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Formula 1

Why Alonso wasn't penalised for his first-lap corner cut

Fernando Alonso avoided a penalty for cutting through the escape area at Turn 2 on the opening lap of the Russian Grand Prix, despite initially gaining positions. FIA Race Director Michael Masi has explained why the Spaniard did nothing wrong.

Alonso Russia
To news overview © Alpine

Fernando Alonso escaped penalty for a first-lap corner cut in Sochi, with the FIA's Michael Masi explaining that the Spaniard did nothing wrong.

The Alpine driver had been in the mix with the lead pack of cars heading into Turn 2, the first braking zone at the start of the Russian Grand Prix, when he didn't slow down enough to make the corner.

Scampering across the escape area, he emerged in third place going into Turn 3, but faded off the throttle to let two cars overtake through the corner. Resuming full throttle again, it could be argued that Alonso had gained a position or two versus where he had been on entry into the initial braking zone.

While Alonso did obey the requirement to go through the bollards on the outside of Turn 2 before rejoining, the wording of the regulations is that a driver must not gain a lasting advantage through that action. The grey area is figuring out whether Alonso did that or not, and determining what position he was in at the point where he could still have made Turn 2 without using the escape area.

Whether intentional or not, it was a possibility that Alonso had considered pre-race, given that he cut through the same escape area and bollards on a reconnaissance lap.

Regardless, the FIA were satisfied that Alonso had made amends for the corner cut quite quickly.

"He didn't 'get away with it'," FIA Race Director Masi told select members of the media, including RacingNews365.com, after the race.

"If you have a look and understand, I've said this a few times, and the teams are well and truly aware of this, on the first couple of turns of any race, if there are areas like that, drivers need to get back behind the driver that they entered the corner behind, which Fernando did – very quickly.

"As did the other three drivers [Pierre Gasly, Antonio Giovinazzi and Max Verstappen] that went off there, they all got back behind the driver that they entered the corner behind."

Masi referred back to the 2019 French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard, citing the example of Sergio Perez after the Mexican was penalised for gaining positions despite also obeying the track rejoin procedure.

"Since 2019, at Le Castellet, it was a request of the drivers overall and I said I'm more than happy after Sergio Perez was penalised for cutting through Turns 3 to 5, and gaining a number of places," he said.

"We said from that point forward, for the first few corners where that happens, either the team automatically tells the driver to give the position back to where they ended the corner, or the team does, or I would suggest that they give the position back. We looked at all four of those that went off there [on Sunday] and all four did exactly that.

"[That] is why it was up there as noted immediately, and then once we looked at all four of them, said that there was no investigation necessary."

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