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Fernando Alonso given time penalty for 'unusual manoeuvre' before George Russell crash

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso has lost several positions in the final race order for the Australian Grand Prix after being handed a 20-second time penalty by the FIA.

Russell’s Mercedes ended up on his side after he rebounded off the wall in his pursuit of the double world champion in the closing stages.

Following a post-race investigation, Alonso was found to have breached Article 33.4 of the sport’s regulations – effectively finding him guilty or driving erratically and in manner that could be deemed as dangerous.

The stewards, which included former British driver Johnny Herbert, said Alonso, 42, had “lifted slightly more earlier than he ever had”, and “also braked very slightly a point that he did not usually brake”.

They also added that there was insufficient information “to determine whether Alonso’s manoeuvre was intended to cause Russell problems”.

Following the crash, Russell said Alonso “slammed on his brakes” in front of him as they duelled for sixth position.

A statement from the FIA read: “The stewards have extensively reviewed the situation that occurred prior to the crash. Car 63 (George Russell) was following Car 14 (Fernando Alonso) approximately 0.5 seconds behind as the cars approached Turn 6.

“Alonso explained to the stewards that he intended to approach Turn 6 differently, lifting earlier, and with less speed into the corner, to get a better exit.

“Russell explained to the stewards that from his perspective, Alonso’s manoeuvre was erratic, took him by surprise and caused him to close distance unusually fast, and with the resulting lower downforce at the apex of the corner, he lost control and crashed at the exit of the corner. There was no contact between the cars.

“Telemetry shows that Alonso lifted slightly more than 100m earlier than he ever had going into that corner during the race. He also braked very slightly at a point that he did not usually brake (although the amount of brake was so slight that it was not the main reason for his car slowing) and he downshifted at a point he never usually downshifted. He then upshifted again, and accelerated to the corner before lifting again to make the corner.

“Alonso explained that while his plan was to slow earlier, he got it slightly wrong and had to take extra steps to get back up to speed.

“Nonetheless, this manoeuvre created a considerable and unusual closing speed between the cars.

“The stewards considered that they do not have sufficient information to determine whether Alonso’s manoeuvre was intended to cause Russell problems, or whether as he stated to the stewards that he simply was trying to get a better exit.

“This season, the FIA Formula One penalty guidelines, including for this breach have been reset and increased to a baseline of a 10-second penalty. In addition, when there is some aggravating circumstance, we consider a drive-through penalty.

“In this case we consider that Alonso affirmatively choosing to perform an unusual manoeuvre at this point to be an aggravating circumstance, as opposed to a simple mistake.”

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