‘He knew what he was doing’ – ex-F1 driver weighs in on Fernando Alonso’s Aus GP penalty

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso's eyes, helmet visor up

Fernando Alonso will stay with Aston Martin having signed a multi-year deal

Penalised in Australia for “potentially dangerous” driving, former F1 driver Timo Glock believes Fernando Alonso knew what he was doing and used a “grey area to gain an advantage”.

Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix ended under a Virtual Safety Car when Russell crashed on the penultimate lap, with his Mercedes W15 coming to a stop in the middle of the track on its side.

‘Alonso’s idea was to catch Russell off guard’

Shortly after the podium celebrations died down, news broke that Alonso and Russell had been summoned to see the stewards, that relating to their late-race battle and Russell’s subsequent crash.

Chasing Alonso for sixth place, Russell closed up on the Aston Martin into Turn 6 but was caught out as Alonso braked 100 metres earlier than he had done in previous laps. The sudden and unexpected loss of downforce saw Russell lose control and crash heavily.

The Spaniard told the stewards that he “intended to approach Turn 6 differently”, lifting earlier in order to get a better exit, but that he “got it slightly wrong and had to take extra steps to get back up to speed”.

They ruled that “with whatever intent” Alonso had driven in a manner that was at the very least “potentially dangerous” and hit him with a 20-second post-race penalty and three penalty points.

Glock believes the double World Champion, a veteran of 380 Grands Prix, knew what he was “doing”.

“Alonso brakes very early and allows Russell to catch up,” the former F1 driver told Sky Deutschland. “Alonso’s idea was to catch Russell off guard, slow him down, and then accelerate early to open a gap.

“It was so extreme that Russell didn’t expect it at all. He got way too close and lost downforce.

“Alonso extends his elbows and uses the grey area to gain an advantage. He already knows what he’s doing with his experience.”

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Meanwhile, former Aston Martin race strategist Bernie Collins has questioned Alonso’s explanation for his early braking.

Declaring the Spaniard had taken a “very different approach” into Turn 6 than he had at any other point of the race, she reckons braking 100 metres before the usual point was extreme.

“There was a lift 100 metres earlier, a slight brake application as well, and a downshift. So, 100 metres difference into a corner is pretty huge in F1 terms,” she said on X.

“We’d be telling drivers 10-metre differences if there was anything across drivers that they’d be trying to improve on, so 100 metres is a big, big difference in terms of an approach to a corner which obviously caught Russell off-guard.

“Russell himself saying that maybe he could have reacted slightly better to it, but the result still remains where Russell is out.

“We obviously don’t have all the data that the FIA have. They’ve been very clear that they punished Alonso’s actions rather than the subsequent reaction of Russell.”

Alonso dropped to eighth in the official classification as a result of the penalty.

Read next: Terrifying George Russell radio message emerges after huge Australian GP crash