Alonso furious with ‘difficult to understand’ penalty in Japan
Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix saw that F1 rarity: two drivers getting penalised in the same incident. But when Fernando Alonso was deemed to have gained an advantage after being pushed off the Suzuka track by Lance Stroll, and subsequently penalised along with the Canadian, it left the McLaren driver equal parts bemused and unamused.
Alonso was attempting to pass Stroll around the outside under braking for the chicane, but contact between the two saw the McLaren skip the corner. Stroll was given a five-second time penalty for causing a collision, but Alonso kept his foot in and cut a lot of the track to rejoin ahead of the Williams and was handed the same time penalty – much to his annoyance...
“There’s nothing we can do now,” Alonso said. “We talked about these situations on Friday’s briefing, when a car moves in the braking area and leaves you with nowhere to go, that’s something you cannot do. So the penalty should have been only for the one who put me on the grass when I was passing them on the outside, for they were the one that changed direction, but that’s not what happened.
“I think it’s difficult to understand the decision. This is how bad Formula 1 is in the decisions, random ones, lacking consistency. I was coming into the last corner, braking on the outside and the other guy didn’t see me, so I had to go off to avoid him after some contact.
“Now he comes to apologise because I was in the gravel but I still get the penalty… He didn’t see me, because if he did, he wouldn’t have pushed me on the grass. It’s an unfortunate race situation, but it didn’t change much.”
Stroll waited for Alonso in the broadcast pen after the race, with the pair sharing a brief chat about the incident.
“He came to apologise because he didn’t see me on the outside of the last chicane," said Alonso. "I had to go in the gravel a little bit and it was lucky that we both continued. But it was a quite intense first lap, we recovered a couple of places. It was good battling, also at the end with the Williams when they were struggling with tyres.
“We didn’t have the pace to be in the points and probably the biggest limitation the whole weekend is that we have been a little bit too slow. Hopefully we will improve for the next one.”
While Stroll himself accepted he made an error that led to the collision, he also understood the stewards’ decision to hand out a time penalty to both drivers.
“I just wanted to say no hard feelings over the first lap,” Stroll said of his conversation with Alonso. “Things got heated and we both got penalties. It’s just typical first lap stuff and I just wanted to settle it.
“I went wide in 130R overtaking around the outside and when I came back on the track I had a lot of crap on my tyres and didn’t really judge the braking zone very well. We made some contact and he went straight on. He gained a massive advantage but at the same time I didn’t give him much room so it’s just one of those typical racing incidents on the first lap.”