Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Miami International Autodrome, 2022

Did the stewards handle Alonso’s chicane cutting incidents in Miami correctly?

Penalty Box

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Fernando Alonso was hit with a pair of five-second time penalties in the Miami Grand Prix. One was for a collision with Pierre Gasly but the other, gaining an advantage by cutting the turn 15 chicane, left his team particularly aggrieved.

The Alpine driver was investigated twice for missing the turn 14 and 15 chicane in the middle sector on laps 53 and lap 56. Alonso was found guilty of infringing the rules on the first occasion but not the second.

Having already lost one place due to his sanction for the Gasly incident, the further penalty dropped Alonso out of the points completely, leaving him 11th in the final classification, a tenth of a second behind Lance Stroll.

Alpine were especially unhappy about Alonso’s second penalty. Were the stewards right to give it? Or should he have been penalised again for his later corner cut?

Incident – lap 53

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Alonso was leading a DRS train
On lap 53 after the Safety Car restart, Alonso was in eighth position, two seconds behind Valtteri Bottas and less than a second ahead of Mick Schumacher. The Haas driver had been within DRS range of Alonso’s Alpine over the previous nine consecutive DRS zones the pair had driven through, but Schumacher had been unable to attempt a pass in that time.

Entering the tight middle sector, Alonso was 2.8 seconds adrift of Bottas ahead and his advantage over Schumacher was just under half a second (0.476s). Alonso missed the entry to the chicane and took to the inside run off, cutting turn 15 entirely.

Alonso rejoined the circuit and as he entered the long back straight, he held his hand out of the cockpit in a gesture of acknowledgement that he had left the track. He also audibly lifted off the throttle twice along the straight in an attempt to give up time gained by missing the chicane, but only did so after crossing the second DRS detection line. Despite backing off, he had gained 1.4 seconds on Bottas ahead, while Schumacher was now out of DRS range and over 1.2 seconds behind. Alonso’s lap time of a 1’33.331 for lap 53 would prove his personal best from the race.

Without DRS from Alonso ahead, Schumacher became vulnerable to Alonso’s team mate Esteban Ocon behind. Ocon attacked Schumacher at the turn 17 hairpin at the end of the straight, leading to a chain of events that resulted in the collision between Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel.

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How it happened

Alonso turns in for turn 14
Alonso straightens the wheel before the apex
He misses turn 15 entirely
Alonso later backed off on the straight

Incident – lap 56

On the penultimate lap of the race on lap 56, Alonso was still in eighth place, still behind Bottas and ahead now of Ocon. Approaching the same corner, Alonso was 1.7s behind Bottas and 2.2s ahead of Ocon.

When Alonso turned in for the chicane, his left-front wheel appeared to lock, with smoke visibly rising from his tyre. Despite keeping the wheel turned towards the apex, Alonso’s car understeered and he took to the escape road again, raising his hand in acknowledgement once again.

By the end of the back straight, Alonso’s gap to Bottas was back to 1.6s, while his advantage over Ocon sat at 2.3 seconds. Alonso’s lap time of a 1’33.344 was a tenth faster than his previous two laps.

Alonso completed the final lap of the race and finished ahead of Alpine team mate Ocon in eighth at the chequered flag. However, a five second time penalty he had received for colliding with Pierre Gasly before the Safety Car meant he dropped down to ninth in the provisional classification.

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How it happened

Alonso turns in as normal
He visibly locks up under braking
Taking to the escape road a second time
Alonso again recognises his breach

What they said

In the car

After cutting the chicane for the first time on lap 53, Alonso claimed over team radio that he had surrendered any advantage he had gained missing turn 15 by backing off. “I missed turn 14 but I lifted off next straight,” Alonso said.

Following his second trip across the escape road on lap 56, Alonso reported to be struggling with his brakes. “Yeah, the brakes are locking,” he reported.

After the incident

Having received his second penalty after speaking with the media following the race, Alonso has not commented publicly on the incidents.

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The official verdict – lap 53

After investigation Alonso’s first incident on lap 53, the race stewards determined that Alonso had breached the regulations by gaining a lasting advantage from leaving the track.

Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Miami International Autodrome, 2022
Alonso would be penalised five seconds
“The stewards reviewed the video evidence and determined that car 14 [Alonso] left the track at turn 14 and gained a lasting advantage,” the stewards said in their decision. There was no clarification for what rationale had been used to determine how Alonso had gained a “lasting advantage”.

