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Steiner: 'Clearer stance’ on defensive driving needed in F1

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Former Haas team principal Guenther Steiner believes F1 needs clearer guidelines on acceptable defensive maneuvers following Fernando Alonso’s controversial sanction by the stewards in last weekend’s Australian GP.

In the closing stages of the race at Albert Park, Alonso and Mercedes’ George Russell were fighting for P6 when the Aston Martin driver braked earlier than usual approaching Turn 6, seemingly to catch out Russell.

The Spaniard then reapplied power before braking again to make the corner. This unexpected move, which partially deprived Russel’s car of downforce, forced the Mercedes driver wide, causing the Briton to lose control and crash into the wall.

Despite Alonso finishing the race in sixth positions, the stewards deemed his actions "potentially dangerous driving" and issued a post-race 20-second penalty, dropping him to eighth.

The penalty sparked debate. Was Alonso's move simply a cunning defensive tactic, or did he cross the line into dangerous territory?

Steiner argues that the lack of clear guidelines on acceptable defensive maneuvers creates confusion for drivers and stewards alike.

“I haven’t seen the data, I just read what you’ve all read, that he was on the brakes and tapping the brakes and things like this,” said the freshly nominated Miami GP ambassador, quoted by RACER.

“I think we are at the point now where, we had it with Kevin where he was defending in Saudi Arabia, now Fernando defending the position…

“I actually was with Checo on the plane back from Melbourne and we had a quick chat about it, and we came to the conclusion that fighting this hard for P6 is a little bit overdoing it. I mean, I know that everybody needs the points, but it’s like, ‘Wow.’ I think we are at the limit.

“But also, the stewards’s verdict — you are wrong but you are right — it wasn’t very clear to me. ‘You get the penalty but we don’t know if you should get the penalty.’

“It’s like, ‘I give you the penalty but I’m not sure if you’ve done wrong.’ So I think it needs to be a clearer stance, and it needs to be the same for everyone as well.

“I think we were on the limit there — if not over the limit.”

Chiming in on the topic, former F1 team owner Eddie Jordan took exception with the principle of post-race punishments that modify a race’s classification, and suggests sanctions should be deferred and applied at the following race, so as not to confuse race fans.

"I really get so upset when I watch a race, and I think Alonso has finished fifth, or whatever it is, and then he’s demoted three [sic] places,” commented Jordan, speaking on the Formula for Success podcats with co-host David Coulthard.

"I remember Bernie [Ecclestone – former F1 supremo], it was one of his pet hates. He’d say to the timekeepers and the stewards, ‘Never give me a set of results 30 minutes or an hour after the race with a different set of positions because it’s not fair on the television, it’s not fair on anyone and it confuses the crap out of everybody’.

"And in my opinion, if they felt something was wrong, they should have said, ‘You’ve got a two-place grid position penalty at the next race’. But don’t take the race position from him. Why the hell should they do that? It’s nonsense.

"For heaven’s sake, Formula 1, will you get a grip! The race results are the race results. And if there are penalties, they come in the future."

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