Should Gasly have been penalised for first-corner tangle with Alonso?

Penalty Box

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Pierre Gasly was given a five-second time penalty, and two penalty points on his licence, after knocking Fernando Alonso into a spin at the first corner. Were the stewards right to penalise the AlphaTauri driver?

Incident

The collision happened at the exit of the first corner. Alonso had started from fifth place and was trying to pass Gasly, who lined up fourth, on the outside.

At the exit of the corner, on a slippery track, Gasly’s front-right wheel made contact with Alonso’s left-rear, knocking him into a spin. Gasly continued, though he lost a place to Sergio Perez who had been on his inside at the corner, while Alonso fell towards the rear of the field.

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How it happened

Gasly approached turn one with Alonso on his right, Perez to the left
Gasly stayed wide of the apex as Perez was on his inside
Gasly continued steering left throughout, but contact with Alonso occured
Gasly’s wing can be seen from Alonso’s car prior to contact
Perez’s view from the inside shows the positions of Gasly and Alonso
How Perez saw the contact between Gasly and Alonso
Norris had a clear view of the three cars at turn one
The collision as seen by Norris

What they said

In the cars

Gasly said “I was sandwiched” as he accelerated away from turn one. Alonso pinned the blame on his rival, exclaiming “what a stupid guy, Gasly”

After the crash

“For me it was tight with Sergio inside me and then Fernando was also on the outside,” Gasly explained afterwards. “So obviously there wasn’t much space.”

“To be fair for me, I don’t really know where else I could have gone,” he added.

Alonso wasn’t as critical of Gasly when he spoke about the collision to the media afterwards. “These things can happen,” said the Alpine driver. “Unfortunately it happened today, to us, while we were [in the] top five.”

Alpine executive director Marcin Budkowski said it was “super frustrating” his driver had been “pushed off” by Gasly. “I think the stewards judged that Gasly had enough space to move to the left and leave him space, which he didn’t do. But that’s racing.”

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The official verdict

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Istanbul Park, 2021
Alonso lost 11 places due to the contact
The original verdict issued by the stewards was revised in a subsequent document which was published three-and-a-half hours after the first one. Having originally described Gasly as being “predominantly” to blame for the collision, the “corrected” verdict stated he was “wholly” responsible for the contact.

The final verdict dismissed Gasly’s claim on the radio that he had been “sandwiched” between Perez and Alonso.

“Gasly tried to negotiate [turn one] with Perez on the inside and car 14 (Alonso) on the outside. Alonso was slightly in front of Gasly at the exit of the corner when both cars made contact, causing Alonso to spin. The stewards determine that Gasly was wholly at fault for the collision, as he did not leave enough space for Alonso on the outside.

“It should also be pointed out that the stewards do not consider this incident as an unavoidable lap one turn one contact between two cars, as Gasly was not sandwiched between two cars when he touched Alonso’s car.”

Incidents which occur on the first lap have previously been treated more leniently by the stewards. However FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi explained a decision was taken prior to the start of the season to take a tougher line in cases where one driver was considered wholly responsible.

“[Prior to] the first event, following discussions with the drivers and the teams is we [decided] to sort of ratchet back a little bit the ‘let them race’ principles in general. And 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.”

Your verdict

Were the stewards right to give Gasly a penalty? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree Gasly deserved a penalty for his collision with Alonso?

  • Strongly agree (11%)
  • Slightly agree (11%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (3%)
  • Slightly disagree (29%)
  • Strongly disagree (46%)
  • No opinion (1%)

Total Voters: 148

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Author information

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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42 comments on “Should Gasly have been penalised for first-corner tangle with Alonso?”

  1. No. That was clearly a bad call. An outcome of ‘following the rules’ by a lack of critical thinking. He was squeezed and had no where to go to avoid a collision – all this happening at speed.

    Now Alonso’s penalty I’d say was justified.

    1. “He was squeezed and had no where to go to avoid a collision”
      … Realy? Can’t see the photo from Noris’ car?

      1. Every picture tell a story, but not always an accurate one. The incident needs to be watched at speed, with the grip conditions taken into consideration.

    2. @rufernan +1
      Worst stewarding decision this season.

    3. I disagree, same crash, same penalty. Gasly had perez on the inside but he just understeered wide, good excuse but it does not fool me.

  2. Sure, Gasly might have kept tighter to the left, but then, in the first corner Perez could well have slid wide into him regardless. I think it is ok that the Stewards have been pushed by the drivers to punish in cases where a driver is clearly at fault in the first few corners (like Bottas and Stroll playing pinball in Hungary) but this was just one of those things that happens in a first corner, especially with a slippery track.

    So no, I really see no good reason for giving Gasly a penalty. And even less reason to follow it up with points on his licence.

