Suzuka brews a storm: Alonso’s ‘brake test’ under fire

In anticipation of an official drivers’ meeting at Suzuka, a unique atmosphere was being prepared for Fernando Alonso, a seasoned champion, by several of his competitors. Following an incident and subsequent significant crash in Melbourne involving Alonso, George Russell encountered the veteran driver in a coffee shop, where discussion likely touched on the contentious move that had previously led to Alonso’s penalisation—a move criticized by many as both illegal and dangerous.

Max Verstappen light-heartedly asked Russell, “Did you brake test him there or not?”

Despite the controversy, some drivers expressed support for the 42-year-old Alonso. Lando Norris remarked, “What Fernando did was strange and extreme, but I don’t think it even came close to being considered a brake test.”

Conversely, Alonso’s actions were not without their detractors. Sergio Perez believed, “I believe Fernando crossed the line with his actions,” while Nico Hulkenberg shared his disappointment and skepticism about Alonso’s maneuvers and comments, adding, “But it was the wrong corner for games.”

Carlos Sainz, a friend and compatriot of Alonso, instead pointed fingers at the Albert Park track design in Melbourne, advocating for a review of the run-off areas, especially around the 250kph bend.

Max Verstappen, a three-time world champion, stated, “We’ll discuss it in the drivers’ briefing,” indicating a forthcoming conversation among the drivers regarding the incident.

Alonso remained unyielding, asserting that the penalty would not alter his or his team’s racing strategy or approach. He speculated that the stewards would likely not impose a similar penalty in the future, emphasizing, “There is no obligation to complete all 57 laps the same way.”

Valtteri Bottas expressed surprise at the punishment handed down, suggesting that if Russell had not crashed, the incident might not have led to any penalisation. He remarked on the importance of drivers’ freedom to choose their speed and trajectory, albeit acknowledging the delicate balance required, “It looked pretty dramatic, but I think we should always be able to choose the speed and the line. But it’s a fine line.”

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari voiced his concerns, stating that Alonso’s actions in Australia were excessive and warranted penalisation, “What Fernando did in Australia went too far and he had to be penalised.”

Kevin Magnussen reflected on the complexity of assigning blame and called for consistency in penalties, noting an apparent increase in their severity, “I wasn’t in either Alonso’s or Russell’s car, but to me it didn’t look like it was just Alonso’s fault. The main thing we want is consistent penalties, but they seem to be a bit harsher this year. Yeah, I was a little surprised.”

GMM

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