Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Interlagos, 2018

Five-second penalty drops Alonso to 17th in penultimate race

2018 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso has been relegated to 17th place in the Brazilian Grand Prix after receiving a five-second time penalty.

His team mate Stoffel Vandoorne was also given the same penalty after the race, falling from 14th to 15th behind Esteban Ocon.

Alonso was judged to have taken too long to respond to blue flags which “were shown for a significant number of corners”.

It was a frustrating day for Alonso, who suffered a slow pit stop early on. He later told his team to stop talking to him on the radio until the end of the race.

The stewards ruled Ocon took too long to let Romain Grosjean past while he was racing with Lance stroll. “Vandoorne failed to let car eight [Grosjean] by at the first opportunity, although shown the blue flags for a significant number of corners,” they noted.

“The stewards acknowledged that car two was racing with car 18 [Stroll] at the time, but considered that this issue has been discussed at previous drivers’ meetings and consistent with previous cases impose a five-second time penalty.”

Both drivers were also given two penalty points on their licences.

This article will be updated.

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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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10 comments on “Five-second penalty drops Alonso to 17th in penultimate race”

  1. Alonso (and Vandoorne) being given penalties for ignoring blue flags, Ocon as lapped driver knocking our the race winner – with the effect backmarkers have had the past few races, and with this being a growing issue, can we all agree that either F1 cars really need to get better at following (which is doubtful), or that F1 needs blue flag overhaul? Because this is silly. Overtaking backmarkers (see Suzuka, Mexico, Austin for recent examples) becomes a lottery. Needs to change.

    1. @hahostolze – it’s amusing how Alonso was recently moaning about driving standards having declined in recent years, yet he’s the one getting a blue flag violation. :-)

      It would be good to clean up blue flag rules, but as long as the rich teams wield influence over backmarkers via driver programmes, engine supply & favourable payment terms, there is going to be the risk that a “let leaders overtake lapped cars on merit” will likely result in more incidents, and with an exponential increase in conspiracy theories (yes, I hold my hand up and admit I too made comments to that effect about Ocon, with my tongue only partly in cheek).

    2. Verstappen was not overtaking Ocon.

      Some would say, like Phyl, that blue flags are kind of nonsensical. Lapped cars are still in the race. Slowing down to let a leader by compromises their race potentially, so why should they jump out of the way? If you let things take a natural course, you would see backmarkers not block, because this slows them down, and thus get passed in due course. Or not, if the faster car is not fast enough. You might have a situation where a backmarker that is just not fast enough is just not going to going to give way at a tight track where 1. it is hard to pass and 2. the chance of an SC separating them from their competition up the road is high. Then you would have a massive “Stau” behind the slowest car.

      1. Technically backmarkers are not even there. And I dont understand why the term backmarkers is associated with the less wealthy teams. A backmarker is any driver who falls behind for whatever reason and finds him/herself unable to keep up with the leading cars.
        And I keep saying this. If a race is from point A to B, you are not going to encounter the same obstacle twice. Circuits are built for racing so we don’t have race from Berlin to Paris, making for easy management.
        If you race from Paris to Berlin, you won’t overtake the same vehicle twice unless, you yourself stop or slowdown for a while. So if you don’t stop or slow down, how can that vehicle you’ve past now be ahead of you and slow you down or cause you an accident.
        If you are slower, get out of the way or find a way to get faster.
        Money is not the only reason teams are slow.

  2. I guess the other option would be to drop blue flags entirely. If you’re fast enough to lap through the field then go do it. Normal racing rules would apply to everyone, with just the usual penalties for unfair blocking, Verstappening, etc.
    What’s the worst that could happen? :)

  3. José Lopes da Silva
    11th November 2018, 22:19

    4 years after the start of McLaren-Honda, we see Alonso and Vandoorne battling hard for 17th place.
    It’s kind of sad for everyone, but sport is what it is.
    And after dropping Honda the way he did, Alonso kind of deserves this kind of karma. Dropping Honda was a terrible decision for him. And that is why he’s leaving through the backdoor.

    1. Alonso didn’t drop Honda, it was Mclaren that did.
      Mclaren engineers had the fantasy that their car was equal to that of Redbull but were only being held back by their engines, which then was the Honda engine. Of course the driver can tell if his engine has not too much horsepower, but it becomes difficult when your car is engineered with too much drag but lots of downforce such that you are fast round corners.
      Mclaren sold Alonso a swindle.

  4. Honda are not exactly flying, are they?

  5. They were 14th and 17th respectively on the chequered flag already, though. At least on F1.com’s live timing, they were already before the chequered flag.

    1. Slight correction: Vandoorne indeed did lose a position due to the penalty, but Alonso didn’t. Alonso both finished 17th and remained on that position even after his penalty.

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