F1 Winter Break
Debate: did Fernando Alonso deserve a penalty for US Grand Prix clash with Felipe Massa?
McLaren Honda
Fernando Alonso
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  25 Oct 2016   |  11:25 am GMT  |  108 comments

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso escaped punishment for colliding with Felipe Massa during the closing stages of the US Grand Prix, but the move has reignited the debate about the consistency of Formula 1’s stewarding decisions.

Alonso and Massa were battling over fifth, sixth and seventh places with Toro Rosso’s Carlos Sainz during the closing stages of the race, when they came together at the apex of the Circuit of the America’s Turn 12. The double world champion opportunistically lunged down the inside of his former Ferrari teammate, who shut the door and was forced off the track as a result of the clash.

Massa later picked up a puncture and was fortunate to have enough time in hand to avoiding losing any more positions when he came in to get it changed, while Alonso charged after and passed Sainz to claim fifth place with just one lap remaining.

Felipe Massa

The stewards decided to investigate the collision after the race had ended but ultimately decided against awarding a penalty as they felt, “no driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the collision,” according to an official statement.

Massa was not impressed by Alonso’s move as he felt it cost him any chance of finishing fifth, a result that would have closed his Williams team to within four points of Force India in the battle over fourth place in the constructors’ championship.

“At the end, Fernando dived into the corner I was taking, hit my car and I got a puncture because of it,” he said.

Felipe Massa

“It destroyed every opportunity I had to finish the race in sixth, and potentially fifth.”

Alonso defended his robust move and felt the contact was unfortunate, but not the result of a “crazy” overtake.

He said: “It is difficult to overtake on the straight so we try to on the inside which was very aggressive. Unfortunately we touch. Luckily we continue on both cars.

Fernando Alonso

“When I did the manoeuvre, I was side-by-side, I was not one quarter ahead or something like that. It’s not like I was coming from behind or it was any crazy thing, so it was not the space for him to turn in.”

While the stewards opted not to penalise Alonso in Austin, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg was hit with a 10-second penalty for colliding with Kimi Raikkonen during a similar lunge at the Malaysian Grand Prix two races ago.

Like Alonso, Rosberg dived down the inside of the Sepang circuit’s second corner with Raikkonen unaware he would be at the apex. The pair collided and Raikkonen sustained damage while Rosberg was immediately investigated and handed the penalty.

Kimi Raikkonen Nico Rosberg

Both instances are similar as Alonso and Rosberg attempted passes using unusual lines at corners that do not normally feature overtaking (although both turns have in the past). In the two cases, Massa and Raikkonen also shut the door on their rivals and came of worst.

So why did one driver get a penalty and two races later another did not? Or was it simply that Rosberg was hard done by the stewards in Malaysia? On that day it ultimately counted for little as the world championship leader had enough pace in hand to pull out enough of a gap over Raikkonen to hold onto his third place.

With all of that in mind, we’ve set up polls for JAonF1 readers to debate the Austin and Malaysia incidents.

After you’ve taken the polls, leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JAonF1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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I haven't had time to pore over the replays yet, so don't really have an informed opinion on this incident. just going on the footage shown in the race, it looked to me like an opportunistic and aggressive move from Fernando, that Felipe spent too long trying to defend. Contact is the usual result when these two share a bit of track, and I have to say that more often than not it is Massa's refusal to accept reality that causes it....


I'm all up for aggressive racing. More wheel-to-wheel action would make F1 more interesting. And you'll need it to sell this sport in the States. But at least be consistent. If the majority of the drivers all of a sudden lost their racing appetite, restricting wheel-to-wheel action under the guise of "safety precautions", then so be it. But be consistent. And I would especially keep an eye on the older guys complaining the most about the aggressive racing style of the younger generation. Nobody likes a hypocrit


Agreed, Fernando was well alongside him but in Massa's defense, given their relative positions on track (as it was so wide in that section) I doubt he saw Fernando apart from the moment it was too late and contact was inevitable.

Besides, Massa had more than enough opportunity to overtake Sainz, 2015 Ferrari vs 2016 Mercedes + Sainz on older (albeit softer) tires should have been no match. At least Fernando tried and the two Spaniards made a good show out of it. I'm sure they both enjoyed it.

Ultimately the blame for the contact between the Williams and the McLaren goes to Rob Smedley, he should have radioed Felipe that Fernando was faster than him.


