Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Albert Park, 2024

Were stewards right to penalise Alonso over his driving before Russell’s crash?

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Fernando Alonso has been penalised for his role in George Russell’s heavy crash at the end of the Australian Grand Prix.

The stewards ruled Alonso slowed unusually early on his approach to turn six while Russell was trying to overtake him. However the pair made no contact before Russell went off and hit the barriers.

Does Alonso deserve a share in the blame for Russell’s crash?


How it happened

On lap 56, passing under the bridge before turn six, Russell can see Alonso ahead
Russell closed slightly on Alonso’s car as they reached the corner
On lap 57, Russell is slightly closer as they pass the bridge
Russell closes suddenly on Alonso as they approach the corner, then loses control

Russell was closing on Alonso as the race entered its final laps. On lap 56 he got close enough to the Aston Martin in the DRS zone approaching turn nine for Alonso to move off the racing line to defend.

The next time around Russell was slightly closer again. Approaching turn six, before the next DRS zone began, Russell suddenly drew closer to Alonso, lost control of his car as he turned into the corner and crashed. Russell was uninjured.

What they said

Speaking after the race Alonso said he was trying to lap as quickly as he could to keep Russell behind while coping with a problem in his car.

“I had some issues for the last 15 laps, something on the battery on the deployment,” he said. “So definitely I was struggling a little bit at the end of the race. But I cannot focus on the cars behind.”

“I knew that he was coming and he was in the DRS distance for already five or six laps,” he added. “So it was very close. I was just doing qualifying laps and trying to maximise the pace.”

The stewards said in their verdict Alonso told them he did slow down more than usual for the corner in an attempt to improve his exit and keep Russell behind, but that he slowed down more than intended and had to speed up again. There is no mention of any car problem in the stewards’ decision.

Russell said he was surprised by how suddenly Alonso slowed in front of him. “I was half a second behind him approaching the corner and then suddenly he slowed up very dramatically and got back on the power,” he said. “I just wasn’t expecting it and it caught me by surprise.”

The official verdict

The stewards reported that telemetry from Alonso’s car showed he lifted the throttle 100 metres earlier than he had done on any previous lap. He also touched the brakes at an earlier point, then sped up and braked again.

They ruled Alonso “drove in a manner that was at very least ‘potentially dangerous’ given the very high speed nature of that point of the track” and created a significant difference in closing speeds between his car and Russell’s.

They also stated they could not determine whether Alonso intended simply to improve his exit from the corner or “to cause Russell problems.”

Your verdict

Do you think Alonso deserved his penalty? If not, what other penalty should he have received?

Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Fernando Alonso's drive-through penalty for his driving at turn six was:

  • No opinion (2%)
  • Far too lenient (8%)
  • Slightly too lenient (5%)
  • Correct (36%)
  • Slightly too harsh (13%)
  • Far too harsh (36%)

Total Voters: 229

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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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114 comments on “Were stewards right to penalise Alonso over his driving before Russell’s crash?”

  1. Already nearly 60 comments about this topic two titles below. Not sure another one is needed.

    F1 is going to get real boring is giving four DRS zones and blending out of the throttle into a tight corner setting up a long fast run isn’t legal (the stewards specifically say he almost barely braked but rather approached the corner slowly). George, famous for pointing out illegal driving, said it was his fault and also never noted anything about the incident until he heard Alonso was being summoned to the stewards. That alone tells me this was a normal racing incident at worst.

    1. And do not forget that Johnny Herbert who since 2007 h4t3s the guts of FA was stewarding.

      1. I had no idea Herbert thinks so. Why does he? Because of McLaren shenanigans that year?

    2. Nick T., would you be vigorously defending Russell in the same way if the roles had been reversed and Russell used those tactics against Alonso, resulting in Alonso crashing out of the race?

      1. IMO if a driver crashes by himself he’s the one to blame, not the one defending.

        Alonso is a good defender and he also didn’t let perez past him in brazil last year, or at least he re-overtook him.

      2. @anon Alo himself complains too much about pep when he doesnt get his way… Russel likely surprised the speed difference when he came too closed and panicked of crashing into him. He may have thought for this reason he made a mistake, but it was Alo, who tricked him. instead of saying i used this approach to slow him down, he said i tried to do a different approach… they are both the same thing, but one implies dangerous approach at high speeds! i m getting tired of him keep behaving like Max of the past! He doesnt realize how dangerous it could have turned out if russel thumbled down the road. Lifting off in an F1 car itself generates ~1g of deceleration, akin to an emergency braking a normal car! combine it with gentle touch of braking, and you get a disaster recipe!

        in addition to this, magnused should have been DSQ from last race due to similar tactics used to benefit one driver. If they allow this kind of behavior, it ll create some serious situations. hope this is enough of a warning to others.

