One of the features of the European Grand Prix was Fernando Alonso’s anger at the actions of Lewis Hamilton when he safety car was deployed and at the length of time it took for the stewards to deal with it.
Alonso has tonight accused the stewards of “manipulating” the race, while Ferrari said it was a “scandal”.
Alonso was right behind Hamilton in third place when it happened, but whereas the McLaren was able to drive around to the pits at his own pace, Alonso had to follow the safety car and lost time and ultimately, track positions too. .
Alonso radioed his team immediately to tell them that Hamilton had broken the rules. But it was not until lap 21 that it was announced that Hamilton was under investigation by the stewards and a further four laps until the penalty was judged. It was quite marginal, but the overhead shot is conclusive and the stewards will have been able to see that straight away, once they got around to looking at it.
In all that elapsed time, the field behind third placed Kamui Kobayashi had been left way behind Hamilton and so when he served the drive through penalty, he was able to rejoin ahead of the field and hold his second place. Had he observed the rules he would have finished eighth, in Alonso’s view.
Alonso is angry not just because he lost points – he could have been second or third today- but also because the championship battle is now becoming clearer and Hamilton is one of Alonso’s key title contenders, along with Vettel. And this was an occasion when Hamilton took an advantage of a misdemeanour to open up a larger lead over Alonso, now 29 points.
“It’s a shame, not for us because this is racing, but for all the fans who came here to watch a manipulated race,” Alonso said.
“We were running well, in third after a good start. Then the safety car came out, which wasn’t too good for us, but Hamilton overtook the safety car, something that I had never seen, overtaking the medical car with yellow flags. We were a metre off each other, and he finished second and I finished ninth.
“This race was to finish second. Then with the safety car I would have finished where I finished in ninth, and Hamilton in eighth. But here, when you do the normal thing, which is respecting the rules, you finish ninth, and the one who doesn’t respect them finishes second.”
This is the second race in a row where Alonso has been angry with the race control and stewards and felt that they did not act fairly towards him. He was livid straight after the race in Montreal with the way the traffic was allowed to slow him down at crucial moments, particularly Jarno Trulli on Alonso’s in lap to the pits. He had a lot to say privately about this in Montreal, but didn’t make a big noise about it in his media statements there.
This time he has had a big go publicly and the team is fully backing him up. It’s along the lines of his “I no longer consider this a sport” line at Monza in 2006 when he was very harshly treated by the stewards for blocking Massa in qualifying, when he was a Renault driver. Here Ferrari are on the receiving end.
Tonight the Ferrari website has called the European GP a “scandal” which damages the credibility of the sport,
“A scandal , that’s the opinion of so many fans and experts involved in the sport, who are all in agreement: there is no other way to describe what happened during the European Grand Prix. The way the race and the incidents during it were managed raise doubts that could see Formula 1 lose some credibility again, as it was seen around the world, ” said a post.