2024 Australian Grand Prix: Was Fernando Alonso Actually In The Wrong?

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso

It might not be the easiest of things to actually pass verdict on just how productive or successful as season the ongoing 2024 World Championship year has been (so far) for a certain Fernando Alonso.

There are two ways, if not more, of analysing just how 2024 has panned out for a true titan of the F1 grid.

First, you’d feel that Fernando Alonso is still up there in terms of drivers possessing that highly skilled and envy-inspiring race craft and that the element of consistency has still not cheated him. An example of this very fact is that in the three races to have taken place as on date, Fernando Alonso has scored points in all three.

He began with a P9 (ninth) at Sakhir, home to the Bahrain Grand Prix and would later return results like the impressive P5 (fifth) at Jeddah, home to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix before finishing P8 (eighth) at the recent Melbourne-bound Albert Park-hosted 2024 Australian Grand Prix.

Points in all three races and hence, vital scorings for a prominent Constructor in the sport is not bad result at all- is it?

But then, the other or second view of analysing Fernando Alonso’s season so far is to understand that he hasn’t been able to collect a single podium despite three runs, irrespective of the fact that all three Formula 1 Grands Prix have been held inside a single month.

Specifically speaking, where detractors and constant critics stand, opting for this second route may seem a tempting idea, if one were to put it like that especially since as far as his 2023 season was concerned, then the great driver from Asturias, Northern Spain had amassed a hat trick of podium finishes in the opening three rounds, including one at Australia, where Alonso most recently drove.

But would that really be doing justice to the most experienced man on the grid and certainly, among the most talented that we’ve all seen?

Perhaps not.

Of course, the entirety of what happened to the man from Oviedo at Melbourne’s Albert Park street circuit is in connection to just how George Russell of Mercedes finished in the dying moments of the 58-lap contest.

Two laps from the race’s conclusion, Fernando Alonso’s driving tactics that later came under immense scrutiny were highly different from those of Russell’s who had crashed thus bringing into action the virtual safety car deployment.

And unless understood, one can’t possibly imagine the Aston Martin driver’s plight whose penalty, which earlier was a drive through penalty, was changed to a 20-second penalty that saw the Spaniard relegated to P8 in the end.

At the very corner where Russell crashed and couldn’t get the hang of actually, Alonso had lifted early while carrying less speed. The aim of which was to get a better exit.

Now here’s what the FIA’s article 33.4 clearly states and then let’s understand it in Alonso’s context:

“At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person.”

It was purely Mercedes’s view that Fernando Alonso lifted from the accelerator, then braked and downshifted quite differently, which meant that George Russell, carrying extra speed into the corner like the Aston Martin had to react waywardly.

However, on his part, Alonso maintained straightforwardly that nothing he did was premeditated or deliberate in an attempt to compromise any other driver’s contest. He did, however, admit that he got the timing of his slowing down of the car slightly wrong and hence, the undesirable end to the race in the fashion in which it ended.

This, resultantly, this led to an unusual and sudden closing speed between two different cars with Russell finding himself caught up in Alonso’s car handling’s crosshairs.

But again, champions don’t devalue others deliberately on track on purpose. At times, freak incidents happen. And that’s exactly what happened on March 24, 2024 where one Spaniard emerged jubilant and the other, his hero, as a matter of fact, didn’t.

George Russell
2023 Australian Grand Prix, Friday – George Russell would eventually end his 2024 Australian gp with a DNF due to a Fernando Alonso gaffe!

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