Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Interlagos, 2015

Unhappy Alonso says penalty shows why F1’s popularity is falling

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso said his penalty in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was an example of why Formula One’s popularity is falling at the moment.

Alonso was given a drive-through penalty and two points on his licence after colliding with Pastor Maldonado at the start of the race. However Alonso blamed contact he had received from Felipe Nasr for the accident.

“I think it has been very tough season for us, very difficult,” Alonso told reporters at Yas Marina. “The performance was quite poor, we’ve been unlucky sometimes – yesterday with the puncture, is a good example.”

“Today a decision like the start, to have a drive-through after you’ve been hit by another car, is a little bit strange. I think it’s unique.”

“F1 ask itself if the sound of the cars or what is the problem to have less and less spectators and I think these kind of decisions they need to make a little bit more sense than what they are doing now because I don’t see this in WEC, in Moto GP and other categories that are much more fun than us. We need to look at many things.”

Alonso added F1 “needs to get some consistency in the penalties, some common sense and just start being fair”.

The stewards ruled Alonso caused the accident with Maldonado by trigging contact with Nasr: “Car 14 caused a collision with car 13 in turn one, in moving across in front of car 12.”

Earlier in the race Alonso had suggested he could park his car if the team were out of contention for a strong result, but he carried on to take the chequered flag.

“We have to save tyres, save fuel, save many things,” he explained, “and I said ‘guys, we will try to push and do the race and if there are no big incidents in the race and we are P18 maybe we retire the car, there is no point to save many things’.”

“But then we managed to do so, we wanted to test the super-softs with low fuel to see the performance of the car and also the graining that we we have a lot here in this this weekend.”

2015 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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75 comments on “Unhappy Alonso says penalty shows why F1’s popularity is falling”

  1. Normally I’ll back the steward’s decisions, but that was a ridiculous penalty. Alonso was plainly hit by the Sauber which put him into Maldonado. Can’t understand how they missed it.

    1. Me too. The replays clearly showed that. Either the stewards do not like Fernando or they just wanted to show more ridiculous decisions. Anyway, it highlights how f1 stewards are at the moment.

    2. yeah, a bit of a strange one that.

    3. @tdog @krichelle Alonso wasn’t hit by the Sauber, He drove across into the Sauber which is what caused the rest of the accident. They did some good analysis of it on Sky & it clearly showed this.

      Had Alonso not squeezed across the front of the Sauber he wouldn’t have hit Pastor so the whole thing was caused by Fernando.

      1. Yeah that’s obvious.

      2. Havent seen sky replays yet. But from the spectators view, it looked like as if Alonso was hit then pushed to the Blue sauber rather than hitting him

    4. @tdog @krichelle @bascb Then again it looked quite clearly in 2012 that Malaysia was VET’s fault….but then we got to see from another angle.

      Might this be something similar?

      1. It might have. I guess to the stewards Alonso was to blame for that first contact too @davidnotcoulthard

  2. Stewards have gone crazy. That is a very stupid penalty.

    1. I disagree, in the video you can see Alonso move right, he was trying cross the path of the Sauber, but there wasn’t enough room, so a contact with the Sauber was inevitable. There wasn’t any reason why the McLaren needed to move right. There was a Ferrari on the right of the Sauber, so there wasn’t any way he could avoid the McLaren.
      After the penalty decision was announced the commentators on Sky Sports said that one of their people had studied lots of video of that incident and said the Stewards got it right.

      1. But Vettel was moving across Nasr as well. And Nasr first hit Vettel, then Alonso.

        1. Disagree, Vettel was going straight until he had to avoid Alonso’s car. Looking at Vettel’s on board camera, I don’t know where the extra power came from, but the McLaren sprinted past the Ferrari with race winning pace, then collided with Maldonado.
          As far as I can tell, if there was a contact between Nasr and Vettel it was simply Nasr trying to avoid Alonso. Alonso was moving right and put Nasr in the position where he had to collide with someone. This was entirely Alono’s own fault.
          The race commentators said one of their people studied all the video very carefully and came to the same conclusion the stewards did, and I agree with them too.

        2. @regs

          Vettel was on the right of the track, he has Alonso between him and Nasr, no?

  3. The man is a quitter. He wanted to park up and go home. Outrageous.

    1. OK then, swap the Mercedes with the Sauber – there’d be no complaints from Rosberg or Hamilton?

      1. Alonso is paid millions to drive that car, it’s his job. If he doesn’t like it then he should quit f1 altogether. Obviously I hope he doesn’t, he took a punt, he’s been saying he hasn’t regretted leaving Ferrari, well by his actions I’m starting to think he is regrettful and has been for months.