You've GOT to be kidding...


No. In fact, he is spot-on. Massa got caught napping. Alonso was well beside him at the apex. Fact that Massa is talking about Alonso coming from "way behind" shows two things.
1) he did not see Alonso coming cuz in fact, he was coming from just after apex turn14 ...
2) he did not expect Alonso to be there where he was ...
Massa got spooked.


Yeah , you are right. Thats whats overmaking must be like in F1. "Felipe, Alonso is faster then you, let him pass" #sarcasm Lot of drivers would be happy with that rules, behalve it's so safe.


Hahaha, love your comment "Felipe, Fernando is faster than you" 🙂


Felipe didn't bother using his mirrors. The regs state you need to leave room when there is a car alongside, and he just turned in on Fernando.

With Nico vs Kimi, Nico could not hold his line at the corner as he overcooked it and slid into Kimi who had left him plenty of room.

Upshot is leave space on the inside if someone is alongside, and if doing the passing, do it in a realistic manner to hold your line and not do bumper cars


Try watching some American sprint car races. Open wheel cars with well over 700 horsepower, no mirrors, confined to oval tracks sometimes as short as 1/4 mile. Same corner both ends, very similar cars - it can all get very "creative" in a hurry, and there just is no nit-picking. But if you want technical racing, heavily rule-bound, with costs the far side of the moon and everything recorded in that fantastic slow motion, then F1's your game.


I don't know why people keep claiming that Massa left no room. He left plenty of room, and even steered out of the corner once Alonso was alongside him to make enough room. The problem was that Alonso carried far too much speed into the corner, he was never going to make the move stick which is demonstrated by how far off the circuit he went even after using Massa as a brake. Seriously, Alonso ended up about 2 car widths off the circuit on corner exit it was an utterly ridiculous move.

This screenshot is just a couple of frames before the two cars make contact:

You can clearly see that Massa gave Alonso more than enough room, and can also see that Alonso's trajectory has more in common with a straight than it does with a corner.

Alonso barged into Massa, forced him off the circuit, and then completed the move by going off the circuit himself. That isn't "hard racing".
Note also that Vettel was handed a penalty in Silverstone for a similar but significantly more tame move (also on Massa).


@Spinodontosaurus My thoughts exactly


No, Sir.

Alonso's maneuver over Massa had started on the turn immediately before to that shown in the frame you have uploaded. Both turns had to be driven along a continuous line.

Alonso's line was from the apex of the first turn towards the outside of the track after the second apex. Massa's line was from the outside of the first turn to the apex of the second one.

In the first turn, Massa had left a broad gate between himself and the apex. Alonso took the oportunity to get in there.

In the frame you have uploaded Massa is approaching the second apex. Massa is going from right to left and Alonso from left to right. Yet Alonso had leveled Massa. Alonso fully had the inside, the priority line. Massa closed the door on Alonso. Massa should have rectified his line to let Alonso room. Let's say, may be that Massa had not looked at the mirror and thus was not aware that Alonso had got in there? Yet this is Massa's fault, not Alonso's fault.

After that Massa closed the door on Alonso, the collision came and then the adherence of the cars went down and both cars went out of the track. However, both drivers managed to control the cars, fortunately.


Yep, exactly how I see it.

I don't understand why so many are failing to recognise that the main issue is that he carried way too much speed into the corner and was never going to make the corner. Thus it's his fault!

Similar to MV on Raikko and Perez in Spa at the end of the Kemmel straight. Unsurprisingly he wasn't investigated either, real shocker.

It isn't 'hard racing', it's desperate and a clear mistake from Alonso. Fair play for trying, but it didn't work so his 'misjudgement' should warrant a penalty.


Exactly right. Being alongside doesn’t matter a whit if it was only achieved through dive-bombing. It's Fernando's responsibility to show that he can make the corner cleanly while passing. Since he couldn't, he should've given the place back. Gutless stewarding. I agree with Sebee that it was a sop to McLaren/Honda/Alonso.


My interpretation too, Alonso was committed and able to make the corner whereas Nico went in too hot.


Alonso didn't make the corner because he couldn't stay on the track.