        1. He surprised him, he tricked him, he panicked. It’s called *fighting*! You suppose to be prepared for being tricked.

      3. Yes, I hate these ridiculous penalties and VSCs, SCs, RF. So, I’d defend Russell, but he doesn’t come in for nearly as much unearned hatred and there are 4-5 users here including yourself who always bash Alonso (MichaelN who I normally agree with on most things is another). I agreed with Alonso’s penalty in Canada vs Bottas. He was penalized for the result, not what he did.

        I usually comment heavily once every 10 days and rarely the rest of the time. It’s odd to equate many comments with anger. We all know what angry comments look like. Personal insults, exclamations, caps, etc. Or basically anytime Max and Lewis fans argue. lol

        Finally, most articles and videos that’s been published today are also arguing the penalty is ridiculous. So, I can’t be so out of touch.

        1. blending out of the throttle into a tight corner setting up a long fast run

          ?? This is a slightly artistic interpretation of lifting off, braking, accelerating, braking, and accelerating again.

          Finally, most articles and videos that’s been published today are also arguing the penalty is ridiculous. So, I can’t be so out of touch.

          I’m not sure I would feel especially vindicated by this particular yardstick, though it does indeed seem to be the armchair experts’ predominant stance.

          That said (at the time of my post), the vote here largely supports a penalty with only some of that majority suggesting it was slightly too harsh, so by that measure it would surely not be ‘ridiculous’

        2. Nick T., why are you going for what comes across as an intentionally personal attack that’s lashing out at me for comments that I did not make (for example, I’ve said nothing about the frequency of your posting – that’s come from different posters)?

          Maybe you should step away from the keyboard for a bit and calm down, because some of your comments are coming across as being rather over-emotional and resulting in you accusing people of things they’ve not done.

  2. Surely lifting early to cause turbulence to destabilise the car behind is called “racing”?


    1. How is someone supposed to pass with ONLY 4 DRS zones?

    2. I can only assume that comment is tongue in check.

      If you deliberately slow down to disrupt the air flow to the car behind relying on clean air to create necessary downforce through those high speed corners, then it has to considered dangerous.

      Remember Alonso pulled the same ‘brake test’ stunt against Hamilton in the last race and got away with it. The stewards had to rule on this. This could so easily have been a fatality with cars behind slamming into Russell’s crashed car.

      Meanwhile, Alonso claims he was managing issues with the car. Yeah, right!

      1. The broadcast showed his throttle was glitchy, and not maxing out at the end of the race.

      2. How’s it dangerous? He never lifted so much the car behind would have hit him. Russell just got caught out and binned it.

        It’s a tactic, not different to driving slow with a penalty to protect your team mate, or backing people into traffic.

        It’s not like weaving in the braking zone of forcing people off on the apex, which are dangerous.

        1. It’s exactly like that and incredibly dangerous.

      3. the keywords are if you deliberately. as intend to. All Alonso has to say is no, and that doesnt stick.

        if the stewards keep to this penalty then any irregular braking which causes someone to crash or run off is guilty, irrespective of their own car, condition of the tires or attempt to go slow in faster out. stewards are a joke. the guy behind is always responsible for not crashing in to the next guy.

        russell has a history of pushing too hard on the last lap and hitting the wall, game over stewards.

        1. @pcxmac “attempt to go slow in faster out” can be used if u re max and when u r in clean air and not racing someone else closely behind. when someone is close behind you and you are not expected to brake or lift off to suddenly bleed of so much speed, it creates dangerous situation. also Alo, wasnt doing it for “attempt to go slow in faster out” it was to disturb air/slow/destabilize Russel! It worked for him, but caused a massive dangerous situation in the wake of it! People used to do this many times, and with run off areas, people can escape but sometimes it is just enough is enough, rather than continuing to allow this dangerous behavior, it is better to stop it altogether. Like Lewis used to weave to break tows, or max moving under braking so many times, or forgetting to brake and crowding a corner to push someone off!

          1. you are not responsible for the driver behind you, unless you intend to cause them harm by weaving in to them or brake checking them.

            Alonso’s case for taking a slower entry speed, for better turn in, and a faster exit is consistent with the trace provided. He is indeed just as fast coming out of the corner, despite achieving a slower entry speed. His acceleration is better, right after the pivot to gas. Did the move gain him time, no, but it was defensive, and in keeping with getting better traction out of the corner, to attempt to stay Russell by the next turn.

            Alonso eventually relented because of the VSC, and Russell never made it through, so its hard to tell how effective the faster exit was. There is a case for slowing down before corner entry, in order to give the tires a better chance at turning the car, and this whole thing would have never been an issue had Russell not lost his car under braking.

      4. So Alonso is going to purposely “brake test” RUS on the last lap of a race knowing full well it could end up with the latter smashing into him and ruining his race.
        Alonso is smarter than that. His biggest blunder was trusting that George has enough skill to prevent running off the track. He should have realized from all of George’s other crashes he is not. This is the same fellow who crashed himself out under a yellow flag when with Williams.
        Interesting how low key Wolff was about the matter – saying Alonso braked early by and not ranting as usual. Truth is, he knows George’s reputation of taking unnecessary chances at the worst times.
        Toto must be praying Max comes to Merc as George isn’t leadership material. They should bring in Carlos and Albon.

