Fernando Alonso does not sound like a man who will miss Formula One when he leaves at the end of the season.
Alonso was on the receiving end of a five-second time penalty at the Japanese Grand Prix after an incident with Williams driver Lance Stroll on the opening lap. Stroll had pushed Alonso wide at the final chicane, but the McLaren driver then drove across the gravel to rejoin the circuit rather than use the escape road.
The stewards found Stroll at fault for the incident but penalised Alonso for what he did afterwards, with the note saying: « Although car 14 was forced off the track, car 14 thereafter cut the chicane and rejoined the track thereby gaining a significant advantage. »
The Spaniard went on to finish 14th and said that Stroll, who crossed the finish line in 17th, had taken full responsibility for the incident. Speaking to the media after the race, Alonso could not resist the opportunity to take another swipe at the championship.
« Even when the driver comes to apologise, I think it’s difficult to understand the decision, » Alonso said after the race. « This is how bad Formula One is. »
When asked what he meant about how bad F1 was, he said: « In the decisions, in the random, in the poor consistency. You are braking on the outside at the last corner and you go on the gravel, you come here to apologise and you get a penalty. It’s a shame. »
Alonso was not too unhappy with the incident itself, as he accepted Stroll’s explanation that he had not seen the orange McLaren on his left-hand side.
« He didn’t see me. If he saw you and put you in the grass it’s another thing but it was just an unfortunate incident. It doesn’t change much, would have finished 12th instead of 14th. It’s the way it is. »
Stroll said he did not understand the rationale behind the penalty he received for the incident itself.
« It was one of those first lap racing incidents, » the Williams driver said. « I went around the outside at 130R and got on the grass and then I came back onto the racing line and we made some contact.
« I just wanted to say I didn’t touch him intentionally and then he just went straight on. I think it was just a typical first lap incident where things get heated. Just a shame we both get penalties and my race went downhill from there. »
Stroll was handed two points on his superlicence, taking his tally for the rolling 12 month period to six. Alonso was given one, moving his own tally to three — a driver is given an automatic one-race ban if they accumulate 12 points over 12 months.
Alonso has already confirmed he is leaving F1 at the end of 2018. He will complete the World Endurance Championship (WEC) 2018/19 season with Toyota, but it is currently uncertain whether he will pick up a partial or full IndyCar programme alongside that. The Spaniard will stay in Japan for the next WEC round, the Six Hours of Fuji, an event which was re-scheduled so he could take part after initially clashing with the U.S. Grand Prix.