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F1 NEWS 

Alonso apologises for FIA criticism

Fernando AlonsoFernando Alonso has apologised for over-reacting to the safety car controversy at last weekend's European Grand Prix - and said he never intended to fuel suspicions that the FIA had 'manipulated' the race.

The Spaniard was furious after the race in Valencia - suggesting that the FIA had favoured Lewis Hamilton by taking too long to hand him a punishment for overtaking the safety car early in the event.

Those delays meant Hamilton was able to take a drive-through penalty without losing position.

Two days on, Alonso has said he is much calmer about the situation - and clarified that his remarks were fuelled by frustration that he had lost positions by respecting the rules, while Hamilton had effectively benefited from breaking the regulations.

"Obviously, in the clear light of day, I am much calmer than I was in the moments immediately following the race," said Alonso in his diary column on the official Ferrari website.

"At the time, I reacted emotionally and in that situation, it is all too easy to adopt a tone and say things that can be interpreted wrongly, giving rise to suspicions, something which I had no intention of doing.

“Sure, I understand that the stewards have a difficult job to do and they have to take decisions that are not easy. What I meant was that those drivers who, like us, respected the regulations, unfortunately, in this situation, suffered much more than those who broke them, even though they were given a penalty.

“And I am not referring to any of the drivers in particular: it’s a general matter and I think we should talk about it together in a calm way, to ensure that things like this do not happen again."

There had been speculation that the FIA could punish Alonso and his Ferrari team for some of their outspoken remarks after Spain, but the governing body gave no indication it intended to react. Alonso's apologetic comments will, however, help serve to draw a line under the matter.

The FIA is aware, however, that the events of Sunday have highlighted several potential problems with the current safety car regulations, and has called an extraordinary meeting of thinktank, the Sporting Working Group, to go through the issues next week ahead of the British Grand Prix.

Alonso welcomed that move and hoped that any matters up in the air after Valencia can be cleared up so there is no repeat controversy in the future.

“I was pleased to hear that the FIA has reacted promptly, calling an extraordinary meeting of the Sporting Working Group and I am confident, certain even, that all the points up for discussion will be cleared up in a comprehensive fashion.”

Despite losing valuable points in Valencia through the bad timing of the safety car, Alonso remains upbeat about his title prospects.

“Even if the Valencia result was not what we wanted, it has not done irreparable damage,” he said. “It’s true that the gap to the leader has now jumped to 29 points, but we have not even reached the halfway point of the season. We trail by just over one win, so the situation is still very open.

“The updates we brought to Spain saw us make a step forward and get closer to the front runners. I am satisfied with that, but also aware that we must continue to push on with the development of the F10, because we need to have a car capable of fighting for pole and to give us the edge over our rivals as soon as possible.

“If we are now 29 points off the championship leader, it means that in the next ten races, we have to score at least 30 more than whoever is in the lead at any one time.”

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