The stewards handed Alonso a five second time penalty and one penalty point on his superlicence for the incident. The penalty dropped Alonso out of the points in the final classification, promoting Alex Albon to ninth and Lance Stroll to the final points position in tenth.

On Wednesday after the race, Alpine released a statement from CEO Laurent Rossi, expressing the team’s view that the penalty was unjustified.

“This one is certainly difficult to accept since Fernando handed back the time during the lap and we were not able to present the evidence to clarify the particular situation before the penalty was issued,” Rossi’s statement read.

“With the opportunity to explain, we’re very confident Fernando would have kept his ninth place.”

The official verdict – lap 56

Following an investigation into the second instance of Alonso cutting the chicane on the penultimate lap, the stewards decided no further action was necessary.

In their decision, the stewards explained that they had “reviewed the video and GPS data evidence and determined that although the driver of car 14 [Alonso] left the track and rejoined, the time difference to the two following cars [Ocon and Albon] remained unchanged, thus the Stewards concluded that no lasting advantage was gained.

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Your verdict

Was Alonso’s penalty justified? Should he have been penalised for both incidents, or neither? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree that the stewards handled Alonso's chicane incidents correctly?

  • No opinion (2%)
  • Strongly disagree (17%)
  • Slightly disagree (4%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (2%)
  • Slightly agree (28%)
  • Strongly agree (48%)

Total Voters: 54

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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21 comments on “Did the stewards handle Alonso’s chicane cutting incidents in Miami correctly?”

  1. Frankly, I’m so done with the “wily old fox” label handed to Fernando by many in the media.

    He’s just a cheater, plain and simple, and given how his latest exploits played out, a 5 sec penalty seems like a(nother) tap on the fingers, rather than a penalty harsh enough to deter him for similar stunts in the future.

    1. *from

    2. @proesterchen It is like a tactical fault from football for him.

    3. This is a typical case of: “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”. Drivers will go to the max and beyond, of what is allowed by the regulations. If the stewards are too lenient or inconsistent, that’s the problem, not Alonso’s “cheating”.

      1. Nah. If you have 20 people playing the same game 20-odd times a year, and one of them cheats more than any other (and maybe even more than all others combined), it’s the player that’s the problem, at least in this particular case.

  2. With the lack of transparency on the reasoning behind penalties we will have a constant stream of such complaints.

    Why are the stewards so afraid to issue a proper explanation rather than hide behind retrograde regulations which provide cover for them.

    PS I suspect Alonso has no real defence but that is no reason for him not getting a chance to consider. the stewards reasoning and provide his side of the story.

    1. I don’t see what your issue is here. They did provide a proper explanation….he cut the corner and gained a lasting advantage.

      The data is out there to prove it, it’s not the stewards job to spoon feed it to you. Luckily, Will has done it for you:

      Despite backing off, he had gained 1.4 seconds on Bottas ahead, while Schumacher was now out of DRS range and over 1.2 seconds behind. Alonso’s lap time of a 1’33.331 for lap 53 would prove his personal best from the race.

    2. I suspect Alonso has no real defence but that is no reason for him not getting a chance to consider. the stewards reasoning and provide his side of the story.

      I disagree. We need to lose this idea that the drivers should have the right to speak to the stewards any time they’re involved in an in-race sporting incident. It’s just not practical. Besides, it’s up to the stewards to decide whether the rules were broken. How the driver feels about it or whatever explanations they offer up is immaterial.

  3. When they started toying around with the “3 strikes and out” thing a few years back, Alonso was amongst the first to pick up on the fact that actually meant you had 2 free passes during the race and went about using them up to the max. He mentioned that he did the Sochi shortcut last year on purpose, and there were another few of those “clever” things he tried since.

    I get the idea, and at a certain level I still find it clever as well as amazing how competative one has to be to really use every last mm where you can. But that doesn’t mean that the stewards were somehow wrong to see the same facts as Alonso saw, namely that breaking the tow and giving the time back later is a very neat trick especially when the guy behind you is being chased by your teammate and losing DRS might mean a double win for the team. I am actually really impressed by the Stewards picking up on this and making clear they do to avoid this trick becoming standard for drivers.

