Alex Albon lengthy ‘rant’ over five-second penalties leaves drivers in stitches

Thomas Maher
Williams' Alex Albon looks on from the garage at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Williams' Alex Albon looks on from the garage at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Alex Albon had clearly thought through the issue of five-second time penalties ahead of the press conference in Qatar.

Alon spoke passionately about the issue of five-second time penalties, and the fact they frequently make very little impact on the driver slapped with the penalty, as he spoke to media at the Lusail Circuit ahead of this weekend’s Qatar Grand Prix.

Albon addressed the problem after a spate of incidents involving Sergio Perez that made next to no difference to the Mexican driver despite his on-track blunders.

Alex Albon: Quicker cars tend to get away with five-second time penalties

Albon was hit by Sergio Perez in a desperate lunge during the Singapore Grand Prix, with the Red Bull driver diving up the inside to clumsily push the Williams driver aside. Perez was hit with a five-second time penalty, but this didn’t affect his finishing position at the chequered flag as he pulled more than five seconds clear of ninth-place Liam Lawson.

In Japan, Perez was given two separate five-second time penalties – one for a Safety Car infringement, and another for colliding with Haas’ Kevin Magnussen. But, with Perez retiring from the race after a bizarre mid-rare rejoin of the Grand Prix in order to serve the penalty and ensure no carryover of a grid penalty for Qatar, Albon believes the issue of how to penalise drivers for mid-race incidents needs to be revised.

“I think it’s quite a tricky one,” he told media after Singapore.

“Consistency, we push on it a lot as drivers, as teams as well and viewers, but it’s a tricky one.

“For example, you can take my incident with Checo [Perez] when he has a five-second penalty. It’s consistent with everything else, but is it really consistent? Fair? Maybe not.

“So I do think there needs to be flexibility in some ways.”

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Revisiting the topic during the Thursday press conference in Qatar, Albon said he feels offending cars can easily get away with incidents provided they’re fast enough – meaning it’s less of a deterrent.

“That was obviously right after I had a crash,” he laughed.

“I think the main thing about it is, to be honest with you and thinking back on my words, it’s not so much about teaching drivers, it’s more the fact that the car that’s quicker tends to be able to get away with these incidences quite often, position free.

“What I mean by that is, for example, if I take my Monza race, I was holding off Lando [Norris] the whole race. But, if he just cut the chicane for one of those laps, overtook me, and then pulled away, he would have got a five-second penalty but would have pulled away and had nothing done to him.

“Likewise, if, for example, with Checo in Singapore, he can take that risk because there’s a very good chance he can pull that five seconds away from me. So, it definitely puts drivers in a position where the car behind can be a bit more aggressive than the car in front.

“If I defend and I make a mistake and I get a five-second penalty, quite often more than not, I’m gonna lose two or three positions because I’m holding up a train.”

Alex Albon suggests more draconian punishment for in-race collisions

With fellow press conference attendees George Russell, Liam Lawson, Esteban Ocon, and Oscar Piastri laughing at how clearly annoyed Albon was by the situation, the Williams driver paused and smiled: “Am I ranting? So that’s it!”

With Albon and Russell joking with each other about his crusade, the British-Thai driver didn’t hold back when he was asked what might be a more valid punishment.

“Disqualification!” he said, only half-joking.

“I do know we, as drivers, we want consistency but there is a genuine feeling that it is very hard to be consistent in these positions.

“I understand and I sympathise with the FIA that it’s not that easy to do.”

With Russell once again laughing at Albon’s suggestion, he smiled again: “I don’t have an answer. But, if you give me a bit more time, and a bit more time to talk, I’d think of something else!”

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