        1. He’s a double world champion, but someone who deserves to have Vettel’s haul of titles. Such a driver cannot be expected to not complain while dragging uncompetitive machinery nearly a lap behind the field…

          1. @PT

            but someone who deserves to have Vettel’s haul of titles.

            Why he deserves that?

          2. @oletros

            Because if he had the dominant cars enjoyed by Vettel and Hamilton these years he would have been a 4-time or even 5-time world champion. It’s a pity, the situation he’s finding himself in…

          3. Complain? He wanted to park up and go home. Alonso made his own career choices. Nobody asked him to leave McLaren in 07. Lewis went on the next year and became champion, nobody asked him to leave Ferrari where they turned things around so much they are Mercedes closest rivals.

          4. @PT

            And if Button had those dominant cars he perhaps would have 2 or 3 WDC.

            But those woulda shoulda doesn’t mean that one driver deserves more a WDC than other. He had the opportunity to go to RBR in 2008 and he didn’t wanted to go

          5. if he had… well he had a dominant car when he got the 2 wdc… had another good car 2007… both ham and alo are guilty of not getting the wdc that year.. 2010 was another good car.. but the fight was closer with more teams just like 2012…being more experienced.. and doing his magic like his deluded fans always claim… he should be. 5 time wc..by now.. having a dominant car is not always the answer… look ros and Webb…

          6. Such a driver cannot be expected to not complain while dragging uncompetitive machinery nearly a lap behind the field…

            So, complain about the uncompetitive machinery, don’t blame F1 for the lack of performance of the car. The lack of performance is entirely the fault of McLaren and Honda.

          7. Sadly, this time he even was two laps behind.

          8. @Oletros, j3d89

            I do agree that Alonso’s bad career choice are to be blame for the mess he’s in. And that he screwed up in 2007. But the two years he won the title at 2005 and 2006 were not exactly with dominant cars. In 2005 the McLaren was the superior machinery right from Monaco, while in 2006 Ferrari got their act together, while Renault’s damper system was banned during the season too. Most of Vettel’s titles and Hamilton’s Mercedes titles were in dominant machinery. That’s why I said that had Alonso gotten those dominant Red Bulls and Mercedes AMGs, he would have whitewashed the competition.

            Let’s face it – even if Lewis or Vettel were in an uncompetitive car and racing a lap behind, they would have complained. So why blame Alonso for talking about parking and taking an early shower?

          9. please remember that a dominant car is not exactly the fastest.. but an overall of speed.. acceleration..
            RELIABILITY.. yes.. but if to you dominant means fast.. then RB was never dominant during the 4 years :) … so is either you accept Alonso did have a the dominant car or accept the RB wasn’t actually dominant.. you have a contradiction my friend

        2. First of all, many other drivers, including the reigning world champion, have “threatened” to retire, when things have gone wrong and the likelihood of finishing in points is not possible. Of course, finishing in the top ten in McHonda would have been a tall order either way. Having said that, I am glad he didn’t quit, he later stated that the team gained some data.
          Also, it’s getting really annoying to hear some people stating that Alonso regrets leaving Ferrari last year. Alonso has finished 2nd to Vettel in the dominant Red Bull in 3 out of 5 years at Ferrari; 4th in 2011, and 6th in 2014. In his mind, Ferrari would never be on top again within his time frame, so he decided to leave for McLaren. So far, it has not paid off, it’s a risk, but I don’t think he regrets it, since he has stated before that, for him, coming in 2nd or last is the same. With the time he has left in a F1 career, he wants to win championships, not just win 3 GPs in a season or finish 3rd in the driver’s championship. All or nothing.

    2. the way he pushed the car in austria qualy proves otherwise.

  4. Maybe I was watching a different incident. From what I saw, Alonso drove into the Sauber despite having loads of room and from then on only managed to ruin his and Maldonado’s race. Had it been Maldonado (or three years ago Grosjean) doing that, I can assure you that the majority would have been calling for their heads.

    1. @craig-o It looks like that was the stewards’ reasoning as well. They obviously do not agree with Alonso that he was simply “hit by another car” before colliding with Maldonado:

      “Car 14 caused a collision with car 13 in turn 1, in moving across in front of Car 12.”

    2. @craig-o Indeed. I simply can’t believe I walked into a fantasy land where apparently Nasr crashed into Alonso. Baffling.

    3. @craig-o rubbish move from Alonso, altough he only made a slight move to the left.