  3. Nope. Racing incident.
    Unfortunate for Alonso, but 3 cars wide in the first corner is what it is – a racing incident.

  4. No. Alonso’s taking the whole risk there knowing people can slide from the apex in those conditions, particularly at that corner that’s downhill and naturally pushes the cars wide.

    Could Gasly done better? sure… but with Perez on the inside and Alonso on the outside at the very start of the race it’s very difficult to judge. And it cannot be more than a racing incident. To make matters worse, they give him 2 penalty points.

    The issue with penalty points is that they are using them wrongly in the first place, was it really this bad that it accounts for 1/6th of an automatic race ban? penalty points should be given to much serious offences. A race incident like this one should not fulfill the criteria to issue penalty points. Same with Norris and Perez at Austria… they penalized Norris AND gave him penalty points, it makes no sense.

    And then, thinking about all this, they gave Gasly 5 seconds during the race for a slight touch at the start of a wet race, which is the same penalty Hamilton got for really getting an overtaking manouvre wrong, on dry conditions. It makes even less sense.

    1. Ruining someone’s race at the start is really as “bad” as it gets.

      Love your reasoning. Apparently it’s Alonso’s fault as he should have taken into account that Gasly wouldn’t think to back off – particularly as the Frenchman surely also knew his car would slide.

      You’re considering the actual crash impact and the outcome as opposed to the actual error. If anything Gasly’s error was more stark than Hamilton’s, because Alonso was entirely innocent whereas Max had a minor hand in this own downfall.

      1. @banbrorace

        Ruining someone’s race at the start is really as “bad” as it gets.

        They pretend/claim that they are not taking the consequences into account.

        1. I know. What I mean, is that I don’t understand where this glorious do what you want in the first lap has come from.

          In fairness, the stewards are actually doing what they should do – judging the incident, no matter when it happens or what the consequence is.

          1. @banbrorace – It came from the stewards/FIA who said they’d be more lenient on the 1st lap… 3 wide on a wet track on the first lap is always likely to end in trouble and it did. Even later in the race in dry conditions – there’s a high risk of contact if you’re 3 wide in a corner like that.

            The gap between the pictures from Norris’ onboard would be less than a second and all it takes is him to react to Perez squeezing down the inside and he’s running wide into Alonso.

            For me, it’s just a racing incident in difficult circumstances. We’ve seen much worse on the 1st lap being ignored so it just seems a bit ridiculous to suddenly issue quite a strong penalty this time.

          2. @petebaldwin

            There’s been more lenient, because of course the stewards have to take into account cold tyres etc

            And then there’s letting someone off scot free!!

            I simply think Gasly was a bit dozy and if he’s let off then we’ll forever have this anyone doing anything on the first lap.

    2. ‘”Alonso’s taking the whole risk”
      … this is joke.

    3. Alonso took a lot of risk but it is not his fault he got hit. To me they are the same, either you always give a penalty or you never do.

  5. IMHO that was the wrong call. It was a first lap incident in difficult conditions. Even without Perez a penalty would have been harsh. With him it was just wrong.
    Remember anyone Baku 2017 Bottas vs. Raikkonen?
    Raikkonen passed Bottas on the outside on lap 1 (not even in the first corner and also in the dry). Bottas misjudged the turn in, bounced over the curbs and bumped into Raikkonen. It was about 100 % his fault but he didn’t get a penalty because according to the stewards the other car did a “speculative move around the outside”. That’s pretty much what Alonso did as well (plus there was a third car and there was rain and it was the very first corner…)
    An other example is this year at Austria: Leclerc vs Gasly. Leclerc was also about 100% at fault and still didnt get a penalty.
    So the whole predominantly or wholly to blame thing seemed either pretty subjective to me or the directive has only just and secretly been implemented…

    1. There’s nothing serious about. The drivers will be briefed or it will be within their constantly updated set of rule.

      I fail to see what an incident in 2017 has to do with it – only to show who even more inconsistent the stewards were

      This was magnified in 2008.

      Japan – Hamilton forced several other cars to run wide and in the first time that anyone could remember got (rightly) penalised for that first corner incident. Brazil less than a month later – Rosberg torpedoes Coulthard’s last ever race and nothing happened.

      When it comes to sterwarding some seem to have some very romantic rosy tinted views about how ‘great’ things were before Masi.

