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today is Dec 10, 2022

Fernando Alonso called the Miami Grand Prix stewards incompetent and unprofessional following the penalty which cost him a points finish at the last race.

He also suggested Niels Wittich, one of F1’s two race directors, lacks sufficient knowledge and experience to oversee grands prix.

The Alpine driver collected two five-second time penalties during the Miami Grand Prix. The first was for a collision with Pierre Gasly and the second was for cutting the track and gaining an advantage while running ahead of Mick Schumacher.

Alonso cut the track at turn 15. He argued that he gave up the time advantage he gained. However by cutting the corner he also prevented Schumacher from being able to activate DRS approaching turn 17, as he had on previous laps. Alonso was investigated for cutting the same corner again later in the race, but was cleared, as on that occasion he was judged to have given up the advantage he gained.

The second time penalty dropped Alonso from ninth in the final classification to 11th, out of the points. He described the decision as “unfair”.

“We believe that it was very unfair and it was just incompetence from the stewards,” said Alonso. “They were not very professional, I think, in Miami.

“I missed one corner and then I gave back the time on the lap but obviously after you miss one corner there is a sector time just after that corner so there is the pink [sector] colour.”

The stewards did not summon Alonso and Alpine to meet with them over the incident, as was the case for all other incidents which occurred during the grand prix. Alonso said his team went to see the stewards afterwards anyway.

“They took the decision without asking any proofs so we arrived after the race with other proofs and all the time back that we gave and they were just packing up. They were not even in the room.

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“We came there, we showed them all the data so they said ‘give us five minutes’ and then they found themselves with the hands tied probably because they issued already the penalty and they didn’t know how to get back from that document. So it was very bad.

“Honestly it’s already the past but it is something that should not happen in Formula 1 with professionals and the standard that Formula 1 has right now.”

F1 made sweeping changes to its officiating following the controversial conclusion to last year’s world championship, in which former race director Michael Masi failed to follow the regulations. Wittich, one of two new race directors who has been appointed, who previously worked in the DTM, oversaw the first five races of the year. World Endurance Championship race director Eduardo Freitas will run this weekend’s race.

Alonso said he does not believe the new race direction team has been an improvement over the previous one.

“We saw a couple of things already that proves that we still need to improve a lot,” he said. “You need to have some knowledge about racing before being a race director or trying to monitor a race. I don’t think that knowledge is in place at the moment.

“I know there is a new race director here. Freitas has a lot more experience with WEC and other categories at the top level and I think that will already improve things.”

During the Miami Grand Prix weekend several drivers complained they were not listened to when they requested impacting-absorbing barriers be installed at the chicane following Carlos Sainz Jnr’s heavy crash on Friday. Alonso echoed their complaints.

“The accident that we had in Miami with Carlos and Esteban, we pushed to have some barriers there and some tyres or TecPro, no one did anything. When you don’t have that knowledge on racing it’s difficult to talk.”

However Alonso stressed he believes F1’s safety standards in general are very good.

“I think safety has been good, probably this year we have the safest cars and circuits and everything. The environment is very safe now in Formula 1.

“We just need to keep improving. We are the only ones driving the cars and feeling the crashes and things like that in our bodies. When we feel something that is needed I think we should be listened to and in Miami or somewhere for example we didn’t have that because it seems that the focus is in other places.”

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