Alonso urges FIA to help F1’s gentleman’s agreement in qualifying

Fernando Alonso believes the FIA needs to do more to stop Formula 1 drivers going too slowly on qualifying outlaps after the Austria Q2 incidents on Saturday.

Alonso urges FIA to help F1’s gentleman’s agreement in qualifying

Alonso was forced to abandon his last lap in Q2 at the final corner after being blocked by Sebastian Vettel, who had slowed down to prepare for a hot lap.

Vettel was at the end of a long queue of cars, and had told his engineer over the radio that it was “carnage” as a number of drivers jumped the line and then slowed again.

Vettel received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Alonso, while Valtteri Bottas and Carlos Sainz Jr were also investigated, only to be cleared as they could not be deemed fully to blame for the incident.

Alonso was passionate in his response after qualifying, calling for harsh penalties for all the cars that were in the queue ahead of him after his session was ruined and he finished 14th.

But the Alpine F1 driver felt the FIA could play a role in helping avoid a repeat and aid the safety of the situation, believing teams would always try to play to their advantage.

“We need someone that helps us from the outside, and the only one that can help from the outside is the FIA, in my opinion,” Alonso said when asked by Autosport if harsh penalties were the only way to stop the incidents happening again.

“Because the teams, they deal with tyre performance, with battery performance, with everything that is on the competitive side.

“But on the safety side, and on the regulation side, we cannot put everything on the team's table, because they are always looking about competitiveness. So maybe we need help from the FIA.”

A number of drivers have raised concerns over an informal gentleman’s agreement in place about slowing down before starting a flying lap this year.

But in Austria, race director Michael Masi had written into the race notes that drivers cannot slow unnecessarily from Turn 9 to Turn 10, making it sanctionable.

“If it's written that you cannot do one thing and you do it, then you get a penalty - so that is clear for everybody,” Alonso said.

“That’s the first help and second, maybe there is a system. I know in Baku they introduced a minimum lap time that you have to do in the outlaps. So basically, how you exit the pitlane in that position, you will end up starting the lap in that position because we all have the same delta time.

“So then there are no more tricks or no more overtaking you see in outlaps or anything like that, because we will have to respect the same delta. Maybe that's another system that can help us for sure.”

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521

Fernando Alonso, Alpine A521

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo felt the bunching was partly down to “the nature of the short lap” at the Red Bull Ring, but did note some drivers breaking the gentleman’s agreement.

“There were some who would overtake like around Turn 9, and, let's say, get track position, and I think by then, it's just a bit of a code that we once you kind of at that point, you shouldn’t.

“I think [Sergio] Perez might have a bit of a crack, and I think it was George [Russell] maybe, George seemed to be being a bit cheeky there so I think he was maybe pushing it.

“But I think it was clear what we needed to do I guess what I'm talking about, it's probably a bit of a separate thing.”

Haas driver Nikita Mazepin faced criticism in the early part of the year for not respecting the gentleman’s agreement, but felt more high-profile drivers were getting away with breaking it without the same kind of backlash.

“I was made a very easy target in Bahrain in qualifying, and everyone’s made a big deal out of it,” Mazepin said.

“F1 is very double faced world. If you've got a big name with loads of championships under your belt, your actions are less criticised than if you don’t.

“I'm not sure what happened today in qualifying because I haven't seen it. But yesterday in the drivers' briefing, our race director has made new rules, saying that you have to make your track position in Turn 8 and you're not allowed to back up in Turn 9 and 10, which means that you have to keep up to speed into those two corners.

“And what I've seen happen in Q2 is the exact opposite. Every driver is a human, they can get caught out and they've been caught out.

“Everyone just needs to apply the same rules to each other, and then it will be a happy place.”

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