'In the clear light of day', double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso
has admitted that he 'reacted emotionally' and said things that could have been 'interpreted wrongly' or 'give rise to suspicions' in the immediate aftermath of last weekend's European Grand Prix – and whilst stopping short of issuing an apology to FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting for his comments, the Spaniard asserted that he is now fully focused on 'a desire to fight back'.
Alonso was vociferous in his condemnation of the manner in which race stewards penalised his former team-mate Lewis Hamilton
for overtaking the safety car in Valencia, ostensibly calling into question their integrity and arguing that for having dutifully respected the rules, he was punished substantially more than his rival who broke them and, he contended, got off virtually scot-free [see separate story – click here
In the heat of the moment, the Spaniard had labelled the result 'manipulated' and an 'injustice' that left fans' 'disgusted' and prompted some to even throw a glass bottle onto the track in protest – but three days later, he has mellowed his stance somewhat and seemingly acknowledges that blinded by anger as he was at the time, he might have been a touch too outspoken.
“It wasn't the Sunday we were expecting, that's for sure,” the 22-time grand prix-winner reflected of his second home outing of the season. “The safety car appeared at the worst possible moment for us and completely ruined our race. We were particularly unlucky [with that], as it would have only needed a few seconds more or less to totally change our race.
“It does not achieve much going over the events that followed on, but obviously, in the clear light of day I am much calmer than I was in the moments immediately following the race. At the time, I reacted emotionally, and in that situation it is all-too-easy to adopt a tone and say things that can be interpreted wrongly, giving rise to suspicions, something which I had no intention of doing.
“Sure, I understand that the stewards have a difficult job to do and they have to take decisions that are not easy. What I meant was that those drivers who, like us, respected the regulations, unfortunately in this situation suffered much more than those who broke them, even though they were given a penalty. I am not referring to any of the drivers in particular – it's a general matter and I think we should talk about it together in a calm way, to ensure that things like this do not happen again.
“I was pleased to hear that the FIA has reacted promptly, calling an extraordinary meeting of the Sporting Working Group and I am confident, certain even, that all the points up for discussion will be cleared up in a comprehensive fashion.”
“What happened needs to be looked into, because it is not normal that someone commits a serious infraction like overtaking the safety car when there is a dangerous situation on-track, and is not really penalised in practical terms,” echoed team-mate Felipe Massa, another victim of the safety car controversy and who claimed the two Ferraris were in effect punished for Hamilton's misdemeanour. “We must talk about this together and do something to ensure a situation like this does not happen again.”
Alonso's insistence that he had not been 'referring to any of the drivers in particular' is perhaps a little specious given it seemed fairly apparent on Sunday that Hamilton – with whom he endured a famously fiery and ultimately destructive relationship at McLaren-Mercedes in 2007 – was the key subject of his criticism and ire. Now, however, the Oviedo native is adamant that he is looking only forwards rather than back, and ready to deliver an answer on the circuit in the British Grand Prix
in a week-and-a-half's time to get his title challenge on-track once more.