For the second time in as many races in F1 2010, double world champion Fernando Alonso failed to see eye-to-eye with the stewards during last weekend's British Grand Prix – but despite taking the chequered flag well outside the points in 14th place, the Ferrari star is adamant that he is now far more confident about his title chances than he was before.
Having qualified third as 'best-of-the-rest' behind the two runaway Red Bull Racing machines at Silverstone, a poor getaway for Alonso saw the Spaniard and team-mate Felipe Massa bang wheels around the opening lap – not the first time this season that the pair have come close to disaster on the race track – leaving the Brazilian with a puncture and his tyre, and race hopes, in shreds.
Alonso was able to continue, albeit down in fifth behind the fast-starting Renault of Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg's Mercedes Grand Prix. Following the pit-stops, he retained P5 but now found himself behind Kubica, whom Rosberg had leapfrogged – and in his desperation to get past his good friend and chase down the podium, the Oviedo native finally found a way by the yellow car at Vale, but in doing so had to take to the grass.
Should a driver gain an advantage from running off the circuit, the rules then state that he must give the place back again, but this Alonso neglected to do – and by the time Ferrari belatedly informed him to let Kubica back past, the Pole was touring into retirement with driveshaft failure.
A drive-through penalty was consequently administered – the timing of which, just after the safety car had appeared to help clear up the debris from compatriot Pedro de la Rosa's disintegrating rear wing on the Hangar Straight, could scarcely have been any worse – leaving the 22-time grand prix-winner down in 16th position, from where he made little progress over the remaining laps.
“I made a horrible start – we had some problems with the clutch – and then came the incident with Kubica which further affected my race,” he reported. “I do not wish to comment on the stewards' decision. The team acted correctly, but the instruction to hand back the position arrived when I had already passed another driver and in the meantime, Kubica was visibly slowing down before retiring. On top of that, the penalty coincided with the safety car and so, rather than just losing a couple of positions, I lost around a dozen.”
He might not have wished to comment, but following the race Alonso did expand upon his feelings about the penalty he had received, just a fortnight on from the 'injustice' he felt he had been dealt at the hands of stewards in Valencia, who he had opined gave former team-mate Lewis Hamilton an easy ride for illegally overtaking the safety car, whilst for obediently respecting the letter of the law he and Massa had been far more heavily punished through loss of time, leading to what he had argued was a 'manipulated' result.
Whilst betraying a calm, composed indignation rather than blind, incandescent rage this time around, the 28-year-old – whose team briefly considered appealing his Silverstone penalty – did sarcastically quip that the stewards' decisions are 'always fair', electing to keep in-check his emotions that two weeks ago had led to angry accusations of deliberate victimisation.
“The criteria is the same for everybody,” he mused, according to The Daily Telegraph
. “The stewards look closely at all the incidents of the race and they always make the decision they think is the right one. I think we did what we had to do and I don't think we had to change anything. There will be a lot of opinions from people watching on TV while having a beer, saying we should have let Kubica by in a moment when, first, there was nothing to do – if there had had been a wall instead of grass I would have crashed against it and they would have penalised Kubica most likely.