Fernando Alonso does not think new grid slot guidelines for this weekend will help drivers to avoid inaccurate start position penalties as he did in Jeddah.Esteban Ocon earned an identical penalty during the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix.
The FIA revised its rules regarding the grid boxes ahead of the start of the season. Drivers are now required to position their cars between the lines either side of their cars, as well as behind the line denoting their grid position.
However drivers have highlighted the difficulties in seeing the confines of their grid slot from their cockpits, particularly since F1 moved to 18-inch wheels at the start of last season.
“It is difficult,” said Alonso. “And apparently this year it seems even more, because in two races to have two penalties is a bit strange.
“In my case it didn’t change much from last year. It is difficult. We are very concentrated on the yellow line, to not go too far forward. So you approach the box, not looking at the box – you are looking on one side of the cockpit – so maybe that’s a bit of a distraction. But I made a mistake there, so we will try to be more focussed on the box this weekend and avoid any penalty.”
In response to the penalties, the grid slots at the Albert Park circuit have been modified for this weekend. Each position has been made 20cm wider and a guiding line has been added to the centre of the slot in an effort to help drivers gauge their position on the grid.
However, Alonso is unsure how helpful the new measures will be. “The centre line, I don’t think so. Because as I said, you approach the box looking sideways – you’re not looking forwards,” he said. “So that’s the biggest difficulty. But the 20 centimetres will help, I guess.”
However he pointed out the arrangement of the starting grid at some venues will pose additional challenges.
“There’s going to be some circuits – maybe Monaco or Imola – that you start a little bit sideways anyway, because if not you crash if you start just straight. So we have to see how we apply the penalties and things like that in those races. But no one wants to get the penalty for the start.
“Also I think the FIA doesn’t want to have any problem with that, because there is not a performance advantage as long as you don’t go too forward. So hopefully we avoid anything from now on.”
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