FIA race director Michael Masi isn’t concerned over comments made by Fernando Alonso regarding the stewarding in Formula 1, noting the two-time F1 champion is entitled to his opinion and it did not add pressure to the decision-makers at the Turkish Grand Prix.
Alonso complained ahead of the race weekend that certain drivers get preferential treatment from the stewards, suggesting it could be based on their nationality after Lando Norris escaped punishment for sliding out of the pit entry at the previous race in Russia. Those comments came before Alonso was investigated for a potential yellow flag infringement on Saturday and involved in two incidents on Sunday, but Masi says the comments have no impact on the FIA.
“I don’t even engage in that side of it,” Masi said. “Every driver is entitled to their views and comments either internally or to the media, and that’s fine. The rules are applied equally for everyone. It’s probably one of those where he’s entitled to his view, but we judge each and every incident looking at the actual incident and what occurs.
“We are very fortunate that we have a very good group of stewards throughout the year and no, I can tell you that it does not place any additional pressure whatsoever on them.”
Masi only reports incidents to the stewards rather than rules on them, but after Alonso escaped punishment for the qualifying incident, the race director understood why Pierre Gasly was penalized for hitting the double world champion on the first lap on Sunday.
“One of the things, if we go back to the start of the year – before the first event – following discussions with the drivers and teams we had to ratchet back a little bit the ‘let them race’ principles in general, and one of them was first lap incidents. If a driver was wholly to blame for an incident then it would likely result in a penalty, and the stewards determined that Pierre was wholly to blame for the incident and as a result a five-second penalty was imposed.”
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Masi also noted Gasly’s penalty was applied because the stewards felt Alonso was blameless in the incident and Sergio Perez on the inside had no impact, whereas a close call between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton at Imola saw both drivers contribute to the latter going wide.
“If you look at the Max and Lewis one, it’s one of those of ‘wholly’ or ‘predominantly’ under our regulations. For ease of interpretation, for everyone’s benefit, if someone is wholly to blame on lap 1 then it will result in a penalty. If it takes two to tango and someone’s ‘predominantly’ then likely on lap 1 it will not result in anything, or if there’s more than two cars involved. But if it’s quite clear, two cars, one has done it, then a penalty would happen.
“One of the things why it probably took a little bit longer at the start to have a look at was Sergio on the inside, but once it was quite clear from the footage and everything that was available that’s why they determined it was a five-second penalty.”