The whole world is against Fernando Alonso.
At least, that’s the impression that you’d get if you listen to the man himself, or his often similarly paranoid team, Ferrari.
In Canada, we had Alonso and his team carping on about how the slower teams cost him victory. In Valencia, Alonso has gone further, essentially accusing everyone in Formula One of conspiring against him, even including the race stewards.
He wasn’t happy with just accusing the stewards of incompetence either; he accused them of manipulating the race result, charging, “It’s a shame, not for us because this is racing, but for all the fans who came here to watch a manipulated race,” Alonso said.
Yes, Fernando, it’s all about the fans—not a hint of self interest.
The incident in question came with the safety car on lap nine, which was brought about by Mark Webber’s awful accident. As the safety car left the pit lane, Lewis Hamilton and Alonso were approaching the pit exit. Timing, in this case, is everything.
Toward the end of the pit exit is a white line that crosses the track—the second safety car line—after which the safety car is deemed to be on the circuit and cannot be passed unless directed.
Approaching this line, Hamilton saw the safety car exiting the pits and took his foot off the accelerator—only for a split second—but it was enough to ensure that safety car hit the line a metre of so ahead of the McLaren.
Hamilton then committed the quite serious transgression of passing the safety car, convinced—if Hamilton is to be believed—that he had reached the line first. But that’s not what Alonso had a problem with.
What particularly raised the bushy eyebrowed Spaniard’s ire was that the stewards took almost 20 minutes to penalize Hamilton, by which time the Brit had built up such a buffer that he could serve his driver-through penalty and come without losing track position, effectively nullifying the effect of the penalty.
Does Alonso have a point? Absolutely—there is no valid reason for the decision to have taken so long, but the real damage was done when Hamilton overtook the safety car and Alonso did not; it was only exacerbated by the delay.
Passing the safety car is about as bad as any transgression on the race track and should attract a more serious penalty, but that’s the penalty as it stands. The safety car is on the track for a reason. Passing it is, by definition, dangerous.
The real irony is that if Hamilton had not hesitated, he would have legitimately passed the safety car and Alonso would have been in the position to make that difficult decision.
Alonso’s almost hysterical complaining—which elevates to new levels whenever Hamilton is involved—is embarrassing. He is painting himself as one of nature’s perpetual victims. All drivers complain on occasion, but most of them get on with the driving while they’re doing it. Alonso becomes obsessed and seems to forget what he’s there to do.
It was the same in Canada. Yes, he was slowed by back markers at crucial times in the race, but that’s F1—suck it up and get on with racing.
Alonso showed himself to be a world-class whinger at McLaren in 2007 when he was out-driven by the young upstart Hamilton. Alonso accused the team a favouritism and sabotaging his championship tilt.
He is not one of those drivers who is inspired to greater heights by internal competition. He has a pathological need to be the team's undisputed No. 1 driver.
His recent outburst is ridiculous and the FIA should sanction him for it. Of course, if they do, then it’s all part of the conspiracy, that’s the beauty of paranoia.