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Alonso: “Strange” Australian GP penalty won't change approach to racing in F1

Fernando Alonso says his “strange” Australian Grand Prix penalty for potentially dangerous driving will not change how he goes racing in Formula 1.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

The Aston Martin driver was handed a drive-through penalty in Melbourne, converted to a 20-second time addition, for the way in which he aggressively defended against George Russell on the final lap around Albert Park.

His early deceleration, aimed at ensuring he got a clean exit from Turn 6, caught Russell by surprise and the Mercedes driver lost grip in dirty air before crashing into the barriers and ending up in the middle of the circuit.

Alonso says he remains surprised that the stewards acted against him, but is clear that he thinks the way things played out was a one-off that will not force him to behave differently in the future.

Asked by Autosport in Japan if he was clear about the rules of defensive driving in the wake of being punished, Alonso said: “It was clear. And I think it's still clear.

“It was a little bit surprising, the penalty in Melbourne.

“There is nothing we can do, we have to accept it and move on and concentrate on here. But I think it will not change much on how we drive and how we approach racing.

“There is no obligation to drive 57 laps in the same way. Sometimes we get a slower pace, to save fuel, to save tyres, to save battery.

“And sometimes we go slow into corners, or into some sectors of the track, to give the DRS to the car behind because that will be a useful tool if the second car behind is at a faster pace.

“All those things are completely normal. And it was, it is and it will be forever in motorsports. So we had one penalty, probably a one off, that we will never apply ever again.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24, leads George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR24, leads George Russell, Mercedes F1 W15

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

While the race stewards declared in their verdict that the outcome of the incident with Russell did not influence their decision, Alonso is not sure.

Asked if he thought the matter would have been ignored if Russell had not crashed, Alonso said: “100%.

“If he was in Abu Dhabi with a run off area of asphalt or whatever, I think George will rejoin the track a few metres after that and will try to have a go on me on the following lap, or the following straight. And it will not be any problem.”

Alonso says a much bigger issue in the incident was the way that a relatively small moment for Russell turned into a massive accident because of the way the crash barriers at Turn 6 speared the Mercedes back onto the track.

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“I think that the big thing is Turn 6 in Australia,” added Alonso. “It is not the safest corner at the moment on that track.

“We saw an accident last year with Alex [Albon] in the race, and this year in free practice where he damaged the chassis.

“Also in F2, I think Dennis [Hauger] crashed there as well. George obviously in the race.

“And that's probably for me a more important point to change for next year than what the driver in front of me will be able to do or not do, as long as I don't need to make an avoiding action or whatever to avoid him, which was not the case.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

“That was my point after Australia, and still now. I will move on. I don't want to speak too much on that.”

But despite wanting to draw a line under the matter, Alonso said that getting punished in the first place, rather than the level of penalty, was the biggest thing for him.

“It was the hardest penalty of the season, I think, in terms of time lap, which is strange, but the fact it got penalised [was the main issue],” he added.

Watch: F1 2024 Japanese Grand Prix Preview - Everything You Need To Know

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