No penalty for Alonso over Vergne incident

2013 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Yas Marina, 2013The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix stewards have taken no action over the incident between Fernando Alonso and Jean-Eric Vergne during the race.

Alonso was investigated for “allegedly leaving the track and gaining an advantage” at turn three when he overtook the Toro Rosso driver.

The stewards ruled that “While car three [Alonso] did leave the track at turn three to four the stewards believe that he had no choice, as car eighteen [Vergne] closed on him.”

“Car eighteen was at the end of his stint with worn tyres and was fully committed to the turn as car three exited the pits. Telemetry confirms that car three was significantly faster, on option tyres, and had the advantage throughout the sequence. The drivers’ explanations were completely clear.

“Therefore the stewards determine that neither car could avoid the incident, and no advantage was gained as a result of the incident.”

Alonso blamed Vergne for the incident, saying the Toro Rosso driver left him insufficient space.

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147 comments on No penalty for Alonso over Vergne incident

  1. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:04

    “Telemetry confirms that [Alonso]… had the advantage throughout the sequence… and no advantage was gained as a result of the incident.”

    Leaving the track to avoid an “incident” which otherwise would become an “accident” is what top drivers have the reactions and skills to do. It is part of racing. (Despite Coulthard and others reporting that Whiting was going to be firm, it’s obvious — thank goodness — that the stewards decided differently, else half the qualifying times would have been thrown out.)

    And before anyone raises “safety”, F1 is racing, not sitting at a computer playing games. Safety has improved enormously since I started watching F1 (multiple deaths every year) and I see no reason at all for the occasional close proximity “incident” to not be accepted as part of normal racing. This year’s F1 has been boring enough without penalizing drivers who have an innate sense of “b*lls to the wall” and the skill to pull it off.

    • Paul A (@paul-a) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:14

      And I trust that Alonso is OK after his hospital visit (reported by BBC) — apparently the “telemetry” said he pulled 28G into his spine.

    • Alonso sees slower car coming around the bend, and keeps the foot down so he is on collision course with other car. He then moves outside of the track limits and overtakes the other car, and the stewards say ‘no advantage was gained’. To me, there is a definite advantage to overtaking someone.

      And then there’s Charlie Whiting saying that going wide on the outside of a bend doesn’t give any advantage … funny that everyone still did it in qualifying – the drivers must be pretty dumb to keep doing it when there’s ‘no advantage’ …

      I wonder how long they expect us to keep believing them …

  2. maarten.f1 (@maarten-f1) said on 3rd November 2013, 20:10

    I think I’ll go with whatever the stewards have decided, and what Vergne said. Good decision. I find it amazing that there are so many people here are bashing the stewards while they have all the information to make a decision, and we, well, we don’t really have any information. The stewards will have access to telemetry data, hear the driver’s statements (without any PR filter), look at various camera angels, etc. Why is it so hard for people to accept the stewards’ decision then? What do we have? A couple of replays and an interview with an upset Alonso.

  3. Paul2013 said on 3rd November 2013, 20:16

    The only problem here it is that @keithcollantine really hates Alonso. Apart from that there is no other possible decision from the FIA and Alonso had no other choice.

  4. Jorge Lardone (@jorge-lardone) said on 3rd November 2013, 22:24

    “Follow the money, always follow the money”. Alonso “is” Santander, who puts lots of money into formula 1. He wil never be penalised, the stewards always will find some explanation for that.

    • Hyoko said on 3rd November 2013, 22:59

      Unfortunately for your theory he has been penalised and/or forced to give back the position as often as the next guy. And while it is true that a few somewhat similar incidents have been penalised (Grosjean on Massa notably) many others (a few of them in today’s race) haven’t been. Yes, there are inconsistencies, it is nothing new. But you need tunnel vision to say they favor a particular driver or team. Maybe there was a time when FIA could be Ferrari’s Int etc, but that was quite a few years ago.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 4th November 2013, 16:39

      Absolutely brilliant by your logic mr @jorge-lardone of “Follow the money, always follow the money”
      Vettel is Red Bull and Red Bull puts lots of money into formula 1 that’s why he is a 4 times WDC (they have TC and an illegal car but because of the money no one can say a word)
      Hamilton & Roseberg are Mercedes and Mercedes puts lots of money into formula 1 that’s why they are 2nd in the WCC
      Please if you have more theories don’t hesitate !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. snowman.john (@snowman-john) said on 3rd November 2013, 23:53

    Madness and dangerous. So we have a new rule that says “if you have a fast car then you are allowed to take a shortcut”? The correct option was for Alonso to lift off the throttle.

  6. Michael Brown (@) said on 4th November 2013, 0:33

    I know Alonso had to avoid Vergne due to how the pit exit is, but he overtook Vergne by going off the track. Even worse in my opinion is Sutil cutting the chicane to stay ahead of Perez. He didn’t gain a place, but he possibly failed to lose one

  7. Face21 (@face21) said on 4th November 2013, 0:46

    I believe this is an inconsistent decision with what we have seen so far this season, plus it hasn’t been properly argued by the stewards. I don’t think the argument is about Vergne leaving enough space or Alonso coming out of the pits and having to lift to let Vergne through as many people say. The point is that Alonso did leave the track and he did gain an advantage (which was to be in front of Vergne after leaving the track while fighting for position). The fact that Alonso was quicker and on fresher rubber it totally irrelevant, as when an incident of this sort happens, the car trying to overtake is usually faster and is the one leaving the track most of the times, so it could always be used and this rule would never be enforced.

