‘It will not change’ – Fernando Alonso stands defiant after ‘strange’ penalty

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso speaking during an interview

Fernando Alonso has again called his Aus GP penalty "strange"

Despite being hit with the “hardest” time penalty possible, a defiant Fernando Alonso says that “will not change” his driving as at any other track George Russell would not have crashed.

Russell retired from the Australian Grand Prix when he crashed on the penultimate lap while fighting Alonso for sixth place.

‘I think it will not change much on how we drive’

The Briton was not impressed as Alonso braked on the straight, accelerated and then braked again for the Turn 6 corner.

His first moment of braking, 100m earlier than on previous laps, caught Russell unaware with the Mercedes driver revealing: “I was actually looking at my steering wheel on the straight as I’d done every single lap prior and when I looked up 100 metres before the corner, I realised I was right behind Fernando, rather than the half a second that I was.”

There was no contact but the sudden lose of downforce meant Russell lost control of his W15 and crashed.

But while accepting that Alonso’s actions weren’t “extraordinarily dangerous”, he feels had his rival not been penalised it would’ve set a bad precedent not only for F1 but for motor racing’s junior series.

Alonso, though, has a different viewpoint on the incident as he says drivers have “no obligation” to do the exact same thing lap after lap.

As such he won’t be changing the way he races.

“It was clear. And I think it’s still clear,” he told the media at the Suzuka circuit. “It was a little bit surprising, the penalty in Melbourne.

“There is nothing we can do, we have to accept it and move on and concentrate on here. But I think it will not change much on how we drive and how we approach racing.

“There is no obligation to drive 57 laps in the same way. Sometimes we get a slower pace, to save fuel, to save tyres, to save battery.

“And sometimes we go slow into corners, or into some sectors of the track, to give the DRS to the car behind because that will be a useful tool if the second car behind is at a faster pace.

“All those things are completely normal. And it was, it is and it will be forever in motorsports. So we had one penalty, probably a one-off, that we will never apply ever again.”

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Handed a drive-through penalty for the incident, which translated to a 20-second post-race penalty, the Spaniard wasn’t even angered about the actual penalty but that he got one at all.

He added: “It was the hardest penalty of the season in terms of time lap, which is strange, but the fact it got penalised [was the main issue].”

After all, he reckons at another circuit Russell would not have crashed and the stewards wouldn’t have gotten involved.

“If he was in Abu Dhabi with a run-off area of asphalt or whatever, I think George will rejoin the track a few metres after that and will try to have a go on me on the following lap, or the following straight. And it will not be any problem,” he said.

But what he does think is a problem is the layout of Turn 6 at the Albert Park circuit.

“I think that the big thing is Turn 6 in Australia,” he explained. “It is not the safest corner at the moment on that track.

“We saw an accident last year with Alex [Albon] in the race, and this year in free practice where he damaged the chassis.

“Also in F2, I think Dennis [Hauger] crashed there as well. George obviously in the race.

“And that’s probably for me a more important point to change for next year than what the driver in front of me will be able to do or not do, as long as I don’t need to make an avoiding action or whatever to avoid him, which was not the case.

“That was my point after Australia, and still now. I will move on. I don’t want to speak too much on that.”

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