  6. I voted for slightly agree. Gasly had enough room despite Perez’s presence.

    1. Having looked at the overtake replays using shots that cover all three cars, I now agree with you. I now slightly agree with the Stewards decision. Fernando was mostly ahead of Pierre, so Pierre should have let him complete the overtake manoeuvre. However, I didn’t like the way Fernando squeezed Pierre at the apex of the corner. It seemed to me Fernando made nearly all of the choices into how this situation arose while Pierre had almost no choices. Fernando should have left more room on his left, although admittedly that might have affected his ability to accelerate away from Pierre. Because Fernando had squeezed Pierre he was able to accelerate better than Pierre, which was why his rear wheel was adjacent to Pierre’s front wheel when they collided.
      It seems to me the Stewards have decided that when the rear wheel of one car is about in line with front wheel on another car then the leading car has the right to the place. I think Pierre got a 5 second time penalty for this collision, and I think it should have been left there. As I said earlier, Fernando made most of the choices about how this collision arose while Pierre made almost none of the choices.
      As an aside, I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned it, but this was one of those races where no one retired from the race. Great work guys!

  7. An extremely bad call. Gasly did not deserve a penalty for this one. He could not judge accurately how much space he had on the left and in these conditions cars slide and understeer. Alonso was on the outside and thus he was the risk taker in this situation. It was a racing incident and Gasly should not have been penalised.

  8. Even if the time penalty is OK, I just don’t understand the penalty points on the license. Once again, this is not dangerous driving, far from it. I don’t see the constant need for obsession with these points for minor incidents.

  9. @banbrorace I didn’t say Alonso was at fault, but he did take risks with a move like that. And that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Doesn’t mean Gasly has to be penalized by that. If ruining someone’s race is all that it takes to consider penalties, then every single incident involving a car spinning would be worthy of a penalty and I don’t think motorsport works that way.

    1. To be honest, I thought it was harsh at first – then changed my mind on the replay.

      I do think they have to penalise dozy racing – which we were getting too much of at the start of the race. And I actually think it’s worse at the start, because they know that the cars are more ‘skittish’ then and they are usually going at slower speeds.

      I’ve less issue with the crashes that Hamilton and Max have had – they are taking greater risks, which then should be taken into account and was in both cases.

      The problem is we can find fault with any bit of officaldam, because we now get so many angles.

      However, I agree that Gasly having the same points punishment as Bottas did, when the Finn was obviously far more neglectful is poor. That needs looking at and they could expand it from 1 to 4 points. For instance the liability that is Tsunoda (wouldn’t you hide if you saw him on the road!!) should have had two for dozily nearly taking out Hamilton.

  10. In IndyCar where 3-wide situations occur much more often than in F1, the rule of thumb is that if in such situation contact happens it’s the fault of the last guy to “arrive to the party” and make it 3-wide. There is inherent risk in going 3-wide and while 2 cars side-by-side is considered safe enough to negotiate around all but the most tightest corners on the IndyCar calendar, 3-wide would work only at a few select places and with the maximal cooperation of everyone involved. So whoever is the one to create a situation like that is the one predominantly responsible for any potential bad outcome from it.

    1. Seems very sensible, but how is it handled when 2 drivers next to each other are passing a third driver ahead (that one typically being on the inside of the corner)?
      Both drivers ‘late to the party’?

  11. It was a pure racing incident. The stewards seem to lose the ability to use common sense in cases such as this. That this sort of thing gets penalised whilst still allowing the dangerous driving in qualifying is crazy to me.

    This sort of stewarding reminds me so much of the issues that the EPL had with VAR in its first two seasons. No common sense, no benefit of the doubt. Everything analysed to the nth degree. Every incident looking for blame, looking to punish someone.

    Just let them race.

  12. No he was obviously trapped between two cars he had nowhere to go and Alonso was trying his luck.

  13. José Lopes da Silva
    11th October 2021, 15:29

    Drivers “trapped” in these situations never choose the inside line of the corner, always the outside. I wonder why.
    Obviosuly a more than deserved penalty. Brake earlier, like Bottas should have done in Hungary.

  14. From the pictures it’s clear he had plenty of space.

    But these are still shots from multiple angles and we have all the time in the world to go over them. Wet track, turn one, you know someone’s on your inside and outside and you’re trying to watch both and decide where to position your car, all this is unfolding over a couple of seconds. The pictures are pretty damning but I have a lot of sympathy for Gasly (And Alonso of course).

    Also, retconning the judgement to fit the penalty is nearly as suss as 2008 Spa when they penalised Hamilton under a rule they invented after the race.

    Finally, they need to abandon this line that the consequences of an incident don’t effect the penalty. So if Gasly had touched Alonso’s wheel and Alonso had held it, they’d still have penalised Gasly? After all, he still “caused a collision”.

  15. Everyone in here seems to have bought Gasly’s sandwiched line.

    He wasn’t sandwiched at all!! Just see the onboard photo of Perez. Absolutely a penalty, I really don’t understand the voting here.

    1. Absolutely. Just hit the brakes, Pierre. You didn’t need to go there

  16. We have all seen what appears to be worse driving in turn 1 on lap 1 go without a penalty. I personally think Alonso was being optimistic given how the track went away into turn 2. Some times his lap 1 moves work and this week it didn’t.

