Fernando Alonso raised eyebrows at the Russian Grand Prix when he tactically went straight through the Turn 1 runoff at the start of the race, avoided any first-corner collisions and kept his place. Although a bit cheeky, the move was legal and within the rules, and the Spaniard did not incur any penalty.
Things, however, took a different turn for Fernando Alonso at the Turkish Grand Prix, where he was quite vocal in the way stewards took action against certain drivers while turning a blind eye to others. Ironically, it was at the same race where the Fernando Alonso was involved in not one but two contentious decisions by the stewards.
The first was Fernando Alonso ignoring yellow flags during qualifying, for which he was not penalized. The second involved a first-lap entanglement between him and Pierre Gasly, for which the latter was given a five-second penalty.
In hindsight, the penalty seemed unnecessary as Gasly was sandwiched, almost helplessly, between two cars and did not intentionally tangle with the Alpine F1 driver. After the race, multiple drivers, including Alexander Albon and Fernando Alonso himself, came out in support of the Frenchman and said that the penalty was undeserved.
Fernando Alonso's yellow flag infringement under the scanner
Pierre Gasly, when questioned after the race, was not happy with the penalty and questioned why there was a lack of consistency. He further questioned the lack of any action against Lando Norris when he missed the pit entry at the Russian Grand Prix and Fernando Alonso when he ignored yellow flags during qualifying.
Commenting on the two incidents, Gasly said:
"These last two events I don’t understand the regulations, because, to me, it’s either black and white, and these two situations for me were very clear. I think it has to be discussed what we are allowed to do, because there is, of course, one incident which is a white line, not safety-related, and another incident with the double yellow flag where safety was related. I’m sure we’re going to discuss that with Michael (Masi). But I think all of us in the team were surprised with that.”
Lance Stroll chipped in on the debate and demanded consistency in such rulings.
“I think the rules need to be consistent, especially in a double yellow, which it was. You can’t keep pushing. You can’t set a lap time. You should have to, on a double yellow, abandon the lap time. Which it was, it was a double yellow. On a single yellow, you can lift, and if conditions are improving with the lift, if you can demonstrate that with the data and you set a fast lap time, fine, if there’s a clear lift. But in a double yellow, for me it’s clear, you have to abandon the lap and that wasn’t the case. So I just think that different decisions are being made, which is funny.”
There have arguably been some arbitrary rulings in recent races that have brought stewards into the limelight. It will be interesting to see if the renewed intent to protest will result in some much-needed consistency in the future.