Alonso warned for slowing Hamilton up in Japanese GP lead battle

McLaren's Fernando Alonso has been been handed a reprimand for ignoring blue flags during Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen's late battle for the win

Alonso warned for slowing Hamilton up in Japanese GP lead battle

Alonso was summoned by the stewards after the race for having interfered in the final lap contest between winner Hamilton and Verstappen, lowering the Mercedes driver's lead down to just over one second.

The stewards found that Alonso, who was in a battle for 10th position with Felipe Massa, had not let the leaders through early enough.

"Alonso was shown a solid blue indicator light on his dash and waved blue flags between Turn 14 and Turn 15 on Lap 51," the stewards said.

"He also had received a flashing blue light informing him that race leader Lewis Hamilton was closing on him for over a lap before. Alonso let Hamilton pass during lap 52 at Turn 11.

"The drivers have been told in drivers' briefings that the provisions of the International Sporting Code, that they 'must allow the following car to pass at the earliest opportunity', means that they should do this for lapping cars regardless of their current battle.

"The stewards concluded that Alonso did not do this."

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Alonso had argued that Hamilton could have passed him earlier.

"Alonso noted in the hearing that there was an opportunity allow Hamilton to pass on the front straight, but not thereafter until Turn 11," continued the stewards.

"The stewards accepted that there are limited safe places to let a car past between Turns 2 and 9 which contributed to the length of time it took to allow Hamilton past."

It was concluded that the offence was less "severe" than other infrigements this year, and that it did not impact the race win battle enough to warrant further punishment.

"In applying the penalty, the stewards compared this incident to other similar incidents and considered that while a breach, this was less severe than others and that when he did move over he gave plenty of room, and subsequently to Verstappen."

As a result Alonso was given his first reprimand and penalty points of the 2017 season, earning two for the offence.

Alonso insisted after the race that his delay in letting the leaders through had not affected the outcome of the race.

"Hamilton was leading and the Red Bull was second," said Alonso. "I don't know if I waited two or three corners, more or less, but they finished in that order so there was no big implication in the race's final outcome.

"Whatever they decide we will accept it and we'll try better next time."

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