Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Circuit of the Americas, 2021

Raikkonen call was ‘marginal’ FIA admits as Alonso highlights ‘inconsistency’

2021 United States Grand Prix

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The stewards’ decision not to penalise Kimi Raikkonen for passing Fernando Alonso off the track at turn one was “marginal”, FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has admitted.

The decision infuriated Alonso, who described the stewards’ rulings as “random” after the race.

Masi said he understood Alonso’s frustration over the decision and he intended to raise the matter with drivers at the next race.

“The call with regards to him and Kimi at turn one was certainly marginal,” said Masi. “It’ll be something we’ll have a discussion at the next drivers’ meeting with all drivers about.”

The stewards took into consideration the fact Raikkonen was off-track when he passed Alonso, but also whether the Alpine driver was required to leave his rival more room at the exit of the corner, Masi explained.

“There was two parts to the story, let’s call it, which has been obviously the overtake and looking at the forcing off-track and then obviously the subsequent element of the overtake,” he said. “So it’s something we’ll discuss as a group at the next meeting.”

However Alonso insisted the Raikkonen call was not consistent with other decisions during the race, including occasions where drivers on the inside of corners had forced others wide. The Alpine driver pointed out Carlos Sainz Jnr had run wide at turn 12 on lap one while on the outside of Lando Norris and returned the position (Sainz initially yielded to Norris’ team mate Daniel Ricciardo, who also went off at the same corner, then later allowed Norris through and re-passed him).

Later in the race Alonso went off while passing Antonio Giovinazzi at turn 12 and had to return the position. Giovinazzi subsequently went off at turn 12 while scrapping with Alonso again and this time the Alfa Romeo driver was told to let his rival past.

These incidents all showed the Raikkonen call was mishandled, Alonso insisted.

“There was the same incident in lap one. Lando in turn 12 braked on the inside, overtook Sainz, Sainz went off-track, re-took the position and it was fine. And then on the last part of the race when I overtook Giovinazzi for the second time I braked on the inside in turn 12 and again I forced him off track. And he regained the position off track, and that time he had to give me back the position.

“So in a way, you always force a guy to go off-track when you brake on the inside. You commit to an overtake and they are on the outside, they need to decide if [they’re] backing off or keep the full throttle off the track, outside the circuit. It’s what Sainz did, Giovinazzi did, I did. And we have to give back the position for sure because you are running full throttle off-track. But Kimi didn’t.

“So that’s why I felt that it was not consistent. I lost like 10 seconds by doing all these things and obviously the point possibilities were gone.”

Alonso started from the back of the grid and believes he had a chance of reaching the points places if he hadn’t retired with a technical problem. He said he was “not too mad” about the stewards’ decision “because it’s only a one-point place and then we had the failure of the rear wing anyway, so it didn’t change our race, arguably. So it’s not a problem.”

A radio exchange between Masi and Alpine sporting director Alan Permane was broadcast during Sunday’s television coverage in which the race director was heard insisting the Raikkonen decision did not mean drivers were allowed to overtake off-track. Masi said he had no concerns over Permane’s questioning.

“I’ve got a good relationship with all the sporting directors,” he said. “They’re all fighting in their own corners and that’s what you’d expect for them to continue fighting in their own corner.”

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RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...
Keith Collantine
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50 comments on “Raikkonen call was ‘marginal’ FIA admits as Alonso highlights ‘inconsistency’”

  1. Can we get time penalties for bad acting by drivers and team personal, please?

    1. No, please @proesterchen. I find it quite funny to get them on the radio like that. With solid commentary (ah, lets see how long until Alonso gets on the radio.) and some understanding that they are all doing their best to game the system it adds another layer of interesting competition.

  2. Good that they expect to talk this one through with the drivers – they are the ones in the cars and need to understand what is ok and not.

    To me, it went exactly as one would expect – the guys who went off track more of their own devices and used that to then pass were told to give it back, while the guy who was alongside and was pushed off was allowed to keep the position.

  3. I though the inconsistency was that Alonso was allowed to push Kimi off the track when others have been punished for doing the same like like at Austria.

    1. Alonso didn’t do anything wrong there because other drivers did the same thing. It is the nature of the corner that makes it very difficult to take a very tight light through it.
      The FIA messed up as usual as they took a different view in Ferrari vs Mclaren.
      Once you are beyond the white line it doesn’t matter how you got there you can not overtake more so when that line brings you back to an inside line.

      1. @OOliver

        I thought that Alonso pushed Kimi off fairly aggressively. It was more than just driving the optimal line.

      2. The FIA messed up as usual as they took a different view in Ferrari vs Mclaren

        No they didn’t. Sainz had to give the position back to Norris even after he had let Ricciardo past, which he did before re-passing him. It was all missed on the mian feed. but the position changes happened on the main tower graphic.