Spot on - exactly how I saw it


Like all sports we quibble with the referee's decision afterwards.
The stewards have information we don't. I wouldn't have given Nico a penalty - my reasoning being it did not go on to ruin Kimi's race. As it turned out the penalty he got didn't change the result of the race.
I think Fernando's move was more "robust" - I wouldn't have awarded a penalty for that either the problem is the lack of consistency.


I thought both were racing incidents, as you say they were similar. The difference unfortunately was the stewards decision making, Derek Warwick was the steward on the Rosberg incident and as much as he was a great driver and is doing a fantastic job at the BRDC he is consistently harsher than any of the other driver stewards. If you look back through his decisions there have been a string of harsh decisions, some are fairly clear but many have been very marginal and he always seems to feel the need to penalise drivers.
It's a shame as I think most people would rather have more overtaking and have less steward decisions ruin races.




Dion Warwick would be better.


Similar incidents yes, but not totally comparable.

As Alonso said, he had no chance of passing on the straight because of the power deficit of the Honda engine vs the Mercedes in the Williams. Therefore this move was a calculated risk by a driver thinking clearly in the heat of the moment.

Rosberg's Malaysian move on KR, however, smacked of ill judgement. The Merc was faster than the Ferrari and getting past on the main straight with the aid of DRS was a distinct possibility. He had no need to perform a banzai manoeuvre in an unusual overtaking place, and it wasn't like he had to get past quickly - realistically he wasn't going to catch anyone else.

Of course, the Stewards shouldn't be thinking 'Oh, Alonso is down on power, he had to make that move there' vs 'That was uncalled for by Rosberg, he could have passed somewhere else' - but I wonder if subconsciously this effects their decision making and leads to these inconsistencies?


I agree. The other major difference with the Rosberg incident was that the contact was not wheel to wheel. He caused pretty significant damage to Kimi's bodywork whereas Alonso did not do the same to Massa. He subsequently got a puncture but that is not the same.

I strongly believe penalties are also applied based on reputations. Rosberg has developed a reputation for being generally pretty poor in wheel to wheel battles. When he tries to put a hard move on someone he tends to just do it clumsily whereas Alonso has a reputation for being hard but fair and I think gets more of the benefit of the doubt with the stewards.


I found myself wondering whether the decision would have been different if someone like Verstappen or Kvyat had made that move instead of Alonso.


I'm not sure either deserved a penalty but if Rosberg was penalised then Alonso should also have been penalised.


"Funny thing" is that Magnussen got penalized for overtaking in exact same turn as Alonso ran scott free from doing the same, and even worse, bumping Massa at the same time. Magnussen explained he had to go off track to avoid collision with Kvyat, who defended in same manner as Massa vs Alonso. So now the steward let one case including collision and race-end result for one party pass through with no penalty, while another totally similar but where both drivers did not touch and both continued unharmed was penalized. Truly puzzling...


I think both Rosberg and Alonso were to blame for their respective crashes, but Rosberg's move was a touch more opportunistic I would say. At least the two opposing views of the stewards happened in two separate events. What bothers me more was K-Mag's penalty for passing Kvyat off-track. Alonso did almost the exact same thing on Sainz, and it wasn't even investigated? He basically braked too late, ran out of road, and came back in front. If there was a gravel trap or a wall, I wonder what would have happened...


Alonso was ALREADY well ahead before the corner, and his wide line probably also took longer than the shorter line that Sainz took so I'm guessing that he wasn't seen to have overtaken/gained an advantage by going off the track.. That said, the previous move was a bit of a lunge!


He was only ahead/alongside because he braked too late and essentially divebombed.


True. But he might have been well ahead only because he over braked himself. If there was a wall or a gravel trap, he would've thought twice about diving there and being as late on the brakes. I mean, he would've been ahead, and then finished the race in the gravel trap and Sainz would say ''thank you very much, see you later''. Respecting the track limits is not about discouraging overtaking. You should overtake - on the track.


Surely he went of track because he over committed in the corner. That's completing a pass off track in my view. The very fact that this community and many others are discussing track limits is (IMO) a sign that the policing / policy / rule is wrong.

Focus on rules that aid passing and keep the cars on the track. Anything else is a bastardisation of the sport.


Agreed, Magnussen have been getting the short stick in several steward-reviewed cases this year. All good of course if they had been in alignment with other very similar cases with other driver's incidences. But that is where we observe huge discrepancies unfortunately, leaving both fans and the drivers frustrated.