    3. Lifting early wasn’t the problem. It was lifting early, hitting the brakes, accelerating, then hitting the brakes again. 33.4 says erratic driving is verboten, and doesn’t really give much room.

      Whether intentional or not, it had the effect of a brake check– possibly two of them.

      Sucks to be Alonso, but apparently they didn’t accept his explanation. I’m not necessarily cheering on the stewards, but I think they have a point.

      1. maybe he brakes and hits the accelerator simultaneously to help balance his car. wouldnt be the first person to corner with two feet.

        1. @pcxmac “maybe he brakes and hits the accelerator simultaneously” and say goodbye to the clutch drive axle and brake discs? i dont think by-wire systems allow them both to be used, they re not go carts nor regular race cars that needs manual turbo spooling! they have bias settings for balancing! and drivers use them all race!

  3. Absolute nonsense stewarding, one of those decisions that makes you question whether you’re watching a sport at all. Canada 2019 is the last time I remember such an obviously wrong call.

    Russell crashed on his own, which he has done before in the late stages of a race when unable to pass a car he clearly should have got by easily. Alonso even had the red flashing lights at the back of his car, which should have warned Russell that he would have been going slower than normal. I know defensive driving is unusual in this DRS era, but I didn’t think we’d go so far as to outlaw it completely.

    1. I guess the only legal thing now is to pull to the dirty inside line and hope the driver behind has no idea what they’re doing. Surely, there could be a better choice for a steward than British steward (with so many prominent British drivers) who has shown a very clear dislike for some drivers would be more appropriate.

      1. True, didn’t even think about the british connection, so we have a british steward, british affected driver and a driver the steward doesn’t like as guilty.

    2. +1 Completely agree.

      1. Voted correct. It was the epitome of erratic driving. Such tricks should be discouraged because like it or not in modern cumbersome version of f1 this is compromising safety.

        1. Quite why I replied here instead of at the bottom of the comments page and also why there’s no edit button still, I have no idea

    3. +1. As long as the drivers are not touching each other (ah I think it came out wrong), everything is in the spirit of racing. You race hard and fair. If you are following closely, you should expect such tactics and be ready to counteract. Afterall you are racing in some of the fastest cars on this planet against some of the best guys of this race craft. You are expected to be better of the lot. Just because the guy slowed down a bit in one of the corners and the other guy just couldn’t handle it.. jeez! It was purely a racing incident and nothing more in my book.

    4. Fully agree. A line has been crossed in stewarding. Not a good development. Might as well introduce a maximum speed.

  4. Just saw the onboard looking back from Fernando’s car. This was not a brake test. If you want to see a brake test, check out Montoya being foolish in Monaco 2005. Calling it erratic is a bit of a stretch and a 20 second penalty is far too harsh.

  5. Yes, the reasoning by the stewards shows they went out of their way to interpret this as normal racing but the numbers were so off that they had to make a point.

    Alonso can’t be a legend, a master and near perfect, but then too clumsy to tell apart 100m in a breaking zone when it suits him. It’s one or the other, and with the former being much closer to the truth, it’s fair that the stewards took a dim view of his antics.

    1. A shocking opinion from you. I’ve only ever seen you say negative things about Alonso at every possible opportunity. Having Herbert as a steward would almost be like having you in the stewards booth. Zero hope for objectivity.

      1. Nah, I like Alonso and his talent and skill are obvious to all. He was for a good few years the most complete driver in F1. He’s also a bit full of himself, which is often amusing but does come with some downsides in how he and his decisions are perceived. Especially as he’s made a point of criticising the stewards (a good thing) and had been open about his intent to make use of their inconsistencies (not a good thing).

        Alonso’s statement that he misjudged his attempt to go slow in, fast out doesn’t really sound convincing. Maybe a Zhou or Albon could get away with that, but not Alonso.

        1. those stewards probably dont drive his car with his setup. they are idiots russell is a complusive idiot sone times and he is responsible for losing control of his car.

        2. I think it’s a bit the same reasoning that caused schumacher’s penalty in monaco 2006, they said he drove thousands of laps around monaco and he couldn’t make a mistake like that.

          As a schumacher fan I’ve always been skeptical about that penalty.

    2. Also, he’s been doing things like this rather regularly, most of the time he gets away with it, but this time he overdid it / misjudged it and it ended up in a penalty.

      1. And I think that’s why the penalty was handed out. You don’t want drivers of his caliber making a habit of these “mistakes”.

        1. i think it was way overdue penalty. as @bascb said, he was getting away with too much antique driving style. they should stop this kind of behavior for magnusen too, it gets past the danger, it becomes unfair racing like race fixing!

