Alonso changing his approach to F1’s rules as “the referee is doing nothing”

2021 F1 season

Posted on

| Written by and

Fernando Alonso says he has changed his approach to racing as he does not believe Formula 1’s rules are being adequately enforced.

The Alpine driver repeatedly complained about the policing of F1’s rules during the two races at the Red Bull Ring. He claimed drivers went unpunished for running wide at turn one at the start and said the stewards should have been stricter with rivals who held others up in qualifying.

Following last weekend’s sprint qualifying race Alonso reacted to complaints from some rivals about his vigorous defending by saying he had gone to the “dark side”. Alonso was warned by race director Michael Masi about his defensive moves.

Speaking on Sunday evening at Silverstone, Alonso said recent races had persuaded him other drivers had not followed the rules as carefully as he had.

“I’ve been always a clean driver and I will remain a clean driver for all my career,” said Alonso. “I think I’m [one of] the few ones that don’t have any points on the licence, to be honest, as well.

Alonso said he “felt a little bit like an idiot” after the races in Austria for “respecting the rules” more than his rivals. He is dissatisfied with the explanations he has had from race control and said he does not want to keep complaining about rivals’ moves.

“We tried to speak with the race director and we try always to say or blame other things that the people were doing with not many answers, and that was strange. I don’t want to be blaming, I don’t want to be crying every race for something that the others do.

“The strategy in the first races didn’t have any solutions or didn’t brought us any solution. So we understood that the solution is to do what the others are doing. That’s the only thing we can do.”

He likened his rivals’ tactics to footballers going unpunished for handling the ball in the penalty area.

“We tried to be fair and we tried to say the referee, ‘look they are playing with their hands in the penalty area’. But if the referee is doing nothing, we understand that we can play also with the hands in the penalty area. So we do that.

“We wish we don’t need to do that. But because apparently some things are allowed in the Formula 1 of today, we copy and we don’t feel any more like we are out of the sport. So there’s no ‘dark side’ – it’s just playing with the same rules as everyone else.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2021 F1 season

Browse all 2021 F1 season articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

85 comments on “Alonso changing his approach to F1’s rules as “the referee is doing nothing””

  1. It’s sad, but no one can blame him for trying to solve it.

    1. John Toad (@)
      24th July 2021, 5:12

      The most inconsistent part of the rules application is “exceeding track limits” only applying to some corners.

  2. Sacha Gortchakoff
    22nd July 2021, 7:34

    sounds legitimate and wise

  3. The slippery slope, that political refereeing comes with.

    The way this seems to be going, it is not going to be a nice F1 season.
    It has all the indications of becoming an over politicised drama like Prost-Senna and Ballestre era.
    The racing will no longer be important, nor the rules, it’s all about who has the power and how it is wielded to whatever necessary end is deemed to the most benefit of F1.

    The more drama, the more show, the more clicks and views on social media.

  4. Does Alonso always have to whine? Sure he makes good points every now and then, but he whines so much no one will listen when he has a point

    1. He is doing the opposte to whine since his return, I’m afraid you just dislike him so you will find a way to whine about him no matter what… which it’s funny.

    2. Changed your reaction a bit to make it more appropriate:

      Do all drivers always have to whine? Sure they make good points every now and then, but they whine so much no one will listen when they have a point

      1. A fair point indeed

    3. pastaman (@)
      22nd July 2021, 13:15

      Where is the whining? It looks to me like he was asked a question and then he answered it

      1. “I don’t want to be crying”

        Those aren’t my words. Those aren’t the journalist’s words.


    4. Rodric Ewulf
      22nd July 2021, 15:57

      Still way behind Lewis in the WWGC (Whining Wannabe GOAT Championship). Fernando may leave some people scratching their heads very often but most of his “whining” has been spot on, differently from the entitled one from Mercedes.

    5. @Jeff Did he call press conference himself or was asked a question by reporter?

  5. Also he is mad, he was clearly weaving across the track, he wasn’t doing “what everyone else was doing”, he was weaving like they used to in the 80s

    1. jeff,
      The McLaren drivers were doing that all the year whenever someone – with the exception of Hamilton overtaking Norris – is trying to overtake them and they got warned for that by race direction but no penalty was issued if I remember correctly. So Alonso have gave them a taste if their own medicine knowing that he will be warned for that by race direction with no penalty to be issued. Very clever stuff as usual from Alonso, hope nobody will copy his approach though !