Every overtake should immediately result in a penalty! These guys are absolutely crazy. They're doing 300+ which is already dangerous enough. They should just follow each other in a nice and orderly fashion. Trying to get ahead of the other competitors... come on what is this, a sport?


Cheers to that!
In fact there should be a strict ban on any type of passing. The cars could drive around in the numerical order of the numbers on the cars. Is that not what the numbers are for?


I disagree. The order should be established by qualification. That's why qualifications exist. To determine the order the cars should be driving around on the circuit..


We have a word for that... It's called "Monaco".


And with a safe distance of about at leest 5 seconde between them.


As many drivers have complained in recent seasons; I as a viewer am often left baffled by inconsistent stewarding decisions. As soon as I saw the incident, my friends and I said 'that must be another 10 second penalty', in reference to the Rosberg incident. Lo and behold, no penalty. For what it's worth, I don't think either were worthy of a penalty, this is just good hard racing that fans actually want to see!


If I remember correctly, not only did they collide, but Alonso also failed to make the corner and drove completely off track. I have to say I'm a bit surprised he didn't get some sort of penalty (or at least have to hand the place back due to overtaking off-track).


Personally I would prefer no penalty for such close hard racing. Going off track should have its own 'built-in' penalty as slowing down the car versus the cars staying in the track. Penalty or not, I am OK with either way. But please. Can we have some consistency then! Alonso overtook Massa in that curve and went off track in the process. And no penalty even despite the touch/bump/puncture of Massa. Magnussen overtook Kvyat in that curve and went off track in the process to avoid collision. And received a penalty.
Go figure.


Yes, he carried to much speed in and couldn't slow down to make the turn. He also cost Massa a puncture. It's irrelevant if Felipe turned in on him or not, Massa was expecting to make the corner. Bad stewarding again.


watch Alonso's onboard ...his steering is compromised by the collision (watch his steering wheel 'snap' right)


I honestly doubt Alonso would have made the corner even if they hadn't made contact. That is a very sharp corner and his car is still pointing straight on in the middle of the corner.


There are too many penalties in Formula One, the whole idea is for the cars to face and try and pass the cars in front, yet the regulations and stewards appear to be doing their utmost to put a stop to this happening. Most F1 tracks are narrow so two cars traveling at high speeds trying to pass on the same piece of tarmac is more than likely going to result in them coming together, Next year the tyres are wider so the space will be even smaller. Let’s get back to cars racing rather than issuing out penalties, I am sure it is what the fans want to watch.


I wholeheartedly agree with you but if the jaonf1 commenter base is anything to go by, people are more interested in penalties than in overtaking/excitement it seems..


Watching Alonso drive with fire in his belly was a joy. Racing like that should not be discouraged.

Aggressive driving from behind should be allowed where there's a fair chance of the move coming off. Overly defensive driving from the front should be clamped down on, if anything it's more dangerous and does nothing for the show.


Hahaha. What a comment. Aggrassive driving is ok, except when defending, because then its dangerous. You are applying for the anti-VES-regulationboard?


I maintain that attack is more entertaining than defence. Football games that end up 5-4 tend to be more entertaining than goalless draws for that exact same reason.

Drivers should be allowed to bully their way forwards. It what the fans want to see. Penalties deter that.

Here's and idea: Let make 'being in the way of an attempted pass' be the thing that's punished, always, regardless of who is on the racing line.

If your chaser does take the lead aggressively as you have to veer out of their way they become the vulnerable one as you become the follower. It'd be good for the show. 🙂


Oh my...

The Formula 1 United States Grand Prix had a 0.6 overnight rating on NBC Sunday afternoon, down a tick from both last year and 2014 (0.7) and the lowest for the race since it moved to NBC in 2013. The race pulled a lower overnight than its lead-in, Skate America in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating (0.8). 


Since it's been on the NBC, they only show the race (no qualifying) and every other lap is a commercial. So, make of that what you will.
NBC's coverage is rather poor but I digress, at least we can see a few races in the year.


They have to pay the bills. And NBC kept the race on right side while showing ads. Quite fair.


Is it really a shock that F1 viewership is low on a Sunday morning/afternoon when NFL football is on TV?