      2. Tell me about a single famous crash Alonso has had with another driver. He hasn’t. Michael, Seb, Lewis and Max have had numerous famous crashes with competitors. Yet Alonso has been “getting away with it forever.” No driver comes in for as much unearned scrutiny and dislike. Max and Lewis have by each other’s fans, but not the media.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          25th March 2024, 8:29

          One of alonso’s famous crashes with another driver that he “hasn’t had” was at this very track in 2015 where it was his fault and he had to miss a race due to the impact.

  6. Far too harsh as the closest to unjustified.

  7. Fair enough penalty I think, If you look at the 4th picture Russell is Two-ish car lengths from a major accident.
    If Alonso hadn’t of blipped the throttle Russell would of been taking a early flight, and I dont mean the airplane kind :)

  8. Fair penalty. Don’t understand what all the hype is about.

  9. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    24th March 2024, 11:48

    Alonso knew what he was doing, but I’m not convinced it was penalty worthy. I assume the argument is that being erratic with your braking mid corner (it’s a curved braking zone) is too naughty?

    It feels a bit off really, maybe it’s been done to try and cut this out before it gets more out of hand. Pre-DRS zone shenanigans are a growing issue to be honest. But then that’s an issue with DRS in itself.

  10. No they weren’t.
    I have said enough on the other thread,
    But I would like to thank Jackie Stewart for his courage and perseverance ensuring better safety standards.

  11. We’re now in an F1 world where Health and Safety and the prevention of accidents is far more important than the racing.

    Of course back in the 60’s to 80’s, you could argue that safety was wrongly ignored. But it has gone far too much the other way, so we would never get a Spa 98′ – my favourite race, today. Such a race would probably be abandoned now.

    So on past rules – far too harsh. On today’s – slight harsh

    1. Davethechicken
      24th March 2024, 12:10

      A very fair penalty in my view. Erratic changes of speed, when 100m from the braking zone, when the following driver will be expecting them to be still on full throttle is dangerous.
      This kind of driving needs to be nipped in the bud.
      The problem as always is the inconsistent approach to drivers slowing deliberately by the stewards in the past with some obviously controversial examples in the past.
      I think it is also worth noting that drivers will often be changing settings on their steering wheels on the straights and unpredictable driving in front can lead to accidents given the closing speeds.
      I think this is a firm deterrent to prevent this sort of driving escalating.

    2. I think we got as close an example as you can get: we could’ve got a repeat of spa 1998 in 2021, and we all remember what happened. Disappointing safety overboard.

    3. Someone with common sense. Fans driving to the track are, statistically, in far greater danger than F1 drivers in the modern era.

      1. Davethechicken
        25th March 2024, 20:56

        There will be sadly be more fatalities in F1, it is inevitable. Your stats are wrong and very skewed. 4 fatalities since I started watching in 1989 I can recall immediately.
        At a guess there are maybe a hundred F1 drivers since 1989, 4 of them died from injuries while driving an F1 car.

    4. I agree. And in my head I am still judging situations on ‘back then’. That might be unrealistic under the current regulator and owner who are not so much interested in the sporting elements.

  12. I’m surprised by all the opposition to this penalty. I’ve been really critical of the stewarding across all events this weekend but I thought they got this one right.

    I like both drivers so have no agenda here. Alonso tried something but got it wrong, he even admits that! I’m all for hard racing but when you’ve got a car following that closely through high speed corners you can’t do something so unexpected that it causes a crash. What other possible outcomes other than Russell losing control? Him slowing down dramatically where he normally wouldn’t just to avoid a crash? Or hitting the back of Alonso and taking both out? I’m not sure I see an alternative outcome other than where there’s either a crash or someone taking drastic action to avoid one. If that happens when you’re just following behind someone rather than attempting or defending an overtake then that’s dangerous driving in my book.

    1. Spot on, thank you for that balanced comment ! My impression too that Alonso tried something, got it wrong, and knows it full well.

      One must not forget that it is a F1 driver’s job to exploit the rules to their full extent, which, since not everything is fully predictable, inevitably means sometimes stepping beyond what is permitted. So from a stewarding point of view, if your view is that an acceptable danger level is X, keep in mind that you need to set the limit to a danger level of X minus one.

    2. @oweng

      Legit one of the only rational comments on this silly echo chamber.
      Thank you for your fair perspective.

      1. I guess it’s only rational cause they agreed with you. Most of the “rational” reasons I hear are “Alonso knew what he was doing.” That’s not an argument. If you feel this type of driving deserves a penalty. Fine. But let’s not pretend this goes unpenalized 99% of the time. K Mag didn’t get penalized for any of his slow driving and always changing lines. I didn’t see any of you complaining then.

  13. I agree with the penalty in isolation, but this type of “desperate” driving is encouraged because the drivers are unfairly penalised for being in front by having to put up with FOUR (!) gimmick DRS zones.

