claire must be hopping mad like a bad bunny whos lost her bag of carrots! Lets hope Robert K can show the 41 is a bit faster than they think when he tests at Barca on day 2.

  2. Williams has also requested the stewards consider the decisions it made regarding Esteban Ocon and Kevin Magnussen’s clashes on the first lap of the race.

    Is it me or is this way out of line? A team asking the stewards to reconsider decisions that have nothing to do with them? Pretty outrageous.

    1. they protest this? and, did not lift a finger when Senna was convinced the Benetton still had traction control… whose idea could this be? (rhetorical question)

    2. @john-h I suspect it’s more a case of them citing examples of what other drivers did on lap one as a way of arguing that what Alonso did was wrong. ‘Esteban parked it, Fernando should’ve done the same…’

      1. The “appeal” should be laughed out the hearing with such force, it gives both Williams cars a 10 place grid penalty for the teams attempts to point fingers and question the stewards integrity.

        The fact Alonso got the car back on 2 wheels is the sort of thing the fans want to see, the fact he went on and completed the race, scoring points in a damaged car showed that he was correct to do so. It’s not like he drove the car around with the suspension or steering components ripped off and obviously no chance of rejoining, if he’d driven the car around like that for no other reason than he didn’t want to walk back to the pits, then they might just about have a point. It was the opposite, a driver wanting to stay in the race with a car that had a good chance of being safe to drive with new tyres on. What other drivers did or didn’t do is irrelevant.

        A nonsense complaint out of desperation.

        1. The point is that the FIA have not ruled on that situation before so if they judge what Alonso did to be ok then anyone else doing it shouldn’t get penalised in future. Esteban did what he thought he had to do, but had he got back to there pits he may of got some good points like Alonso did.

          1. I honestly think ocon stamped on the wall with no way to move the car again!

        2. And dont forget Fernando had the 6 hours at Spa last weekend, so he maybe wanted to get a good race in before the following weekend. Going out on the first lap was definitely not what he wanted! #:)

    3. GtisBetter (@)
      8th May 2018, 11:44

      Why does it matter who does it? it’s about the facts that happened. If there are good reasons for reconsideration, i don’t see the problem, even if a goldfish does it, providing he goes trough the proper channels and procedures and can write.

  3. Another example of Williams’ petty and mediocre mentality.

    Here’s the previous example:

    1. Thats just stupid from the ‘legendary team’. really petty. I would like to listen why Williams blocked FI’s request when they did.
      Also, there needs to be a fair play rating or fair play award in F1 if it already isn’t there. Teams like Williams should be punished when going for sponsors on basis of poor rating.

    2. Actually, Williams had a perfect right to make a competitor adhere to the same rules they do. Lots of people say that the money belonged to Force India, but in fact it did not at that time. Force India would have been running and F1 team on a deficit budget, and where would they be the following year when they had already used their prize money the year before? Part of running a successful F1 team is managing it so that you don’t run out of money. Force India has gotten lots of kudos for scoring the most points per dollar spent, but they still must have been spending more than they had.

      1. What you say it’s true. But it doesn’t hurt Williams in the least bit if FI got their money ahead of time. There is a reason why every other team was ok with it. I guarantee that if any other team saw harm in it they wouldn’t have said yes. So again, Williams pettiness at play.

        1. I suppose williams was the only team who was actually worried the advanced payment may make or break their fight with them, I mean, force india were 4th last year and with serious money problems, more than williams, who were 5th, they probably thought they could jump them if they delayed them getting money.

          And as the situation looks atm, force india seems to outperform them regardless.

  4. Booo! Sour grapes from Williams! Maybe work on improving your car and drivers *cough* promote Kubica *cough*, but don’t drag down others!

    1. Like a lot of people, I would like for Kubica to step into the car. I think he would properly put both current drivers in the shade. But too be honest, driving the Williams would be demaning at the moment. I don’t think that car (or team!) deserve him at the moment.

      1. Probably not, but kubica has done a lot of effort to get back in f1 and deserves a chance, a fail team is better than nothing for that purpose, he doesn’t have a lot of years left as potential f1 driver, so if not with williams he might not have another chance.