Look, the primary audience of racing is men (no offense to the ladies). Most of the men that watch sports on Sunday are watching football. Of the women that are not watching football, what percentage do you think prefer figure skating over racing? Of the men that are into racing, how many do you think were watching the NASCAR race on TV at the same time?

Really not to hard to reason out why ratings are not very good.


Great. So F1 is tenth to other sports. Point is, Figure Skating topped F1. NASCAR race was quite decent.


Must be because of the power units...


Not surprised at all really. Here in the states I'd say 90% or more of the public has no idea what F1 is. Imagine you watched this race as someone new to F1. Would you want to keep watching? Over the years, I've tried to get family members to watch and they bail after 5 minutes. They say things like - "It's all spread out-I can't tell who is leading," "No one is racing or passing,"
"The coverage is awful," etc. Hopefully Liberty can fix the F1 feed which has been awful for years, but the biggest problem will be finding new viewers. Keep in mind this race was on NBC on all US stations nationwide. F1 was competing against the NFL on CBS and FOX and NASCAR on NBCSN. You have millions of generational fans/viewers for the other sports and the only way to not go against the NFL is to hold the race in spring or summer. If F1 tried to go to a paywall here, viewership would effectively drop to zero.

It's interesting this story is about the one instance of exciting racing I saw on Sunday. Thank you Fernando! I agree with other posters there is too much scrutineering of these incidents. It's almost as if F1 wants to punish or discourage aggressive racing. F1 has got to find a way to get wheel to wheel racing for podiums, in the midfield and in the back.


You know what, you're right. I retract my view on Alonso. I've been brain washed by all the penalties that discourage contact and kept seeing Alonso push Massa wide, but you're right. That's some good old hard racing, and what we need more of. I retract my view on Alonso, he should not have gotten a penalty.

As noted below by Warley...Figure Skating got 25% higher rating! We used to make fun that golf pulls better TV ratings. But we need to set our bar lower. Please, no one report ratings for Bob Ross Joy of Painting re-runs on PBS secondary ThinkBright channel. We can't handle the truth!


I guess the figure skating would be more exciting then. Sometimes the truth hurts!


1 out of 4 people watching skating actually took the time to lift the remote and change the channel before F1 came on.


I thought his overtake on Sainz was also marginal. He overtook Sainz and didn't make the corner, Sainz did. I can understand why this move wasn't investigated, because Alonso was already ahead over Sainz before the braking point. I think he should've been penalised for the Massa move. Massa can't make his car disappear. Alonso was too far behind to make the move, he braked too late and didn't make the corner.


Wow!! As if F1 isn't boring enough already..


Rosberg deserved a penalty for his haphazard overtake. Totally clumsy.
Alonso is a bit more two old boys having a tussle. But I can understand why Massa is peeved by it.


When an overtake occurs, at least one party is going to be peeved by it, contact or not!


I don't think either incident warranted a penalty but I think Rosberg's was a little more "reckless", he threw his car down the inside of Raikkonen's, there was space, but it was always going to result in contact.

Alonso went for the inside, Massa was on a very wide line and turned in sharply, I would doubt he even saw Alonso in his mirrors but should have known he was going to be there.

Both are "racing incidents" neither was unduly reckless, they both saw a gap and went for it, both moves were robustly defended and resulted in contact. I often wonder how much the damage sustained to the "victim" is taken into account, IMO it shouldn't make any difference (unless of course it was a ram into them and major damage) but just because they get a puncture or a few bits of carbon fibre go flying it shouldn't make any difference.


double standards, shall we stop calling them double standards and just start calling them racing again?


It was a bold move but from the angles I've seen, it looked as though Alonso both made the apex and had the car pretty much under control. Also it was front wheel to front wheel. I didn't see the incident from on board with Alonso though unfortunately. It didnt seem any worse than Hamiltons contacts on rosberg at Austin last year or Montreal. Rosbergs at Malaysia seemed a bit more gung-ho and i did wince a bit when it was happening. Generally ROS seems to get a little unlucky with the stewards when you compare some of his actions with others but he is guilty of looking clumsy or dirty at times when others can seemingly be forceful with a bit of tact.


With regards to Alonso's move; in my opinion he "dive-bombed" into the corner and even after hitting Massa, still couldn't stay on the track afterwards. This to me precludes giving him the benefit of the doubt, therefore he should of been penalised for it.
With regards to Rosberg's move on Kimi, it was no different from what Bottas did to Hamilton in China?, which was penalised. So, Yes, the stewards got it right.