    1. As I said in the first comment:

      F1 is going to get real boring is giving four DRS zones and blending out of the throttle into a tight corner setting up a long fast run isn’t legal (the stewards specifically say he almost barely braked but rather approached the corner slowly).

  14. MB (@muralibhats)
    24th March 2024, 12:37

    Fair enough. Lucky for him GR was nit injured.

    There goes his chance for the Mercedes seat.

    1. How would he get injured? He would have been extremely unlucky to get injured, that doesn’t mean he was lucky not to.

      He’s not injured himself in all the other crashes he’s been in.

      1. Davethechicken
        25th March 2024, 21:03

        You should watch the recent 2 fatalities in junior formula at eau rouge at spa to see how he could have died. YouTube. Horrible.

    2. Anyone who goes to mercedes next year goes their knowing its going to suck for them. Alonso is much better off at Aston or RedBull

      1. I agree. For any top driver, joining Mercedes would be a step backwards.

    3. Lucky for George Herbert told him to complain and then coached him. Odd that George hadn’t complained about the incident until and this a guy who is famous for being a tattle-tale.

      BTW, lol@“lucky he wasn’t injured.” F1 is so sanitized and safe these days the only way you’re going to get seriously hurt is to hit 200 and drive straight into a barrier. SAFER barriers, HALO, insanely strong survival cells, HANS Device, VSCs for a car slightly poking out, RFs for gravel, etc.

  15. I think it’s one of the most ridiculous & absurd penalties I’ve ever seen.

    Since lifting off before the normal braking zone is now erratic and dangerous i guess we’re going to be seeing penalties every drive a driver does any lift & coast as surely lifting off several hundred meters before a braking zone is super dangerous right?

  16. Interesting split in responses so far between those who feel very strongly the penalty was wrong and those who agree with it (very few saying it needed to be tougher – unlike that F3 penalty a couple of days ago). Thanks for the responses so far everyone.

    For those who disagree with the penalty, I’d be interested to know what they would consider an unacceptable example of a ‘brake test’? Where do you draw the line (if at all) between legitimate defensive tactics and slowing/braking so early it creates a dangerous situation for the driver behind?

    1. Personally, I think the difference here is that Russell never had to take avoiding action so for me it wasn’t a brake test (compare to Max-Lewis in Saudi Arabia where they actually collided).

      Russell just got caught out, panicked, and went too fast. Had they been closer, and Russell forced to slow down to avoid running into the back of Alonso, then I would agree. What happened here, however, is Russell overestimated the grip he would have so close behind Alonso and simply understeered off. Driver error on the Brit’s part, to me.

      1. when russell pulled his tearoff its clear it was red mist time, and his judgement is very poor under misty conditions.

    2. For me, it’s contact or avoiding action. It’s not for Alonso to assess how Russell’s car will act within a metre or 10 metres.

      I’d consider Max in Saudi 21 as unacceptable. Alonso and Doornbos at Hungary practice also unacceptable.

      I fail to see a huge difference between coasting into a corner and failing to accelerate as expect out of one. Both have closing speed deficits, and I’ve yet to see a slow exiting the corner penalty.

    3. It’s a close call, but following the explanation of the stewards and the precedents over the last years I don’t see enough reason to punish it.
      A: Alonso didn’t slam the brakes, he more or less coasted into the corner. Thats not unusual nor forbidden by the rulebook. It can still be considered erratically and dangerous and under different circumstances be worth a penalty but:
      B: Russell was far enough behind to never have to take avoiding action and to be able to react accordingly.
      He didn’t do so, because he was either surprised or wanted to maximize the situation and get as close as possible to Alonso for the following straight. That part is on him.

      I don’t like moves like this, but after all the pre DRS activation point shenanigans we have seen before that were truly erratic and still considered legal this one is not a penalty for me either. Just.

      1. Then it’s obvious you don’t understand the cars as well as Alonso and the stewards. Instead of brake testing, this might be better called ‘Airflow testing’ eg compromising the downforce necessary for those cars to drive at speed through those corners. Alonso knew what he was doing, so too did the stewards.

        1. As I wrote I, was following the stewards explanation in which they stated:

          “Should Alonso be responsible for dirty air, that ultimately caused the incident? – no.”

          I very much hope Alonso and the stewards do understand the cars better than I do, but so should Russell.
          My very limited understanding of dirty air in a nutshell: If the distance to the car in front decreases the amount of dirty air increases. The move by Alonso was a little naughty, but Russell had time to adjust his cornering speed accordingly and slightly misjudged it, which ultimately caused the crash.
          Alonsos contribution to the incident just wasn’t big enough for me to warrant a penalty, but obviously the stewards disagree.

    4. @keithcollantine For me a dangerous example of a brake test would be an example where a driver hits the brakes hard & decelerates suddenly & rapidly.

      I think of what we saw at the DRS detection line between Max & Lewis at Jeddah in 2021 as been a perfect example of something I would actually consider erratic & dangerous which was far more deserving of a more severe penalty than what Fernando did today as it’s that sort of very sudden braking in the middle of a straight that can cause big airborn accidents.

