Alonso “a bit surprised” by 20-second time penalty following Russell crash at F1 Australian GP

Photo Credit: Aston Martin Aramaco F1 Team
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Fernando Alonso’s performance at Albert Park was a story of highs and lows, and alongside a challenging weekend in terms of pace, the two-time world champion suffered a post-race penalty due to “potentially dangerous driving.”

The early VSC to clear Hamilton’s Mercedes period proved to be a stroke of luck for Alonso, allowing him to capitalise on the situation and gain some crucial track position. He had started on the hard tyres and was running in P6 after his stop, jumping Russell, Stroll and Tsunoda.

He claimed: “We were lucky for sure with the virtual safety car at the beginning. Obviously, it was good for the hard starters, so we took that advantage and then yeah, maybe we had a little bit less graining than expected, so that was a help on the medium.”

Overall, Alonso noted, “I’m happy with how we executed the race, and the boys did an incredible job on the pit stops as well, but yeah, it was a difficult weekend in terms of pace, so we cannot forget that.”

Speaking directly about the virtual safety car after Hamilton’s power unit failure, Alonso noted how this benefited himself, and the team, with their race strategy.

“Yeah, it was obviously perfect when Lewis stopped the car, we had like 45 seconds VSC and it was perfect timing for me. 

“Sometimes it helps, sometimes it hurts. Today was good in terms of points.”

In a post-race interview, Alonso shed light on the challenges he faced during the race, including concerns about battery issues and fuel-saving discussions with his team.

“It was a difficult weekend in terms of pace,” Alonso admitted. “But we executed the race well, and the boys did an incredible job on the pit stops.”

No race is without its share of drama, and Alonso found himself in the thick of it during the final laps. On the penultimate lap, George Russell, who had been trying to pass Alonso for P6, went off track after the AMR24 slowed down in front of him into turn 6.

Russell hit the wall and bounced back on track, and Alonso ultimately crossed the finish line in sixth place, before his post-race penalty was added.

The British driver was okay after the collision, and the race ended behind the virtual safety car.

The incident was investigated after the race. Alonso and Russell were summoned by the stewards for almost an hour, and the two-time F1 World Champion was found to be at fault for what went on. He was penalised with a post-race drive-through penalty.

With that turned into a 20-second time penalty, Alonso was demoted from P6 to P8. 

Speaking after the race about his incident with Russell, Alonso spoke about the pressure he was coming under in the closing laps from the Brit: “I knew that if he was faster he would pass, because with the four DRS zones I think it’s very possible.”

Alonso took to social media following his penalty announcement, claiming that he was “a bit surprised by a penalty at the end of the race regarding how we should approach the corners or how we should drive the race cars.”

“In F1, with over 20 years of experience, with epic duels like Imola 2005/2006/ Brazil 2023, changing racing lines, sacrificing entry speed to have good exits from corners is part of the art of motorsport.

“We have to accept it and think about Japan, to have more pace and fight for positions further up the field. Thank you, team!”