100%. Can't just outbrake yourself and then say "I'm here, gotta leave me the space!"


I don't think the two incidents were truly similar, in that Alonso was directly alongside Massa. If Massa had left room and Alonso crashed into him then it would be an obvious penalty. Massa chose to close the door and clearly it meant he made it more risky for both, he came off worse.

Nico's move looked more unexpected and more of a dive and he was further behind on contact. I was surprised by Nico's move but not Alonso's. I think that is a sizeable difference but ultimately I think neither should have been penalised. The thing is James, what do you think??


That was much more than a car crash.
It was another round of the ethernal fight of the [Mod].
The Black car sneaked from behind to make a treacherous attack where the innocent and vulnerable White driver car was not expecting.
Samurai Alonso made a Kamicraze strike that bumped the White car off track and slith it's tire.
So yeah, Alonso deserves some days in purgatory ?;^P


I am an Alonso fan, but he was to blame as was Rosberg for his incident. I have thought, since Australia when Alonso took Gutierrez out of it, that the same rules do not apply to Alonso as apply to say a Rookie driver. Ask yourself these questions. 1) Would Rio Haryanto have got a penalty if he took Esteban Gutierrez out the way Alonso did in Australia? 2) Would Rio Haryanto have got a penalty if he hit Massa the way Alonso did? If you answered yes to both, the conclusion must be that Alonso is being treated differently due to his status...


This is a misunderstanding of the context in the Australian GP: Gutierrez' car was in harvesting mode, and he also made a late move to the right in the braking zone. Alonso had superior pace and was looking for a way past. Try watching it again in real time (not slow motion), and tell me if you have the reactions to have avoided it! I don't think any driver on the grid would have, it was just a bad sequence of events. No penalty was applied, and rightfully so.


An Alonso fan? I hardly think so:)


Being an Alonso fan and an Alonso fanatic are two very different things. I call myself an Alonso fan.


Michael, I agree Alonso should have been penalized. But stars of their particular sports are always going to get more leeway than others. A great football coach admitted he treated his star players better than the average ones.
I also think the fact Maasa knew Alonso was beside him and had the option of running wide which would have prevented the collision also played into it. In any case, I don't think Alonso cared about a penalty and let the horse out of the barn so to speak.


Alonso doesn't get penalties. He's allowed to drive up the back of competitors destroying the opponents car and bang wheels and cause punctures as much as he wants! Article 29Alo.


Isn't that the privilege you get as multi-WDC? ;o)


I haven't voted, as there doesn't appear to be anything concrete to vote on! Until there is I see no point. All I ever see on track are instances of misjudgement, overly aggressive driving, inexperience and dirty driving, to call it what it is. Each of those catagories requires a certain natural empathy in the stewards involved in order to distinguish between them. Then there's difference in car capabilities, that also has to be taken into account. To cut a lengthy comment short what's needed is one steward full time and not someone's best mate, (meaning Bernie's) with such qualities. That would eventually bring about a modicum of consistency, of a type worth voting on.


Are we really having such a debate two days after it was clarified by marshals and extensive (official) video was aired?


Alonso made his move on Turn 15, and overtook the Brazilian as he followed a very outside line of a locking-up Sainz.
Massa closed the door and made contact on Turn 16.

I understand it was a race incident (despite the on-board footage from Massa's car at 0:35) but it was nowhere close to Rosberg's attempt on Raikkonen.

After so many articles praising Hamilton, It seems like it is a matter of "identifying woeful tactics of his arch-enemies".


Is there going to be another entry comparing the Austin 2015 start, when Hamilton pushed Rosberg out and didn't fully turn the steering wheel until his team mate was off track to the Canada 2016, Austria 2016, Germany 2016 and other clashes the couple have sustained recently?

It could also be of interest the opinions about the different criteria taken by marshals...


Absolutely shocked to see no penalty whatsoever for Alonso..i would have understood if Massa hadnt suffered any damage..someone said Alonso used Massa as a 'brake'..ridiculous decision..starting to see how harsh and unfair stewards are to back markers..


poor Felipe ever since his accident in Hungary. . . Fernando has been terrorizing him on the left-side. Others have noticed that too. Perez in Montreal comes to mind, where they both collided. any others? the first time was Fernando at China, in the pitlane - no less. When F1 drivers smell a weakness, look out!