      But other example i’d say were on the limit would be the DRS detection stuff we have seen with Lewis & Fernando at Montreal in 2013 & Abu Dhabi last year as well as the similar stuff between Max & Charles at Jeddah in ’22. The only reason i’d say these were on the limit rather than been deserving of a penalty is that the car behind had pulled out to come alongside so there was no real danger of contact.

      In terms of what Fernando did today I don’t think it was dangerous as while he did come off the throttle earlier then normal George was far enough behind that I don’t think there was ever any danger of him running into the back of Fernando. This sort of backing off early to hinder the driver behinds entry and/or exit as well as aim to get a better run off the corner yourself is just a normal racing tactic that has until now to my knowledge never been considered dangerous, erratic or resulted in a penalty.

      But then I do probably have a bit more of an old school ‘let them race’ attitude to things, think there are far too many needless penalties today & don’t think the stewards should intervene unless something truly dangerous or deliberate occurs. Maybe it’s just the era I grew up watching (I started watching in 1989) where games & tactics that may now be considered dangerous & penalty worthy were simply considered hard, aggressive but ultimately acceptable racing.

    5. While Alonso drove different to other laps, this was in no way a brake test. From both onboards, the amount of time between Alonso first lifting off and Russell spinning off is shocking… he doesn’t react to the first lift, keeps his foot down for the best part of 2 seconds, tries to get close to Alonso and spins off.

      It’s totally on Russell’s part to crash like that. He smelled blood, kept his foot down as Alonso lifted the first time, then spun off on his own.

      As for your question, I call a brake test when the driver behind actually had to jump on the brakes or react with the steering in some way… but Russell was waaay behind in this one.

    6. The stewards gave a penalty but not for a “brake test”. It’s not a brake test so why call this a brake test?

    7. I’ve noticed almost universally that those agreeing with the penalty are British and only British when it comes to media. I once disliked Alonso completely myself cause I was pretty new to F1 when 2007 happened and I swallowed the villain they turned him into the media.

      Whether or not the penalty was fair, can we talk about how F1 should not be having a steward who has so much bad blood with Alonso that he even blamed Alonso for upsetting his wife, called for his retirement, etc. (Herbert). And who has always waxed lyrical about George. Even if he wasn’t influenced by this, that’s not a good look.

      1. I agree it is a poor look from the regulator. Stewarding should be taken seriously and not become a part of the soap.

    8. I guess it being/happening on a straight with no corner for quite some distance would be considered unacceptable. Bit like the Max Lewis thing, although there the circumstances were shady since both played the cat and mouse game towards the drs line and both knew they were playing. This particular example is not a brake test at all, hence the mistake from the FIA.

    9. Coventry Climax
      25th March 2024, 9:54

      Regarding your question, I can understand why you, from a journalist perspective, would like to know how your readers feel about where the split is between brake test and defensive action.

      But the downright truth is that it is the FiA’s primary job and noone else’s, to clearly define, word and publish the definition of both concepts, such that primarily, it is clear for the stewards what they are supposed to act on and how to penalise it, and secondly, it’s a reference for the fans to measure ‘justified or not’ against.

      You simply can not penalise consistently or even assess it’s consistently fair, if the transgressions you’re supposed to penalise, aren’t even defined in the rulebook.

      The way it is now, is actually asking for interpretation and hence controversy. I used to think that was sheer incompetence, but these days, and after so much time, I feel it’s deliberate, as controversy adds to the showbuzz. (no, that’s not a typo.)

      As a side effect, this is probably the main reason why I lose interest in F1 so fast.

  17. I think you have to rememeber that this accured on a fast corner I feel sorry for George but as has been said Alonso braked 100m early the speed differential as we saw was immense and I believe George did his best to avoid hitting Alonso, so yes think the penalty was required
    now on a different note, there have been several wipeout accidents at that spot F1, F2 this weekend, maybe the wall needs to be reprofiled or altered especially as this is a fast corner

  18. My worry with penalties like these are that they set a precedent which we then refer back to. What the stewards are saying is:

    1. Lifting off early is dangerous. I don’t agree with that, it’s a driver’s prerogative to approach a corner as they see fit. Brake testing is unacceptable, but different battery settings, tyre wear, engine/aero damage mean there is no exact speed a corner “should” be taken.

    2. Driving slowly is dangerous. We see this all the time. Leclerc did it in Abu Dhabi, Magnussen in Saudi. We can’t start penalising slow apex speeds.

    3. Consequence is paramount. Had Russell ran over a tarmac run off would anyone be calling for a drive through? I highly doubt it. As a result we have a rule to be applied in certain corners, in certain conditions. That ceases to be a rule, a rule is one size fits all.

    We know that teams use examples like this and remind their drivers how to drive. If you have a slower car ahead and they make a mistake, instantly take to the escape road, complain they drove erratically and they will receive a drive through. This isn’t racing as I see it.