    I don’t have the experience nor the information available to the Stewards. Thus I’m not in a position to say they got it wrong. It would be fun to take the so called “experts” on sites like this and put them in a Stewards room on race day so they can see how the sausage is made.

    From what I saw I was surprised a penalty was given but I won’t suggest it was wrong.

  17. I don’t really know. It depends what the stewards’ stance is on first lap incidents because I’m still not clear about it. There have been much worse misjudgements on the first lap this season than Gasly’s, with more serious consequences for their rivals, which have gone unpunished. Looking at the 2nd pictures from Perez and Norris’ cars it looks like Gasly did actually have room to safely avoid the contact, so I do say he is predominantly, maybe ‘wholly’ at fault. But given there is no consistency with the way the stewards are treating the incidents, it’s pretty hard to answer the question. I guess I’ll vote ‘slighty agree’, since that seems to line up with what Masi is saying their philosophy is – even though they don’t always follow it.

  18. I think it’s fair, as it’s obvious he was solely to blame for the collision. Equally, with my ‘first lap’ hat on, it would also have been fair if he hadn’t received a penalty. Purely because it was on the opening lap, it was one of those incidents for which either outcome – for me at least – could have been considered OK.

  19. I’m was thinking racing incident at the time but Gasly does have precedent for hitting cars on lap 1 of a race. He’s experienced enough though to know that three wide when it converged was going to cause an accident and he was the only driver of the three who could see the whole situation, so he maybe should have backed off.

  20. If GAS was more experienced, maybe there would not have been contact. Maybe.

    Alonso’s start reminded me of Austin 2012 but of course that was in the dry

  21. 3\4 disagree with the penalty and it changes absolutely nothing for alonso, race was done anyway.

  22. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    12th October 2021, 7:44

    Bad call by the stewards. If you notice the frames from Norris’ car you can see Perez coming off the curb and angling sharply towards Gasly. Gasly would have been aware than space was rapidly disappearing on his left even as he concentrated on leaving enough room on his right. I think he could have given Alonso a bit more room, but he could hardly be looking in both his left mirror and to his right side at the same instant, and this was all happening at speed.

  23. My username may give away my allegiance in this debate but I think there are a 3 points which are much broader and solidify why this is a penalty and will be issued as one in the future.

    The first is that there is precedent here: a downhill, off-camber tightening on exit corner where the driver being overtaken tags his front into the overtaking drivers rear is almost identical to the Hamilton Albon incident in Austria last year. Hamilton understeers mid corner and is issued with a 5 second penalty. At that time the outrage was that the penalty was too lenient. This was post SC with the pack bunched together so I don’t think we can say that the Gasly Alonso incident has any of the traditional ‘first lap leeway’ as the sport has evolved to have several ‘first laps’ per race now, with SCs deployed considerably more frequently than in the past and the ‘new’ grid start restart. I don’t think it’s fair to not penalise a driver as it’s turn one of the GP but then penalise them if there are 3 laps to go for an identical scenario.

    The second point is that whilst I sympathise with Gasly that it is all happening at speed, he had a good knowledge of the cars around him. He was constantly moving his head and recognised the dangers. I think when he hits Alonso he is out of control through understeer as he braked too late. Bottas and Stroll did similar, albeit much worse, in Hungary and received a much greater penalty. Gasly should have backed out earlier although I think there is considerable evidence that if a car cuts across your wing there will be huge understeer – and I think Pierre should have adapted better to that.

    Perhaps I’m hyper-critical of Gasly, but I wouldn’t have penalised him 10 seconds or more. This is where the farcical 5 second penalty is a get out of jail free card for the stewards. It means that every collision or track limit infringement must be penalised. I think that is overly officious. I think Gasly should be penalised as the rules stand but I think the 5 second penalty should be reserved for crossing the white line in the pits or unsafe releases – not for racing incidents. As Alonso and Palmer proved in Monza 2017 cutting a chicane and then driving away the 5 seconds is not motor racing. The Vettel Canada penalty, which I agree is a 5 seconds as the rules are written, would never have been given a 10s or greater.

    So to summarise – change the use of the 5 second penalty, accept that the sport has evolved past the first lap dispensation and change the cars so that they don’t immediately remove the driver from the equation whenever the cars are within 3 metres of one another. It’s a fair cop this time but the sport needs to be much clearer and more consistent – ironically what Alonso argued for mid-week.

    1. ^ nominating this one for COTD

  24. With a better start Gasly could have avoided that incident. For me it wasn’t worth a penalty. Perez had a best start of those three and Alonso was well Alonso with his outside moves.
    I don’t know if Bernie or Charlie took the rulebook with them but it seems that these penalties are inconsistent. There has always been cases that don’t follow the previous incidents but Michael and his team are having these random penalties in every race.

  25. Just a racing incident.

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