Formula 1 Racing

Failing to punish Alonso would’ve ‘opened a can of worms’

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George Russell believes it would have set a dangerous precedent not to penalise Fernando Alonso for slowing in front of him during the Australian Grand Prix.

The Aston Martin driver was given a post-race penalty after the stewards ruled he “created a considerable and unusual closing speed” between their cars by slowing early for turn six. The Mercedes driver was surprised by how quickly Alonso slowed and slid off the track into a barrier after suddenly gaining on his rival.

“It was obviously a bit of a strange situation that happened last week,” Russell explained. “As I said at the time it totally caught by surprise.

“I was actually looking at the steering wheel, making a switch change in the straight, which we all do across the lap, and when I looked up I was in Fernando’s gearbox and it was sort of too late. And then next thing I know that I’m in the wall.”

The stewards revealed Alonso slowed over 100 metres earlier for the corner than he had done on any previous occasion and briefly touched his brake before accelerating again and braking a second time to take the corner.

Russell said allowing such driving would lead other drivers to copy the move and potentially cause more crashes, including in junior championships.

“If it were not to have been penalised, it would have really opened a can of worms for the rest of the season and in junior categories. Saying: Are you allowed to brake in a straight? Are you allowed to slow down, change gear, accelerate, do something semi-erratic?”

The stewards gave Alonso a post-race drive-through penalty, which dropped him two places to eighth in the final classification, and three penalty points on his licence.

Russell denied there are any hard feelings between the pair over the incident. “I don’t take anything personally what happened with Fernando and it probably had bigger consequences than it should have,” he said. “But as I said, if it went unpenalised, can you just brake in the middle of a straight? I don’t know.”

He revealed the pair had a chance encounter in the days after the race. “We actually saw each other back home, just coincidentally bumped into each other in a coffee shop.”

“But as I said, it’s nothing personal. When the helmet’s on, we’re all fighters and competing, when the helmet’s off, you have respect for one another. So of course there’s a lot of emotions in the moment but I think we both move forwards from this.”

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