  5. He is right. Many penalties in F1, it´s ridiculous

  6. What was wrong with the stewards this race? Alonso penalty was 100% undeserved as he was quite clearly hit on the back by Nasr which caused him to run into Maldonado, and thus, it was NOT his fault. And then Verstappen’s penalty was ridiculous as well. What was he supposed to do? Turn into Jenson? Or just back off and lose 2-3 seconds?

    1. @mashiat Alonso clearly drove into Nasr. He had loads of room to his left, yet still squeezed Nasr into Vettel. It could very well have been four cars included instead of just three. Also with Verstappen-Button, 100% deserved. Verstappen almost took to an entire different track layout to complete that move, and there was a precedent for penalties in that situation (lookup Vettel-Button at Germany 2012, or Vettel-Grosjean in Abu Dhabi 2012).

      It’s amazing – people cry for consistency in stewards decisions by asking them to be inconsistent.

  7. I’d like to know how alonso gets a drive through penalty and bott as gets a 5 second penalty. Don’t blame alonso for wanting to park up how do you make up places when you have to save fuel save tires and can’t push. I watched 5 laps and gave up for the tennis.

    1. I’d like to know how alonso gets a drive through penalty and bott as gets a 5 second penalty.

      Perhaps because Alonso caused a DNF and Bottas only ruined his own race?

      1. Ah so if you ruin you’re own race you can crash into anyone you want. Good to know that. A crash is a crash if ones a drive through penalty then so should the others.

        1. Have you read the stewards decisions?

        2. Bottas incident was mostly the team’s fault though. Alonso’s was his own doing.

    2. The Stewards document says the Bottas penalty was for

      Unsafe release from a pit stop

      Alonso’s penalty was for causing a collision, different offences hence the different penalty.

      I think 5 seconds is the standard penalty for an unsafe release.

  8. Both McLaren drivers are bad professionals and sore losers. Look at how the Renault guys fought without power parity. It’s true that both McLaren were even slower than the Renaults but Button clashed twice with Maldonado and one time in Singapore, Jenson somehow blamed Maldonado, now Button fights excellently against Max but then runs him over off track, amazingly Max gets a penalty. Alonso was tagged by the Sauber but it was Alonso who cut across the Sauber. Above all it was Jenson who raced unsportsmanlike, 3 or 4 clashes, exciting but crashing and getting away with it is not okay. The stewards this season reached an all time low. Bias and inane. By the way how did the stewards overnight, cleared ferrari on Haas?

  9. I think the penalty was justified, They did some analysis on Sky which showed that the whole turn 1 incident was started by Fernando moving across the track, cutting across the front of & causing contact with the Sauber.

    Had he not moved across into the Sauber he wouldn’t have had the 2nd contact with Maldonado so the whole thing was caused by Fernando.

  10. Fernando, the grandstands are half empty because F1 races in many countries without a large F1 following and because ticket prices are too expensive!

  11. FIA is killing F1 with so many penalties. Meanwhile, Alonso is not the most loved by the stewards, only two incidents have been punished in recent times: Alonso Monaco 2015 and Abu Dhabi 2015. Ridiculous

    1. *only two incidents in the first lap

    2. And why it is ridiculous?

  12. Sorry Fernando. It was your fault. You squeezed and cut across the Sauber, then went ahead and bumped into Lotus.

  13. He’s gotten so whiny lately. It was clearly his fault. Imagine another driving doing and saying the same thing, comments would go crazy…

    1. This entire ‘imagine if another driver did/said this’ argument is really catching on, isn’t it?

      1. @npf1 Because it’s glaringly obvious. You don’t need to be a clairvoyant to know what would happen if Maldonado and Alonso swapped places there. Poking fun and pointing fingers at certain drivers is almost a sport in itself.

        1. Yep. That’s pretty much it. We have a crazy “fandom” unfortunately. Shortly, we will also have “ships”.

  14. To be honest I do think the current penalty system can be quite confusing to casual viewers and even to some not so casual. The application of penalties however is usually confusing to everyone. Fernando’s got a point, but at the same time I think that F1 needs to look at itself in many ways in terms of promoting itself. I don’t think the penalty system is the place to start with that, though.

  15. Yes they do need to be more consistent, but ALO take you penalty like a man – you moved over aggressively what was the Sauber to do, you caused it.

