Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton incident comes to light that proves Aus GP penalty inconsistency

Jamie Woodhouse
Fernando Alonso, 2024 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. F1 news

Fernando Alonso has been linked to multiple seats at the end of 2024.

Ex-F1 driver Jolyon Palmer highlighted a comparable Fernando Alonso incident involving Lewis Hamilton, for which he received no punishment, to show inconsistency with how he was penalised after George Russell’s Australian GP crash.

Hamilton’s Mercedes team-mate Russell had been harrying Alonso for P6 in the closing stages of the race at Albert Park, but as Alonso slowed heading into Turn 6, Russell lost control and hit the wall, his W15 coming to a stop in the middle of the track with the race then ending under the Virtual Safety Car.

Fernando Alonso vs Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi ’23 highlighted

The stewards found Alonso guilty of “potentially dangerous” driving and issued a drive-through penalty, converted to 20 seconds, plus three points on his FIA Super Licence, as he dropped two places to P8 in the final classification.

However, Palmer, in a piece for the Formula 1 website, compared this incident to one at the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP, where Alonso exited the pit lane and then slowed in front of Hamilton in a battle for DRS, as a similar instance of gamesmanship, yet Alonso received to punishment, showing a severe discrepancy between how the stewards reacted to these respective incidents.

Palmer believes that the dramatic nature of the crash played a key role in the stern penalty which Alonso received in Melbourne.

“Was this dangerous, erratic driving, and was it the cause for an incident for George Russell? Firstly, let’s cover off if it was erratic driving,” Palmer began as he re-watched the Alonso-Russell battle.

“We jump on-board with Fernando looking back to George Russell, you can just hear that actually, this was a little bit erratic from Alonso.

“As we’re coming up [to Turn 6], backs off the throttle, goes again on the throttle, and then comes into the corner. That is unusual and that meant that Russell caught him at a much quicker speed than anyone would expect following another car.

“So certainly, this was unusual. Alonso hadn’t done that in 56 laps previous, nor had anyone else. It’s not something that the driver behind would particularly expect.

“So there is an adjustment there from Alonso. Why did he do it? Because straight after this is the biggest overtaking spot on the circuit, there’s DRS and a long run to Turn 9 and 10 and that was where Russell had been close previously.

“And he is trying to play games with Russell, he’s trying to just put the Mercedes driver out of kilter and it has actually backfired and the Mercedes driver has gone into the wall. So certainly, there is a case here for erratic driving. It looks like it is erratic driving.

“The next question is though, has erratic driving always been punished? The answer is no.

“Because this is Fernando Alonso ahead of Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi, just three races before this, doing exactly the same thing.

“Alonso comes out of the pits, Hamilton is on a flying lap, a Mercedes behind the Aston Martin, and he backs off way before the braking zone, and Hamilton has had to back up just to stay behind Alonso. They’re playing DRS games here, which is a little bit of what Alonso was trying in Melbourne as well.

“Crucially, there was no penalty. There were no repercussions for this from Fernando Alonso three races ago and in Melbourne, he’s slapped with a big penalty, a drive-through, which cost him 20 seconds of race time and it’s more than we’ve seen a penalty for many incidents recently.

“So, erratic driving, yes from Alonso. But, is that consistent with what’s happened before? The answer is no in this case. So certainly the stewards, whether they like it or not, they have looked at the outcome of George Russell ending in the barriers and actually ending up in the middle of the track, making the crash look more dramatic than it was.

“And that, I’m sure, is the reason that Alonso has been investigated as thoroughly and deemed punishable in this instance.”

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Palmer also believes that Russell must accept a chunk, if not all the blame for this incident, suggesting there was enough space between he and Alonso heading into Turn 6 to make this not a dangerous driving issue, but rather Russell losing control of the W15 in Alonso’s dirty air.

“There is a decent amount of space between the two cars,” Palmer continued. “Now, Alonso is driving erratically, yes, confirmed. But, it this dangerous? Because there is a big gap between Alonso’s car and Russell’s car.

“And this is not, I would say, a conventional brake test, where the car behind has to jump on the brakes to avoid hitting the car ahead.

“It’s simply a case of he has got too close, going at full racing speed, and he’s caught some dirty air and that is what flicks George into an oversteer, which he corrects, and ends up in the wall.

“Overall, I just can’t help but feel, watching it from Russell’s on-board, yes Alonso slows up, yes it is technically erratic and that gives the stewards certainly reason to penalise him, it’s an inconsistent penalty, but technically, according to this particular circumstance, it’s difficult for Alonso to argue with it, but there is enough space between the two cars.

“And as he’s coming in, was there something more that Russell could do, rather than steam in full speed, brake a little bit earlier, but only really similar to what he’d done earlier on in the race and then end up in the barriers? Certainly, George has got to at least shoulder a chunk of the blame, if not all of it.

“It’s a blurred picture, but you know that Alonso does operate in these grey areas, he does it all the time, whether it’s last year in Abu Dhabi, whether it’s I think cheekily causing a yellow flag in Baku qualifying a few years ago to stop people improving, there’s countless times where Fernando Alonso operates in these grey areas.

“There’s certainly an argument to penalise him. In my opinion, it’s maybe a little bit harsh on Fernando. I don’t think it’s particularly dangerous what he did, I think there was enough space between the two cars for him to back off slightly.

“And the two cars were never close to contact, there was always a good amount of space. It’s simply a dirty air issue, of which we’re opening a can of worms with that one.”

Neither Mercedes driver made the chequered flag in Melbourne, with Hamilton having retired earlier in the race due to an engine failure.

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