Written by Apostolos Papageorgiou, Edited by Ilaria Mastio
Fernando Alonso became the man with the longest time since making his debut this weekend. I was originally going to talk about his career and achievements, but let’s be honest, most people know who Alonso is. Two world championships, heroic drives, success in other racing series and a distinctive personality make for quite an unforgettable character. But amid all of that, Alonso has often found himself in some sort of controversy.
That was the case in Q1 in Baku, where, on his final run, the Spaniard missed his breaking point and went straight on at turn 15, causing a yellow flag, meaning everyone behind him couldn’t improve their laps. Alonso claimed that was due to overheating rear brakes and the old tyres he was using. Others saw it differently, however. Alex Albon, behind Alonso on his final Q1 run, accused him of driving too slowly before braking too early yet still not making the corner.
This is not the first time the two-time champion has done something similar. Just a week ago, Alonso binned his final Q3 run in Monaco, although that was overshadowed by Sergio Perez’s crash moments before. To Alonso, that did seem unintentional, as he hit the barrier, though he escaped any damage. Going back further, last year in Russia, he purposely went wide at the start, exploiting a grey area in the rule book. He went so far as to practice the move on the formation lap.
So, why would an experienced driver like Alonso pull stuff like this at the pinnacle of motorsport? One undeniable reason is he does it on purpose to gain an advantage on the grid or the track. There is more to these things than meets the eye, however. Everything Alonso has done so far has been a response to his unanswered calls to the FIA concerning certain driving behaviours. Numerous times these past two years Alonso has been caught out by others impeding him in qualifying or cutting turn one on the first lap, such as Austria 2021 or Imola 2022, to name a few.
Alonso, then, is sending a message to the FIA: Do something about this before it gets out of hand and starts making the sport look bad. But what can the FIA do about it? So far, the only solution proposed was to delete or penalise the driver who causes a yellow or a red flag, an idea that’s been proposed in the past. But no solution can be found in the FIA that doesn’t acknowledge the problem in the first place. And until they do, you can be sure we’ll be seeing more of the Spaniard’s little antics.