Leclerc’s qualifying crash not deliberate like ‘Rascassegate’ – Alonso

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso dismissed suggestions Charles Leclerc may have intentionally crashed his car to secure pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver hit the wall in the closing seconds of Q3 while already holding the fastest time of the session. His crash meant no other driver could improve their times.

It prompted comparisons to Michael Schumacher’s notorious attempt to secure pole position by stopping his car at Rascasse during qualifying for the same race in 2006. On that occasion Alonso was poised to take pole position away from him, but Schumacher’s stoppage brought out the yellow flags on that part of the track, forcing his rival and others to abandon their attempts to improve.

However Alonso, who went out in Q1 during today’s session, is convinced Leclerc’s crash was a genuine mistake. He also claimed few other drivers were on course to improve their lap times beside Max Verstappen, who qualified second.

Alonso took pole in 2006 after Schumacher was penalised
“Today [it] didn’t change anything,” said Alonso. “I think it was Verstappen on the purple first sector, that was the only one. All the others, they were coming worse. So I don’t think that there is a big drama on this.

“In 2006 it was very different, I guess. It was a lot of people coming on purple and it was not a crash.”

Alonso is convinced Leclerc didn’t intend to crash and was “pushing” to improve his lap time when he hit the barrier.

“The only debate can be if that car can be repaired in parc fermé and go on pole position,” Alonso added. “But the rules allow that, we all know that, and nothing we should say, I think it’s okay.”

Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff, whose former driver Nico Rosberg was accused of a similar stunt in 2014, also doubts there was any foul play in Leclerc’s crash at the end of qualifying.

“I think that, like with all the incidents that we have seen in the past in Monaco, only the driver will ever know what exactly happened,” he said. “And in that case, I doubt that Charles would make himself detonate in the rail, which could cause even more damage to his cars.”

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45 comments on “Leclerc’s qualifying crash not deliberate like ‘Rascassegate’ – Alonso”

  1. Is anyone credible actually making these “suggestions?”

    1. Sky sports, Ted Kravitz

      1. He said credible not Tedible.

        I enjoyed his stream-of-conciousness processing of Toto’s dismissal tho.

    2. @red-andy Which one? The Rosberg one or this one now? The Rosberg one was even insinuated by Hamilton and widely acknowledged as fact by the Hamilton fans.

      1. I think the Rosberg one is true. it was kind of obvious

      2. @balue Half or more of the grid found it ‘iffy’ too, along with plenty of past drivers, as I recall. Only Rosberg knows. Though maybe Mercedes themselves had a fairly clear idea from the input data that they weren’t going to share with anyone. I’m divided on it, so strictly speaking he should get the benefit of the doubt. I think the way Rosberg ‘tagged’ Hamilton at Spa the same year was a much clearer deliberate act (clearer for Mercedes).

      3. There you go @red-andy. They can’t stop talking about it, and even thought this was a good opportunity to continue with it..

        Leclerc doing it now is of course an outrageous conspiracy theory..

        1. What I can’t believe is that no one is talking about how Mazepin has managed to keep it out of the barriers so far. Outstanding!

      4. @balue
        You can call me one of those Hamilton detractors, definitely not a fan of his. However, that mistake from Rosberg was more than provoked. It’s true he braked later than he did in his previous lap, but that is the crux of it. He didn’t take the ideal line into the corners, braked very late and started a strange steering movement before the corner. It was a deliberate move no question about it. However he was clean data wise and he knew that.

        The thing is the way Rosberg in his last video “How to Master the Monaco GP – Special Edition!” explains the corner as “The track drops away from the inside so you lock the front-end a lot, that’s really a difficult braking here ” speaks volume about his mistake. He’s like trying to say that it was not deliberate and it’s easy to lock the front there.

        1. @tifoso1989 Of course, the 2004 incident wasn’t deliberate. Only the 2006 one.

          1. 2014 I should’ve typed. Not paying enough attention.

