Alonso says FIA rule change ‘pointless’

Something has changed in Formula One land and nobody has yet put their finger on it. In both the first two races of the season, drivers’ have been penalised for being to wide and outside of their grid box. This is rarely a matter the stewards are asked to consider, so why twice in consecutive F1 weekends?

Fernando Alonso was the second of the drivers to be penalised for this last time out in Jeddah, though it appeared the stewards missed others committing the same crime.



FIA widen starting grid boxes

It may seem a simple thing to place a Formula One car on a pin head before the race start. But due to the poor wheel lock and turning circle on an F1 car together with trying to find the correct grid slot, the drivers have plenty to think about in the final few seconds before the red lights light up.

For the Australian GP the FIA have widened the grid boxes by 20cm and added a guideline to show the drivers where the centre of their car should be.

Yet Fernando Alonso is skeptical this will make much difference.

McLaren upgrades bring hope



Alonso says drivers distracted

“It is difficult [to see the box] and we are very concentrated on the yellow line to not go too far forward,” he explained in the drivers’ press conference.

“So, you approach not looking at the box, you are looking on one side of the cockpit. So maybe that’s a bit of a distraction.”

Alonso was then asked whether the new sighting line would help line the car up in a more central position.



Fernando dismissed new aide as pointless

“The central line? I don’t think so,” dismissed the Spaniard.

“Because, as I said, you approach the box looking sideways, so you’re not looking forward. That’s the biggest difficulty – but the 20 centimetres will help, I guess.”

Fernando further explained due to the curve in the start/finish ‘straights’ at certain circuits, the grid boxes are in effect painted in with the front angles towards a wall or the edge of the track.

Stewards inconsistent approach to penalties



Ignore boxes at Monaco and Imola

“There’s going to be some circuits, maybe Monaco, or Imola that you start a little bit sideways anyway. Because if not, you crash if you start there straight [to the box]. So, we’ll have to see how we apply the penalties and things like that in those races.”

Esteban Ocon was the other driver to be penalised this season for improper start procedures and the Alpine driver claimed its now much harder to see.

“It’s because we can’t see anything from where we are sitting. We’ve worked a lot with my team to try and lower me in the car, to have a lower position.”



Ocon: team have lowered him in car

“We obviously were out of the rules [in Bahrain], so we deserve the penalty. But yeah, there’s going to be a lot more cars that are going to be penalised this year, that’s for sure.”

An interesting perspective was given by rookie Logan Sargent who has in previous seasons been racing F2 and F3 cars.

“I think just coming from F3 and F2 where you can see everything, and you can see the yellow line, it’s really easy to line the car up in the right spot,” Sargent revealed.

“The first thing I noticed the first time I lined up in a grid box in an F1 car, is you can’t see anything. You can’t see any of the lines, so you have to take a marker on the wall to your right or left to know how far forward you can pull as well. It is a lot more difficult, and I’m not surprised that there are struggles.”

Aston so close to historic F1 first



Russell: Stewards “too harsh”

George Russell who speaks for the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association believes the FIA should ease up on dishing out penalties given how “incredibly tough” it is for the drivers to see out of the cars.

“I think a five-second penalty for being laterally out is probably too harsh. We can’t see anything when we line up so, yeah, the penalty needs to be reflected on the difficulty.”

There’s no apparent reason for the drivers to be struggling more this season than last, given there are no regulation or car design changes that should make it more difficult to laterally position the car correctly on the start grid.

It is likely the FIA’s new approach to closer monitoring of the regulations is behind the dramatic rise in F1 start procedure penalties this year.

As with track limits in 2022, the line is the line and the stewards are enforcing them regardless of historical precedent.

READ MORE: Tensions rising between Mercedes’ team mates

One response to “Alonso says FIA rule change ‘pointless’

  1. Stop this nonsense and bring Michael Masi back immediately. Lewis and Toto must find something else to whine about, maybe target Conor Moore?

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