Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Red Bull Ring, 2021

FIA’s reluctance to enforce F1’s rules is “sad” – Alonso

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso has called upon the FIA to improve the policing of Formula 1’s rules after his qualifying was compromised at the Red Bull Ring.

Drivers were told in the race director’s notes for the Austrian Grand Prix they risked being reported to the stewards if they backed off through the final two corners in order to get clear air before a flying lap.

However several drivers did at the end of the second segment of qualifying and Alonso lost out as a result. He was unable to progress to Q3 after catching Sebastian Vettel at the end of his lap. Vettel was penalised over the incident, but two other drivers were investigated and cleared on the grounds that several others had slowed at the same point on the lap.

Speaking before those decisions were handed down, Alonso said the sport’s governing body should take a tougher line on drivers breaking the rules.

“I’m sure the FIA will have to learn as well and police this a little bit better because in the top category of motorsport, you cannot see turn nine and 10 with 10 cars waiting to open the lap at 5kph,” said the Alpine driver.

“I think that has to be managed a little bit better in the top category and be harsh with penalties. This is a consequence of being too soft on penalties.

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“Yesterday, I couldn’t make any lap with Raikkonen in the last corner and then one of the Toro Rossos [AlphaTauris] and nothing happened. So even in free practice, we see this is kind of problematic, and there is no policeman on this. So that’s sad.”

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gallery: 2021 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
Alonso said the drivers involved “rely completely on our engineers and also on the radio” to be informed on who was where on track, and predicted that because so many were involved the FIA would be unwilling to punish all of them.

“The nature of the circuit and the way that the people were slowing down in turn nine and 10, which are written in the notes of the grand prix that you cannot do it is the biggest topic, probably.

“I guess they will not penalise 10 or 12 cars, which is the only way that could change our weekend. So it is an unfortunate situation and and unlucky situation.”

Other sports show infringements need to be enforced consistently, said Alonso.

“In football, if you touch [the ball] with the hand in the area, it’s a penalty. So here the rules says that you’re going to not slow down from nine to 10. I don’t know if there are 11 cars, five, two or 16 but whoever did that should at least get some kind of penalty.”

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...
Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

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34 comments on “FIA’s reluctance to enforce F1’s rules is “sad” – Alonso”

  1. I seriously don’t understand what was the point of making this rule, watch the very scenario untold, and then do nothing. It’s a joke.

    1. It’s true, if “12” cars break the rule, 12 cars should be penalised.

    2. The race director puts out the directive, but cannot enforce it. The race stewards enforce it, but they seemingly had other ideas.

      The directive would have been easy to enforce. Get the data from the cars, look at the speeds in those two corners and punish any driver going too slow. Instead the race stewards spent hours doing whatever and not a single driver was punished for disregarding this directive.

      Embarrassing.

    3. But it’s not really a rule, it’s merely a sternly worded request. It’s about as flimsy as the so called “gentleman’s agreement”.

      1. Hm. Pit Lane closing boards are also in the race notes the race director defines and delivers to drivers.

        Hamilton was penalised last year in Italy for missing them. He had no excuse: the information was present in the docs.

  2. Derek Warwick is the main issue here, and he should know better as an ex driver. If the rules are not being policed properly it is because he is not willing to do so because he is petrified to upset Ferrari, McLaren Mercedes and Red Bull.

    If Football, Cricket and other sports taking the human element away from the rules of their sports and using video evidence, then F1 needs to back up its claim as a sport that wants to be at the cutting edge of technology, and use video based tech to stop the likes of Vettel getting away with driving slowly on out laps, or rash drivers like Stroll or Mazepin not being able to drive a lap within track limits.

    Reply moderated
  3. I fully agree with Alonso. This keeps being a discussion year in year out. Just enforce your own damn rules! How often does it need to be said? It’s really frustrating. Same deal with the track limits. Race in race out for years this is a discussion. We’re at this ridiculous point at which stewards will enforce it but only on certain circuits in certain turns, and only in certain sessions. F1 drivers/teams WILL adjust if you would just enforce the rules!

  4. I don’t understand it… Even if they want to say that cars had to slow down because others slowed down in front of them, someone had to be leading the pack and slowed down in turns 9 or 10 without a car in front of them.

    I also think it’s about time they abandon this “gentleman’s agreement” that you don’t overtake just before the start of the lap in quali. Enough drivers don’t follow it that it’s better to just abandon it entirely and have a free-for-all.

    1. Exactly right. And still teams send their drivers out all in a clump so they keep tripping over themselves.

      Penalise ALL of those that ignored the directive. I really feel for Vettel in this particular incident.

      1. Not a huge fan of Vettel here, but he has been the scapegoat hands-down.

      2. In Spain only Mazepin was penalized. Rules should be applied equally and shouldn’t change every race from one driver to another.

    2. Too many rule, that would do away with two of them and turn qualifying into a race then no need for sprint race gimmick 😀

  5. Totally agree the rules should be strict and strictly enforced. Look at false starts that used to plague the sport for decades. One day it was decided automatic penalty and now the problem is eradicated. It works.

