Fernando Alonso says the standard of driving in Formula 1 “seems lower than ever” and described some drivers as “amateurs” after his collision with Lance Stroll at the start of the United States Grand Prix.
Stroll’s Williams hit the right-hand side Alonso’s McLaren attempting to pass through the high-speed first sector on the opening lap at Circuit of The Americas on Sunday, forcing the Spaniard into an early retirement. Alonso was critical of the aggressive moves at the start on team radio as he returned to the pits, and while he didn’t specifically name Stroll — who received a drive-through penalty for the collision — he gave a more general view of F1’s driving standards.
“I think the level seems lower than ever,” Alonso said. “In Spa they played bowling with us into the first corner, here they played bowling again into Turn 4. It’s a misjudging of distances and speed which is quite strange to see.
“It’s aways the same. At the starts people are trying to bump everyone else. It’s like a rental car where you have the bumpers and you try to crash with everyone. It keeps happening. They play bowling with us like in Spa, and nobody does it on purpose but our races are always a DNF. We are also not lucky because sometimes you touch someone, maybe you have small damage but you keep going in the race, but we’ve never been that lucky.
“I’m not upset, I’m disappointed because I’m here in the U.S. for nine days to do a race and I do 600 meters of the race and they push you off. That’s the way it is.
“A little bit unlucky as I said, but it’s more a problem for the FIA, if they keep allowing this type of driving. I say that because I drive in other series with amateur drivers — in GT AM and things like that — and there has never been a problem. So there are more amateurs here than in other series.”
Alonso also had an incident with Stroll at the last race in Japan, but says it’s not a personal issue with one single driver that he is unhappy with.
“No one tried to hit anyone on purpose, it’s just the ambitious and optimistic moves that people try to do on the first lap in strange places. Recently we always end up in the wrong place at the wrong moment and with quite an unlucky situation, because we saw even in Suzuka (Max) Verstappen and (Sebastian) Vettel touched each other into Spoon and it was quite a big hit but both cars continued racing. Us, every time there is a hit, our car is destroyed unfortunately. So that’s an unlucky situation.”
Despite his penalty, Stroll himself believes the contact was a racing incident as he was half a car length alongside Alonso before the two came together.
“It was a terrible day,” Stroll said. “Contact with Alonso at the beginning on the first lap and then it went downhill from there.
“The first-lap incident, we made contact into Turn 5. I had a portion of my car there and I don’t think he saw me, so we made contact. I saw a gap and went for it, he turned in and then we made contact.”