      1. Only Ricciardo was warned in Portugal this year(Alonso was warned for moving under braking for Silverstone GP not weaving so its seems weaving is legal even if causes serious crash(Baku 2018)) but Verstappen’s weaving went unnoticed and it seems like Verstappen is a hypocrite who doesnt when his rivals dish out same treatment he metes out to others so lets hope Lewis and other drivers also pick it for good. MotoGP has banned weaving for quite sometime now and riders are handed serious penalties for weaving.

        1. Norris was shown the black and white flag in the Spanish GP because he was weaving around while Sainz was about to overtake him.

          1. Rodric Ewulf
            22nd July 2021, 16:45

            Isn’t moving under breaking that gets you immediately a warning? Weaving on a straight may get you a warning if you do that repeatedly, if I’m not mistaken.

          2. Rodric Ewulf
            Moving in the braking zones in most cases will result in a penalty unless the stewards decide otherwise. Leclerc got away with it in Monza 2019 for example. I suspect that if drivers will continue to weave excessively on the straights the FIA will intervene to stop them from doing it.

        2. You can’t and you wouldn’t weave on a motogp bike. The kids in moto3 started to weave. 10 or more bikes on a straight trying to break the tow, that was excessive and dangerous, especially because they are on bikes, they can clash handlebars, pick a bit of grass and instantly crash, and lie on track, none are car problems.

        3. Rodric Ewulf
          22nd July 2021, 16:42

          Verstappen’s weaving went unnoticed and it seems like Verstappen is a hypocrite who doesnt when his rivals dish out same treatment he metes out to others so lets hope Lewis and other drivers also pick it for good.

          Never tired of comparing apples with onions, of course.

    2. @jeff weaving on the straights is a legitimate way of attempting to break the slipstream of those following. As long as it’s not carried into the breaking zone it’s not dangerous it just makes it harder to pass.

      1. @johnrkh Exactly! When you use weaving to break the draft I think it is a smart and rather innocent way of defending. Once you carry this behaviour to the braking zone or when someone is almost level with you, yes then it is too dangerous. But with Alonso that was not the case.

      2. + 1 absolutely. I think he was rather clever to do this and he was not breaking the rules.

        1. Come on man, that was 11 years ago!

        2. @f1osaurus

          There wasn’t a tow to break in that incident to begin with :)

          Hamilton weaved 4 times on the straight to prevent Petrov who was already alongside him coming out from the last corner from overtaking. He deserved a harsher penalty which he got by the way in the next year at same venue for the same action. You should have linked the video of the move and not only the RaceFans article. I will do it for you this time. Here it is :

          1. In the video you posted, he’s clearly behind all the way down the straight. We’re you just betting people wouldn’t bother clicking your link or something?

          2. Will Jones
            TBH, I was betting the Hammy fans will come after me with everything they’ve got !

          3. F1oSaurus (@)
            23rd July 2021, 7:43

            @tifoso1989 Why would I need a link to that video?

            But yeah the way you lie about what’s in that video even when you link to the video explains why you keep on lying about other things as well. It’s just sad.

            Do you not understand what a tow is though? Never mind, just get lost.

    3. Look fine to me, on the braking areas that can lead to crashes. Racing as it should. he didn’t hit nobody why the fuss?

    4. Rodric Ewulf
      22nd July 2021, 16:01


      Also he is mad, he was clearly weaving across the track, he wasn’t doing “what everyone else was doing”, he was weaving like they used to in the 80s

      You don’t even know the type of defenses that are legitimate and the ones that aren’t. Falling in others’ propaganda like a sitting duck and acritically repeating the narrative pushed by some sore losers ou there.

    5. @Jeff It was the same as what Max was doing in the beginning of the sprint qualifying and race. It isn’t blocking someone so he can’t get by or moving under braking, it’s braking slipstream so he can’t gain speed advantage.

  6. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
    22nd July 2021, 9:18

    If journalists keep asking the same same question they are getting the same answer.

    Fernando’s main point of cars going way too fast into a corner and going all four wheels over the white line should yield their position as they are gaining a lasting advantage when they rejoin the track in front of the following car. He is not interested in when it happens and neither should the stewards in his opinion.