    If you were behind you would be on the Radio “penalty, penalty”

  16. The penalty system is not there to make sure the guy right at the back is pushed even further back…..points on a licence would make more sense…..Alonso is looking a not happy man with Mclaren….but having just heard christian horner on te bbc forum saying his next yr engine Ron D would not be happy with….if I assumed from that it could be a Honda……and as Honda pay Alonsos wages….could Alonso not end up a Red Bull driver nxt season…best chassis and all that…..or do I need to lie down…..

  17. Wow, has Alonso been delusional of late. He drives for a backmarker team, won his last championship 10 years ago, loses to Button on points, and still believes that one of the reasons F1’s appeal is vaning is stewards punishing his reckless driving! Had his talent been at least half the size of his ego, he’d have been at least 4 times WDC by now. Relax, Nano, F1 has much bigger problems than the incidents at the back of the field, or imaginary stewarding inconsistencies, and they have nothing to do with you and your neighbors from Manor.

  18. I’m a devout Alonso fan, but that was his fault. He moved into the Sauber. Clear as day.
    However, he’s right about the penalties. A drive though penalty doesn’t make much sense when Bottas only had a 5 second penalty. A relatively minor incident on the track shouldn’t be penalized more harshly than a collision in the pitlane. Had Bottas been 12 inches forward he would have spun Button around possibly into his team.

    Anyone saying Alonso is a quitter is insane. If he was a quitter he would have given up months ago. This year’s McLaren was a dog with no shot of anything. He’s kept a positive attitude almost 100% of the time with just a few minor grumbles. Wanting to retire the car when he’s 80 seconds back and being told to save the tires and fuel is completely understandable. What’s the point of being out there when you’re told not to drive hard? There’s probably very little data to gather for 2016 so it probably wasn’t even worth the test time.

    I’m not sure if the penalties are what’s killing F1’s popularity, but they don’t help. I’ve been watching F1 for a long time but I’m always baffled by the inconsistencies. 5 seconds here, drive through there, nothing for others.

    1. A relatively minor incident on the track shouldn’t be penalized more harshly than a collision in the pitlane.

      The “minor incident” cause the DNF of Maldonado, how is this minor?

      1. @oletros, probably because nobody here cares for Maldonado. The fact that he was taken out of the race doesn’t seem to register with most people, or is only a “minor incident” to those who vaguely acknowledge that fact – even Keith Collantine was more interested in making cheap shots at Maldonado’s misfortune rather than offering any critical analysis of Alonso’s behaviour.

        If Alonso had collided with a more popular driver as a consequence of his manoeuvres, I suspect that there would be much more criticism of his driving though.

        1. He almost collected Vettel as well.

  19. Backmarkers should show some humility. This guy is clearly not up to the job in F1 and should go back wherever he came from. He had a horrible season of making mistakes and getting outscoured by his teammate. These are the two things you can NEVER afford to do in the back of the grid if you want to stay in the sport.

  20. Another rookie mistake by a two times world champion. He must leave formula 1 and go to race elsewhere.

    1. You can’t be serious.

      1. Yes I am.

        1. Why don’t you just change your name to ‘I hate Alonso’? Since that’s all you do around here.

  21. Maldonado was responsible. Another stupid crash. Stewards should have punish him harsh. Lotus should give his seat to another skillful driver. Maldonado doesn’t deserve his F1 seat. Stop pay drivers in F1. How can this stupid guy excuse himself after what we all saw? Revoke his license before somebody gets really hurt …. Did I miss something?

    1. Yeah how dare he get crashed into. If he was not on the track that crazy McLaren driver would not have crashed into him. Maldonado did somehow get a penalty in Singapore when Button drove into the back of him. The stewards are not consistent it is always Maldonado’s fault.

      1. I might be wrong, but I think Luis was kidding, hence the question at the end.

    2. +1 ja ja ja

  22. “We have to save tyres, save fuel, save many things,” he explained, “and I said ‘guys, we will try to push and do the race and if there are no big incidents in the race and we are P18 maybe we retire the car, there is no point to save many things’.”

    I completely agree with Alonso. What is the point of Saving so many things and then ending up P18 ? As well save them all and end up P20 !!!

  23. I think Fernando has always been a little on the sulky side but he is a great driver. A lot of it must be his frustration at the bad decisions he has made. Both him and Button are far too good to be trailing around at the back so it must be quite dispiriting. On the contrary to some on here, I think they have for the most part been very professional this year, most of the time. Button probably more so than Alonso.

    In effect you have two world champions driving something that until recently has been little better than a Manor. I f we think back this is a very unusual situation in recent times. Poor cars are usually driven by young or even mediocre drivers since good reliability has become more common place.

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