        1. Was Raikkonnen asked to give the place back?

    2. @petebaldwin Exactly right. Alonso not getting a penalty for that is just rubbish.

  4. Put gravel / grass outide the corner and they won’t go there.

    1. If this isn’t COTD of the day/week/month/year or this decade then I don’t know what would be.

      We go through this every race and as Ivan says it wouldn’t happen with a bit of grass

    2. @ivan-vinitskyy Bahrain has the most effective solution, which should be in place at all slow-speed corner exits.

    3. @ivan-vinitskyy How can you not ‘go there’ if you are pushed off there?

      1. Easily, by braking earlier. The tarmac runoff means you don’t have to, you vcan afford to take the gamble.

        1. Just to be clear, had Kimi braked once he saw Alonso coming right across, there would have been wheels entangled and a car upside down.

        2. The rule is that in an overtaking situation, crowding off the track is not allowed, so going for an outside pass has no bearing on what material the runoff is made of.

          Saying that gravel should be put there, is just giving more advantage to the cheater.

    4. First problem is most tracks don’t want to put gravel or grass just for one event like F1

      Second is that it’s unfair for drivers who are forced off by others mention, like Balue mentioned.

      1. If there was gravel or if it was when these 2 were wheel to 15 years ago Kimi would never of attempted it because the high chance of being drifted wide would of meant the risk vs reward wasn’t worth it.

        These huge run off’s just encourage drivers to go for moves that aren’t really on, or wouldn’t of been on in the past. Is that good? Many would say yes, I say no if just means a driver can just make up the circuit as Gio and Alonso did in their battle which frankly was a bit rubbish to watch.

        Kimi was hustled wide but that isn’t bad racing, he was not shoved off

        1. Kimi was hustled wide but that isn’t bad racing, he was not shoved off

          The bits of carbon sprayed around beg to differ

    5. Even better, put walls.
      I don’t remember last time we’ve had discussion about track limits at Monaco. Wonder why?

      1. Sounds good, but then you realise that a brake failure up the hill means certain death @sermilan.

  5. What @ivan-vinitskyy says…

    One big slab of tarmac equals endless debates about track limits, white lines and the grey area of a perceived advantage, did you cross the white line because you overshot the corner or where you pushed, return the position (to whom?? Norris or Ricciardo?) or receive a 5 second penalty, was the moon actually in the seventh house and did Jupiter align enough with Mars?

    https://www.racefans.net/2021/10/21/what-alonso-got-right-and-wrong-with-different-rules-for-different-people-claim/#comment-4731111

    1. I can’t believe so many people continue to ignore the fact that in the absence of grass or gravel, the track limits could still be adequately enforced in a similar manner just with time penalties.
      Nobody chooses to drive off the track when there is grass or gravel because they know they’ll lose time, so the deterrent for crossing white lines should be comparable and consistently applied.
      It can’t be simpler, and it costs nothing. No alterations required to circuits, only to thought processes.

      It’s the fear of giving penalties and the image that doing so portrays that makes F1 it’s own worst enemy here.
      Just enforce the rules, and they’ll start playing by the rules.

      1. It changes the way you drive. If there’s grass/gravel, you set a lap and then try to push harder to reach the limit. With car park tracks, you just floor it and hope it sticks. If it doesn’t, you pull back a little bit until you remain on the track.

        It’s like learning to tightrope walk but using a line painted on the ground. You can just walk quickly and hope to stay on the line. If you don’t, you turn around, walk back to the start and try again. If you try and do it with a rope raised 10m off the ground, you’ll go slowly to try and get across and will increase your speed as you build up confidence and find the limit.

        I also have no doubt that if there was grass on the outside of turn 1, Alonso would have been given a penalty for running Kimi wide but it seems the rule is that when there’s asphalt, that sort of driving is allowed. You only have to leave room if there’s grass out there.

  6. This will remain an issue so long as F1 keeps allowing drivers to run their competitors off the road on corner exits. Never mind that crowding others off is “strictly prohibited” according to the FIA’s own rules.

    1. The FIA reserves the right to ignore their own rules, unfortunately.
      Everything contained in the F1 regs is applied selectively at the FIA’s discretion.

    2. You mean the FIA should create lanes with painted lines

    3. Didn’t know that.

      So what are they going to discuss with the drivers, being that it’s already “strictly” prohibited, not some sort of grey area?

  7. When you put your car on the outside you are always at risk of been crowded out onto the kurb/runoff, That’s the way it’s always been & why trying to overtake around the outside has always been seen as the riskier thing to try which also often gets more praise when pulled off.

