Alteration to stewards’ verdict explains Gasly’s stiff penalty for Alonso clash

2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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Pierre Gasly’s penalty for his contact with Fernando Alonso on the first lap of the Turkish Grand Prix surprised many.

Lap one incidents have tended to result in more lenient punishments. But Gasly was given a five-second time penalty and two penalty points on his licence after wheel-to-wheel contact between him and Alonso sent the Alpine driver spinning off.

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi explained that before the season began it had been agreed drivers would be penalised for first-lap incidents if they were found to be entirely to blame.

“If we go back to the start of the year, if you recall [prior to] the first event, following discussions with the drivers and the teams, we had to sort of ratchet back a little bit the ‘let them race’ principles in general.

“One of them was first-lap incidents in general and if a driver was wholly to blame for an incident, then it would likely result in a penalty. The stewards determined that Pierre was wholly to blame for the incident and as a result, a five second penalty was imposed.”

In the original document issued by the stewards, Gasly was only described as being “predominantly” to blame. But in a new, “corrected” document issued three-and-a-half hours later, this was changed to read “wholly”.

“If someone is wholly to blame on lap one, it will result in a penalty,” said Masi. “If it ‘takes two to tango’ and someone’s predominantly [to blame], then it would likely, on that one, not result in anything. Or if there’s more than the two cars involved.

“But if it’s quite clear, two cars, one has done it, then a penalty will happen.”

The stewards did not agree with Gasly’s view that he was unable to avoid Alonso because he had Perez on his inside.

“That was one of the things we probably took a little bit longer at the start there to have a closer look at, obviously Sergio on the inside,” said Masi. “But once it was quite clear from all of the footage and everything available, that’s why they determined that it was a five-second penalty.”

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2021 Turkish Grand Prix

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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...
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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59 comments on “Alteration to stewards’ verdict explains Gasly’s stiff penalty for Alonso clash”

  1. Well Alonso got what he wanted then, hope he’s happy.

    1. Alonso get nothing much from Gasly’s penalty. Still his race was ruined. and it was not his fault if Gasly understeered into him. Although it would have been wiser to allow a little more space.

      1. melanos

        Alonso get nothing much from Gasly’s penalty. Still his race was ruined. and it was not his fault if Gasly understeered into him. Although it would have been wiser to allow a little more space.

        Exactly. Alonso placed himself in that corner completely by the book (unlike his clash with Schumacher’s Haas, of course) but this move was one of high risk, specially knowing Gasly’s recent history at T1. But he didn’t want to compromise to yet another P6 or maybe P5 finish, so he risked everything to get a better track position in the start and keep defending it from there. However, this time it didn’t pay off. Unfortunately it ruined his race with no chance of recovery, such is the difficulty level to follow and pass in current Formula 1.

  2. More arbitrary, selective, penalize some drivers but not others bullspit from the stewards and the FIA. What new?

    1. Indeed. In the wet it should be expected that cars understear into the first corner. I have no idea what haslu was supposed to do. Alonso was taking a risk going around the outside. However Alonso then overcooked it into Schumacher yet gets the same penalty.. . How was Gasly as much to blame as Alonso?

      1. Lee1

        However Alonso then overcooked it into Schumacher yet gets the same penalty.. . How was Gasly as much to blame as Alonso?

        Should intentions and consequences come into play in the stewarding, it would open the can of worms called subjectiveness. As we see so often on this site, no one ever agrees with all the others in anything.

  3. Wow. Classic double down, rather than admit you might be wrong!

    1. Pretty much.
      Instead of “Oops, we made the wrong call” it has been changed to “Oops, we decided that Gasly is entirely at fault now, because we can’t undo our original mistake.”

  4. But Gasly wasnt wholly to blame. Perez was on the inside. The incident was about more than just the two drivers.

    1. he could have backed off and not hit Alonso. he was clearly behind him!

      1. @nickthegreek Indeed. He even had enough room despite Perez’s presence.

    2. Perez kept a meter or so away from Gasly; Pierre could likely not have hit him if he tried.
      He understeered into Alonso anyway, he could not take the corner any tighter, he would still have hit Fernando if Checo wasn’t there at all.

      Harsh for Red Bull, as he might have made life hard for Lewis if he did not have that penalty. But then Mercedes might not have called him in to stop. But then his tires might have blown; Ocon had a huge blister on his front right and that was very close to failing…
      We’ll never know how the wheel of fortune would have spun.