  5. I was surprised he got that car back to the pits and was able to continue and in fact scored points.

    I would say the fact he was in the points after everything happened to his car and on the track, shows he made a good decision.

  6. I still think Sirotkin’s penalty is harsh & unnecessary as what he got the penalty for (Running into the back of Perez in T2) wasn’t anywhere near as bad as what several other drivers got away with during that race.

    A bit further up the road on lap 1 for instance Hulkenberg didn’t bother using his mirrors & drove across into Sirotkin who then hit Alonso. That was far more dangerous & far more worthy of a penalty than Sirotkins T2 mishap. Same for Magnussen’s various bits of insanity throughout the race.

    1. @stefmeister good point. I was surprised that hulk got away with that, could have been an huge and very uncontrolled crash.

  7. I was wondering how long it would take for somebody to do something like this… How pathetic, this is low even for Williams’ current standard.

    What we saw was excellent, a damaged car being dragged back and continue to race on. As a fan I want to see more recoveries like this!

    Williams are asking them to review three collisions, are they hoping to get some penalties or something. One of them was penalised and the other two were clearly racing incidents at the start and were left as such. They’re a laughing stock, what a disappointment from this team

    1. It is too typical of F1. It normally goes like this: an exciting thing happens, complain about it and blow it up into a problem instead, introduce another new restrictive rule for next year, then when people get bored and stop watching don’t have a clue why!

    2. Sorry, I got Sirotkin’s accident confused with a different one. I get that they’re not happy about that penalty but there are a lot of decisions like this, the rest of my point still stands, it looks pretty desperate and pathetic, particularly regarding the other incidents, just accept it and move on.

      Anyway I thought teams were no longer able to question the decisions?

    3. I unfortunately do agree, the current state of william’s is just….sad, really sad.

  8. I also think Sirotkin’s penalty was excessive. It was more of a normal lap 1 incident rather than something outrageous like Sainz’s lap 1 incident in Canada last year.

    Also, if it serves as a precedent, Vettel kept going with his car on 3 wheels in Australia 2009 I think, after clashing with Kubica with few laps to go. If I remember correctly, he was penalized for the collision between the two, but not because he was running an unhealthy car.

    1. I think same happened with Rosberg at Austria few years back, he finished the line broken front wing and was penalised for colliding with Hamilton in turn 2.

      1. MaddMe (@)
        8th May 2018, 8:38

        Rosberg did get penalised for that one and given a time penalty and points…

  9. Miltiadis (@miltosgreekfan)
    7th May 2018, 22:58

    3 years ago, when they were secured in constructors championship, they didnt bothered appealing Massa’s disqualification in his home GP…
    Now, with them being dead last & nowhere pace-wise, the 2 extra points that they chase with this protest, will help them be closer to their competition ,but… I am pretty sure that, if Stroll was able to keep Alonso behind, this would never happen… They seem to try hide their terrible season in every possible way… With Alonso’s car being damaged, most of us would expect Stroll to be able to keep him behind for 3 laps… But it didnt happen & now they make all this fuss…
    I understand that they want to get rid of Sirotkin’s penalty, as it was a lap 1 incident, but the Alonso protest seems to me like an desperate move to get extra points, as their season is terrible so far.

  10. Agreed100%
    Hulkenberg was at fault for Sirotkin’s and Alonso’s damage and should have been investigated at the very least. Alonso did extremely well to get back to the pits. If at any point it stopped going forward he would have parked up. How is that worthy of scrutiny to set a standard going forward?

  11. This reminds me – if we count Bottas for Mercedes as he didn’t finish Baku, McLaren are the only team yet to have a retirement this year…

    1. KimmiRaikkonen1207
      Fancy that. Are listening Honda. Can we now say, though, not shout out load, that the ditching Honda for Renault power has been a success. We can should out load, I guess, when they get to the podium. That, though, might need devine intervention.

