FIA official hits out at ‘unfair and excessive’ Fernando Alonso penalty

Jamie Woodhouse
Fernando Alonso gets into his car.

Fernando Alonso was penalised by the stewards after the chequered flag in Australia.

Spanish FIA figure Joaquín Verdegay has slammed the severe penalty issued to Fernando Alonso at the Australian Grand Prix, while claiming a lack of consistency in decisions.

Alonso had been attempting to defend P6 from Mercedes’ George Russell in the final stages of the race at Albert Park, though a dramatic shunt for Russell saw Alonso hit with a drive-through penalty, converted to 20 seconds, plus three points on his FIA Super Licence.

Spanish FIA figure does not agree with Fernando Alonso punishment

After Alonso braked earlier than he had been previously doing so for Turn 6, the speed differential caught Russell out as he lost control of his Mercedes and slammed into the barriers, coming to a stop sideways in the middle of the track. Alonso pinned that on “battery or deployment” issues, but the FIA stewards were having none of it.

Instead, they found Alonso guilty of “potentially dangerous driving” and came down hard on him for it, which Verdegay, vice president of the FIA-affiliated Royal Spanish Automobile Federation, believes went too far.

“If regulating a sport is usually complex, regulating motor racing is tremendously complex,” Verdegay told

“And, unfortunately, the line that separates legality from illegality has so many nuances that it is particularly difficult to know where you are and which rule to apply at any given moment.

“This sport is particularly complicated and situations like this one show it.

“The problem is that at the end of the season, apparently identical events end up being penalised radically differently, unjustly different. Either because they have been exaggeratedly soft with one or exaggeratedly hard with the other, because the same thing, logically, should be punished with the same penalty.

“If I give my personal opinion, I don’t like the penalty given to Fernando. Personally, I think it is unfair and excessive. recommends

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“If I read the report of the stewards who imposed it, what I have just said would change and my disagreement would only be from a technical legal point of view. Why? Because the stewards have had on the table and have analysed the telemetry of Russell and Alonso’s car, they have spoken to both drivers, they have spoken to witnesses…. They have had a lot of elements of judgment and their opinion is more formed.

“The stewards’ ruling states that Alonso is entitled to ‘try a different approach to the corners’. Something he is entitled to do in order to make it more difficult for the chaser to overtake.

“The ruling also states that Alonso is not responsible for the dirty air that caused Russell’s accident. The dirty air whether Alonso was braking or not is something he cannot avoid.

“So, from my technical and legal point of view, this ruling shows that there is no causal link. What Alonso does, he can do, and if he is not responsible for the dirty air, he is not responsible for any punishable conduct.

“The stewards consider that this is not a mistake, but that Alonso was driving in this way to try to make it difficult for Russell to overtake. So where is the limit?

“Alonso doesn’t brake, he just lifts. He touches the brake with his foot, but the reduction in speed resulting from this is less than that of lifting his foot off the accelerator. It is a minimal reduction. Here I wonder where the limit is, you have to be very clear about it. One per cent speed loss is okay and two per cent is exaggerated? This line is not written and here we are not talking about legality, but about justice.

“I witnessed the worst brake test ever, which took place in Australia. It was done by Ralf Schumacher to Gilles Villeneuve [sic] and it ended in the worst possible way, with an official being killed by a tyre impact. A brake test can kill people and Alonso’s was not one.

“I don’t know where the line is. I don’t think the penalty is fair.”

Alonso dropped two positions to P8 in the final Australian Grand Prix classification.

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