  7. When you look at the penalty points this year it is obvious who needs force to get the desired result.
    Only two clean drivers left. It’s obvious they both will use the gap between rule and penalty others so blatantly use.
    Eat or be eaten.

    1. Rodric Ewulf
      22nd July 2021, 16:03

      Who is the other driver alongside Alonso with no penalty points?

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        22nd July 2021, 16:45

        There are 3 drivers without any penalty points. It’s Mick Schumacher, Alonso, and this is hilarious:

        Max Verstappen!!!

        Clearly Verstappen is the safest F1 driver according to the stewards!

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          22nd July 2021, 16:46

          I can’t wait for esploratore and robbie to read this! I know it will make their day ;-)

          1. Cause we’re verstappen fans? I’m more than a verstappen fan, I should have an “everyone but mercedes” flag, I also really like leclerc, norris, russell.

            Furthermore, verstappen hasn’t made any serious mistakes worthy of crashstappen names (like some used to call him) since basically monaco 2018, and he only had a mistake-prone half of the season, early 2018, even before that he made few mistakes.

          2. Cause we’re verstappen fans? I’m more than a verstappen fan, I should have an “everyone but mercedes” flag, I also really like leclerc, norris, russell.

            Furthermore, verstappen hasn’t made any serious mistakes worthy of bad names (like some used to call him) since basically monaco 2018, and he only had a mistake-prone half of the season, early 2018, even before that he made few mistakes.

        2. Rodric Ewulf
          22nd July 2021, 16:55

          Then maybe you need to check you bias (like Lewis fanbase asks anyone to check their priviledge without looking into the mirror) because he might be not as “aggressive” as you think. Without worring, I’m even wishful to concede that Max might have exploited some breaches on the regs for hard racing sometimes this season, but it just seems laughable to put a driver who caused two incidents recently (Albon incident and a more dangerous collision with Max) above one who was held accountable by none during the recent past.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            22nd July 2021, 17:44

            Please don’t make me laugh Rodric!!! That’s as funny as MaxCrash!

  8. F1oSaurus (@)
    22nd July 2021, 9:59

    So it’s part of the “let them race” mantra to not penalize drivers so much for first lap incidents. Wasn’t Alonso around when this started?

    1. Rodric Ewulf
      22nd July 2021, 16:06

      The “let them race” mantra has been coming back sometimes and being forgotten other moments this season, for instance, that Leclerc incident in the Austria I race was treated too leniently by the stewards differently form other incidents.

      1. F1oSaurus (@)
        23rd July 2021, 7:47

        Not different from Leclerc taking out Stroll on the first lap. But yeah different from Leclerc taking out Verstappen on the first lap.

  9. It is what it is, the FIA has brought it upon themselves where most races we have situations where nobody really knows what the stewards are gonna do. Rules aren’t very clear so trying to push them is the smart approach.

  10. petebaldwin (@)
    22nd July 2021, 11:10

    The precedent F1 has set is that if you can weave all over the track and after doing it several times, they’ll give you a warning – after that, your team will radio you and tell you to stop doing it. Their job is to maximise everything out there on track and therefore, it’s only logical for them to weave to break the tow until they are warned.

    Same as track limits – you can do it a number of times before you get a warning so when you’re trying to make a gap or just before a pitstop, ignore track limits to gain a few extra tenths

    1. Track limits is a different issue than leaving the track and gaining a position.
      The ‘penalty’ for track limits violations during qualifying is having your time deleted.
      Repeatedly leaving the track and gaining an advantage (reducing gap to rival), will get you a warning.

      Drivers are expected to immediately give back a position gained by going off the track.
      There is no warning, a penalty will be issued if it isn’t given back within a certain amount of time.

      Alonso is complaining that drivers are overshooting turn one, and while maintaining their pace, overtake him because he slowed to stay on track. IMO while I think some leniency should be given for lap 1, gaining a position this way should warrant giving it back or a time penalty.