      1. …or even divine intervention. #:)

        1. …sorry…couldnt help it, but you are right. I think Honda are still struggling but, Gaslys p4 was a big result, and it shows they have found a bit more power this year. I dont think they will beat Mc/LRenoo in the final standings though. #:)

  12. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    7th May 2018, 23:09

    I think one of their reasons for saying this is quite reasonable. If they are questioning that Alonso drove back to the pits in the condition he was in, I don’t see anything wrong with that. I am sure drivers in the past have collected penalties for driving an unsafe car back to the pits, and if I’m honest, Alonso’s car did not look safe to be driving. He did indeed manage it well, but it could have got much worse over the lap. If it did, he may have had to park in a much more inconvenient place. This didn’t happen, but as what happened with Bottas showed, when he kept going, bits flew off his car and he just pulled over. It was near the end of the race so that may have been the reason why they didn’t continue. But to me, does seem a bit surprising to be that they didn’t investigate Alonso at all for attempting to continue in the condition he was in. 2 blown tyres wasn’t the only issue he had. And while it is true that it was worth driving back for the points, that may have been the case for some other cars too.

    1. The Skeptic
      7th May 2018, 23:44

      Whinge, whine – witless, winless Williams!

      Alonso made it back to the pits. His judgement was proven to be right. He should be congratulated for adding spice to the race… not criticised!

      1. He wasn’t proven right, it just paid off. However, the potential for debris from his car causing issues is perhaps what Williams is concerned about here. I thought at the time that it was irresponsible of him to continue whilst shedding body work and rubber shrapnel. What if his shrapnel caused a 300kmh blowout and someone went into a wall?

        As for Sirotkins penalty, I too think it is harsh. First lap racing incidents don’t seem to apply to the top 3, but to everyone else. Look at Hartley, getting a penalty for a T4 incident at Bahrain, if Vettel had done that, it would have been deemed a racing incident. The stewards are getting more inconsistent in their rulings.

        1. What if Williams knew how to make a properly strong and welded steering column then?

    2. @thegianthogweed
      I agree that Alonso’s situation deserves at least to be looked at, he almost crashed into the pit wall and potentially put pit crews at risk. However, as far as I’m aware the only recourse the stewards have on this matter is the black and orange (meatball) flag which requires drivers to come into the pits? Obviously Alonso wouldn’t have gotten this anyway as he didn’t go past the pit wall to receive it.

    3. Ben Row
      Your entire comment could be summed up as “what might have happened” while it is true driving on 2 wheels back to the pits, barely in control of his car, Alonso did make, bits were not falling of his car, and afterwards drove a race only an Alonso could do. Surely, that’s the kinds of thing we want to see on an F1 track? No.

    4. The stewards reviewed Fernandos lap back to the pits and observed that,….. “Finally, on the decision not to penalise Alonso, they ruled, the Safety Car was present, and secondly that the driver took care to avoid the racing line, avoid following traffic and minimised risk.” There, fixed that for you Claire.

  13. Lyle Clarke
    7th May 2018, 23:37

    I don’t blame any of them for the Sirotkin squeeze but Sirotkin deserved a penalty for running into the Force India. The thing that bugs me is that Alonso got the car back after a double puncture and Hulkenberg gave up instantly, maybe I’m just missing something here.

    1. I believe that Hulkenberg also had suspension damage.

  14. Just when you think Williams have hit the bottom, they surprise you in ways you never thought existed.

    Only way I can describe it is pathetic.

    1. Agreed, pathetic and sad.

    2. Pathetic is the word that comes to my mind as well. Launching complaints isn’t going to take away the last position they hold in the WCC.

      Stop crying. Start racing. Hire proper drivers.

    3. Soon they will be agreeing with the Skiddyrear Ferrari on everything!!! The mind boggles! #:)

      1. oops….except budget caps!

  15. The penalty to Sirotkin does seem quite harsh in light of the other incidents in the race. As far as I remember he just screwed up braking for turn two while in traffic?

    1. ………screwed up! Sounds like a mistake to me. #:)

  16. Williams to FIA: Pay Drivers need to be held to a lower paying standard.

  17. I can see Williams’ argument in terms of asking the stewards for a clarification in allowing a car with two blown tyres to continue, if only to set a precedent on at what point should a driver park a damaged car that can still be driven in any form.

