Fernando Alonso says the penalty handed out to him during the Japanese Grand Prix shows “how bad Formula 1 is” after contact with Lance Stroll.
The two drivers were fighting through 130R with Stroll overtaking the McLaren on the outside, but Alonso then tried to pull the same move into the chicane and was pushed wide by the 19-year-old. Stroll got a five-second time penalty for causing a collision but Alonso was then given the same penalty after skipping the chicane and rejoining the track much further ahead of his original position.
“There’s nothing we can do now,” Alonso said. “We talked about these situations in Friday’s driver briefing, when a car moves in the braking area and leaves you with nowhere to go. That’s something you cannot do. So the penalty should have been only for the ones who put me on the grass when I was passing them on the outside, for they were the ones that changed direction, but that’s not what happened.
“If the other driver comes to apologize, it’s difficult to understand the decision. This is how bad Formula 1 is, in the decisions, random ones, lacking consistency. I was coming into the last corner, braking on the outside and the other guy didn’t see me, so I had to go off to avoid him after some contact.
“Now he comes to apologize because I was in the gravel but I still get the penalty. He didn’t see me, because if he did, he wouldn’t have pushed me on the grass.”
Alonso was approached by Stroll in the broadcast pen after the race, but explaining the stewards decision, FIA race director Charlie Whiting said the earlier contact between the two did not give the Spaniard license to gain such an advantage.
“I think the stewards felt it was perfectly clear what Fernando did,” Whiting said. “He cut the chicane, drove quickly across the gravel, came back on well in front. I think that was pretty clear that he had gained an advantage by leaving the track.
“The stewards, however, felt that Stroll had actually forced Fernando off. You couldn’t say that because Fernando was forced off, he was entitled to cut the chicane. He wasn’t. He shouldn’t have taken the place by doing it, but equally, Stroll shouldn’t have pushed him off the track. They felt that each driver should be given a five-second penalty for two separate offenses.”