Van Gameren doubts whether Russell really did not see Alonso’s braking action coming: “Then you can’t be surprised anymore, can you?”

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Van Gameren doubts whether Russell really did not see Alonso's braking action coming:

The men at the Ziggo Sport Race Café do not quite understand how George Russell did not see Fernando Alonso’s braking action coming on the last lap of the race in Melbourne. However, opinions at the table differ as to whether the Spaniard’s punishment after the race was justified. For example, driver Richard Verschoor noticed that Sergio Pérez had previously gotten away with a similar action without penalty, while Larry ten Voorde can understand the stewards’ decision.

It was perhaps the biggest blow during the Grand Prix weekend in Australia: George Russell went straight into the gravel trap on the last lap, after which he first hit the barriers hard and then ended up across the track. After the race, the stewards blamed the incident on Alonso, who had applied his brakes too early on the final lap, causing Russell’s downforce to disappear. However, Ziggo Sport Race Café presenter Rob Kampheus does not fully understand how Russell got off the track in this way. ‘The corner at which he went off (Russell, ed.), then I think: there are plenty of boys who had a moment there. Alonso also had a moment there and he steered straight ahead and was able to continue right past the wall.’

However, Renger van der Zande comes to the rescue for Russell. ‘This is at the end of the race, the tires are gone. In addition, you saw all weekend at Mercedes that they turned in and then slid into that mid corner,” the driver explains. ‘You also saw other cars, such as Aston Martin, sliding into that mid corner. He (Russell, ed.) had no more downforce, because he was right behind Alonso, and he just miscalculated, because he didn’t expect it (that Alonso reduced speed, ed.).”

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Van der Zande understands that Russell lost control of his W15 (Photo: Mercedes AMG F1)

Verschoor thinks that Russell’s crash was also partly due to the wind. “What Alonso does there is just super smart, only it seems more intense now, because he (Russell, ed.) folds the whole car, but in the end he (Russell, ed.) just has a moment there.” Verschoor therefore thinks the punishment for Alonso is not entirely justified, while Ten Voorde thinks the punishment is justified. According to Van der Zande, every driver would have made a similar move in the last lap: ‘Alonso is an old, cunning fox. That’s every driver, you’re just trying to survive the last lap, so you catch it and you keep going.”

Did Russell really not see Alonso’s braking action coming?

Rob van Gameren, meanwhile, questions that Russell did not see Alonso’s action coming. ‘You could already see Alonso’s lights coming on with Russel’s onboard halfway through that short straight. There you can already see that someone is no longer going full throttle. Then you can no longer be surprised that someone comes closer, can you?’

The other guests at the table at the Race Café agree with Van Gameren, but opinions remain different about whether the Spaniard’s time penalty was justified. Verschoor draws the comparison with Abu Dhabi 2021, when Sergio Pérez defended fiercely against Lewis Hamilton. ‘He (Pérez, ed.) didn’t get any punishment for that, did he? Then he (Pérez, ed.) also braked a hundred meters earlier, same story.’ The men come to the conclusion that Alonso seemed to have been punished for the consequences, Russell’s crash, rather than for his own actions.

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