    That said, I’m not sure what Williams are specifically asking for – are they asking the stewards to revisit the decision, or just to issue a point of clarification? If they’re asking for the decision to be revisited then it does seem a bit like whingeing, and is reminiscent of how Ferrari lodged an appeal against Red Bull at the end of the 2012 season disputing a suspected yellow-flag overtake that Vettel made in one of the final races. Williams (like Ferrari earlier) might be totally within their rights to make such a request, but it does leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth, particularly when one considers this alongside the story @ajpennypacker linked to.

    I can understand Williams also wanting to draw a parallel between Ocon’s lap 1 incident where he retired vs. Alonso not doing so, but am at a loss to understand what they aim to achieve by asking for a review of the Magnussen / Gasly incident, seeing as Magnussen was penalized. Maybe Williams want to clarify the defensive moves cars can make, but if so, they’d want to include the Red Bull tussle as a point of comparison as well, wouldn’t they?

    1. @phylyp I don’t think (two) blown tires is enough to classify the car as too dangerous to continue and as far as I know FIA never asked any driver to immediately retire from having blown tires. The rule concerning this that I can think about is a car required to retire if it spewing parts and making debris in the track (after initial incident/contact), which again normally having blown tires doesn’t do unless the rubber is not completely disintegrated in the incident and damaging the bodyworks.

      1. @sonicslv – I agree that the number of tyres that have failed is in itself not a concern, but I would think the ability of the driver to safely steer and control the car to be what the stewards look at. So, if a driver is finding it hard to turn a car to the left, and he has to navigate the narrow castle section in Baku, there is a risk that the car might not make the turn, or might end up cutting across multiple lines, potentially impeding a driver (or worse, blunder across the path of an unsighted driver on the racing line).

        So, it’s not the extent of damage – per se – that would really matter, but whether the car itself poses a threat to others on the track that would determine whether it is safer pulling it off, or asking for it to pull off.

        To illustrate this with another example, one that comes to mind – coincidentally involving Alonso again – is the famous Multi-21 race – where Alonso’s front wing was dragging on the ground for a lap (with the car being driven normally), and finally worked loose and ended up under the front of his car, making him lose all directional control and most of his braking ability. In a case like that, the stewards might want to flag the car into the pits.

      2. @sonicslv I don’t know if it’s actually a rule or not but in the past drivers have been told to park damaged cars by the FIA due to the risk of additional debris coming off it been a potential risk to people trackside or putting more debris on the track which could cause problems for other cars.

        In this case I guess you could also argue that trying to drive a car back that you were struggling to keep in a straight line (He nearly hit the wall a few times as the car due to this) was also unsafe as under a SC there may be Marshall’s on track picking up debris.

        I think it is maybe something that could do with a clarification at least.

        1. @stefmeister and @phylyp That’s the keyword actually, the stewards can only ask the car to stop (IIRC) if it can caused debris. Although we also rarely see it enforced because we have lot of example for cars that have dangling bits seemingly allowed to continue to race, sometimes until it failed spectacularly like @phylyp example with Alonso.

          A slow car and difficult to handle car shouldn’t enough to ask them to retire, unless it’s clear that it’s driving dangerously; i.e. still driving on racing line or its obvious the driver mostly has no control of the car. I agree a clarification is good thing to do, I just hope the stewards doesn’t rule Alonso case at Baku is too dangerous.

          1. I just hope the stewards doesn’t rule Alonso case at Baku is too dangerous.

            @sonicslv – After today’s review, the stewards clarified that as the SC was out, Alonso driving his car back to the pits wasn’t a problem (i.e. the other cars were neutralized, so they could take evasive action from any additional debris that might have come from Alonso’s car).

    2. Yes….the Red Bull bang up was the highlight of the race, and even changed the outcome! How the fak did they forget to include that one in this list of gripes and moans!? Lets see what Robert K can do with the 41 during the test next week. I would love to see him add 3-4 10ths lap time to their fastest race lap on Sunday!!!! That would be soooo funny!!! #:)

  18. I’ve been saying harshest things to Williams lately, but this time they had a point. It might be heroic but a very dangerous thing that may lead to another incident what Alonso did.

