Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Circuit of the Americas, 2018

Alonso: F1 driving standards are “lower than ever”

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In the round-up: Fernando Alonso hits out at driving standards in the midfield after being involved in another first-lap collision.

What they say

Alonso was taken out of the race by Lance Stroll, who was held responsible for the crash and given a drive-through penalty.

The level seems lower than ever. In Spa they played bowling with us in the first corner, here they played bowling again into turn four.

It’s a misjudgement of distances and speed which is quite strange to see.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

Romain Grosjean was lucky to only get a single point for his collision with Charles Leclerc yesterday, reckons @EuroBrun:

I think two points would have been more appropriate.

I think the stewards are making it up as they go along and are being lenient here because he is so close to a ban, which defeats the point.

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Author information

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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48 comments on “Alonso: F1 driving standards are “lower than ever””

  1. I agree with the COTD, Grosjean was lucky to get away with just one penalty point.

    On a different note – when it was announced, I thought the Coke sponsorship was a big deal, but that logo on the car is tiny! Are Coke paying 1 Freddo for each McLaren employee per day?

    1. Yes! After seeing the announcement in multiple places I was expecting something on the engine cover. Talk about marketing over-hype.

      1. Its all marketing hype now. Zak Brown is a marketing man, and so are Liberty. All words.

      2. @knewman – Keith did mention in the article that it would be on the barge boards, with a close-up shot, to be fair. But to see its size in the context of the car is definitely surprising.

        @vjanik – would definitely agree about Zak, and for me, I’m still undecided about Liberty. But yes, the fact that the teams are having their private meetings in a pseudo-FOTA manner is definitely an interesting development. If anything, it’s an act of self-preservation, as they are all broadly on the same side in discussions with Liberty.

    2. Grosjean was behind a car when he started breaking for the corner that’s why he locked the fronts, no downforce…I’m sure that played as a mitigating factor, so I think it was an appropriate plan, plus he ended up retiring from the race

  2. And I gotta feel for Alonso… He wouldn’t have this complaint if his battles were with the front runners. Instead, he’s been punted out (again) by Stroll, the guy who was classified last in the race.

    1. @phylyp – Had the same thought. The mid-pack back can be wild, especially on the first lap. Stroll was pretty much off the track and came back on with front left wheel to Alonso’s side pod while Alonso was ahead on the racing line. If Stroll had backed off just a bit…

      1. @phylyp @bullmello The mid pack can be wild, yes. But lately it’s been drivers penalised because of what they did, not merely racing incidents. As much as I give credit to Stroll for the couple of solid races he’s done in F1, I think he’s still out of his depth and it’s showing. Sirotkin was an average GP2 driver, and he’s just about even with Stroll, but without so many embarrassing racing incidents. Then you have Grosjean… who is two points away from a suspension. No driver has more ups and downs than Grosjean. His racecraft is either top 5, or down there with Pastor Maldonado.

  3. The current grids main issue is lack of respect, not so much a lack of talent. Due to the safety levels in motorsport, which is at a very high standard, drivers aren’t afraid of getting hurt or hurting their peers which emboldens them to do stupid things. This attitude has bred the lack of respect on the grid.

    Drivers from the era of the likes of Alonso, Kimi and Button still came up through the ranks at a time when motorsport was in a transition period, you could still get badly hurt if you tried something stupid.

    Drawing parallels to WEC, I think the very fact that you have various cars of differing speeds and various drivers of differing talent makes everyone racing a little bit more wary of their surrounds, hence people dont usually try stupid moves. Secondly, the field in WEC is made up of very accomplished and experienced drivers , even the amateurs (for the most part) have many years under their belts.

    Some of the racing in F1 over the past couple years has been sub standard, but it’s got nothing to do with the drivers talent and speed… Just that sometimes their brains get left on the starting grid!

    1. @jaymenon10 – good comment. I think there’s a few points I might differ on with you, however.

      I don’t think it’s a lack of respect, brought about by improved safety levels. Cast your eyes up to today’s “on this day in F1”, to see a relevant example of respect being absent nearly 3 decades ago, and half a decade before one of those drivers died in a crash, one that has been the underpinning of modern F1’s safety standards.

      I’d say that today’s safety standards are definitely allowing drivers to push the envelope in terms of racing, such as wheel-to-wheel racing and overtaking at 130R, and probably encouraging more opportunistic driving. But I wouldn’t say it has led to a lessening of respect. And F1 drivers are racers, who will continue to be cutthroat on the track irrespective of whether they’re in their underwear, or fully kitted-out in safety gear.

      Alonso’s recent tangles with Stroll makes me wonder if Stroll is somewhat spatially challenged (at F1 speeds), given some of his errors this year (thinking back to him putting Hartley in the wall at Canada).

      1. @phylyp I thinks it’s a combination of both lack of skill at F1 speeds and also a bit of a lack of respect.