    1. @balue False starts were difficult to enforce in the past partly because of things like clutch creep which was seen as a normal/accepted part of the sport but also because it used to be a pure judgement call based on officials standing trackside (And they didn’t always have somebody looking at each car) & TV images which didn’t give good shots of every car on the grid.

      It stopped been an issue partly because more modern clutch/transmissions were easier to manage in terms of preventing the cars from creeping but also because from I think 1995 they started using the electronic system with sensors in the track in every grid box which allows them to monitor every car accurately.

      1. @roger-ayles That’s right, and that’s what they could do with most of the controversial topics like track limits, passing outside track limits, loitering etc. An electronic monitoring system could solve this easily.

        But most things could also be policed with video, which they don’t really do, and even if they do, they don’t meter out penalties which they should.

  6. Instead they penalize the lone guy who actually followed the directive and in doing so reward one of the two who caused the hold-up.
    Welcome to the clown show.

    Reply moderated
  7. Just like in Baku, in stead of penalising all the offenders who didn’t lift under double yellows, almost nobody gets penalised. Only Vettel this time, because he was the last in line and happened to be the car Alonso had to lift for. He was hardly to blame for the incident as Alonso also acknowledged.

    Masi is a joke! Incapable of being the race director because the safety only gets worse in stead of better with him in control.

    1. I guess this adds to the long list of indicents someone on here made that make a case for replacement for masi.

  8. Imagine telling the police officer “you can’t give me a speeding ticket, everyone else was doing it”.

  9. Agreed, they should just say in advance anyone cought driving slow furn 9 and 10 during quali will be penalized.

    Going slow there is a safety hazard.

    1. @jureo Isn’t The worst of it that the FIA actually did tell them that for this race. And then it wasn’t enforced. Because 12 cars did it. (Alonso clearly not, so that leaves two other cars who weren’t?!!)

  10. And here we are again, Alonso is being a crybaby, spitting on the plate he is eating from once again.
    Good grief.

    1. Jelly??

      Reply moderated
      1. Yeah he’s jelly and can’t take a chill pill.

  11. I do feel like race management as well as safety issues have really fallen by the wayside since Whiting passed and Masi took over. It’s all very reactionary and I dare say will lead to a bad accident that could be avoided. Also it just brings the sporting element, the element of consistency, into disrepute given how random and varied punishments are.

  12. I don’t agree because I don’t think it should be a rule in the first place, It’s just another example of how over-regulated F1 has become now.

    None of this stupid over-regulation was ever needed in the past & drivers were able to manage just fine & the sport as a whole was way better off for it. Far too many unnecessary regulations, Far too many investigations & far too many penalties handed out for every minor little thing now & it just makes F1 look like a complete joke.

    Just send the drivers out & let them get on with it, That’s how F1 survived & thrived for decades without any issues.

    1. On the contrary – not handing out enough penalties is what is ultimately making F1 look like a joke. Nobody respects the rules, regardless of what the specific rules are. This and track limits are prime examples.
      It’s clearly unsafe to have cars flying around blind corners at 200kph+ and coming across a pack moving at 20kph. Nobody wants this scenario to occur, but nobody’s taking responsibility for it. Imagine the scale of the crash that could result from this practice. It’s happened in other series and led to career ending injuries.
      If F1 were enforcing and obeying a simple, well thought out rule for this scenario, you wouldn’t even notice that a rule existed. What’s making the rules so obvious is when they are being broken and not properly enforced or penalised – leading to further transgressions, inconsistency and controversy.

      And to say that F1 survived fine without issues is ignoring a lot of F1’s past. That isn’t rose-tinted glasses, that’s a full blackout.

    2. Enforcing of regulations has become more of a necessity because of the F1 teams becoming too numbers driven and being incapable of logical thinking.

      If there was no regulation, I can imagine every team waiting to cross the line with 0 sec remaining because apparently that is worth 0.001s compared to starting a lap 10s earlier. Similarly, we could see in Austria that every driver wanted that 4s gap to get a tow in sector 1 which ultimately led to this mess.

      May be in a bygone era when things were more off the cuff, the teams acted in a rational and gentlemanly manner. However, those days are long gone and the F1 teams act like petulant kids these days.

      1. That seems to be the gist of it indeed @f1g33k, so focused on what the data tells them is optimal, but forgetting that the data doesn’t take interaction with other on track into account.

    3. I agree with your argument as a whole, there are too many rules. However, the rules that are there should be enforced, always. Imagine an extreme scenario where track limits didn’t exist at all: Drivers would just drive around barriers to find the shortest lap. Therefore we must have track limits, and that means drawing lines that the cars can’t cross. There is perhaps some leeway as to how far the cars can’t cross (Not at all? Two wheels? Most of the car?) but once that is worked out the rule is extremely simple. In my eyes, you then either enforce it or see your sport become a joke.
      Considering the scenario at hand: This part of the track really causes issues in qualifying and can cause serious accidents, making it a no-go area for queuing is at minimum an understandable decision – and the rules surrounding the decision are quite simple too and thus enforceable.

  13. Maybe they should randomly schedule what 5 cars can go out in a given timeslot Max 4 laps per slot to do the qualification runs on tracks where it was a known problem. Every car gets 2 runs per session. Good luck to all may the best man win.

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