Alonso Miami penalty ‘wholly unjust’, Alpine want FIA talks

Henry Valantine
A portrait photograph of Fernando Alonso. Miami May 2022

Two five-second penalties for Fernando Alonso put him out of the points in Miami, and Alpine team principal Otmar Szafnauer wants to talk to the FIA about how such “wholly unjust” penalties can be avoided in future.

Alonso’s first transgression came when he caused a collision with Pierre Gasly while making a lunge to try and pass him at Turn 1 on Sunday, for which the two-time World Champion admitted culpability, but Alpine’s main gripe comes with his second penalty awarded after the race.

Alonso cut the chicane at Turns 14 and 15 while trying to race away from Alex Albon behind and put a five-second gap between the two on the road.

Team principal Szafnauer argued that his driver lifted off the accelerator twice on the back straight to try and wipe out any advantage gained from such a move, but the stewards took an opposing view and gave him a further five-second time addition.

This ended up bumping Albon up to P9 on the day, with Lance Stroll ending with the final points-paying position, and Alonso dropped to 11th.

As a result, the Alpine boss wants to see the sport’s officials to find out what’s able to happen to ensure everyone knows what to do in future.

“We need to speak with the FIA at the next grand prix,” Szafnauer said, as per Motorsport.com. “We need clarity on this. We need a way to say: ‘look, you’ve got to give more time back.’

“If you leave the track and gain an advantage, meaning you pass somebody that was ahead of you, then it’s easy to determine: you’ve got to give the position back.

“But in this type of situation, where everybody’s behind you, how can you tell? So you need that feedback. And I think it was wholly unjust to penalise him after.

“Those guys were behind them, and they ended up behind them. So what are you penalizing him for? Because he was marginally ahead.

“If he is marginally ahead, then make him give that little margin back, but don’t give him a five-second penalty because he was two, three, or four tenths ahead in total.”

Szafnauer added that there’s always an element of human error in driving, pointing to the example that Mick Schumacher was not penalised for his crash with Sebastian Vettel when trying to pass his mentor.

With that, Szafnauer believes that mistakes should not immediately be punished with a penalty, if there’s a chance to make amends on track by drivers lifting to avoid a net time advantage.

 

“There are plenty of times where drivers make a mistake going into a chicane,” he said. “Monaco is one of them. I mean, how many times do people come out of the tunnel then cut that chicane?

“They don’t do it on purpose. It’s just you’re pushing too hard, it’s towards the end of the race, the tyres are going, the brakes are going.

“Even a two-time World Champion like Fernando can make a mistake, so then give the time back. Then you tried to do that to the best of your ability and then you get that kind of penalty. I just think it’s wrong.”

 

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