Carlos Sainz Jnr, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Alonso feels “a little bit stupid” for obeying track limits at start

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso says he lost out at the start of the race for the second weekend in a row because he obeyed track limits.

The Alpine driver said Charles Leclerc and Daniel Ricciardo overtook him by leaving the track at turn one on the first lap. Alonso previously complained the same thing happened to him one week earlier at the Red Bull Ring.

“We raced two times here in two weekends and I was the only one overtaking cars at the start, braking very late for turn one on the inside,” he explained after the race on Sunday. “I overtook Ricciardo and Leclerc this time and they went off-track the exit of one and they exit in front of me.

“Even more than that, they take the run into the next car in front from the slipstream into turn three. So I don’t know, I felt that was very unfair today, again.

“It was last weekend but today I was into turn one in front of Charles and Ricciardo and I exit turn one 50 metres behind Ricciardo. And I was the only one making the corner. So you feel a little bit stupid.”

Formula 1’s sporting rules are often interpreted more generously at the start of a race, but Alonso does not believe that excuses Leclerc and Ricciardo’s use of the turn one run-off.

“It’s written and it’s quite clear that on the first lap, they are a little bit more flexible on penalties and track limits because we are fighting. Sometimes you are forced to go outside the track because you are fighting and you are forced by another car and you take the run-off area.

Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Gallery: 2021 Austrian Grand Prix in pictures
“But it was not the case. It was just a pure performance decision to go outside and to keep the throttle on. It was no one side-by-side. So I don’t think that is a grey area. It was quite clear.”

The race director Michael Masi said the stewards were aware of Alonso’s concerns and looked at the incident, but felt Ricciardo and Leclerc acted correctly.

“One of the things that we’ve said, and this came about since Paul Ricard in 2019, was that on the first lap and those first couple of corners, if it exists, that a car needs to be back behind the car it entered the corner behind.

“We looked at the incident which Fernando was referring to and from the angles that we could see at the time, that was exactly what had occurred.”

Start, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Alonso took the inside line against Ricciardo and Leclerc at the start

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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...
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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17 comments on “Alonso feels “a little bit stupid” for obeying track limits at start”

  1. A typically sad indictment of F1’s approach to the regulations.
    It’s not that they can’t tell whether someone has been forced wide and/or gained a lasting advantage, it’s just that they simply don’t want to look.
    So no rules on the first lap, because that is easier.

    1. It is called gaming the system. Some drivers will deliberately throw themselves into an impossible situation so they are able to run wide and accelerate through the run off. When I saw what Alonso complained about, during the start of the race, I have expected an investigation because it was just plain odd to gain two or 3 places by running wide.

      1. It happens at most F1 races – primarily because the stewards never do anything about it.

        1. But you never know – they could suddenly decide out of nowhere that despite never doing anything about it previously, they’ll suddenly give you a penalty… It’s just a lottery in F1.

          1. They need to be consistent – no doubt.
            But ignoring the sporting regs consistently isn’t really the right kind of consistent, and that’s where F1 has been all along.
            If they want to alter the sporting regs, then fine – but that’s a separate issue altogether. The current regs need to be consistently enforced, whatever they are.

          2. @petebaldwin Yes that’s one of the problems. Worse, it seems to be decided on who you are.

  2. Niki Lauda Kurve has a sausage curb at the corner exit that automatically kills acceleration speed, so no lasting advantage in going off.
    Norris went off in the Styrian GP alongside Perez, and no one questioned.

  3. He should count himself lucky they didn’t decide he was worthy of a 5-second penalty for not giving them more space /rollseyes

    1. You have the comment of the day! Pefect! :))

    2. Delicious.

      The moment Alonso does the same, the moment stewards will start looking into these rules exploitation.

      1. @sugoi Of course, that’s how the world works.

  4. Alonso is exaggerating. He didn’t really overtake either of them, and Leclerc didn’t go off the track at all at T1. Ricciardo did however, and it looked like on purpose too.

    I agree the practice needs to stop. Leaving the track to gain an advantage isn’t just about overtaking, it’s obviously about not being overtaken, but somehow this easy-to-understand concept is too much for the race director and the stewards.

    1. A gravel trap would do the job better than even the most highly trained stewards.

      1. Maybe, but then there might be a race-ruining safety car just for a car going off, and that’s even worse.

        The whole thing should be electronically automated. Go outside the track and no ERS or DRS for a lap (or something like that).

  5. Rodric Ewulf
    5th July 2021, 15:17

    It wouldn’t be Fernando fully back to Formula 1 if there weren’t any complaints from him about other drivers’ conduct, would it? Usually with a good reason though.

  6. I’ve seen a lot of drivers taking advantage of this grey area on starts and restarts, while others drivers respect track limits and get penalised for doing things properly.

  7. Well, they’re consistent in their inconsistency.

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