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Hulkenberg: Alonso picked “wrong corner” to try defensive F1 games with Russell

Nico Hulkenberg has criticised Fernando Alonso for choosing the “wrong corner” for his defensive games against George Russell at Formula 1’s Australian Grand Prix that triggered a late-race crash.

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

Photo by: Steve Etherington / Motorsport Images

Alonso was handed a post-event drive-through, which became a 20-second time penalty, for the way he slowed up Russell as they battled for sixth place.

The FIA race stewards deemed that Alonso had driven in a “potentially” dangerous manner by slowing 100-metres earlier than normal, which they think contributed to Russell losing control behind him and crashing his Mercedes out of the race.

While the manner of Alonso’s sanction surprised a lot of people, Hulkenberg thinks that the Aston Martin driver was actually wrong to have driven in the way he did.

Asked by Autosport for his views on the incident ahead of the Japanese GP, Hulkenberg said: “My personal view, when I saw it all, I wasn't very impressed with Fernando's tactics there to be honest.

“Melbourne, after all, it's kind of a street circuit. It's quite narrow there, we approach the corner with 260-270km/h, and it's a blind exit.

“And if, for whatever reason, the flag system or someone is late, and one of us would have T-boned George, I think the outcome and the way he feels might have been also quite different.

“So I think whilst that tactic is quite a common one in F1, in that particular corner, with that speed, with a blind exit, I think it's the wrong corner to do it – and produced quite a dangerous situation.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team, George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas F1 Team, George Russell, Mercedes-AMG F1 Team

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

While Hulkenberg is aware of the defensive tactics drivers need to do, he thinks that some thoughts needs to be given about where such moves are made – as he said the configuration of Turn 6 potentially needed looking at.

“Like I said, I think it's the wrong speed range, the wrong corner,” he said.

"I think also the [speed] change, the deceleration, was quite a big delta, obviously. So yeah, it's easy to overreact, and lose the rear in the car, like it happened to George.

“Obviously we've seen that corner last year, also with Alex [Albon] who crashed there, that barrier puts the car back on the circuit.

“I'm sure we need to look at that and change something there for the future, because that's really not good when you come around the corner, and you have a car in the middle of the track.”

Hulkenberg expects the Alonso incident to be discussed at the Friday night F1 drivers’ briefing in Japan, as he questioned the consistency of comments made.

“What I also don't understand is right after, on the radio, he's talking about throttle issues – like throttle stuck, or not stuck,” added Hulkenberg. “But then later on, he doesn't talk about it anymore.

“He just talks about that it's standard procedure and tactic. So that doesn't align and he seems to have changed his opinion, there. But like I said, I wasn't very impressed with that personally.”

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, talks to the media

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin F1 Team, talks to the media

Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images

Alonso expressed his disappointment after the Australian GP at the way in which he was punished for his driving.

“I wanted to maximise my exit speed from Turn 6 to defend against him,” he said. “That's what any racing driver would do, and I didn't feel it was dangerous.

“It's disappointing to get a penalty from the stewards for what was hard but fair racing. Still, I'm glad that George is okay. It was not nice to see his car in the middle of the track.”

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

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