    1. Matteo (@m-bagattini)
      8th May 2018, 8:46

      @ruliemaulana yes, it may have but hadn’t. On the other hand, we had Grosjean single handily disrupt the race under SC. So a possibly dangerous situation wasn’t dangerous at all, while a safe one became dangerous. F1 is changing a lot and we all need to rethink where the line between safety and entertainment is, maybe starting to conceive it as an area instead of a sharp edge.

      1. @m-bagattini the most dangerous things about Grosjean accident is letting heavy equipment on track without red flagging the race. So I think avoiding obvious danger is more important than saying nothing wrong happened.

    2. @rulie What did Alonso do? Stay on the left between turns 2 and 3 and get hit by Sirotkin on his right hand side? Or do you mean him driving back to pits with 2 flats? #:)

  19. Entirely useless and desperate attempt from them. A total waste of time. There’s nothing to do anymore concerning the last race as the results for that race are in stone already. To alter the results of a race an appeal would have to be made before they become final, i.e., it possible to alter race results as long as they’re still in ‘provisional’ status, not ‘final’ yet.

  20. Good, they should protest if they have a point to make.

    1. Jureo
      From your comment, I with you on this one. You don’t think they have a valid point do you?

  21. In two minds about this. If anything it should be done in private. I can imagine Liberty face-palming when they heard.

  22. Hemingway (@)
    8th May 2018, 10:11

    Sorry Claire, it seems even the FIA recognise that an experienced champion is going to make good decisions when driving an F1 car… With that in mind, it’s probably best not let your pair exercise any judgement in a similar scenario, just make sure they quickly park it.

  23. Sonny Crocket
    8th May 2018, 10:42

    Well Williams, you are no longer my second favourite F1 team!

    This is ridiculously petty and will annoy 99.9% of F1 fans, as the comments on here demonstrate.

    All of this from the team that – instead of fielding the strongest driver line-up possible – is destroying its own brand by inflicting two of the most lacklustre drivers in history on us.

  24. Williams are pathetic. Truly pathetic these days.

  25. Williams should be hauled up before the governing body for selling seats to crap talent.

  26. Stop whining and get back to work, Williams. You are last and deserve it.

  27. Neil (@neilosjames)
    8th May 2018, 12:38

    I can’t see any harm in taking another look at the Hulkenberg-Sirotkin-Alonso incident on the straight… I imagine the Baku stewards already did, but that one seemed to me to be the most serious of the Lap 1 collisions.

    Regarding Alonso… whether they have a point or not, any decision won’t influence his result. I really can’t see any outcome beyond a note saying ‘in the future, don’t do that’.

  28. Williams, earn more money if you don’t protest over something

  29. On the face of it, it may seem petty, but I don’t think it is. If there is a safety grey area in the rules for a damaged car making it back to the pits as opposed to pulling over, then all Williams are doing by asking the question is explicitly citing precedent for the next time it happens. As mentioned above, by asking the question, they should receive a clear answer and then everyone knows where they stand. If no-one asks the question then each set of stewards might very well behave inconsistently to another set. This will clear things up either way.

    1. Stewards are known for inconsistency at each event……not much will change there for quite a while yet, unless they try to abstain from penalty decisions unless they are blatantly obvious infringements. #:)

  30. I was wondering about the legality of what Alonso did too. I remember Vettel got penalized for driving with a “dangerous car”. Although he elected to do an extra lap in a three wheeled car (behind the safety car) instead of going straight to the pits like Alonso did.

    It looked cool though, Alonso dragging that car on half it’s wheels through the pit lane. Still he could also have slithered into another team’s pit crew.

    1. You mean like Hamilton and Button have done? #:)

  31. Williams. Gosh.

  32. Ok, I think it’s time to go from williams criticizer to williams hater, the way they handle the various situations are terrible.

Comments are closed.