Fernando Alonso’s Brake Test A Step Too Far

Fernando Alonso's Brake Test A Step Too Far
Fernando Alonso's Brake Test A Step Too Far

Fernando Alonso went “too far” in “using his elbows” in the dying moments of the Australian GP.

That is the view not only of expert pundits, but also the FIA – whose stewards put three penalty points on his F1 superlicense and a 20-second penalty for the scary incident that effectively ended the Melbourne race.

Mercedes’ George Russell pleaded in terror on the radio for red flags after bouncing back onto the racing line after a heavy crash – arguably caused by Alonso having ‘brake-tested’ him.

Alonso’s long-time friend, and now Aston Martin ambassador, Pedro de la Rosa, criticised the stewards’ decision. “They cannot tell the drivers how to drive,” he insisted.

“No one here deliberately stood on the brakes. Fernando just defended his position, which is what a racing driver does. Russell should have anticipated that Fernando would do everything he could to get the perfect exit in turn 6, because he was most vulnerable on the long back straight.”

The stewards, however, found that Alonso’s act of “lifting, braking” and “downshifting” more than 100 metres earlier than usual was dangerous enough for the penalty.

Former Red Bull driver Robert Doornbos told Ziggo Sport that the stewards also wouldn’t have appreciated Alonso’s “Oscar-worthy performance” of blaming technical issues for the approach to turn 6 that Russell called “bizarre”.

“If you give an Oscar-worthy performance, shouting about the battery and the pedal, and he didn’t have those problems, the FIA saw that and said ‘You’re talking nonsense’,” he said.

“The FIA asked for the data and they saw that the closing rate was enormous. It’s also not the first time Alonso has brake tested a competitor.

“A bit of push and pull is part of it, but that went too far,” Doornbos added.

Another former driver, Timo Glock, told Sky Deutschland: “Fernando is always using his elbows. I think he knew exactly what he was doing.

“His idea was to catch Russell off guard, slow him down and then be on the gas early to open a gap. But it was so extreme that Russell didn’t expect it at all.

“Alonso extends his elbows and uses these grey areas to gain an advantage,” Glock added.

For his part, 42-year-old Alonso defended his actions on social media. He insisted that with his “more than 20 years of experience, with epic duels like Imola 2005-2006, Brazil 2023, changing racing lines, sacrificing entry speed to have good exits” is simply “part of the art of motorsport”.

Also awkward for Alonso is that he is believed to be a frontrunner to replace Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes next year.

“I don’t want to accuse Alonso of anything, because I only watched a few laps back so far,” team boss Toto Wolff said in Melbourne.

“But he braked on the lap of Russell’s crash at a point where he had not braked before.”

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