Revealed: Fernando Alonso’s telemetry data that led to huge FIA penalty in Australia

Thomas Maher
Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

The stewards have outlined their reasons for giving Fernando Alonso a 20-second time penalty in Australia.

The stewards at the Australian Grand Prix hit Fernando Alonso with penalty points and a time penalty for “potentially dangerous driving”.

The Aston Martin driver, together with George Russell, was summoned before the stewards in Melbourne after a last-lap crash involving the Mercedes driver as he battled with the Aston Martin over sixth place.

Fernando Alonso and George Russell summoned

Russell had been lining up Alonso for a last-lap attempt at an overtake down the back straight, when the Mercedes driver was caught out by rapidly closing in on the back of the Aston Martin negotiating Turn 6.

The moment resulted in Russell losing control and crashing heavily into the barriers by himself, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car to end the race. Russell could be heard frantically calling for a red flag over team radio, due to having ended up in a dangerous location in the middle of the racing line at the fast corner.

Russell was unharmed in the incident, but the stewards were suspicious of the circumstances of the crash and summoned the two drivers before them to review the circumstances.

The stewards – Tim Mayer, Matteo Perini, Johnny Herbert, and Matthew Selley – heard from Russell, Alonso, and team representatives from Mercedes and Aston Martin, as well as reviewing data, video, telemetry, team radio, and team telemetry data.

The stewards outline their explanation for George Russell’s crash

In the verdict handed down by the stewards in which they awarded Alonso a 20-second time penalty and three penalty points, the crash was explained through the eyes of the investigators.

“Car 63 (George Russell) was following Car 14 (Fernando Alonso) approximately 0.5 seconds behind as the cars approached Turn 6,” they said.

“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.

“Russell explained to the stewards that, from his perspective, Alonso’s manoeuvre 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.

What did the Fernando Alonso telemetry show?

As with any investigation of this nature, telemetry data offers hard and fast proof of the control inputs of the drivers – there’s simply no hiding whether a pedal or switch was pressed or released.

The telemetry showed that “Alonso lifted slightly more than 100 metres 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.” recommends

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The stewards deliberate on Fernando Alonso’s actions

Having determined the data, the stewards weighed up Alonso’s driving in light of Article 33.4 of the FIA Sporting Regulations, which states that: “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.”

Consequences of the crash put aside, as is usual in these cases, the stewards stated they did not have sufficient information to determine whether or not Alonso’s move was intended to cause Russell issues in terms of his control inputs, or whether he was simply trying to get the best possible exit for himself.

Alonso has the right to change his approach to a corner and is not responsible for the dirty air effect that comes off the back of his car.

However, the question raised by the stewards was whether or not Alonso had chosen to do something extraordinary (meaning unusual in this case) by lifting, braking, and downshifting over 100 metres earlier than usual and to a much greater extent than was needed to simply slow earlier for the corner.

Interestingly, the stewards released this part of the verdict with the words “with whatever intent”, meaning they aren’t ruling out the possibility of it being a deliberate act.

With Alonso’s own explanation revealing that he had, the opinion of the stewards was that he had driven in a manner that, at the very least, could be judged as “potentially dangerous” at such a high-speed part of the circuit.

How did the stewards decide on Fernando Alonso’s penalty?

The standard penalty for a breach of Article 33.4 is a 10-second time penalty, which would be added to the driver’s race time.

However, due to there being “aggravating circumstance”, Alonso was given a drive-through penalty as the stewards ruled his decision to perform an unusual driving manoevre to be different to a driving mistake.

As Alonso was unable to complete the drive-through penalty due to it being the last lap of the race, it was converted to a post-race 20-second time penalty as the regulations demand – dropping the Aston Martin driver to eighth in the classification.

Along with the time penalty, Alonso has been given three penalty points on his F1 super licence, taking him to three for the current 12-month period.

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