    In this scenario, Alonso is on the racing line, as is Russell the entire time. The stewards acknowledge the gap after turn 5 was half a second. So it’s a penalty if you lose half a second through the corner and the driver behind gets aero wash? Not to mention a lack of contact in the incident.

    When Hamilton came out the power in Spa against Vettel it was viewed as a work of genius for the ages, I’ve seen some commentators here ask for a race ban. This is the result of a poorly designed gravel trap making a small mistake from Russell look like a big issue. But we can’t let this become an example going forward, otherwise defensive driving as we know if it finished.

    1. It is clear by some years now that defensive driving is no longer something the regulator and broadcaster are interested in. Just look at drs. It is not just to create more (artificial) overtaking, it is also to make defensive driving useless. Mind you that the objective here is generating revenue, not to create a great sport or sport event.

      8 years of processional driving and overtaking during the Mercedes dominance years have lulled everyone asleep and made people forget what racing is actually about. During that era we saw little to none track action. Look at the amount of turmoil that Max created when he entered the sport, while in fact he did nothing other than bring the true DNA of racing back in the game and educate all drivers around him on what this game is supposed to be about. It is more than a Netflix soap.

      1. DRS makes Alonso a less essential driver as his skills in racecraft are vastly subordinate to qualifying and race pace. All of these should be important. It’s sad that so few of the drivers beyond Max and Alonso are interesting to watch. They qualify where they belong and stay there. If they qualify ahead they get passed easily or just plain let the guy through.

  19. My opinion is George was caught out.

    For me, George was miles away from Alonso when he lifted/braked etc, he only got to within half a car length just before turn in.

  20. I think it’s fair enough. Suspected Alonso might get in trouble for it when I saw the in-car replay from Russell’s view, as I thought it was obvious he’d messed around into the braking zone to try to disrupt Russell.

    Much as I appreciate creative defence, I don’t think I’ll ever like deliberately erratic behaviour in and around braking zones. Especially high-speed ones.

  21. I thought it was just Russell but the quote below relates to dangerous driving.

    telemetry from Alonso’s car showed he lifted the throttle 100 metres earlier than he had done on any previous lap. He also touched the brakes at an earlier point, then sped up and braked again.

    That is not a throttle issue. This is definitely dangerous driving.

    1. if you paired that to a graphic it would make sense, but its idle speculation because you dont know at which point he sped up or why he might have needed to use the breaks. some people can and do drive with two feet at the same time to help settle the car.

      1. @pcxmac

        I’m sorry, but how is it idle speculation. Evidence has been established to show that he slowed and braked 100m early. That is massive. (I think if a kangaroo had crossed the track causing him to slow, we would have heard about it.) He then needed to accelerate again for the corner.

        …..or why he might have needed to use the breaks. some people can and do drive with two feet at the same time to help settle the car.

        So this isn’t idle speculation.

  22. Anyone who doesn’t pull over when a faster car is coming up behind must be punished.

  23. I think any response claiming that you now can’t lift off into any corner is just being silly. Context matters. Had he lifted off 100m earlier into a hairpin that would have been totally different due to the speed and corner type. A very fast chicane with walls either side is completely different circumstances.

    It will be interesting to hear what Alonso has to say about this.

    1. @oweng

      Context matters.

      I know right. I am truly struggling to understand how people cannot put themselves in George’s shoes. People want hard racing, but for that the driver’s need to be able to trust each other. Of course I do not know what George was thinking, but he was of course trying to close Fernando down. It must have taken a few tenths to go from thinking he is making great ground up to Fernando, to realizing that this was something far different and that the closing speed was much much greater. With these events in play the chance of an incident was always very high on that part of the track.

      So what would people prefer. Driver’s not to push for fear of erratic driving ahead and increase the already significantly processional racing in F1, or to eliminate this type of dangerous driving and give drivers more confidence to push against their competitors.

      If this had gone unpunished it would surely become a regular tactic (at least amongst the more ruthless drivers…. which could be most/all of them)

  24. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    24th March 2024, 16:00

    Sounds like another brake test by Alonso. Very dangerous, could have killed Russell and Hamilton the last time.

    I expect much better from a driver like Fernando. These deserve Red Cards – a race ban.

    1. @freelittlebirds The stewards own words though say that Alonso only braked slightly and that the brake pressure applied didn’t actually cause the car to slow down all that much.

      As such how can it be a brake test?

    2. nah, its face saving for george and mercedes.

