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Russell and Alonso offer opposing views on incident that led to crash in Australian Grand Prix

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MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: The car of George Russell of Great Britain and Mercedes is seen on

George Russell and Fernando Alonso have each offered their take on the incident that preceded Russell’s dramatic crash on the penultimate lap of the Australian Grand Prix following their battle for P6, with the Spaniard subsequently hit with a 20-second penalty after the race.

Russell had been chasing the Aston Martin for several laps following his final pit stop but, after getting close towards the Turn 6/7 complex, lost control of his Mercedes and hit the barriers, with the W15 then ricocheting back onto the track and ending up on its side.

READ MORE: Alonso hit with post-race time penalty in Australia over ‘potentially dangerous’ driving before Russell crash

While Russell fortunately reported that he was unharmed in the incident, it ultimately ended what had been a tough day for the Silver Arrows following Lewis Hamilton’s earlier retirement due to a mechanical issue.

It was confirmed after the race that both Russell and Alonso had been summoned to the stewards over the incident, with the Aston Martin man hit with a 20-second penalty for what the stewards deemed was "potentially dangerous" driving. Speaking before the hearing, Alonso gave his version of events during a conversation on Sky Sports.

“Well, obviously I was focusing in front of me and not behind,” the Spaniard explained. “I had some issues for the last 15 laps, something on the battery on the deployment, so definitely I was struggling a little bit at the end of the race, but yeah, I cannot focus on the cars behind. But he’s okay apparently, I saw the car and I was very worried.”

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2024 Australian Grand Prix: Big crash for Russell on the last lap at Albert Park

Pushed further on whether he had been concentrating more on what was going on ahead and in his own car while Russell closed in during the final laps of the race, Alonso responded: “Sure, I knew that he was coming and he was on the DRS, for already five or six laps so, yeah, he was very close.

“As I said, I was just doing qualifying laps and trying to maximise the pace, but it was not an easy race, not an easy weekend in general in terms of pace.

HIGHLIGHTS: Relive the action from a dramatic Australian Grand Prix as Sainz wins while Verstappen retires

“Today obviously we got lucky with the strategy and when Lewis was off and that being a [Virtual] Safety Car, but we cannot hide that the pace was difficult the whole weekend.”

Russell, meanwhile, told the broadcaster that he was taken by surprise by Alonso in the run-up to the corner.

“My take is I’ve gone off and that’s on me, but I was half a second behind Fernando 100 metres before the corner and suddenly he came towards me extremely quick and I was right in his gearbox,” said the Briton.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 24: Fernando Alonso of Spain driving the (14) Aston Martin AMR24

Alonso said that he was experiencing issues with his car during the latter stages of the Australian Grand Prix

“I don’t know if he’s got a problem or not, we’re off to the stewards so that’s a bit bizarre in a circumstance like this. But I’ve got nothing more to say right now, I need to see everything and just a bit disappointed to end the race like that.”

Asked whether he believed that Alonso had brake tested him, Russell commented: “Well it’s clear that he braked 100 metres before the corner and then we’re back on the throttle again and took the corner normally.

READ MORE: Hamilton brands Melbourne weekend ‘a real struggle’ even before Lap 17 retirement

“We’ve already seen the data of that, so I’m not going to accuse him of anything until we’ve seen further, but I was right behind him for many, many laps. I was half a second behind him approaching the corner and then suddenly he slowed up very dramatically and gone back on the power.

“I just wasn’t expecting it and it caught me by surprise. That part’s on me, but it’s interesting that we’ve been called to the stewards, so [I’m] intrigued what they have to say.”

Russell’s crash meant that Mercedes left Melbourne with no points, while Alonso would be demoted to P8. Team mate Lance Stroll and RB's Yuki Tsunoda were promoted to P6 and P7 respectively.

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