    The only argument that Alonso could hold not to be punished is that he was in front of Vergne all the time, and thus he did not gain a real advantage, but then again, we have seen examples this year where a driver leaves the track fighting for position and gets a penalty even though he was in front all the time, i.e. the Hulkenberg/Perez incident in Singapore:
    http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2013/09/22/hulkenberg-disagrees-with-stewards-over-perez-move/

    For those people arguing that Alonso could have done nothing else as lifting wouldn’t have avoided a collision with Vergne, my point is still clear: he could have given the position back on the next corner as it is usually done on this sort of situation. And this is what he should have done in my opinion. The chicane after the tunnel in Monaco is a clear example. There is no way that two cars can go parallel through there, so when there is a tight move, the driver on the outside usually jumps the chicane and then gives the position back so that he gains no advantage and therefore no penalty. Given the speed Alonso had on the soft tire at the end of the race he would have probably ended up fifth even if he had given the position back to Vergne. However, he didn’t, and so he deserved a penalty in my opinion.

    Having said that, I must point out that I don’t like this rule at all. It penalizes aggressive drives and risky moves, which is what really spices up the races. It also takes a lot of human interpretation which isn’t always consistent as we have seen today. A simpler solution (although more expensive in terms of money) would be to replace the track limits with a surface that would slow cars down, so that people would not get a real advantage by running over the track limits. Let the drivers fight! We want more racing and less judging!!!

  8. Jono (@me262) said on 4th November 2013, 1:49

    blah blah blah vettel won the race, championship long decided. Even if he received a penalty, Alonso has nothing to fight for…this is a big who cares along with the rest of F1 races remaining

  9. The dimensions this comments stream has taken on is quite remarkable…everything from conspiracy theories to insulting the operator of this site…so, here’s my take:

    1. re: conspiracy theories and teflonso – besides the nice ring that the nickname has, and the big politics and big money that do have an undue and undesirable influence on the sport, this incidence is hardly evidence of either. only thinking that vergne should have been punished is a bigger reach (which btw is the only thing that alonso deserves criticism for).

    2. As for the steward’s decision(s) – the ‘inconsistencies’ are often a function of the situational awareness and context-sensitive application of the rules that we indeed expect from them. So, lets cut them some slack when we have a different interpretation of the events or the rules. If you think this was a clear cut rule infringement, I disagree (sort of)…

    3. The pit lane exit as the special circumstance that vindicates Alonso – Initially, I also thought that Alonso could have lifted to avoid the incidence (after all he does join the track behind Vergne), and so he clearly gained an advantage by going off track which wasn’t inevitable had he ‘decided’ not to go for the pass. So, punish Alonso. BUT, I wonder if the ‘slowing down’ should really be considered an option, and the passing move really a decision on the part of Alonso. If you consider that, in this case, you have two cars flying at a high speed turn being catapulted at each other from what are effectively two different racing lines, it would have taken incredible prescience and reaction-speed for Alonso to have done better than he did and avoid not only a crash but the incidence altogether. Hence, one might consider the peculiar pit-lane exit as the decisive factor in causing the incidence (not a ‘decision’ of Alonso’s to try to pass, and certainly not a ‘decision’ of Vergne’s not to leave room) and Alonso leaving the track as a good option to avoid a big, big crash. Still, ideally, he should have relinquished his position, but given this reading of events I can understand a reluctance to punish him after the race.

    4. @keith – I just discovered this site after the japan gp. Mainstream media articles (whether british, german, or spanish) are often compromised by either a national bias or the need to fish for headlines. Your articles exhibit a keen understanding of racing and express your affection for the sport rather than any particular driver. Well done!

  10. So on Alonso’s list of options as he exitted the pits, braking was obviously not an option….according to the race stewards that is. Straight lining a corner and gaining an advantage is also okay.

    Perez and Maldonado have just found an answer to their steward woes.

  11. Oskar (@oskar) said on 4th November 2013, 9:41

    Fair. And Vergne agrees with the FIA.

    • Palle (@palle) said on 4th November 2013, 19:50

      He didn’t see it from outside or above or from Alonso’s car, so his ability to judge it is somewhat impaired, but off course, when the stewards have spoken he knows that his opinion won’t change things. Fact is that had it been with barriers like in Monaco, Alonso would have backed off as many have pointed out, and this logic makes it obvious that the stewards are wrong on this issue. They should immediately have asked Alonso to give the position back and the issue would have been solved correctly. It is difficult and a bit unfair to give him a punishment after the race.

  12. P5ycH0 said on 4th November 2013, 11:31

    These on/off track discussions can be avoided by making the tracks interesting again.
    Give us back the sand traps, tyre-stacks and move the barriers closer to the track.
    This wouldn’t be a discussion if it happened on a track like monaco. Alonso would’ve hold back or crashed into the barrier.
    There is no ‘penalty’ anymore for making mistakes. Nowadays you can just move on. In the past you would have your car trapped in the sand. I think it would make racing more exiting.
    I’ve really started to hate these Herman Tylke tracks. Pure Boredom.

  13. olivier (@olivier) said on 5th November 2013, 12:48

    If the driver involved in the incident would have been a driver other than Alonso, say Di Resta, I’m certain the reaction from the readers would have been very different. Since Alonso is not liked very much, whatever he does or does not do is always under scrutiny …

  14. Michael Brown (@) said on 5th November 2013, 15:08

    Alonso going off track to avoid a crash is ok. He should have given the place back to Vergne because he overtook him off the track, which is an illegal overtake.

    The stewards are saying that Alonso had a much larger grip and speed advantage, but that doesn’t excuse him from overtaking illegally.

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