  25. My take on the Alonso penalty is that the FIA are setting a dangerous precedent trying to police how drivers can/should defend. They’ve let such examples go in the past. They won’t be able to now. And I’m not sure if that’s something they want…

    Had it been a legit brake check that caused Russell to take avoiding action, then I’d fully support a penalty. But they noted themselves that it wasn’t a brake check and so there wasn’t anything inherently dangerous in the move. Even calling it ‘erratic’ is bit of a stretch in my opinion. While it was a more exaggerated deceleration than in previous laps, Alonso was perfectly entitled to adjust his entry speed in order to maximize corner exit as he knew he’d be vulnerable to Russell on the straight with DRS. As mentioned by someone above, given Alonso decelerated 100m earlier than usual, that in itself tells you that Russell had more than enough time to react and adjust his entry speed but he probably just got over excited at the opportunity and went in too hot. To now start penalizing drivers for adapting their driving styles just seems like over-policing and penalizing for the heck of it.

    Alonso actually used the same tactics to win the 2005 Imola GP (As did Schumacher the following year), and everyone said it was brilliant. Maybe if Schumacher had made a mistake in that race, they would have blamed Alonso too. But Schumacher was a better driver than Russell is.

    1. The comparison is insane: there wasn’t drs back then and drivers could make defensive moves, now there’s drs which makes defending impossible in most cases and on top of that you get penalised if you defend.

  26. They should put turn signals on the Formula 1 cars so that the drivers can pass comfortably and without any danger on the straights using the DRS, as if it were on a highway. Everything else should be banned, it’s dangerous.

    “the pinnacle”

  27. Has anyone shared any photos of the underside of the Mercedes car? There’s been nothing said of that, not that it makes any difference to the stronger players. All the same…. It’s now out there thanks to Russell.

  28. Irrespective of Alonso’s tactics, Russell ought to be capable of taking evasive action to avoid a potential collision. It’s one of the basic rules of driving, after all. Always allow sufficient distance to the car in front.

    1. Always allow sufficient distance to the car in front.

      Sufficient for what? How can you actually ever overtake someone if you need to leave enough distance to account for ‘any’ eventuality?

  29. Too lenient a penalty. He says he had trouble for 15 laps but only lifted, braked, accelerated, braked on this lap in that corner. Definitely erratic driving. Should get a 1 race ban.

  30. This poll might be biased, as the poll only assumes that the penalty can’t be wrong; only lenient, correct, or harsh.

  31. No opinion (2%)
    Far too lenient (7%)
    Slightly too lenient (5%)
    Correct (33%)
    Slightly too harsh (14%)
    Far too harsh (38%)
    Total Voters: 130

    Long story short, over half the voters considers this too harsh in some way, slightly less than half considers this right or too lenient, so the stewards’ decisions are unpopular, not surprised!

    1. @esploratore1

      It is interesting how statistics can be interpreted.

      With 59% in favour of a penalty of some form (either of slightly lesser, equal, or greater severity to that handed out), I would not really consider this a slam dunk opposition to the steward’s decision.

  32. I wish people would stop all this British bias stuff. I’m British and I think Alonso is one of my favourite drivers. He always has been. I still think his actions here crossed a line and he should be penalised. His tactics were slightly too erratic even if George’s response was less good than it should have been.

  33. Russell chasing Alonso. For a couple of laps he was a tenth +/- behind him. Alonso knew that. He also knew that these cars are unstable if they get too close behind one another and so must have known what would happen at such a corner if he suddenly slowed unexpectedly. If he didn’t realise that he might (at that corner almost certainly would) put Russell in the gravel he must have dementia forgetting his vast experience.

    As a second offence in one season a race ban would not be inappropriate for such a dangerous and unsporting ploy. A 20 second penalty and three points on his licence seems lenient.

  34. The penalty is wrong. I’ve written in exhaustive detail elsewhere with arguments for and adhesive, but the easiest way to see is the stewards’ report, which says the data isn’t conclusive on either brake testing or taking a different line. It then goes on to say that he should be able to take a different line and should not be responsible for the dirty air behind him… before not just penalising him for these things anyway, but adding the “aggravating” factor of choosing to try something different (which they had said he’s entitled to do)… and then making it a stop-go penalty. The semantic gymnastics of the statement suggest that someone was trying to navigate the rulebook to demote Alonso, as it doesn’t make sense by its own logic.

    I expect that Alonso knew what he was doing, but he’s familiar with the rules and seeing that he was absolved of breaking them on the evidence, he pushed it as far as he could without crossing the line… but then someone went and moved that line.

    Worse than the penalty itself was its size. 20 seconds when they say the data didn’t support brake testing? This is rulebook snakes and ladders.

    1. For and against. Oops!

  35. For all those saying the penalty was just……… if these ‘rules’ were applied in 1992, we would never have had the epic battle between Nigel and Ayrton at Monaco, as Ayrton would have had a penalty for every corner in the last 3 laps.

    It was clearly not a brake test, as those 99% of the time end up in the car behind rear ending the car in front. 100% a racing incident

  36. Tiaki Porangi
    25th March 2024, 16:48

    Even by the messy standards of f1 these days, this is absolutely incredible. Alonso drives his race, there’s no contact, he changes the approach he uses to a corner, a move that every driver uses one way or the other many, many times in a race, banzai driver behind him can’t handle it and crashes, and it’s Alonso at fault?

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