McLaren’s Fernando Alonso wasn’t amused by the decision of the FIA stewards in the Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix as Williams’ Lance Stroll apologised for the hit.
The two were jostling for the lower end positions in the opening lap at Suzuka when Stroll passed Alonso in 130R heading into the final corner. However, they touched at the entry of the chicane which forced Alonso to take the shortcut.
The Spaniard remained in front as the incident was put under investigation. It was investigated as two separate incidents – one of Stroll colliding with Alonso and the other being the Spaniard gaining an advantage.
Both were deemed as guilty parties, getting a five-second time penalty as Alonso finished 14th and Stroll in 18th in the end. Post race, Stroll came over to Alonso to explain what happened and apologised for the hit.
The Canadian said he didn’t see the Spaniard as he was more looking at the right to take the corner and played down the incident as a first lap shenanigan. “One of those first lap incidents [as far as I am concerned],” said Stroll after the race.
“I just went around the outside [of Alonso] in 130R and I got on the grass, then I came back on the racing line and we made some contact. I just wanted to say that I didn’t push him intentionally and anything like that.
“Then he went straight on. I think, [it was] just a typical first lap racing incident when things get heated. It is just a shame that we both got penalties and my race went downhill from there as nothing went our way.”
While the Canadian accepted the blame and moved on, for Alonso, it wasn’t pretty straightforward as he felt the stewards were harsh on him. He felt it was fine if Stroll didn’t see him but it was the hit that forced him to cut the corner and gain the place.
“Even when the driver comes to apologise, I think it is difficult to understand the decision,” said Alonso. “This is how bad is, Formula 1, [where] decisions [seems] are random [with] poor consistency.
“You are braking on the outside in the last corner, one guy didn’t see you and came here to apologise as you go on the gravel and you get the penalty. So, it is a shame. It is just the decision.
“He didn’t see me, if he sees you and push you on the grass is another thing but it was just an unfortunate situation and race situation but it doesn’t change much because in the state of 14, maybe you finish 12. It is the way it is.”
As alluded, the stewards dealt it as separate incidents even though it was connected. They felt because Alonso did not give back the place to Stroll, he eventually gained a place. A similar issue took place between him and Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley.
But Alonso did give the place back to the Kiwi. In Stroll’s case, he continued on which the stewards think was against the rules. If Alonso had given the place back to Stroll, he wouldn’t have been given the penalty.