    I think the only reason things like this have become a bigger talking point more recently is because the flat kerbs & tarmac runoff create situations where a driver who’s been crowded off the circuit has the opportunity to hang on & potentially gain the position while in the past with the more raised kerbs & grass/gravel they would either have to back out sooner or be at risk of losing time on the runoff.

    I also think DRS plays a part in that it’s now more likely for cars to be right up on the outside at the end of DRS zones with a lot more speed & momentum than used to be the case which is perhaps resulting in drivers been in this sort of situation more often than used to be the case with them far less likely to want to back out of it given how at times they only get 1 shot at pulling off the pass given the difficulties in following & how sensitive the tyres can be in terms of overheating when pushed too hard sometimes.

    1. @stefmeister It only became a talking point for me when they decided to penalise people for doing it in Austria. Previously, it was accepted that the leading driver can take the racing line and if you are trying to pass around the outside and aren’t ahead by the exit of the turn, you’ll likely get pushed off.

      1. @petebaldwin Just because a thing was accepted in the past doesn’t mean it was right. Pushing someone off the track is pushing someone off the track.

  8. Kimi passed slightly later, not while off-track, so the thing is, did his positioning give him better acceleration, subsequently allowing him to get ahead after rejoining the track, & presumably not – the same as Norris-Perez in Algarve.
    Funnily both Riccardo Adami & Alonso mixed up Mclaren drivers in Sainz’s case.

  9. I think the question is ‘why’ the driver is off track in the first place. If the defending driver makes a legitimate defence and in doing so pushes the attacking driver off (as was previously accepted as a valid tactic and has been allowed many times in recent history), then the attacking driver cannot just floor the throttle and proceed to overtake from that position. If however the defending driver is deemed to have unfairly crowded the attacking driver off the track, then it seems the attacking driver is still permitted to perform an overtake from that position.

    I think this is what the stewards failed to explain during the race yesterday. They deemed Alonso’s defence against Raikkonen to be too aggressive and unnecessarily forcing him off the track, whereas in the other cases they deemed the defence to be legitimate and therefore the attacking driver was not allowed to overtake by using the runoff area.

  10. Like Fernando says, you must always leave the space…

    1. Unless you’re Fernando @eurobrun, then you don’t have to.

      1. @john-h

        Unless you’re Fernando @eurobrun, then you don’t have to.

        When defending a driver must always leave the space if his rival managed to get fully alongside him. If not, then he’s the one more entitled of the main racing line, what means closing the door if needed, and if contact occurs then the responsibilty is more on the rival through the outside, who commited to this higher risk. The stewards considered that Alonso defended aggressively and slightly pushed Raikkonen off track (hence the call was marginal, his racing line was not that off the optimal one for the corner) as such it was not like Norris vs. Perez case in the Austria II race. Also the run-off in COTA is asphalt unlike in Red Bull Ring which is grass, it probably influenced their veredict. They also showed some leniency towards Raikkonen for keeping the position through off track advantage, as it was related to the first instance, he didn’t contribute to this situation alone. All in all, it had been probably the wiser decision possible, no penalty but likewise not giving back position.

  11. Just because there is no gravel or grass on the outside it is not the stewards or Masi’s job to drive for the drivers. There are white lines around the track, go off and gain an advantage, penalty, don’t start judging the merits of going off track. On a hot lap that is the case, black and white, do the same for racing.
    Kimi gained an advantage, he could have stayed on track but he would relent track position. Was he pushed? If racing means letting opponents past then racing is gone. Do I blame Kimi? No, he did nothing wrong but because race direction insists the white lines must be respected then they should have been consistent.
    Their problem was Hamilton, he pushed Max off (normal racing in my view) and they didn’t care, kimi went past off the track and they didn’t care, all of the sudden they were questioned as everyone was exploiting track limits.
    Can’t be a safety thing since Masi broke another neck this weakend by putting a massive launching pad on the tarmac.

    1. If racing means shoving off your rivals off track without consequences, then there wouldn’t be any overtakes and racing is gone.

      See how it goes both ways…

      1. You can race without shoving others off. That simple idea works.

        1. @yaru That’s pretty much impossible though. There are lots of corners with only one line. So it’s not that simple to say who shoved who off.

          Does any dive bomb attempt mean that the defending driver should yield? Does a driver with a front wing up along the outside deserve to be given space through a tight corner?

          In fact the rules are pretty clear. Raikkonen should have yielded since he wasn;t fully alongside on the outside of the corner, but he didn’t. Then Alonso took it upon himself to go off the racing line and shove Raikkonen off, which is also not allowed. So what easy idea is going to solve that?

  12. Alonso is helping an overhaul in the rulebook piece by piece every GP now. He’s a clear case of egoistic benefactor and should be praised instead of slammed like some do all the time here.

