Mike Krack quizzed on ‘easy targets’ after ‘harsh’ Aston Martin penalties

Michelle Foster
Daniel Ricciardo is rear-ended by Lance Stroll

Daniel Ricciardo is rear-ended by Lance Stroll

Mike Krack claims F1 stewards have been “tough” on his drivers of late with Fernando Alonso punished for a “great” fight in the Sprint with Lance Stroll then penalised in the Grand Prix in China.

The Aston Martin team-mates had eventful weekends at the Shanghai Grand Prix where they scored more penalties than points, 20 seconds worth of penalties versus seven points. They also walked away with five penalty points between them.

‘The stewards have been tough to Fernando and Lance recently’

Alonso was the first of the two to face the stewards, investigated for his driving versus Carlos Sainz in the Sprint with the two clashing as they tussled over third place.

While that initially resulted in a puncture and floor damage for Alonso, putting him out of the race on the penultimate lap, it later saw the Spaniard hit with a 10-second time penalty, as well as three penalty points on his super licence.

A day later it was Stroll who was in trouble as the Canadian rear-ended Daniel Ricciardo during the Grand Prix when he was caught unaware as those ahead of him checked up ahead of a Safety Car restart.

He had to pit for a new front wing and later served a 10-second time penalty having been blamed by the stewards for the crash. Two penalty points were also added to his super licence tally.

That all this came just two races after Alonso was penalised for unsafe driving at the Australian Grand Prix when he braked early, leading to George Russell crashing even though there wasn’t contact between the two, has Krack saying the stewards have been “tough” on his drivers.

“Yes, the stewards have been tough to Fernando and Lance recently,” he said. “We had it in the Sprint race, we had in Melbourne.

“We had with Lance a very quick verdict without really understanding… I thought it was very, very fast and very harsh, a very quick decision, but that’s how it is.

“I think it was a chain reaction at the end of the day. You saw Fernando locking and then another car behind and I think everybody was a little bit caught out. I think at that stage we were happy that we did not lose both cars.

“I think it started further to the front, and I would have liked that this would’ve been looked at in a little bit more detailed way.

“We tried to discuss it but the verdict was very quickly that Lance was to blame and he got a 10-second penalty, in addition to the front wing damage.”

Pressed on his claim that it was a “harsh” call to blame Stroll, Krack said: “I mean last time it was the car in front that got the penalty in Melbourne, and if you remember even without touching, this time it was the car behind.

“You see for example, Lance got spun around in Bahrain on Lap 1 and had come back through the field and there’s no penalty for the one that caused the collision. So again we’re not super consistent, that’s the thing.

“It is frustrating. On the other hand, everybody’s human. I think everybody tries to do his best and it is frustrating.

“But the the best recipe is if you have a fast car and you drive away, Max has no such penalties. So it’s up to us to make it happen.”

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‘You feel at that point that is not fair…’

Asked if his drivers were ‘easy targets’, Krack walked the line before pointing out that by asking the question that means the journalist must be “feeling” it’s a possibility.

“I think on a general basis,” Krack started, “there has been this discussion about driving standards and harsher penalties at the beginning of the year where everybody agree to that is a fact.

“But then you know, you want the action in a Sprint, and we had action. At the end of the day, we had quite a hard fight and the worst end of it generally.

“And then you get another penalty where you say, ‘Okay, if we have a Sprint of 19 laps we want, to see what we saw.’ I thought it was great racing and even if we had the worst end of it, it was seen as a great race in the Sprint.

“And then spending hours with the stewards again, that was a bit yeah…. you feel at that point that is not fair. Maybe we’ll have a look at it again and we’ll see differently.

“But again, you have yesterday’s [Sprint] incident, then you have an incident today, where people are pushing another car off in Turn 6, and then there is no action. Or we had the two Ferraris pushing one another, not leaving the gap, there was no action. Fernando, straightaway 10 seconds.”

And then he added: “It’s interesting you asking because it shows that you seem to have that kind of feeling as well.”

Aston Martin’s Chinese troubles could yet have a huge impact on the drivers’ seasons with both Alonso and Stroll hit with penalty points.

If a driver earns 12 within a 12-month rolling period, he is handed an automatic one-race ban.

Stroll is up to seven while Alonso has six, all of the Spaniard’s points handed to him in the last month.

Krack joked that “at this rate it will be tough” for Alonso to avoid a ban, adding: “Lance also received two penalty points today. So the moment there is a high penalty point accumulation.”

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