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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

The additional problems behind F1’s Alonso ‘brake-test’ penalty debate

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There was a contact of inevitability. Pink Bull’s important Suzuka improve has not slimmed the RB20 as predicted, with rumours Ferrari was dashing its essential Imola updates scotched too on what was total one thing of a gradual information day on Thursday.

Then there’s the drivers concerned. Alonso and Russell are reasonably divisive figures amongst F1’s fanbase. However there was nonetheless a shock cut up within the opinions of those that actually matter on this contentious debate: the drivers.

Haas racer Nico Hulkenberg “wasn’t very impressed with Fernando’s ways”, whereas Sauber drivers Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu each referred to as the choice to penalise the Spaniard “harsh”. Max Verstappen – no stranger to racing battle sagas – opted to maintain his powder dry within the Suzuka pre-event press convention, saying solely “we’ll talk about it within the driver’s briefing…”.

Alonso’s place was inevitably bombastic.

“It was a little bit bit stunning the penalty in Melbourne, however nothing we are able to do,” he stated. “We’ve to simply accept it and transfer on and focus on right here. Nevertheless it won’t change a lot on how we drive and the way we method racing.

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“There isn’t any obligation to drive 57 laps in the identical approach. Typically we get a slower tempo, to avoid wasting gas, to avoid wasting tyres, to avoid wasting battery. Typically we get gradual into corners or into some sectors of the observe to present the DRS to the automotive behind as a result of that will likely be a great tool if the second automotive behind is at a quicker tempo.

“All these issues are utterly regular. And it was, it’s, and will probably be ceaselessly in motorsports.

“So, we had one penalty, most likely a one-off, that we’ll by no means apply ever once more. Nevertheless it was for us. We take it. We settle for it. We misplaced two factors or no matter it was for the workforce.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Group

Photograph by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Russell was equally erudite.

“It was clearly an odd state of affairs that occurred final week,” he stated, alongside Verstappen within the press convention.

“As I stated on the time, [I was] completely caught abruptly. I used to be really wanting on the steering wheel making a swap change on the straight, which all of us do throughout the lap, and once I regarded up, I used to be in Fernando’s gearbox and it was too late after which subsequent factor I do know I used to be within the wall.

“So, I believe if it have been to not have been penalised, it will’ve actually opened up a can of worms for the remainder of the season and in junior classes, saying, ‘are you allowed to brake in a straight, are you allowed to decelerate, change gear, speed up, do one thing semi-erratic?’

“I don’t take something personally with what occurred with Fernando and it most likely had greater penalties than it ought to have. But when it went unpenalised, are you able to simply brake in the course of the straight? I don’t know.”

Analysing Russell’s “can of worms” declare and its clear what he’s attempting to spotlight – he says it outright.

Russell felt that if the stewards didn’t step in, what they deemed the ‘erratic’ components of Alonso’s driving at Flip 6 in Melbourne would possibly begin showing elsewhere and in additional problematic methods, equivalent to in junior single seater classes. There’s additionally a parallel with the 2021 Brazil Flip 4 affair between Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton and what that led to on the subsequent disgraceful first race in Saudi Arabia.

That is one thing of a singular debate to single-seater racing – such ways are unlikely to hassle drivers in classes that aren’t so aerodynamically delicate. That’s a key think about why Russell went off – as a result of by ending up nearer to Alonso’s rear finish at Flip 6 than the lap earlier than, he misplaced the downforce required to take the nook as quickly as he’d turned in.

Press Conference, George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Press Convention, George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Group

Photograph by: Motorsport Images

Right here we are able to detect a certain quantity of ‘assault is the perfect type of defence’ from Russell. He did, in spite of everything, state after the incident that “I’ve gone off and that’s on me” and Alonso’s claims that what he did is a part of a long-standing, respectable custom of such racing ways do stack up.

Nevertheless it’s clear Mercedes is sad with Alonso – notably his post-race solutions of an engine challenge that Autosport sources have urged couldn’t be clearly noticed within the information.

How this would possibly play into Alonso’s goals of maybe changing Hamilton at Mercedes – he’s additionally naturally a transparent candidate for Pink Bull ought to it choose or be compelled into a significant driver line-up change for 2025 – stays to be seen.

However his highlighting of the DRS video games that are actually frequent is a crucial aspect of this debate too. Typically, intelligent ways backfire. And absolutely Alonso’s largest downside on this saga is that he tousled the manoeuvre, which he admitted too within the stewards listening to in Melbourne.

On Thursday, Alonso additionally claimed “it was the toughest penalty of the season I believe when it comes to time lap, which is unusual”. However that is considerably disingenuous.

The FIA has simply moved to make penalties for racing infractions harsher for 2024. It has been urged that this was really on the request of the drivers, who have been consulted twice on the change final season earlier than it was formally put to their groups to think about after which agreed too.

The final consensus, as soon as they’d been proven examples of penalties that earned simply five-second time additions within the two conferences, was that the majority drivers would merely want to take these hits and press on to negate them reasonably than voluntarily hand locations again.

The issue is that what’s in impact an replace to F1’s racing pointers, that are reviewed forward of every season, has not been publicly revealed.

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, passes Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-24, passes Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24

Photograph by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

This has been thought of by the FIA, however, as one Autosport supply put it, the worry is that this in flip would open up one other “can of worms” when it comes to drivers, groups and followers utilizing public definitions to stir extra debate in each racing conflict.

However extra transparency is all the time higher. And this brings us to the ultimate extra complication now being inserted into the ‘brake-test’ debate.

Within the bulletin outlining Alonso’s penalty – a drive-through transformed right into a 20s time addition given it was dished out post-race, as per the racing pointers tweak – the stewards stated they’d “not thought of the implications of the crash. Alonso, nevertheless, now “100%” disputes this.

“If he was in Abu Dhabi with run off space of asphalt or no matter, I believe George will rejoin the observe a number of metres after that and can attempt to have a go on me on the next lap, or the next straight,” stated Alonso. “And it’ll not be any downside.”

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As ever in F1, advanced conditions breed extra convolution. However Bottas concludes this consideration nicely.

“I believe if George would’ve not ended up within the wall, or going off the observe, then most likely there would’ve not been a penalty,” the Finn opined. “It made it look fairly dramatic. I nonetheless really feel that the automotive forward ought to all the time be allowed to decide on the velocity and the road. Nevertheless it’s a tremendous line what you are able to do. I used to be fairly stunned about [the penalty] really.

“The problem is, very often [the stewards] do [look at consequences of actions when deciding penalties]. One instance was once I was being impeded in qualifying in Saudi and it didn’t look that dramatic and I used to be fairly Positive that if I’d gone even nearer and locked a wheel or one thing most likely there would’ve been a penalty.

“So, sadly the implications nonetheless do play alongside. That’s how it’s.”

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