Hungary for controversy?

Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher both punished before the Grand Prix gets started? You better believe it happened, and here’s how.

Fernando Alonso brake-tests Robert Doornbos (video, external)

Fernando Alonso, Renault, Hungaroring, 2006Alonso was held up by Doornbos in the second practice session on Friday. He reated by waving his fist at the Red Bull-Ferrari test driver, and brake testing him around the first corner.

The stewards gave him a penalty of one second on his qualifying lap time, plus a further second for overtaking under a yellow flag, giving him a two second penalty on the grid that leaves him 15th.

The most similar incident to the first in recent memory was when Juan Pablo Montoya brake-tested Ralf Schumacher at Monaco in 2005. This created a chain reaction which caused Jacques Villeneuve to crash. Montoya had all of his qualifying deleted and had to start from the back, so given the relative severity of the two incidents Alonso’s punishment seems fair.

Michael Schumacher passes two cars under a red flag (video, external)

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Monte-Carlo, 2006Schumacher’s misdemeanour was quite different. It was not the first pre-race controversy he has been embrioled in this year – and its utterly astonishing given that he was poised to benefit from Alonso’s earlier penalty.

In the third practice session on Sunday the red flags were shown to stop the session following Jenson Button’s Honda engine failed. Returning to the pits, Schumacher passed Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso.

Although Ferrari boss Ross Brawn admitted that Schumacher was at fault he criticised the severity of the punishment, suggesting that the two second penalty Schumacher received was too great as it equalled Alonso’s penalty for two separate fouls. Schumacher will start 11th tomorrow.
And Alonso’s role in the incident is bound to be the subject of speculation – did he or did he not slow traffic to entice Schumacher to pass?

If he did, though unsporting, it worked like a charm.

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