Alonso slams ‘too soft’ Masi over qualy traffic

Date published: December 11 2021 - Jon Wilde

Fernando Alonso next to the kerb in Abu Dhabi. Yas Marina December 2021.

Fernando Alonso has criticised race director Michael Masi for being “too soft” on drivers who hold up rivals during qualifying.

Queues to start flying laps and cases of blocking have been a feature of the 2021 Formula 1 season and at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it was Q2 when the main problems occurred.

Five drivers appeared before the stewards after the session in relation to three impeding incidents, with Sebastian Vettel involved in two of them – one on each side of the coin.

Ultimately, only Esteban Ocon received a sanction, that being a reprimand rather than a grid penalty, and his Alpine team fined 10,000 euros for obstructing Vettel.

Ocon’s team-mate Alonso was another of the drivers summoned, his gripe being that Daniel Ricciardo had blocked him. But the stewards saw it differently, deciding to take no action against the McLaren man.

Alonso will have been aggrieved and perplexed by that decision, having been knocked out in Q2 as a result of his final flying lap being compromised – feeling he should have been starting two places higher than his grid position of P11.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone policing this,” said the two-time former World Champion, quoted by Motorsport.com.

“Race director is too soft on this and if you let us to play on the out-laps and things like that, it’s always going to be a mess. We need a referee to protect us and at the moment we don’t have it, so that’s bad.

“The issue is we should be a bit more aligned with the things that are right and the things that are wrong. It should be more black and white with what is a penalty and what’s not a penalty. And they have to be harsh in some of the decisions.

“In football, when someone makes a tackle and there is a bit penalty or whatever, there is a red card and here they are struggling to show a yellow card or a red card. That’s why we keep repeating the same bad things.”

Asked if the situation was worse than before his two-year break from the sport, the Spaniard said: “Oh yeah, definitely much worse than in 2018.

“There are no rules out there, not for the out-lap. There are no minimum times to respect.

“There are a lot of strange movements on the first lap off track. I complained in the first third of the championship. Then I changed attitude and I was doing the same and now there are no more races to impede anyone, but it’s not in my heart to impede.

“Nobody wants to be in the middle of anyone’s fast lap because then you go to the stewards and normally you get a three-place penalty. I guess that’s what will happen today.”

 

However, Ricciardo escaped without a penalty and will start one place ahead of Alonso in 10th – with the Alpine man saying his former team and the Australian driver had been at fault.

“On the traffic itself, it’s McLaren’s fault,” said the 40-year-old. “The team or the driver or whatever, because even if there is a lot of traffic on the out-lap you need to move when a fast car is coming and he didn’t move.

“I think in Austria, Vettel had three places [penalty] so I expect three places minimum or more and let’s see where I start.

“I think I’ll start ninth, in my opinion, but let’s see.”