    3. @ajayrious Gasly got himself in a bad situation. There wasn’t a lot he could have done to avoid the collision, but he shouldn’t have opened the door for Pérez and get sandwiched.

  5. What a load of nonsense. There have been way worse actions from drivers in the first lap, including a ridiculous move from Leclerc against Gasly. Why can’t they just admit it was a bad decision, in stead of suddenly “correct” a decision?

    1. Yep, stewarding with all the camera angles still doesn’t help them to grow a brain. What pittyful stewarding does F1 have..

    2. @Ronald Once again, Leclerc didn’t do anything sudden as both moved towards each other’s paths.

  6. The racing is great. The race drivers are great. The cars, whilst marmite, are great to me.

    But the stewards at the moment are literally the main thing killing my enjoyment of the sport.

  7. Non- Brit drivers get penalty slaps, again.

  8. They had to “correct” the document after the race to prove it was the right decission LOL. Let them race. We don’t need Stewards and these ridiculous time penalty’s.

  9. So, instead of changing their verdict to the facts they changed their judgement of the facts to their verdict? Can’t quite think it an improvement, though maybe tomorrow I’ll have changed my view?

  10. Fair enough. I wonder who the stewards thought was the other party in the “predominantly to blame” ruling? Perez did nothing wrong and was pretty far to the left of Gasly. And Alonso just wanted to take the corner on the outside unmolested.

    1. I was expecting they correct their faillure in to race incident but seems they couldn’t do either. I am not sure if it’s smart to go on the outside in turn 1 and in lap 1 when it’s wet. Cars are going to be wider in the corners then. It seems they punished not the move but that understeer moment at the end.

  11. Considering the number of clarifications from Masi this year regarding different penalties, you wonder if they just completely rewrote the rule book during the winter…

    Every weekend it’s something new we are learning that was “agreed before the season”

  12. UPDATE: Stewards now admit penalty, “was the obvious choice to allow Lewis an increased chance of a showdown with Max”.

  13. The penalty was maybe technically correct, but the 2 license points is too much

  14. At least the penalty gave Hamilton room to make his pitstop, otherwise he probably would have stayed out and finished a place higher.

  15. 3 wide in a corner is the vast majority of the time going to lead to some kind of accident. Fault could be attributed to the last car joining the party and putting all three cars in potential danger… but still, that’s part of the game, especially at the start of a race. It’s pure a racing incident.

    1. David

      Fault could be attributed to the last car joining the party and putting all three cars in potential danger… but still, that’s part of the game, especially at the start of a race. It’s pure a racing incident.

      Yeah, if not killing racing it would at least debilitate it severely if that was judged this way.
      But the blame is on Gasly for that one, our fellow colleague Bart summarised it well above:

      Perez kept a meter or so away from Gasly; Pierre could likely not have hit him if he tried.
      He understeered into Alonso anyway, he could not take the corner any tighter, he would still have hit Fernando if Checo wasn’t there at all.

  16. Gasly understeered, a bit, on the first lap, in the wet, while Alonso took the gamble of going outside. That is just not a penalty situation.

    1. @david-br He understeered much more than “a bit”, and that’s not a good enough excuse not to penalise someone. Going for any overtake ever is a risk, so even if someone completely wipes out an overtaking driver, it’s the other driver’s fault? Alonso didn’t even squeeze Gasly, he was so far wide and left him a ton of room, it’s down to the car on the inside not to become incompetent and slide into the outside line. It’s clear to me Gasly wasn’t even a bit below 100% to blame. Alonso was 100% to blame for the Schumacher incident 2 corners later, and got a deserving penalty for it.

      1. @mashiat Sorry, don’t see it, at all, and I’m watching the replay. Gasly clearly through no fault of his own ends up in a sandwich between two cars and takes a line between them, nothing risky. Once he’s committed to that line, there doesn’t seem much he can do to avoid contact with Alonso. It’s a racing incident, sad for Alonso, but it’s first lap, in the wet, and it’s in no way comparable to Bottas, say, outbraking himself and causing a multiple collision. Really harsh in my view and I suspect because it was Alonso moaning.

        1. @david-br

          Sorry, don’t see it, at all, and I’m watching the replay. Gasly clearly through no fault of his own ends up in a sandwich between two cars and takes a line between them, nothing risky.

