Formula 1 | How Alonso tricked himself into a penalty in Spielberg

There was great surprise when Alpine driver Fernando Alonso came into the pits for two laps in a row at the Austrian Grand Prix after the virtual safety car was activated due to Carlos Sainz’s engine bursting.

After the technical problems in the sprint, the Spaniard started the race from last place on the hard tires before again using the hardest compound on lap 27. The VSC phase offered the opportunity to put on the obligatory second tire compound to save time.

After the race, Alonso blamed strong vibrations for having to replace the medium tire he had just fitted on lap 57 one lap later. He also complained that this additional pit stop had prevented sixth place and that he therefore only finished tenth.

Loose front wheel responsible for extra stop

“Immediately after the first sector I felt strong vibrations on the tires, so we decided to pit again. I came out in P14 with nine laps to go and was able to improve to P10,” says Alonso.

In the onboard recording of the Spaniard, however, it can be clearly seen that, as some suspected, an incorrectly mounted wheel was actually the cause. After exiting the pits, you can see Alonso suspiciously watching his left front wheel before smoke develops when turning into the third corner and it is clear to see that the tire is not properly seated on the rim.

With all his experience, however, the Alpine pilot kept a cool head and reported on the radio: “I’ll be back in the pits.” When his race engineer then asks what the problem is, Alonso tries to cover it up by saying again, “I’ll pit.”

Alonso saves last point

Since the sporting regulations of the FIA ​​provide for a ten-second stop-and-go time penalty if a car leaves the pits in an “unsafe condition”, Alonso absolutely did not want to draw the attention of the race director and the stewards, otherwise points would have become impossible.

After the race, Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer, like Alonso, puzzled over the supposed vibrations: “I don’t know what caused the vibrations,” he says. “We came back into the pits and switched to new medium tires and the vibrations were gone.”

As Alonso has tried to trick in the past

Fernando Alonso has already shown in Miami this season that he has incredible racing intelligence and knows all the ropes. On lap 53 he cut the chicane in front of the long straight without a visible braking device in order to get Mick Schumacher, who was driving behind him, out of the DRS window.

However, this offense did not go unnoticed and the Spaniard received a time penalty of five seconds, which maneuvered him out of the points.

He chose a similar strategy for his prematurely last Formula 1 race in Abu Dhabi in 2018 for McLaren. In eleventh place he really wanted to end his Formula 1 career with a point result, but Kevin Magnussen in front of him was too quick for the McLaren in the Haas.

Therefore, at the end of the race, he shortened the chicane in the second sector three times after the long DRS straight in order to get close to the Dane. Although Alonso tried not to be too conspicuous with light brakes, he still received three five-second penalties, which did not change his eleventh place.

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