Spain capital

Alonso accuses Formula 1 directors of ‘incompetence’

BARCELONA, Spain, May 20 – Double world champion Fernando Alonso on Friday delivered a scathing criticism of current Formula 1 stewardship standards and accused those running the sport of incompetence.

The 40-year-old Spaniard claimed officials, particularly in Miami, lacked motor racing knowledge and made “unfair” decisions and suggested that Niels Wittich, one of two race directors appointed this year to succeed to Michael Masi, did not have the required experience. .

Speaking ahead of his home event, this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya, Alonso made it clear that safety concerns raised by the drivers in Miami had been ignored.

“We have already seen a few things that prove that we still have a lot to improve,” Alonso said.

“(In) racing, you have to have knowledge about racing before you can be a race director – or try to oversee a race.

“And I don’t think that knowledge is in place right now. I know there is a new race director here…”

The sport’s governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), has appointed Wittich and Eduardo Freitas after Masi was removed from office following his controversial handling of the year-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. last.

Wittich took charge of the first five races, but Freitas will take over this weekend.

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“I think Freitas has a lot more experience with the World Endurance Championship and other categories at the highest level, and I think that will make things better.

Alonso had a tough start to the 2022 season which continued in Miami where he picked up two penalties during the race, infuriating his Alpine team.

– Miami ‘unfair’ –

He received a five-second penalty for a collision with Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri and another similar one for having cut the chicane in the last laps. The Alpine team challenged the decisions with data.

“We think it was very unfair and fair incompetence on the part of the stewards,” Alonso said.

“They weren’t very professional in Miami. I missed a turn and then gave the lap time back, but…they made the decision without asking. [for] Any evidence.”

He added that stewards were taken aback by the “new” evidence presented.

“We came there, we showed them all the data. So they said “give us five minutes”, and then they found their hands tied, probably because they had already pronounced the sanction and they did not know how to come back to this document.

“So it was very bad. It’s already in the past, but it’s something that shouldn’t happen in F1 with the professionals and the standards that Formula 1 has at the moment.”

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Alonso also pointed to Wittich’s decision not to meet drivers’ demands for a shock-absorbing barrier at a corner where Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz crashed heavily during Friday’s free practice in Miami.

Alpine’s Fernando Alonso clashed with the stewards in Miami finishing 11th © AFP / CHANDAN KHANNA

Sainz said the impact was worse than it should have been, given the low speed involved, but was told it was a freak accident and a barrier n was not necessary.

Twenty-four hours later, Alonso’s alpine team-mate Esteban Ocon had an almost identical accident which damaged the chassis of his car.

Ocon said he spoke to Freitas in Spain this week and after analyzing the two crashes there will be changes to the Miami track next year.

Wittich has also drawn controversy this year for taking a tough approach to rules on jewelry and flame-retardant driver underwear.

Seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton claimed in Miami that this focus on a ‘bling ban’ was ‘almost a step backwards’ as the sport had ‘more fish to fry’.