          Not fully sandwiched, watch it again carefully. Perez was not glued alongside Gasly when they took the corner, so it was completely avoidable for Gasly, clearly possible to not hit Alonso, who just left plenty of room on the outside. Alonso played Gasly’s role when clashing with Schumacher, then he took a penalty as well.

          1. @rodewulf Perez is approaching from behind on the left, exiting the corner, as Gasly is focusing in the other direction and the next corner, anticipating Perez will be turning in the same direction, right. Meanwhile Alonso is on the right turning in, leftwards, for the same corner. It’s a sandwich situation so, I think, Gasly adopts what he judges to be a middle line between the two, pretty much what anyone would do. Nothing about his driving is unreasonable. So a penalty makes no sense, it was a racing incident.

          2. @david-br

            It’s a sandwich situation so, I think, Gasly adopts what he judges to be a middle line between the two, pretty much what anyone would do.

            Excuse for some lack of spatial awereness. Had he come a little closer to Perez, something easy as there was a significant distance between them, the incident would have been avoided. Instead, he understeered into Alonso who was confortably making the corner through the outside. Had it happened against other racer than him (especially Hamilton) you’d probably be saying: “Well done” – about this penalty.

        2. I don’t get these “first lap” excuses.

          These days, they are not allowed to start unless conditions are fit for driving, so what on earth is the difference between the first and the last?

          Are we now going to introduce an excuse for if it suddenly starts raining, i.e. ‘first lap incident after the rain – so let them do what they want’?

          And there were far more inconsistencies in the past. In 2008 Hamilton, rightly got a penalty for a dozy piece of driving at the start of the Japan (I think race) whereas Rosberg ended Coulthard’s last race after about 10s and got no punishment.

          I thought the stewards did a very good job yesterday.

        3. @david-br It’s not his fault he’s in the sandwich I agree, but if you watch the incident back, Gasly had enough space on the left in order to run 3-wide through there. It’s quite a wide track, and had Gasly stayed closer to Perez, they would have gone through it fine. Although Gasly didn’t do a whole lot wrong, it was still his fault, and he got the most lenient penalty as a result.

      2. Agree here. We just seem to have constant Masi bashing on these boards.

        Gasly might not have had control to prevent the slide, but it was totally careless – it was blindingly obvious that he would be caught in the sandwich and so he had back out earlier. Not hope the car on the inside couldn’t be bothered to attempt an overtake??

        1. @banbrorace Why should Gasly back out and not Alonso? Maybe he should just stop racing altogether?

          1. @david-br

            Why should Gasly back out and not Alonso? Maybe he should just stop racing altogether?

            How about race without understeering into other cars?

  17. ALO’s gamble didn’t pay off, which was not surprising having in mind the particular drivers inside of the corner. However, there was nothing wrong about the move.

    It was 100% Gasly’s fault. He was neither pushed, nor squeezed. He just lost control, understeered and hit the car that was already in front.

    The bragging about the penalty doesn’t make any sense. The rulings have been consistent so far – Silverstone, Hungary, Monza and this one. Besides, we should never take incompetent driving as tough racing, should we!

  18. Regardless of where you stand, this effort from Masi to address inconsistency must be applauded. Tough luck pierre.

  19. Why do I get the feeling that the championship will be decided by Mazepin? He is going to take out someone as they lap him before the end of the season.

    1. @jimfromus

      Why do I get the feeling that the championship will be decided by Mazepin?

      The “deciding” championship event is a free cherrypick of choice.

  20. No matter what Mr. Masi says these things are not being judged entirely fairly and certainly not consistently. FIA always says that they must only consider the cause of an accident, not its consequence. Yet, if Alonso did not spin out I am sure it would be declared a racing incident with no penalty. The fact that nobody spun was the only difference in the Sainz/Vettel incident…and there was no penalty there. I am sure that Mr. Masi could provide million arguments on how very different these situations were, but I stopped paying attention some time ago.

    1. Completely agree. Sainz clumsy overtake of Vettel forced Vettel to take evasive action to avoid a collision. If they collide Sainz is 100% at fault but Vettel’s race is ruined.

    2. The Vettel incident actually showed the consistency of the stewards.

      Here, there was plenty of room of Vettel no move right, but he couldn’t because the conditions were poor and the subsequently his car was unresponsive. So it wasn’t his fault he nearly got seriously tagged

      But nor was it Perez’s fault as at no time did he aggressively take a line that restricted Vettel.

