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Fernando Alonso

Stewards explain why Alonso was not penalised over 'unsafe release'

Fernando Alonso and Alpine were investigated for an apparent unsafe release from the pit lane in Austria, but the stewards opted against handing out a penalty.

Alonso Austria
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Fernando Alonso kept his points finish at the Austrian Grand Prix after the stewards looked into one of his pit-stops in the closing stages of the race.

Having failed to start the Sprint from his P8 grid slot amid technical trouble, and then taken an engine-related penalty, Alonso rose from the back of the grid to 10th with a spirited drive at the Red Bull Ring.

But it was not without drama, as a late visit to the pits under the Virtual Safety Car - caused by Carlos Sainz's fiery stoppage - almost derailed his efforts.

After the stop, Alonso's front-left wheel came loose by "a small margin", with the stewards opening an investigation to determine whether or not the car was released in an "unsafe condition".

This would have breached Article 34.14 of the Sporting Regulations relating to pit-stop activity.

How Alpine's pit-stop drama unfolded

During their investigation - which included Alonso and an Alpine team representative being summoned - the stewards "reviewed multiple angles of video of the pit-stop, including pit lane CCTV, CCTV from over the pit-stop location and in-car footage".

The report stewards' continued: "There is nothing in the video to indicate that the pit-stop was anything other than a normal pit-stop, including that the wheel concerned appears to fully engage and become fully tight.

"The team manager reported that the mechanic fitting the wheel reported that everything felt normal, and indeed his body language on the video appears completely normal.

"Nothing appears to be wrong until just before Turn 3, where the wheel slightly disengages from the car, by a very small amount.

"Shortly after Turn 3, the driver states on the radio that they will need to box again. When asked by the crew, the driver simply reported that they needed to box again."

Alonso offers his version of events

During the meeting, Alonso explained that he could not see the rim of the wheel and only felt a small vibration, which the stewards agreed was "consistent with the video, in that the movement of the tyre was hardly distinguishable".

Having pitted on Lap 57 of 71, the Spaniard came back in next time around.

"After entering the pit lane, the driver stated 'check left-front'," explained the report.

"In the hearing, he stated that it felt worse when he turned to the right than when he turned to the left, but that there was still nothing obvious from his vantage point."

After the race, the front-left corner of the car was inspected by the FIA, which determined "the damage to the wheel and axel is consistent with a parts failure" that likely occurred after the car exited the pits.

"Based on the footage of the car from the moment the wheel was fitted, until the failure became apparent, the stewards conclude that the wheel was fully fitted, and that subsequent to the failure, all the retention systems worked as designed," added the report.

"The stewards therefore conclude that the car was not released in an unsafe condition and take no further action."

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F1 2022 Austrian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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