Yeeeha! Brilliant move


Look I'm all for hard contact racing as long as there's no reason to head back to the pits. But I understand that's a utopian dream since these aren't "robust" NASCAR race cars.
I do like push and shove moves though. It keeps us at the edge of our seats on the TV.


Thanks for the article, as was wondering about it too. My Initial impressions were yes, Alonso should have got a penalty, exactly because of Rosberg/Raikonnen in Malaysia, if the steward's decisions were to be consistent. Yup, the moves looked very similar, and I don't think Alonso would have made the 2nd corner easily either without forcing Massa to take avoiding action. After watching the replays several times, I felt not so certain. And after this article, I'm left wondering if it was actually the nature of the tracks: in Malaysia, the two corners are immediately after one another, and switch back, in a figure 'S"; in Austin the two corners are left and left, with the tiniest of 'straights' inbetween. Raikonnen had far less time - practically zero - to comprehend Rosberg's opportunistic/aggressive overtake and react to avoid the collision, whereas Massa had more time - barely split-second stuff - to take avoiding action against Alonso's opportunistic/aggressive overtake. So saying, I dunno! That's why us armchair experts can enjoy and explore the debate, and often defer happily to the proper experts - such as your good self Mr James Allen, whom I've visited probably most races this last few seasons and really rate your work - and eventually have no choice but to accept the stewards decisions.


I would say he didn't deserve a penalty, but for consistency's sake, when you look at what Rosberg has been penalised for this year, and the number of times, I would say yes.


Penalties should only be applied for reckless endangerment when attempting an overtake. Everything else should be fair game. It's time to stop the over-officiating of the sport, particularly if it's to satisfy someone having a whinge.


So contact at the other driver's expense is fair game? Overtaking off the track fair game? Why?

F1 has some drivers good enough that can overtake cleanly without dive-bombing and barging their way through, but admittedly there aren't many of them left.


I'd considered the track limits aspect a separate argument, but if the defending driver forces them out there without leaving a gap then game on! 😈 I'd rather watch racing than a procession, and people might like the sport more if we weren't so constantly outraged over stewarding decisions.


Massa should have risked a move on sainz.worst that could happen was he went wide and ended up where he was .team should have told him that but I guess they were playing it safe.Alonso move looked worse than it was but maybe would have been penalised a few raced ago


Pure English Media in action with some drivers


As I see it, during Massa's overtake, both Sainz and Massa made the exact mistake of locking up wide, given the experienced driver Alonso is he saw very clear opportunity to overtake, very opportunist but of their mistakes. I wonder if Massa really had a puncture ? Could it be Williams already trying to shout out points for penalty against Alonso ? Even Mclaren did same thing by making Alonso clarify the move. If it was a puncture arent there chances of tyre wearout being the cause of puncture ? Thats why Vettel switched tyres for the last 3 laps isnt it ?
Regarding Sainz's move not any of them had any grip left in the tyres, Alonso took the risk of running wide Sainz didnt, he tried making ground but on that straight it was not possible for a Toro Rosso.
At the end we saw some great racing as opposed to the top 4 positions.


You can see how MAS tried to steer away from ALO, he may have been caught napping but there can be no doubt that ALO forced MAS and himself off track. He should have received a penalty when similar incidents have been awarded with penalties in the past eg. ROS


The drivers who normally get away from punishments for such shenanigans because stewards say so:
1. Verstappen
2. Alonso
3. Hamilton
4. Button

Drivers who are unfairly penalized over and over again for similar incidents:
1. Grosjean
2. Raikkonen
3. Rosberg
4. Vettel


This is actually pretty accurate.


ALO has 2 WDC (instead of 3) thanks to FIA penalties and some "active machinery" to provoque them when he raced against some driver. The GRO clash in SPA on ALO in 2012 meant one WDC. Small unimportant details missed by "Last race is everything syndrome"


Bernie says Rosberg would be the worst champion for earning money with F1 and the stewards want to keep their payment as a steward....


I think the contact was unnecessary. However, I don't think it warranted a penalty - here's why.
- Mas
A cannier racer, or one who was looking in his mirrors would have come to the conclusion that Alo was probably overcommitted, and would either go wide or make the pass. Massa should have taken a wider line, and gone for the switch back.

