Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Vettel not to blame for Q2 blocking incident – Alonso

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says Sebastian Vettel was not to blame for the incident involving the pair in qualifying which cost him his last chance to set a competitive time in Q2.

The Alpine driver said his weekend “is over” after he went out in Q2 and qualified 14th.

Alonso encountered Vettel’s Aston Martin at the end of his his final lap in the closing moments of Q2 through the fast approach to the final corner. Having been forced to back off, Alonso was unable to improve his time, leaving him 14th and out of qualifying.

The incident, Alonso believes, prevented Alpine from competing for a potential top starting position on the grid.

“I think we were as fast as ever in this qualifying of the season,” he said.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Report: Sainz and Bottas under investigation for driving too slowly in Q2
“We were P3 in Q1 – I think we could’ve been P4 or P5 in Q2 and maybe even P5 or P6 even in Q3 because we had two sets of tyres. So it’s a big consequence for our weekend because even our qualifying tyre choices were made to maximise Saturday and Saturday has been terrible with P14. So I guess the weekend is over for now for us. But nothing we can do.”

The stewards confirmed they will investigate the incident after qualifying. Valtteri Bottas is also under investigation for his potential involvement in the lead-up to it. But Alonso says a penalty would be of little comfort.

“It will change something for them, but for us, it’s changed everything on the weekend. And I don’t think that Seb could do much more because inside the car we are just relying on our engineer. So I guess it was more the team than Seb himself.”

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While race director Michael Masi warned teams not to slow between the penultimate and final corners ahead of qualifying, Alonso says that it is inevitable that drivers would bunch up at that position on the track.

“Sometimes you have to do it because the car in front, they are doing it,” Alonso explained.

“So as a consequence, three or four cars behind, they have to do it. So if we have a free track for sure, we will try to have a clean out-lap.

“So, as I said, I don’t think that Seb did anything wrong because it was a couple of cars in front of him already slowing down. The biggest thing is for our race. What happens to them doesn’t change much.”

Vettel said he was unable to avoid holding Alonso up as other drivers passed him while he was waiting to begin his lap.

“I think we agreed that we slow down between eight and nine, which is what I did,” he explained. “Everybody passes me and jumps the queue and then they all slow down between nine and ten when we agree not to slow down. So now you know the rest of the story.”

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...
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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18 comments on “Vettel not to blame for Q2 blocking incident – Alonso”

  1. So are they going to now build dependence chains of who delayed the driver before him, before him, before him, and penalise them progressively until the first one that didn’t slow? I do suppose you could say teams should learn from this and just not send their drivers out at the very last minute at a track like this (heard HAM for example ask, played 2:02 before end of Q3 ‘how are we on time, there are a lot of cars here’, being told by team he was fine (but BOT was several cars in the cueue behind him, right?)

    1. I’d support penalizing all the cars that slowed between T9 and T10. The directive was quite clear and was for the purpose of safety. A collision was certainly one of the possible outcomes with Alonso being forced to abandon his lap to avoid Vettel. Someone has to answer for this and it’s not Vettel or Aston Martin, he was actually the only one in that train trying to do the right thing. Everyone who jumped him before T9 and then slowed in the queue should be penalized.

    2. @bosyber the stupid part is that the teams continue to wait until the very last second even though time and again their laps are ruined by traffic.

      It’s like banging your head on a wall and complaining about the pain, but they just can’t help themselves.

      They should penalise the lot of them just for being stupid.

    1. Mark McCubbin
      3rd July 2021, 17:11

      That pretty much shows that there was nothing which Vettel could have done about that. He seemed to be the only one trying to leave space to not have to slow down on the last 2 corners. He would also have had no idea that Alonso was coming up.

      The pit exit should be closed early to help stop this. If they say the pit exit is closed in the time it takes to do 3 flying laps before the end each knockout, that would help to minimise this sort of thing. However, they shouldn’t need to make rules to help stop the teams being stupid. If they all send the drivers out together with 2 mins to go, what do they expect will happen? It’s the same every race…

      1. It’s clear that Vettel could not have done anything*, but still I think he deserves a penalty as he was impeding a car on a fast lap in quali, which is dangerous and not done.

        * he could have sped up, or fully move away from the racing line. In both cars ruining his upcoming fast lap. But that’s part of the game.

    2. wow that’s crazy, I knew those guys were going slow but didn’t realise how slow. barely moving for nearly a minute. FIA should maybe change the ‘slow lap’ required time to look at sectors instead, that way you wouldn’t have them going excessively slowly for so long on any one sector.

  2. By telling them not to bunch up at 9 and 10, they effectivly made the margin way smaller. As drivers now bunched up at 7 and 8 it ment that the first fast runner, in thisbcase Alonso, would always catch up.

    Whereas last week, the first fast runner had JUST about enough spacr to not be hindered. Making the trackspace that much shorter by taking out 2 corners was always gonna have this exact effect

  3. Lopes da Silva
    3rd July 2021, 16:28

    This will keep happening as long as we rely on this qualifying system. This is not “pure sport”, checking who can do the fastest lap possible. This is dealing with traffic. I would happily have sprint races or any other system, because “pure qualifying” was removed long ago.

    1. This is dealing with traffic

      That only happens when you wait untill the last moment. There a 15 minutes to plan.. if you choose carnage then wait till last.

      1. Lopes da Silva
        3rd July 2021, 18:52

        Italy 2019 qualifying was a lot of fun.

  4. To make a guess at where the next big silly accident is going to come from, i’d guess this bunching up into the last corner thing. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner, I know in the drivers briefing they were told they couldn’t do it this weekend, but that doesn’t seem to work. Last weekend was silly, today proved it’s dangerous.

    It’s only a matter of time before someone comes round a blind corner on a hot lap and finds themselves being introduced to someones gearbox very quickly. Something is wrong when the engineer is working harder than their driver.

  5. This article from racefans and this article from Autosport: https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/alonso-penalty-will-be-never-enough-for-vettel-after-austrian-gp-q2-incident/6624900/ seem to contradict each other a bit. It’s interesting because the quotes used in the two articles are mostly the same, but the way they have been interpreted is totally different.

    1. The headline of autosport aims at Vettel whelie Alonso stated (in that article!!)

      “So whatever penalty they give to the others, this is never enough. It’s the way it is.

      And of course he is right, his weekend is over and a penalty does not solve that.

  6. If I was alonso I wouldn’t want Vet to get a penalty. What’s likely- 3 places or 5 places… Better to have Vet as a road block to faster cars if he has better pace than vet

    Reply moderated
  7. From “I cannot believe it” to “Vettel not to blame”.

  8. A big shame as Alonso was really on it, but it was partly their own mistake. Even with 2 runs there’s no need to go out with the others it they weren’t looking for a tow. Look at Perez had the track to himself at the beginning, and there was a lull before the last run as well. Everyone and their dog knew there was a risk of a bunch-up at the last corner.

    1. To be fair, Vettel actually missed the line, and if he had been faster and had made it, Alonso wouldn’t have been held up. I think it is reasonable for Alpine to assume that everyone would have crossed the line by the time the clock hit zero. And I believe the track was improving at that point, so the teams wanted to leave it as late as possible. I don’t believe Alpine were to blame for this, the fault lies with the drivers/teams all bunching up at the final corner.

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