Alonso dropped to eighth after penalty in Melbourne

Fernando Alonso has been given a 20-second time penalty after the Australian Grand Prix for driving in a “potentially dangerous” manner that caused George Russell to crash.

Russell crashed at Turn 6 on the final lap of the race, closing in rapidly on Alonso towards the apex and then sliding wide into the gravel and hitting the barrier, sustaining heavy damage. The pair were then summoned to the stewards where it emerged Alonso had lifted off more than 100 meters earlier than he had at any stage the race and created a significant difference in closing speeds.

“Alonso explained to the stewards that he intended to approach Turn 6 differently, lifting earlier, and with less speed into the corner, to get a better exit,” the stewards’ decision read. “Russell explained to the stewards that from his perspective, Alonso’s maneuver was erratic, took him by surprise and caused him to close distance unusually fast, and with the resulting lower downforce at the apex of the corner, he lost control and crashed at the exit of the corner. There was no contact between the cars.

“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 maneuver created a considerable and unusual closing speed between the cars.”

Article 33.4 of the FIA’s F1 Sporting Regulations states: “At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person.”

The stewards stated they did not have sufficient information to know if Alonso intended to cause Russell problems or was solely trying to get a better exit as he claimed, and also disregarded the outcome of the incident, saying Alonso has the right to try a different approach to the corner and is not responsible for dirty air that causes an accident.

“However, did he choose to do something, with whatever intent, that was extraordinary, i.e. lifting, braking, downshifting and all the other elements of the maneuver over 100m earlier than previously, and much greater than was needed to simply slow earlier for the corner?” the stewards asked in summary. “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.”

While the baseline penalty for such driving is a 10-second time penalty, the stewards noted that a drive-through is recommended when there is “an aggravating circumstance” involved.

“In this case we consider that Alonso affirmatively choosing to perform an unusual maneuver at this point to be an aggravating circumstance, as opposed to a simple mistake.”

As the penalty is handed out post-race, it is converted from a drive-through into a 20-second time penalty, dropping Alonso from sixth in the final classification to eighth, and promoting Lance Stroll to sixth and Yuki Tsunoda into seventh. Alonso also receives three penalty points for the incident.

Story originally appeared on Racer