      1. Rodric Ewulf
        22nd July 2021, 16:29

        I think our colleague @petebaldwin referred to disrespecting track limits over a race lap while in clean air trying to get some time for strategic purposes, rather than overtaking out of track. The latter situation clearly can get you in some trouble almost always if you don’t give the position back.
        And unfortunately given the sportsmaship consequences involved, right is Alonso for refusing to keep it extremely clean but losing a little because of it, he just shouldn’t compromise on being ingenuous any longer. As soon as he doesn’t start being a dangerous driver on track (like his ex-arch-rival is doing following such excuse) he’s completely on his right and the only smart solution seems doing that, as sometimes Formula 1’s application of rules gets pretty much anarchical.

      2. The problem is that there is no rule against *maintaining* a position by going off track. That’s part of why DRS overtakes are the only viable overtakes nowadays: no corner rule problems for the car behind.

        I recall Rosberg locking up and cutting straight through a chicane on the opening lap, maintaining P1. Not an issue of course. Lap 1, no position gained, no penalty, when in reality locking up and going off track should have meant he would lose a couple of positions. Rosberg really was a master of abusing every aspect of the rules.

        1. Rosberg really was a master of abusing every aspect of the rules.

          The unbiased one, I presume. Forgetting that it may apply to the majority of drivers, as noted by Alonso.

          1. I will admit I’m a big fan of Rosberg.
            And Alonso, the fact he’s even announcing it just to prove a point is completely bad-ass.

        2. @sihrtogg Hamilton was the one who cut the entire first chicane in Mexico 2016 while gaining about 3-4 seconds in the process.

          1. No he did not @mashiat

            He slowed by nearly five seconds on getting back on the track. It was not immediately obvious because of the safety car.

            I recall there was talk of a potential penalty if he had not slowed even though it was lap one and a different and far better race director informing the Stewards..

          2. @drgraham But did he not do exactly what @sihrtogg is accusing Rosberg of doing? The only time I can recall Rosberg locking up and going straight on in T1 was in Russia 2014, but that was because he locked up so bad he had to pit on the same lap. Hardly a “lasting advantage”.

          3. @mashiat When it’s Nico, Max or anyone else they remember clearly. When it’s Lewis they try the hardest to forget. When we recall it any excuse will be casually thrown into place to pretend it sticks, regardless of how bogus it might be.

  11. No ‘I think it is all Max fault. He driver extremely dangerous’ comments yet? How strange

    1. Well I see you and your fellow travellers are doing their utmost to insert Max/Ham into non-related threads as per usual to get a reaction. But don’t give up; it’s early days.

      1. Rodric Ewulf
        22nd July 2021, 16:12

        ian dearing
        It won’t be brought into debate again, it’s useless. Hammy fans pretended they had won the debate even after cherry-picking the arguments to answer like they had done plenty of times this season whenever something that fail to portray Lewis as the center of the universe is called into question. Rather tiresome to argue with pigeon-like opponents.

        1. Congratulations, you are now the third to try to crowbar Max/Ham into this debate. Keep it up. I’m rooting for you.

          1. Rodric Ewulf
            22nd July 2021, 16:37

            Just a remark, no need to panic. I left all my arguments in the previous articles and you saw that but answered only what was convenient so… If you’d like to try and refute them, that’s all right, but not on this current article. Here it’s not the topic of discussion and I’ll respect that.

          2. Rodric Ewulf, could you also show enough respect to accept that others might have a different opinion to you, and that continuing to spam a thread with posts in this way is not helpful when all of your posts are trying to derail the discussion?

            It is rude and disrespectful to others that we’re having to put up with you coming into the discussion and bludgeoning everyone over the head with your opinion on something completely irrelevant. Please could you give others who are getting fed up with your incessant bickering and the pointless need to prove somebody wrong somewhere where we don’t have to listen to the same pointless arguments?

  12. Alonso is entirely right of course, and sadly this is not something seen just in F1, it’s a problem we all face in every aspect of life

    IMO, if you can’t enforce the rule then don’t have the rule. It just makes mugs out of those who choose to follow it

  13. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    22nd July 2021, 14:40

    Alonso, wait till your son plays soccer in the United States.

    Push player down to the ground with both arms, then move to the ball. If beaten, grab player’s jersey. If still beaten, kung fu him with 2 more players!

    Oh, and you’d be wondering how anyone can afford to play soccer here just like Ibrahimovic did when his son started playing :-)

  14. Alonso is laying down a marker here. I suspect I’ll be searching for this article to refer back to at some point in 2022… if not sooner.

