Aston Martin “fully support” Alonso after F1 Australian GP penalty that is “a bitter pill to swallow”

Photo Credit: Aston Martin Aramaco F1 Team
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Aside from Carlos Sainz’s superb victory at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon in Melbourne, the biggest talking to point to come out of the Grand Prix is the controversial 20-second penalty handed out to Fernando Alonso by the stewards for “potentially dangerous driving” that saw George Russell crash as race leader Sainz started the final lap of the race.

Heading into turn 6 on lap 57, Alonso slowed significantly as he looked to prioritise the exit and give Russell dirty air before the long straight and the third DRS zone of the lap. The Spaniard had scrubbed off over 40km/h compared to lap 56.

The British driver in the Mercedes was taking the corner at normal speeds, but he got into the dirty air of Alonso, lost the car and crashed into the barriers.

It looked like Alonso had outfoxed Russell like he did with Sergio Perez at the São Paulo Grand Prix last year. However, the stewards had a very different interpretation of it despite the fact there was no contact. The 20-second penalty dropped Alonso from 6th to 8th.

On Tuesday evening, Aston Martin released a strongly worded statement about the incident. While they will be requesting a right of review as they do not have sufficient new evidence, team boss Mike Krack did not hide his feelings about the penalty and defended his two-time F1 World Champion driver.

Mike Krack: “Firstly, in motorsport everyone is relieved that George was ok and walked away after his accident.

“I want you to know that we fully support Fernando. He is the most experienced driver in Formula One. He has competed in more Grands Prix than anyone else andhas more than 20-years of experience. He is a multiple World Champion in multiple categories.

“To receive a 20-second time penalty when there was no contact with the following car has been a bitter pill to swallow, but we have to accept the decision. We made our best case but without new evidence we are unable to request a right of review.

“Fernando is a phenomenal racer and he was using every tool in his toolbox to finish ahead of George – just like we saw in Brazil last year with Sergio. This is the Art of Motorsport at the highest level. He would never put anyone in harm’s way.”

What the stewards said on Sunday:

“Telemetry shows that Alonso lifted slightly more than 100m earlier than he ever had going into that corner during the race. He also braked very slightly at a point that he did not usually brake (although the amount of brake was so slight that it was not the main reason for his car slowing) and he downshifted at a point he never usually downshifted. He then upshifted again and accelerated to the corner before lifting again to make the corner.

“Alonso explained that while his plan was to slow earlier, he got it slightly wrong and had to take extra steps to get back up to speed. Nonetheless, this manoeuvre created a considerable and unusual closing speed between the cars.”

“Specifically, in this case, the stewards have not considered the consequences of the crash.

“Further, the stewards considered that they do not have sufficient information to determine whether Alonso’s manoeuvre was intended to cause Russell problems, or whether as he stated to the stewards that he simply was trying to get a better exit.

“Should Alonso have the right to try a different approach to the corner? – yes. Should Alonso be responsible for dirty air, that ultimately caused the incident? – no.

“However, did he choose to do something, with whatever intent, that was extraordinary – IE lifting, braking, downshifting and all the other elements of the manoeuvre – over 100m earlier than previously, and much greater than was needed to simply slow earlier for the corner? – yes…

“By his own account of the incident he did, and in the opinion of the stewards by doing these things, he drove in a manner that was at very least “potentially dangerous” given the very high-speed nature of that point of the track.”