Published on 24 Oct 2022 10:08 pm (UK Time)
Despite a strong start on the opening laps of the United States Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso has dropped from P7 to P15, following a Haas protest against his damaged vehicle. On lap 22 of 56, shortly after a safety car restart, the Alpine driver had a costly collision with Aston Martin’s, Lance Stroll. An incident that immediately drove Stroll out of the race and sent the Alpine flying into the air.
On his way back to the pits, Alonso queried Stroll’s: “very late move” to the left of the tracks, just moments before the collision. Post-race, the pair met with the stewards to analyse the incident, with Stroll obtaining a three-place grid drop for next week’s Mexican Grand Prix, alongside two penalty points on his license. This proved to be a ruinous race not just for the driver himself but for the Alpine F1 team.
In his interview, Stroll remarked: “I left him plenty of room on the left…it was a big difference in speed. I was kind of judging where he was behind me, and I moved based on where I thought he was behind me. But he got really close to me and we just made contact.”
Alonso explained when speaking to the press post-race that he took the decision to focus on the strength of the Alpine car: “We have a very strong car and we changed tyres, the front wing and kept going. It was amazing that the car managed to complete the 31 laps until the end and we still finished P7 after being P17, so it was a good race.”
As the hours reaped on into the night, Haas protested against both Sergio Perez’s Red Bull car and Alonso’s Alpine. Though, the stewards deemed the state of the Red Bull car admissible as it had only suffered front wing endplate damage towards the start of the race. The Alpine did not get off so lightly and was said to be in an unsafe condition post-collision. This resulted in a 30-second post-race penalty, seeing that a 10-second mid-race stop-go penalty would no longer have been practical.
Now although this seems largely unfair, Article 3.2 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations makes clear that: “a car must be in a safe condition throughout a race”. The Alpine team were therefore held accountable.
So, the question remains, will Alonso prove that he can work his way back up the grid for the final three races of the season, ending in Abu Dhabi on the 20th of November? There’s only one way to find out.