F1: Alonso outburst fails to overshadow best Euro GP yet

By Gareth Llewellyn
fernando alonso

Fernando Alonso (Photo: PH-Stop)

Fernando Alonso and Ferrari were critical of the FIA over its handling of a safety car incident involving rival Lewis Hamilton at the European Grand Prix.

Ferrari called it “a scandal” while their driver Alonso all but said the FIA’s race stewards “fixed” the outcome as he vented spleen towards officials after suffering behind the safety car following Mark Webber’s high-speed collision with Heikki Kovalainen.

The comments might have been said in the heat of the moment, but the FIA cannot allow comments of that nature to be made against it. It is tantamount to bringing the sport in to disrepute, ironically something Alonso and Ferrari levelled at the FIA post-race.

To most observers, the stewards did what they usually do. An infringement was called, it was investigated, and an appropriate penalty handed out in accordance with the sporting regulations. How is that a fix?

It is perhaps because Alonso was racing at home in Valencia—a circuit he has never performed well at in three races—and because his team had brought significant upgrades that led him to believe a victory was certain.

That Ferrari were stuck behind the safety car is misfortune on their part. Yes, Hamilton broke the rules by overtaking the safety car, but the incident was investigated, and he was penalised.

Had he not served a drive-through penalty, Hamilton could well have challenged Vettel for the lead and subsequently race victory.

While Hamilton has admitted what he did was wrong, he was penalised. That Ferrari are upset that they did not get the result they wanted does not allow them to level such accusations at officials who have a difficult enough job to do.

Alonso has said his race was ruined because he was in a long chain of traffic. Could he not have pushed and tried to overtake the other cars? While overtaking is difficult at the circuit in an F1 car, it is certainly possible.

Will Formula 1 lose credibility over it again? No, not really. Sour grapes from a big marque does not mean losing credibility, they were unfortunate to spend an extra lap behind the safety car. What most fans saw was a surprisingly great race.

There was a spectacular crash involving a key player in the drivers’ championship battle, and the safety car levelled the field, which allowed rookie Kamui Kobayashi—in a usually poor Sauber car—the opportunity to spend the majority of the race in a podium position ahead of world champion Jenson Button.

There was also wheel-to-wheel racing down the order as drivers battled for points positions. As witnessed in GP3 and GP2, overtaking at the Valencia Street Circuit is possible, even in an F1 car, as demonstrated brilliantly by Kobayashi after his late pit stop to take Alonso, and then one of the sport’s rising stars Sébastien Buemi.

It was easily the best European Grand Prix yet in Valencia, which is what most people will take from the race. Unless, that is, you are a Spanish two-time world champion or employed by Ferrari.

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