Fernando Alonso’s ‘saintly halo’ mocked as verdict delivered on intentions

Martin Brundle delivers his verdict on Fernando Alonso's tactics during his late battle with George Russell.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, Jeddah, Saudi
Fernando Alonso (ESP) Aston Martin F1 Team. Formula 1 World Championship,…

Martin Brundle is convinced that Fernando Alonso used “exactly the same playbook” on George Russell as he did in another incident with David Coulthard back in 2003.

Alonso was slapped with a 20-second penalty for “potentially dangerous driving” in a Turn 6 incident that led to George Russell crashing out at the end of the Australian Grand Prix.

Although the pair did not make contact, Alonso deliberately slowed down into the corner before accelerating again, a manoeuvre which appeared to catch Russell off-guard as he lost control and slammed into the barriers.

The two-time world champion protested that he had been battling battery problems on his car but Sky’s Brundle likened Alonso’s driving to a similar incident when he was fighting Coulthard at the Nurburgring in 2003.

Then driving for Renault, Alonso suddenly slowed on the run to the final chicane, forcing Coulthard to take evasive action by spinning off into the gravel in an accident that prompted suggestions of brake-testing.

“Alonso claimed on the radio that he'd a throttle issue of some kind which is why he was slower than normal on the T6 corner,” Brundle wrote in his column for Sky.

“Russell was obviously pushing hard to be in range for a double dose of DRS assistance down the next two straights, and you never head into a corner making a speed reduction just in case the driver ahead has, or creates, an unexpected deceleration. You're not a racing driver if you do.

“Alonso popped his saintly halo on and went to see the Race Stewards, explaining how he intended to approach turn six differently for a better exit speed which included decelerating 100 metres earlier, brushing the brake, and even a downshift.

“This is what caught Russell out. We've seen Alonso do that before in Nurburgring in 2003 against David Coulthard, and he had exactly the same playbook. Except this time, it caused a huge amount of costly damage for a team who could well be on his wish list.”

In Brundle’s mind, there is no doubt that Alonso’s actions were calculated.

“Fernando's defensive position is, while quoting other epic and clean battles he's had over the decades, that changing racing line or sacrificing entry speed for a better exit is part of the art of motorsport, and that in fact it was the nature of the gravel trap run-off area which caused Russell's crash,” he added.

“Furthermore, that a driver cannot be responsible for making every lap identical while managing many other variables.

“I personally have no doubt that Alonso intended to wrong-foot an eager Russell heading into a clear overtaking zone, but I doubt he intended such a violent outcome for the Mercedes driver.”

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