Alonso The Grey - Dirty Driving
Is Alonso “The Grey” A Dirty or Dynamic Driver?
Formula One

Opinions are divided regarding Fernando Alonso’s robust defence during the recent Australian Grand Prix to retain 6th position against a charging George Russell. On the final lap, Russell was closing in on Alonso and appeared poised to overtake him using DRS. However, Alonso had other plans. Approaching the sweeping and very fast turns 6-7, Alonso slowed his Aston Martin using engine braking as a means to reduce speed.

Lifting off the accelerator pedal in a Formula One car is comparable to applying the brakes, but Alonso went a step further by gently pressing the brake pedal before accelerating away. It happened very quickly, but his intention was to slow down Russell’s advancing Mercedes by denying him the DRS advantage on the following straight.

Russell was one or two car lengths away, but the closing speed between the Aston Martin and the Mercedes was so significant that it caught Russell unaware. He encountered the Aston Martin’s dirty air, overcorrected, and subsequently crashed out of the race, ending up in the middle of the track with his W15 lying on its side.

Turn six is approached at over 155 mph and apexed at roughly 100 mph. Alonso was accused of brake testing, and telemetry data revealed that he approached the last lap unusually erratically, which was the only time he did so during the entire race. So, did Alonso drive dirty to protect his position?

Alonso “The Grey”?

The telemetry data indicates that Alonso did slow down, but one driver impeding another during a race isn’t necessarily an illegal tactic; it’s part of driver strategy and falls into a grey area. Alonso has employed this tactic many times over the years. The responsibility lies with the driver behind to be aware of and anticipate such manoeuvres.

However, for Alonso to effectively brake test Russell at a high-speed section of the track leading into a blind corner entry is dangerous. Typically, the tactic of slowing the driver behind is applied at slower-speed sections of the track because doing so at a high-speed corner puts both drivers at risk.

Clearly, Alonso assessed the risk factor and decided to apply it, but it didn’t work out as intended. Not only did Alonso put himself and Russell at risk, but he also endangered those behind him. Race stewards imposed a 20-second penalty on Alonso, demoting him to 8th place.

Russell bears the responsibility of being aware of the driver in front, but Alonso also shares an equal responsibility to implement the “grey” areas fairly and avoid causing a collision. If Russell gains the DRS advantage, then so be it; that’s part of racing. In other words it was a racing incident.

So, thus forward Fernando Alonso will be known as Alonso “The Grey”.

Alonso The Grey - Dirty Driving
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