Rivals plan awkward drivers’ briefing for Alonso at Suzuka

"Did you brake test him there or not?"


5 April 2024 - 09:27
Rivals plan awkward drivers' (...)

Many of Fernando Alonso’s rivals at Suzuka were planning an awkward official drivers’ briefing for the two-time champion.

George Russell says he bumped into the Spaniard in a coffee shop last week following their incident and his big crash in Melbourne - after stewards penalised Alonso for what many are calling a clear case of an illegal and dangerous move.

"Did you brake test him there or not?" Max Verstappen joked to Russell on Thursday.

Some drivers, however, sided with 42-year-old Alonso. "What Fernando did was strange and extreme," said Lando Norris, "but I don’t think it even came close to being considered a brake test."

Alonso’s friend and countryman Carlos Sainz, meanwhile, blamed Melbourne’s Albert Park layout, insisting the amount of run-off at a 250kph bend "needs to be reviewed".

Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg, however, were much more scathing of Alonso’s behaviour.

"I believe Fernando crossed the line with his actions," Perez admitted.

Hulkenberg, meanwhile, said in the Suzuka paddock: "I wasn’t that impressed by Fernando’s manoeuvres. Some of his statements don’t add up for me either.

"But it was the wrong corner for games."

As for triple world champion Verstappen, he said simply: "We’ll discuss it in the drivers’ briefing."

For his part, a typically defiant Alonso insisted the penalty "won’t change the way we drive or our approach to racing", and predicts the stewards won’t impose a similar penalty in future.

"There is no obligation to complete all 57 laps the same way," he charged.

Valtteri Bottas agrees: "To be honest, I was quite surprised by the punishment. If George hadn’t ended up in the wall, there probably wouldn’t have been anything.

"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," the Finn acknowledged.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, though, commented: "My opinion is that it is something we do as drivers. But not to that extent.

"What Fernando did in Australia went too far and he had to be penalised."

Finally, Kevin Magnussen said: "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."

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