Alpine F1 driver Fernando Alonso did not have a particularly prosperous Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix.
Making his first appearance at Circuit of the Americas since 2018, Alonso started Sunday’s race in Austin, Texas, from the back due to an engine change and was forced into retirement due to a rear wing issue.
The early exit didn’t stop Alonso from still having an eventful time and even another spat with Formula 1’s race stewards. Again, the subject surrounded track limits and racing etiquette.
In Austria earlier in the year, Alonso was frustrated by rivals who used the tarmac run-off on the first lap to gain positions. Alonso felt he’d been “stupid” not to take the same approach given penalties weren’t issued.
A similar situation arose in Russia whereby his approach to the first corner—taking to the run-off to maximize his chances—garnered attention. He quipped that there were different rules for different people.
In the U.S. Grand Prix at Austin, while defending from Kimi Räikkönen, the duo came close through Turn 1, brushing sidepods as they rounded the hairpin. Räikkönen used the outside line, and the run-off, to stay committed and sealed the position into Turn 2, but stewards deemed no investigation was necessary and he was allowed to keep the place. For two champions, one of whom is retiring in a couple of months, battling over 13th place was hardly career-changing, but it proved a sore point for Alonso.
Elsewhere in the race, including when Alonso tried to pass Räikkönen’s Alfa Romeo team-mate Antonio Giovinazzi into Turn 12, drivers who used the run-off to their advantage were told to cede position. The inconsistency rattled Alonso.
“Well I think he overtook me outside the track,” said Alonso in regards to Räikkönen. “The rule is very clear. We just need to put in place the rule. In (soccer), when you take the ball inside the area with the hand, it’s a penalty. There is no clarification of the rule. You just need to take the decision and say that it’s a penalty. Because if not, everyone will be inside the area with the ball inside his hand.”
In reality, it was an aggressive piece of defending from Alonso for the light contact was sufficient to cause floor damage to Räikkönen’s Alfa Romeo. Räikkönen, on tires that wore faster due to the downforce loss, later spun out of 10th place in the closing stages. But Alonso was still keen to highlight the situation.
“In a way, you always force a guy to go off track when you brake on the inside: you commit to overtaking,” said Alonso. “And they on the outside need to decide if they back off, or keep the full throttle off the track outside the circuit. It is what (Carlos) Sainz did. (Antonio) Giovinazzi did, I did. And we have to give back the position for sure, because you are running full throttle off track. But Kimi didn’t. So that’s why I felt that it was not consistent. I lost like 10 seconds by doing all these things, and obviously the point possibilities were gone.
“In Sochi, I missed Turn 1 and in Turkey, Thursday it was a hot topic. Here, without forcing people wide, there were like three cars in Turn 1 going out by their own decision. So, let’s see if (at) Mexico (it) is a hot topic. Or it’s just all fine because Fernando didn’t make any (places) off track.”
Formula 1’s race director Michael Masi was sympathetic to Alonso’s predicament but explained the stance.
“I can understand his frustration,” said Masi. “The call with him and Kimi was certainly marginal and we’ll have a discussion at the next driver meeting about it, as there were two parts to the story, which is the overtake and the forcing off track. We’ll discuss it as a group at the next meeting.”
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