        Some of that is probably due to the bans on testing that have been around for a long while. Drivers can spend as long as they like in their simulators but nothing comes close to being in a real car on a real track. A lot of the “newer” drivers like Stroll barely had the requisite skills in the first place and don’t seem to be acquiring them much now they’re in F1. To me some approach their racing as if they can just put their car wherever they want (probably because that’s what the simulator indicated) without any thought or care for any other cars around them.

        1. @dbradock – interesting point regarding the simulator. Maybe these drivers should spend some time playing the latest F1 game as well. 😏

          1. @phylyp Trust me, the last thing we want is for drivers to play F1 games online. Otherwise, they might genuinely believe that F1 is the pinnacle of bumper cars.

          2. @mashiat – that’s true :-)

    2. @jaymenon10 I am with you on the lack of respect. But you suggest that actions were different in the ‘era’ of Alonso, Kimi. Remember Alonso’s breaktest on Coulthard in 2003: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qx6I2EDVAJA

    3. You can add to that the lack os testing, the more you know your car the less mistakes or misjudgments you tend to make

    4. I’m inclined to think inconsistent enforcement of regulations, regulations that seemingly don’t get enforced thanks to other regulations getting in the way (technically consistent but confusing, especially to newer drivers and teams) and a lack of trust between the drivers and the FIA is a contributory factor. Drivers simply do not feel that they know where they stand any more, so revert to driving on their instincts. The FIA, on its part, seems to be afraid of committing to anything – possibly because its previous commitments under this leadership have proven untenable. I’m not convinced the FIA knows what it wants anymore from its governance, and the drivers don’t seem convinced either. It leads to a feeling that chancey moves are OK even when reading the regulations would suggest they are not.

      There was a time when drivers routinely blamed each other for crashes. Now they have a habit of deflecting that blame onto the regulations (unless there’s something obvious in the circumstances which allows them to blame those instead – or it’s flat impossible to explain the other driver’s actions). It’s not even as if it’s just the regulations involving driver conduct that have led to this. Indecisive regulations involving car design and race format have limited alternatives, because drivers tend towards the easiest methods available to gain advantage, just like water tends to flow downwards.

      Damming the river by having/restoring and enforcing stricter driver conduct regulations is an option. However, they would most effectively be re-routed by combing a systematic look at the regulations to unblock more appropriate options for gaining advantage.

  4. I understand Fernando’s frustration, and it’s sad that he will finish his career this way, at the back of the field. Having said that, he has driven for Renault when they were in their pomp. He has driven for McLaren when they were strong, and for Ferrari. He could easily be a four or five time champion by now, he could be where Hamilton and Vettel are now, but he is not.
    Therein, in my opinion, lies the problem. He has had his chances, his opportunities. If his first stint at McLaren had gone differently, it could have been Alonso going for the championship in 2008 with a realistic chance of winning it. He, and he alone, made that an impossibility. He could have achieved greatness at Ferrari, but fell out with the Scuderia. It is always someone else who is to blame for Fernando. Always someone else who is inferior to him.
    When Hamilton lifts his fifth title, I bet green money that one thing will be churning inside Alonso’s mind. The fact that it could have been him, he could have been the one compared to Fangio and Schumacher. The third man in F1 history to achieve it.
    Yet it is the man who he bitterly tangled with eleven years ago at McLaren who will have that honor. The man Ron Dennis put his lot with instead of the, at the time defending double world champion. I am certain Ron will have realized this, as I am sure Fernando has.
    Time to retire senor, but unlike most of your career, with some dignity.

  5. Oh, I also realized… Ferrari/PMI’s “Mission Win Now” actually worked ;-)

    1. Only with Kimi did it work actually.

      1. Well… Mission WinNow didn’t ghostwrite Vettel a book of Haiku’s. Clearly made the difference!

      2. Both drivers cannot win simultaneously, for there is only one 1st place per race ;)

  6. can’t argue with Alonso, been saying it myself for a while. The quality of driving is quite low especially in the first 3 laps.

    Heck we have a 4x world champion that can’t manage 3 laps in traffic against equally fast cars without hitting one of them…..

    1. Cheeky :-)

  7. The McLaren is too way good looking to be so slow. I wonder what’s really wrong with it?…

    1. If a big team with heritage and talented people is not performing then you only have to look at m
      But hey, they did land the big one and got Coca Cola sponsorship :P

    2. A serious lack of go-faster stripes.

    3. Everything

  8. I wonder if this constant crashing on the first lap is an argument for changing the points system. Stay with me. I think the current points system actually encouraging poor driving.

    Right now, you only score points for 1-10. Which means for the lower order, it takes skill and a mostly lot of luck to score points. You get the same amount of points for 11th as you get for crashing out. Even for 10th, you only get 1 point. You need to take big risks just to get a couple of points. And if you bag an 8th, you get 4 points which is 4 times 10th and worth a risk or 2.

    To get into the top 10 or up as high as 8th, a lot of these guys need to take big risks. The first lap is the time to gain places. If I was an F1 driver in the lower order, I would take big risks on the first lap to gain a place or two. What do you have to lose. It’s way more rewarding to take a risk and finish 10th than it is to play it safe and finish 11th. And if you crash out trying. Who cares because you wouldn’t have gotten any points anyway if you hadn’t taken the risk.