- Alo
He is right up the inside, even ahead before the apex. Yes his apex speed will be massively compromised. However, i think he would have made the corner, had his steering not been compromised by the contact. But if he wants to have a go, get to the corner first i say...


No, Alonso didn't deserve a penalty, but neither did Rosberg on Raikkonen.

Thankfully, your poll shows that your readers have more common sense than the stewards.


Alonso's move was definitely a penalty for me. Not a "throw the book at him" penalty but a 5/10-second time penalty, which would have demoted him behind Sainz. Key issue for me was that he didn't even make the corner himself, let alone driving Felipe off it. Also felt the comparison with Rosberg-v-Raikkonen was appropriate; in fact, in that case Kimi didn't even leave the circuit.

I appreciate the stewards don't want to enforce rules too rigidly because it leads to cases like Romain Grosjean being 2 inches off the track and getting a penalty in Hungary (2013) for a great move (also on Massa, coincidentally!). But the current approach is too far the other way; makes it look as though they're "making it up as they go along".

Having said that, in terms of overall performance (and ignoring the manoeuvre), Alonso and Carlos Sainz were the stars of the race (Sainz probably edges it for me), along with Hamilton. Yes, they were helped by the VSC but they still drove really well.


Fernando always gets a free pass from the stewards because he's [Mod].


It is called racing and it is considered risky for good reason. It is simple competition, and when one blocks as the other tries to pass, the 'other' will try something else. When you consider the money and pride at stake, and compare that to what goes on at amateur levels, it's a wonder anybody finishes a Formula 1 race!


What the cars need in 2017 is to have mirrors AT LEAST TWICE AS BIG. No more excuses.

Torchwood Mobile

Much as I dislike Massa's attitude of collisions always being other's fault, this time Alonso deserved a sanction of some sort; no attempt was made to make that corner, and Felipe's car was damaged as a result.

Also, passing Sainz (my DOTD) far off the track, was unfair too.

Kimi needs to stop handing places back to people, no other [mid] is doing it. (Self midded).


Aggressive racing is great, but;the passing car diving up the inside needs to be alongside entering the corner, the passing car needs to make the corner without pushing the passed car off track.
Rosberg's move was questionable.
Alonso had no hope of making the corner, Even after pinballing off Massa he still could not get turned inside track limits.
If Rosberg's move was a penalty Alonso's definitely was. Uneven application of the rules is grossly unfair, especially with millions of dollars on the line.
How was Alonso's pass of Sainz allowed to stand. He made that pass by exceeding track limits.


Perhaps Alonso should take a lesson or two in overtaking from Verstappen?


Even though Alonso probably managed to somehow prove he was within the letter of the law (or else how did he escape a penalty?) surely many of us who play "playstation" racing games like Alonso does, know that this is a common style of overtaking in video games, by going in too fast (which makes the angle odd) in a corner and using the Next AI car as a energy buster/ external brake - to slow down if hit at a safe angle, and then make the turn while gaining a place 😀

Im glad he did it, it was too cheeky and too much fun to watch. But he deserved a penalty for consistency of rules sake. Also it interferes with the Force India Williams battle. At the end of the year.. that move may cost Williams MILLIONS.

Force India team boss says they got a 'Get out of Jail free' card.. I think they got a JOKER card to save themselves in the form of ALONSO.

The move on Carlos was strange as he was allowed to go off track to complete the move it seemed? (video links anyone?). Its odd to get away with two such off track overtakes. (Its like Martin Brundle wrote somewhere, being allowed to move the boundary ropes in cricket - If you see him, please give him a pat on his back James, - for the analogy 🙂

But I'm glad they banned Max/Carlos style dodgy Defense, its boring to watch. Its better if they don't move under braking and instead re attack once overtaken fair and square (i.e. if they really have the skills they are claimed to have) Nico, Ham 2014 Bahrain should be the Text book lesson for these young drivers.

Ending on a Alonso note, I wonder if this is part of Alonso's homework activity he does at the Factory. Show up for extra time at the Mclaren Front Suspension department and run personal experiments as to how much lateral suspension shock his Mclaren can take before breaking, then keys that into his sim and practices Playstation overtakes using Bumper car style !! 😛


In fact, up to my knowledgement (paddock commentaries), Massa was the one being considered for penalty for not avoiding contact but closing the door instead.

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