RACE DEBRIEF

    Fernando Alonso has dropped from P7 to P15 in the classification for the 2022 United States Grand Prix, following a protest against his car by rivals Haas.

    Alonso was involved in a dramatic accident with Lance Stroll on the Circuit of The Americas’ back straight, with the Spaniard getting airborne after making contact with the rear of Stroll’s Aston Martin before miraculously continuing on.

    All was not well with Alonso’s right-hand mirror, however, which shook violently before detaching itself, as the two-time champion charged through the field to take P7 at the flag.

    READ MORE: Verstappen beats Hamilton to United States GP victory as Red Bull secure an emotional constructors’ title win

    However, a protest on Sunday night by Haas against both Alonso’s car and that of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez – which suffered front wing endplate damage early on in the race – was deemed admissible by the stewards.

    And while the stewards opted not to act in the case of Perez’s car, Alonso’s Alpine A522 was deemed to have been in an unsafe condition following the crash – with a 30-second post-race penalty imposed on Alonso (a 10-second mid-race stop-go penalty no longer being feasible), dropping him from P7 to P15.

    2022 United States Grand Prix: Alonso goes airborne in huge crash with Stroll at COTA

    Writing in their verdict, the stewards noted that they were “deeply concerned that Car 14 [Alonso] was not given the black and orange flag [shown to a competitor judged to have suffered mechanical damage that requires immediate attention in the pits], or at least a radio call to rectify the situation, despite… two calls to Race Control by the Haas Team.

    “Notwithstanding the above, Article 3.2 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations is clear – a car must be in a safe condition throughout a race, and in this case, Car 14 was not. This is a responsibility of the Alpine Team.”

    READ MORE: Stroll handed three-place grid drop after high-speed clash with Alonso at COTA

    Arguments from Alpine that similar damage on the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix had not received any warning were also considered immaterial.

    The stewards also noted that Haas “had been given the black and orange flag on three occasions this year for situations involving their car being in an unsafe condition” – the most recent of those occasions coming at the Singapore Grand Prix.

    1435350230
    Otmar Szafnauer's team planned to protest the verdict

    Alpine, meanwhile, opted to protest the verdict, saying: “BWT Alpine F1 Team is disappointed to receive a post-race time penalty for Car #14 from today’s United States Grand Prix, which unfortunately means Fernando moves to outside the points-paying positions.

    “The team acted fairly and deemed the car remained structurally safe as a result of Fernando's incident with Lance Stroll on Lap 22 of the race with the right-side rear view wing mirror detaching from the chassis as a result of accident damage caused by Stroll.

    FACTS AND STATS: Verstappen ties Schumacher and Vettel’s record 13 wins in a season

    “The FIA has the right to black and orange flag a car during the race if they consider it unsafe and, on this occasion, they assessed the car and decided not to action the flag. Moreover, after the race, the FIA technical delegate considered the car legal.

    “The team also believes due to the protest being lodged 24 minutes past the specified deadline, it should not have been accepted and therefore the penalty should be considered as invalid.

    “As a result of this point, the team has protested the admissibility of the original Haas F1 Team protest.”