    However, if you were to increase the number of point scoring positions, it would matter more in the lower order. And we may see fewer crashes as a result. Right now, a driver who consistently finishes 11th in every race in the season will lose out in the WDC to a guy that finishes 10th in one race and crashes out in every other race. That isn’t a true representation of skill. But it is a reason to take big risks.

    1. @mickharrold – that’s another very nice argument in favour of extending the point scoring positions. 👍

      1. @phylyp: We’ve discussed this fractionally. But that won’t be enough for Stroll.

        His level of arrogant entitlement mixed with below average car control, means F1 will have to give him a billion points no matter where he finishes. The trick is the points can only be redeemed towards the Cayman Islands Formula Riche Driver’s Championship.

        1. @jimmi-cynic – I don’t get your hate (for Stroll or for fractions). Honestly, I don’t. Let me try and explain the former’s situation to you (I can’t help with your aversion to decimal points)… Stroll has paid to drive in F1. Alonso’s just a freeloader. How dare he occupy a piece of track that Stroll wants to get onto.

          1. @phylyp: Ah…good points. Never considered the real estate perspective. Landlords versus squatters.

            Stroll would have far more success using Daddy’s billions on better lawyers than squandering tens of millions on driving instructors. Sue the freeloader drivers off the course!

          2. @jimmi-cynic – isn’t F1 infested with enough shady characters without bringing lawyers into the mix? :-)

          3. And I bet that drivers who spend their (family’s) hard-earned dollars are much more motivated than those freeloaders ;)

          4. Ok, @phylyp, you’ve thrown some shade on the legal weasel angle. And the decimation of the point system isn’t good for two-thirds of a reason.

            Maybe it’s time to think outside the limits… the obvious option would be to expand the points into hexadecimal math. But so many FFFs could put a hex on the sport. Suggest they go fully retro – many fans clamour for the old days of F1. And Liberty could bring a little MCMLXXVI back to the front. Roman numerals. X will mark the finishing spot. Supported by Ferrari – the FIA could be play up the racing chariots heritage.

          5. @coldfly – absolutely, that’s commitment, that’s putting money where your mouth is :-)

            @jimmi-cynic – I can’t wait to see Max go all Ben-Hur on those attempting an overtake, with those blades attached to his wheels!

          6. @jimmi-cynic The FIA saw that one coming. The Sporting Regulations forbid drivers from being third parties in relation to each other in F1…

    2. @mickharrold, you made the perfect argument for leaving the points system as is.

      I would hate it if a driver in 13th decides to stop racing (equals taking risks) because he is happy with whatever 13th gives him.
      They should all try their utmost to try and get to 10th, 9th, or 8th.
      Same like the top 3 teams will fight tooth and nail to win.

      1. @coldfly – stop making good counter-arguments and confusing me. It’s a Monday afternoon, and I’m seriously sleep-deprived here!

  9. Alonso has a point. I agree with the COTD as well.

  10. Not only is Alonso correct, I will take it one step further.
    The guilty aren’t just young bloods like Stroll – quite the contrary – the worst are veterans.
    For someone with HUL’s experience to slam into the back of a driver at the start is inexplicable.
    These guys still don’t under patience, especially in the very early stages of a race – bozos!
    ALO, RAI and rarely make these errors – they understand a race isn’t won on the first lap.

    The four worst offenders in no particular order:

    1. Michal J Kalinowski
      23rd October 2018, 19:41

      I disagree, I think Vettel understands patience but has lost his mind/momentum since Germany. Look at his patience in Silverstone, was his best race of the season.

      He will be back to himself in Melbourne.

  11. Is a lucky 9th enough for Hartley to keep his seat or is Albon a done deal? I guess they’ve got nothing to lose giving a new guy a shot when they’re already bringing Daniil back with plenty of experience and pace. RedBull Racing are probably settled for drivers for the next 2 years at least. I can see them offering Hartley a test driver role.

  12. Just goes to show LS has not got what it takes. And don’t need a drive showin foke cash don’t make you driver. Just makes me mad good drivers don’t get a look in.

  13. Raikkonen, ricciardo and alonso all must have aimed for something as of recent times: raikkonen to win a last race before swapping to a midfield car, done; ricciardo to get a last podium before swapping to a midfield car, still trying; alonso to score some final points before retiring from f1, still trying.

    Happy for raikkonen, sad for ricciardo, he might have some chance in mexico, if red bull is as competitive as last year there they might aim to get 2 cars on the podium, also sad for alonso, he should have some chance both in mexico and in brazil to go for points, the car was competitive last year, I doubt in abu dhabi.

  14. Can’t wait for next year. Daddy already bought Lance a quicker car so he can start from the midfield instead of from the back. After a few races starting the race while heavily anticipating to the SC in lap 1 will be the new standard.

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