    1. Internet fandom or anti-fandom is a wonderful thing.
      The second anyone makes a mistake, people can’t wait to dig through the archives to point out how hypocritical they are.

      To be honest, as the owner of this site, I kind of expected that you’d be a little more impartial. Not anxiously waiting to slam a driver for eventually making a mistake he complained about others making…

      Where are your articles that point to how often Wolff/Hamilton/Mercedes have claimed to desire a closer title fight, then immediately switch tone to suggest rules violations as soon as they’re not leading (or the favorite) anymore? Surely that’s more hypocritical than Alonso eventually running wide on Turn 1.

      1. grumpy
        Yeah, double standards detected here, you hit the nail on the head.

    2. Rodric Ewulf
      22nd July 2021, 16:14

      For what reason, exactly? Rather enigmatic comment you posted here, Keith. ;)

    3. @keithcollantine I had a similar thought. Go ahead FA, start tempting fate then, and see where it leads.

  15. Alonso needs also to carbon copy the way to pass and defend from Hamilton and Verstapen.
    F1 will be better and better as the season progress.

  16. Probably not the best idea to complain about the rules being broken while simultaneously vowing to break the rules…

    1. he said that he’s not gonna complain anymore since he will start breaking them himself

  17. Another win for the wily old fox…

  18. It is true that Alonso does not have any penalty points on his license now, but he did not race in F1 last year.
    When he left F1 he had a good tally of penalty points which expired while he was racing in other classes.

    1. Only reason he had 6 penalty points when he quit at the end of 2018 was because he knew he was leaving the sport and exceeded track limits on three occasions at the closing stages of the final race which earned him half of his penalty points. He only had 3 “real” penalty points, 2 for blue flags in Brazil, and 1 for Japan.

  19. This is the ugly, political Alonso putting pressure via the media.

    I prefer the delightful, racing Alonso, scrapping with Russell without putting a wheel wrong.

    His (on-track) battles have always been fierce but fair. It would be good for his legacy if it stays that way.

    1. This is the ugly, political Alonso putting pressure via the media.

      If so you’ll find yourself bemused over every F1 champion’s ugly and political side. The one who we never had seen acting this way is Bottas, who will remain a hopeless non-champ unless he sticks to his guns.

  20. To start with, the official document of overtaking rules is kept in secret from public. F1 fans can only guess what are the exact word by word rules.
    Secondly, rules are often changing forwards and backwards during one season (remember unsafe pit release for Leclerc farce in 2019 German GP.
    No wonder, this mess is hard to follow even for drivers like Alonso just said.

    1. By the way, “sensational” news after British GP!
      Masi restricts F1 team bosses access to stewards’ office!
      The FIA has reportedly told competitors that F1 team personnel will no longer be granted access to the stewards’ office…
      It’s just another example of how easy any rule in F1 can be changed within a couple of days.

      1. Shame they allowed Wolff entry in the first place. Whatever he blurted out before Horner came in obviously worked.

      2. You left out the bit that says ‘without permission’. Last weekend Toto was given permission on air. Not so sure about Horner, but if he asked I doubt whether they would have refused.
        So no change really.

  21. People complaining over “political” Alonso coming back are just falling for sensasionalist coverage. He clarified later that he’s not necessarily intending to break the rules, he’s just not putting that much of an effort to not break those that warrant no consequence, as it doesn’t pay off like we saw at race starts. It doesn’t mean turning into an irresponsible driver either. If “going to dark side” really meant becoming a danger to other drivers on track, then we could have all those highlights and promises of making his words haunt him back.

  22. Maybe what he is implying is that if it is only a 10 sec penalty for the Hamilton move then the precedent has been set.

  23. Great alonso, that’s how you need to do in the situation! If people do nothing, force their hand.

  24. Is there anybody like Alonso to capture your interest as well as his own? Nobody comes close. His return to the sport was inspired in Heaven and is playing out down here on the Earth for all to enjoy! Who knows how long he’ll be around this time, but I mean to relish every minute of every race and every interview. Go Alonso! Go Formula One. It’s all bliss. Until we each have our hearts broken by an awful moment yet one more time.

Comments are closed.