          2. @jerejj
            The 2006 incident was Schumacher pulling out one of his usual dirty tactics. No question about it. The 2014 incident was a silly mistake by Rosberg. One could argue whether it was deliberate or not, only Rosberg knows that. However, my personal opinion is that Rosberg needed an entry door to get under Lewis’s skin and unsettle him mentally because he basically knew that the only man that can beat Hamilton is… Hamilton. Rosberg was a very smart calculating driver, to make that silly mistake in qualy. I know that we can’t judge people based solely on feelings but that’s just my interpretation of the incident.

        2. Rosberg wasn’t deliberate. Schumacher was. Schumacher many times. And Senna on Prost into turn 1 Suzuka to ‘win’ a championship was the worst of the worst.

  2. Funny how EVERYONE connects “parking at Monaco on purpose to prevent other drivers to improve your time” with Schumacher.
    Michael actually paid the highest price for his supposed “cheat”, being demoted from pole and starting at the bottom of the grid, while Nico Rosberg, despite doing much worse in 2014, clearly on purpose, was praised worldwide for being mentally strong against Hamilton.
    Nico obviously largely benefited from the swindle and is to this very day acclaimed as a legit three time Monaco winner, while he should have gone down in history as a cheater.
    Power of Hamilton’s “dislikers”, I guess.

    1. Most ridiculous post of the day. Power of Rosberg’s « dislikers », I guess 😂😂😂😂

      1. @Hal
        The funniest thing about Hamilton’s dislikers ( of the funniest, actually. There are so many of them!) is that all you have to do is calling them, and they suddenly appear! At least you are self conscious, lol!

    2. @liko41 how can Rosberg have done “much worse” with the exact same offence as Schumacher?

      1. @paulk
        By making the voluntariness so pathetically obvious. I mean, he literally chose the safest spot to park his car and, to make sure the race direction issued the yellow flag, he reversed his car closer to the track.
        Yet, he is still praised.

    3. You think Rosberg sabotaged Hamilton’s engine at Malaysia 2016? And where’s your chill pills? Give me an answer.

      1. @Dave
        Not personally. His team did it for him, and not just in Malaysia, it wouldn’t be enough.
        They needed to “break” four engines!

        1. There’s the answer, now I don’t need to hear anything from you anymore.

    4. You’ve got it all backwards in your mind ke a trump supporter or a flat earther :)

      1. Shots fired. He doesn’t like people mocking Emilia-Romagna GP’s name.

      2. PS he never takes a chill pill.

    5. Now take a chill pill.

  3. ian dearing
    22nd May 2021, 20:09

    Hasn’t Alonso said before that he knows nothing about crashing deliberately?

    1. Ouch. Uncalled for :oP

    2. He never deliberately crashed.

  4. I’m not sure how creditable Alonso’s comments are on the subject after his “surprise” 2008 Singapore win.

  5. I’m always kind of wary about saying X isn’t that kind of driver/player, whatever, but I don’t see Leclerc as likely to do this on purpose. Maybe I’m a bit deluded but the younger generation of F1 stars (Leclerc, Norris, Russell, even Max) seem to have a sporting attitude in general, at least so far, competitive without trying to undermine each other. I also can’t see how Leclerc could calculate there wasn’t a fairly high chance of significant car damage clipping the barrier like that. Schumacher and Rosberg were careful to leave their cars very much intact.

    1. Wrecking a car the way Leclerc did on purpose is out of the question; there’s no way he can know what the outcome of that would be for himself, never mind the car.

      That the young guys are so far keeping it clean is a case of ‘so far so good’, although I suppose Hamilton would somewhat disagree given the stunts Leclerc pulled at Monza in 2019. None of them have been involved in a championship fight either, which is what brought out the worst in previous drivers.

      1. I think there’s a difference between hard racing and being underhand. I thought Leclerc should have penalized at Monza 2019, but Masi/FIA decided that more gloves-off racing would be permitted (‘for the show’ no doubt) so I don’t think it’s a case of being sneaky. I agree things may change when they start to compete at the front end of a championship battle.

        1. @david-br They would not have gotten out alive if they gave Leclerc a +5 second penalty costing him a win.