    1. Alonso our hero!

  13. It all depends how far alongside you are, if you’re just sticking your front wing alongside then you can expect to get it chopped off whether you’re on the inside or the outside, but Kimi as far as I remember was more than halfway alongside Alonso when he was forced off the track, you can’t just pretend he’s not there at that point because he can’t easily back out of it.

    It felt almost like Alonso knew he wasn’t going to finish the race, the way he intentionally ran into Kimi then divebombed Gio and pretended he’d done nothing wrong, knowing full well he’d have to either give the place up or get a time penalty.

  14. Wasn’t there a similar incident at the previous GP, except Fernando had tried to overtake someone (was it Kimi?), couldn’t quite complete the job, and then that other driver got penalised?
    When a driver goes off the track then they should have something like a 1 or 2 second time penalty given to them which needs to be taken at their next pit stop or added to their final race time. If a driver believes they shouldn’t have that time penalty then the team can argue it out with the Stewards.

  15. Alonso clearly went off the actual racing line to shove Raikkonen off. Makes sense the stewards included that in their decision.

    1. That’s normal racing.

  16. I liked Alonso’s big and nasty cut at Sochi, as I think it was an effort to bring a spotlight on the by-top-world-championship-standards painfully funnily loosely interpreted and enforced and somewhat incomplete cut rules.

    Drivers at this level imo even can pretty well fake “avoiding moves” while doing something with an intention of gaining advantage, probably even while having a somewhat credible looking telemetry data. Imo they can be this calculated (if they observe some tendencies of the opponent, and act later, they may succeed with this). While the cut rules and enforcement is at a lower level than them.

    To me F1 nowadays feels like a symbiosis of the rich factories and FIA and Liberty, and the media + social media. Alongside these powers the stewards, and authorities, have less power than they have at lower tiers or other sports. This will not be corrected in an easy way. Even the cost cap, excluding a lot of costs is a somewhat apparent thing. No one can expect that these powers will let the genius and engineering star, and proven winner Ross Brawn to change the sport, more than these powers would like. Even if the likes of Ross Brawn, or the drivers know what would be the right thing to do.

    Imo the lines of the cars from and around the 1990’s were very pretty -imo way prettier than having winglets and fins everywhere-, and they provided more challenge, and a steeper and longer learning curve for the drivers, thus served F1’s fame well. By that time, the technical regulations and the pecking order were changing more often, and that was accepted (likely easier) than nowadays, by the spectators and by the entrants as well.

    Clamping down the aero is not the end of the world, there are so many fields (which are not aero and engines) where cheaper developments can be done or brought back to F1.
    To me road relevancy means that the cars are small enough to race well on the existing wonderful circuits, instead of building new ones frequently, and giving many of those back to the forest after a not so long career.

    Althoguh this symbiosis had some advantages, one of which was mentioned in Mr Rencken’s article, and that is that we had a quite nice season last year.

    Imo by this time stewards should have tools like:
    “Let’s generate a top-down super slowmotion of an incident, based on the already available telemetry data. Let’s see the driver inputs on the super slowmo at the same time.” Or let’s render it from any camera angle, and allow the point of view to be changed even during the replay. Let’s have a data engineer, who is also a motorsports expert as well to aid them. Imo with all access telemetry, and GPS data, and basically everything available for the scrutineers. This would be something around state of the art nowadays. This sport could afford it.

    Even if I liked Alonso’s Sochi effort, here he not had the upper hand in these incidents according to my perception. The Kimi incidents felt marginal, he squeezed Kimi a bit too much, while at the Giovinazzi incident I felt that he has even less chance to make a successful complaint.

    1. So I don’t understand why it is necessary to “optimize” something for 5-10 years at F1 (while having largely steady set of rules), instead changing the rules more often, sometimes disallowing something, sometimes allowing a formerly used technology to return. Finding and inventing things like the Gurney flap, and leaving the some optimization for the outside world. They will optimize it anyway, for their own sake. A large part of the development and testing is already done outside of the cost cap, they dont even have the intention to include those.

  17. Alonso twice put drivers out of the track, first Raikkonen and then Giovinazzi. I don´t understand why the marshalls allowed him to do it. In any of those two cases he left space for the car outside and just used the whole track, forcing both Saubers outside the track to avoid a crash.
    Also, it is more and more evident that the operation to make the radio communications public is being used to add pressure on Masi. Drivers complain all the time because they know their messages will be used in TV transmission (Alonso saying “there is nothing to check”, as he wanted Kimi’s place on the spot), or the shameful, pitiful call from Alpine to Masi, knowing that the call would be aired. This has to stop.

  18. Can’t help but think that if this was for the race lead Kimi would have directly gotten a penalty. Inconsistency continues..

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