Fernando Alonso left disappointed with F1 Australian GP penalty as he ponders about the decision questioning on drivers driving the car.

There was certainly luck in place for Aston Martin’s Alonso in F1 Australian GP when Lewis Hamilton retired to bring out the Virtual Safety Car. He managed to pit and save time which helped him to be ahead of the other Mercedes of George Russell.

It was handy considering he was being chased by the Brit towards the end of the race. That proved a bit detrimental for Alonso due to Russell’s crash on the final lap. The incident took place at Turn 6 when the Brit lost control to hop onto the gravel and lay sideways.

While there was no contact, the stewards who took upon the case found Alonso to have lifted differently than the previous lap and braked slightly earlier too. The Spaniard noted about different approach on the final lap to get a better exit for himself.

But it seemingly surprised Russell and he lost out in the dirty air. While the stewards couldn’t ascertain if the different approach was down to upset the driver behind, they do reckon the driving to be ‘potentially dangerous’ irrespective of the outcome.

This is why he was handed a 20s penalty which dropped him to eighth. Alonso was left disappointed with the decision while noting that he found a different experience of stewards somewhat dictating on how to drive the F1 cars.

“We were a little lucky with the timing of the Virtual Safety Car when Lewis retired,” said Alonso. “Then I was pretty happy sat behind Checo because I could use the DRS to pull a gap. I lost a lot of time when Charles came out from the pits – but those seconds we gained proved to be gold dust at the end. In the closing laps, George caught me quickly.

“I knew that he was coming, then he was in DRS range for five or six laps, so I was just doing qualifying laps to stay ahead. I wanted to maximise my exit speed from Turn Six to defend against him. That’s what any racing driver would do, and I didn’t feel it was dangerous.

“It’s disappointing to get a penalty from the stewards for what was hard but fair racing. Still, I’m glad that George is okay. It was not nice to see his car in the middle of the track,” summed up Alonso, who added more about his disappointment on social media citing prior examples about duels where they have done things differently.

“A bit surprised by a penalty at the end of the race regarding how we should approach the corners or how we should drive the race cars,” he wrote. “At no point do we want to do anything wrong at these speeds. I believe that without gravel on that corner, on any other corner in the world we will never be even investigated.

“In F1, with over 20 years of experience, with epic duels like Imola 2005/2006/ Brazil 2023, changing racing lines, sacrificing entry speed to have good exits from corners is part of the art of motorsport. We never drive at 100% every race lap and every corner, we save fuel, tires, brakes, so being responsible for not making every lap the same is a bit surprising.

“We have to accept it and think about Japan, to have more pace and fight for positions further up the field,” summed up Alonso, who noted about managing a battery issue in the last 15 laps and was prepared to lose out to Russell if at all he was to pass him.

“I knew that if will be faster then he will pass because four DRS zones, I think it is very possible,” said Alonso. “We had some battery issues as well, I was complaining and asking the team because the car did change for the last 15 laps, so I was concerned about the giving the position but I was happy with seventh as well because it was a good race.

“It was derating more, little bit inconsistent. Sometimes we have to discharge the battery if we want to save fuel, so I thought they were doing that when I did some set-up changes on the steering wheel but apparently not,” summed up Alonso.

On the flipside, Russell found the situation bizarre as he had no explanation for it after being caught out by it in quick timing. He was shouting for red flag while being in an awkward position but the race control ended the race under Virtual Safety Car.

“My take is that I have gone off, and that is on me, but I was half a second behind Fernando 100m before the corner and then suddenly he came towards me extremely quick and I was right in his gearbox,” Russell said. “I don’t know if he has got a problem or not. It is a bit bizarre in a circumstance like this.

‘I’m OK after the accident fortunately. It was clear that he braked earlier than he had done on previous laps and then got back on the throttle. I wasn’t expecting that, and it caught me by surprise. I hit the wall and had a dramatic few seconds after that. It was a disappointing end to a difficult race. Our pace wasn’t where we wanted it to be. We showed spells of good lap times but ultimately we’ve got work to do to catch those ahead,” summed up Russell.

Here’s the crash: https://www.formula1.com/en/latest/video.2024-australian-grand-prix-big-crash-for-russell-on-the-last-lap-at-albert-park.1794388684955420764.html

Here’s how F1 Australian GP panned out plus stewards’ explanation

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