MONTMELÒ, Spain — Two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso has slammed the FIA, accusing race marshals of incompetence and saying one of the managers lacks the professionalism to fill the role.
The Spaniard was furious two weeks ago at the Miami Grand Prix after being penalized late in the race when he was in a position to score points. Alonso claimed, on Friday, on the sidelines of the Spanish Grand Prix, that his Alpine team had presented evidence to have their penalty overturned, but the stewards had already made their decision and were done working for the day.
“We think it was very unfair and it was the incompetence of the commissioners, they were not very professional,” said Alonso. We arrived after the race with all the evidence and they were just packing up. They weren’t even in the room. We showed them all the data, they said, ‘Give us five minutes,’ and then they found their hands tied, probably because they had already given the sanction and they didn’t know how to get back on it.
“It’s something that shouldn’t happen in Formula 1, with the professionalism and standards of Formula 1 at the moment. »
Alonso was penalized twice in Miami, but Alpine disputed the late penalty given to him for leaving the track and gaining a position. The team insists he gave back the time won and had data to back up his claim.
Alonso’s criticism comes amid tensions between the race management carried out by the FIA, F1’s governing body, and the teams dating back to last season’s final race in Abu Dhabi. The championship was controversially won by Max Verstappen following a sequence of events sparked by then race director Michael Masi.
Masi went against protocol following a late neutralization and delivered decisions that saw Verstappen edge Lewis Hamilton to the championship by winning a race Hamilton had dominated until Masi’s decisions. The FIA carried out a review of the streak after the season and Masi was relieved of the role ahead of this season.
Masi has been replaced by Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas, along with a new remote system that provides additional assistance to race marshals.
Alonso replied “definitely not” when asked on Friday if race direction had improved with the changes. He also took aim at Wittich, who has served as race director at every event this season. Freitas makes his debut as F1 race director in Barcelona this weekend.
“You have to have racing knowledge before you’re a race director or trying to oversee a race,” Alonso said. And I don’t think that knowledge is in place right now. I know there is a new race director here. I think Freitas has much more experience with the World Endurance Championship and with other categories at the highest level. And I think that will already make things better. »
Alonso was then seen in the paddock at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya talking to FIA President Mohammed bin Sulayem, who was elected the week after the Abu Dhabi race last year.
Wittich has experience as a race director in DTM, Formula 2 and Formula 3. He held support positions at F1 races before his promotion this season. Freitas was race director for the World Endurance Championship and refereed GT and touring car races.
Drivers have been at odds with Wittich for more than a month when the race director banned the wearing of jewelry and non-compliant underwear in the car. Hamilton was given a two-race waiver to compete with piercings which the seven-time champion says can only be removed surgically and he protested the Miami ban by arriving at the track wearing as much jewelry as he could put some; Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, wore a pair of underwear over his overalls providing protection in the event of a fire as he walked through the paddock.