      A great case of the Stewards taking into account the conditions and the actual driving.

      1. No idea why all that is in bold. LOL!!

  21. So wait, if lap 1 incidents are going to be punished ONLY when a driver is WHOLLY at fault, then why did Hamilton got a penalty at Silverstone when the stewards said he was PREDOMINANTLY at fault…?

    1. @black

      So wait, if lap 1 incidents are going to be punished ONLY when a driver is WHOLLY at fault, then why did Hamilton got a penalty at Silverstone when the stewards said he was PREDOMINANTLY at fault…?

      No, the thing is if a Ferrari driver does it, the interpretation of the rule just shouldn’t be the most strict (I’m kinda joking, but unfortunately it might be true). For instance, the lack of consequence in Sainz vs. Vettel clash last race, in contrast with Leclerc vs. Gasly in the Styrian Grand Prix, which ended in retirement for the AlphaTauri driver with a puncture. In neither it yielded a penalty, and in both the ragazzi have been wholly to blame (if such distinction should be put into place).
      If Masi doesn’t provide us a good reason for them to not penalise Sainz on his understeer into Vettel, suspicion will only grow.
      The stewards tend to slice the penalties sometimes in a questionable way, it happened with the two race-ending clashes between the title rivals this season. In Silverstone, they probably ceded to some pressure to punish Hamilton. In Monza, they probably ceded to some pressure to punish Verstappen. But in those incidents it was never definitively clear with whom most of the blame was, always subject to some margin of interpretation in the rules.

      1. Do not forget they have an ex racing driver with them in the Steward’s Panel in order to help them notice the small things we as race fans might not (immediately) see…

        Personally, I think it is very hard for them to be consistent as incidents are never exactly the same (different corners, different track conditions, different speeds,…). The sport is very complex and is one of the most complex sports in the world as far as I know.

        They mostly take decisions during a race as well, with other things going on at the same time and under the pressure of millions of eyes watching them and fans & media scrutinizing their decisions.

        I wonder how many of us would be good stewards… I think it is far harder once you are in their position than it is from the sofa in your living room.

        1. I wonder how many of us would be good stewards… I think it is far harder once you are in their position than it is from the sofa in your living room.

          Seems legit, although with their accumulated knowledge and resources they still could probably do better. But this is mostly not their fault actually, the regulations seems too convoluted and vague in some crucial aspects at the same time.

    2. Because of the consequences that they aren’t taking into account…

  22. Stewards are consistent, consistently inconsistent. GAS stated immediately that he was sandwiched. No way he was 100% at fault.

    1. That’s just a tame excuse.

      If Gasly doesn’t realise that he’s going to be marmalised if he’s in the middle when the gap is narrowing by the second, then he shouldn’t be racing.

      Hamilton backed out at Russia, because as he later stated he had to or he’d have got tagged.

  23. It’s interesting to notice how regularly Masi has to explain the rule, and has to explain how to interpret the rule and has to explain how does the rule applies to something.
    What a joke.

    1. Masi is the poor guy the media chases, because those stewards who made the decisions don’t justify them to the media.
      Even if Masi doesn’t agree with a decision, he still has to explain it.

  24. Who benefits of all those incident rulings?
    Is it to benefit fair racing?
    No, the punishment doesn’t favor the harmed driver in any capacity. It doesn’t fulfill that purpose at all.
    So, is it for safety reasons?
    That’s probably the reason (or excuse), trying to prevent future incidents.
    Is this well-meant regulation working?
    Let’s take a reality check, its proven over and over again that incidents keep reappearing every race weekend, so the conclusion is, no it obviously doesn’t work.
    So, for whom is it?
    Let’s say it’s unclear.
    In my humble opinion I believe there’s no place for incident ruling let’s say below 200 km/h, maybe it could be justified for high-speed incidents, let’s say over 200 km/h. Otherwise let the drivers take the risk and responsibility and self-regulate within their group and remove the too big influence of other factors and leave race outcome to the drivers and teams.
    And drivers should take risks because it’s a big part of what racing is. Sometimes they crash and sometimes a successful risky move is hailed by the media. These moments also play a major part of the entertainment value of F1.

  25. How was this not just a textbook ‘racing incident’?

    10/10 to Gasly for still getting a great result for the team.

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