    1. @bascb The stewards haven’t really clarified why they issued the penalty though. They just used the phrase “gained a lasting advantage.” Was that the time he gained relative to his rivals, or the fact he denied Schumacher DRS when he may have had his best chance to pass? I agree that a time gain of 1.4 seconds is worthy of a penalty but it would be better if the stewards clarified exactly their reasoning here. If for example Alonso had given back all the time, but still retained position ahead of Schumacher, would he still have been penalised for gaining a “lasting advantage” by preventing an overtake attempt? Without clarification this trick of cutting corners to prevent overtakes still remains a possibility.

      1. The lasting advantage was that he was able to deny Schumacher the tow and DRS and therewith pulled out a bigger gap @keithedin. He did give back all the time he won directly, only he strategically waited until that time no longer mattered because of haven gotten out of DRS.

        You are right that the stewards did not spell it out like that. But the data is obvious enough. And I think we have enough clues from Alonso to be able to safely see it as deliberate as well.

        The way to give the gained advantage back would have been to slow immediately and let Schumacher close back up.
        And yes, this trick might be used in the future by others, as happens even with completely obvious cases, but now they know that it might get penalised, so most of them might reconsider.

  4. Penalties nowadays seem much like a board game where you shake the dice and throw, then pic a card off the pile, it is pot luck what you get, could be a “Get out of jail free” or a 5 second penalty. Either a crime, to the letter of the regs, or a racing incident. Yes they saw he gave the place back, and didn’t care, or no they were not looking just at that moment. Who knows, it varies from race to race.
    Anyway its not sport any more! Its “show-business” Who cares about the rules, the show is the thing!

  5. Of course, so strongly agree. I only wish his cuts got shown on the world feed.

  6. I don’t think this one was contentious. How about a Penalty Box for the Vettel-Schumacher collision

    1. I don’t think this one was contentious. How about a Penalty Box for the Vettel-Schumacher collision

      Will and I did discuss that actually but given that Alpine are kicking up a fuss over this, this one seemed more topical, and the other could still be a subject for another day.

  7. I like the new Stewarding system, it seems to be doing a good job. One of the big problems when stewarding is incidents aren’t always “black and white”, rather they are about an incident which has lots of “grey”. This decision is about an incident with some grey in it, and I think they got it more right than wrong. Mick lost his potential points earning place in a crash and part of the reason for that was because Fernando didn’t slowdown to allow Mick to get back within 1 second of his car until after the DRS detection point. This put Mick at a disadvantage compared to Esteban which Mick shouldn’t have had, and it isn’t surprising that Estaban overtook him. So Alpine would have received more points if the Stewards hadn’t done anything. I do wonder if Fernando was supposed to have let Mick pass him (and Esteban and Sebastian too) before he rejoined the track. As it was Alpine walked away with the same points after the Stewards’ decision as what would have happened if Fernando had braked correctly at their corner. Unfortunately Haas and Mick didn’t get the points they had the potential to receive.

  8. Is there (or should there be) a different penalty if a driver unintentionally gains an advantage vs someone who intentionally does? The article kinda missed this but it’s not the main topic anyway

  9. Seemed a perfectly fair penalty to me, if you cut a corner and post your fastest lap of the race then you clearly stole an advantage. Also as mentioned, it seemed like a good ploy to put the car behind in trouble in a DRS chain. I happen to think going off track anyway should be penalised so a 5 second penalty is quiet lenient anyway.

  10. It’s good to see professional fouls treated as such.

  11. Carlos Guijón
    16th May 2022, 4:09

    Just checked the replay from Alonsos, Micks, and Vettels POV. All were on a DRS train behind Alonso, Mick was .45s behind Alonso before the chicane, after the chicane the interval was 1.5s and Alonso reduced it to 1.2s during the straight, the point is Mick lost DRS, left him vulnerable to Ocon and Vettel, Vettel overtakes as Mick loses grip while defending from Ocon, Mick comes back at Vettel on the pit straight and Vettel doesnt see him and both crash. In the end Alpine gained a lot of advantage from that considering 1 of their cars lost lap time and the other gained at least 1 position from the incident.
    In my opinion Alonso deserves a penalty, he should´ve at least let Mick inside the DRS interval before the detection zone. But “returning” an advantage after the DRS zone is unfair in my opinion.

  12. The substance of Alpine’s complaint seems to be (a) they didn’t like losing the points and (b) hey, it’s Fernando Alonso, he’s allowed to do this stuff! So, basically what’s technically called an ‘argumentative vacuum.’

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