  6. That must have been awkward!

    High Five to the one who has asked that question!

  7. Alonso should stick to his narrative of not knowing anything about drivers crashing on purpose.

  8. Well. My heart is kind of torn apart. Noone should be in pole by default but everyone had his shot and it was obviously not on purpose…
    Such a brilliant qualy by him. But still a shame, especially as we didn’t see the last laps. Everyone was coming in sick and fast..

  9. I don’t know how anyone wouldn’t flash back to 2006 and ask those questions.

    Leclerc’s laps before the “accident” were incredible it’s very hard to believe he would clip the barrier so poorly like that in the last moments of qualifying.

    1. Monaco is pretty tight, I’m surprised drivers don’t crash there more often especially if they’re pushing in quali (which is relatively more important than most tracks).

  10. Well fun, Schumacher was obvious, Rosberg did it like a pro, Leclerc has overdone it.

    But wordplay aside, that was just pushing over the limit after setting a blitzing banker lap, other drivers should have done the same, but they messed up quali strategy or just were too slow.

    You could tell Leclerc was driving that car at and over the limits. Senna would be proud.

  11. Risk-reward wasn’t there, no point crashing your car to seal pole (instead of 2nd or 3rd) if you’re going to get a 5 place penalty to change gearbox. I know Leclerc’s wasn’t heavily damaged but its always a risk, and it could still fail in the race.

    Besides, not exactly the first time he crashed in quali here. lol

    1. He couldn’t know he will slide across the track and damage his rear. In the end, it seems he had no gearbox damage so if he did it on purpose, it went well.

      I’d use Indycar rule for this, if you cause a red (maybe even yellow that impedes) you lose your time. We wouldn’t have to debate whether Rosberg, Schumacher or Leclerc crashed on purpose.

  12. I believe it was an accident.
    Monaco is one of those circuits where you begin to turn into a corner before you’re at the corner with the hope that you just drift slightly away from the barrier before you hit it. It’s all about timing and grip. If you suddenly have more grip than you expect, it can quickly go wrong, likewise if you’re out of sync with your timing you will just keep hitting the barriers.

  13. Jockey Ewing
    23rd May 2021, 11:45

    Presumption of innocence is a quite strong thing, so it would be nearly impossible to prove that it was deliberate.
    To me it looked a completely legit drive and accident at race pace. S3 of Monaco is very challenging, dangerous like hillclimb races, no one wants to crash there like that.
    Although for a short moment I also considered whether it was intentional, but it is pointless to ruin the car, and risk your health or more at a currently very good weekend of yourself. You can trigger a yellow flag with a much smaller error. One of the best drivers of the world not lauches himself intentionally by using a kerb towards a very close barrier at that pace. That would be much worse execution of a plan with bad intentions, than the execution they are capable of. These guys are capable of telling the engine rev with 100-200 margin of error, their estimations and perception is just incredible. It was very far from a badly executed malign plan, but much closer to a serious accident. Although in the place of stewards I would unconditionally analyse the telemetry at any cases like this, or at any wheel to wheel accidents. The age of “we do not hand over the telemetry data” should be over. Using the data is a responsibility of the ones who were provided with it (in this case the stewards, data engineers or some kind of other organizers), and if any of them can not behave properly, then the punishment should be there (with taking into account that it is something like an
    industrial spying at an environment where participants spend hundreds of dollar millions per year to perform well – so likely a farewell to stewarding or engineering environments for a good while, just like the way Briatore became an F1 reject :) ). That is the proper punishment, with not loopholes for those who can afford better law specialits. Imo a bare minimal level of law and financial services and advisory should be provided for everyone to reduce social inequalities (by mandating every law specialist to work for the poor on a regular basis, paid by the state). That would filter out those law specialists who do not want to do it for justice itself, as in such system they would be much less of a “star”, and much more what they should be.

    1. Jockey Ewing
      23rd May 2021, 11:47

      And of course that “bare minimal level” should be much higher than the current, much higher than many would think, to have a real effect.

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