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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Alonso's anger at European GP stewards

The Ferrari driver says the race was manipulated after race stewards took too long to hand out penalties for infringements made during a safety car period.

Fernando Alonso criticised the race stewards at the European Grand Prix yesterday, insisting the race had been manipulated after they took too long to hand out penalties for infringements made during a safety car period. The Spaniard was at boiling point after finishing ninth on the road at the Valencia street circuit after he had lost out badly during the caution period, which came after Mark Webber's Red Bull-Renault had collided with Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus-Cosworth.

Ferrari driver Alonso was challenging Lewis Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes for second place before the safety car was deployed, but the 2008 champion controversially dived in front of the safety car as it emerged from the pits while Alonso was unable to overtake. Hamilton gained almost a whole lap advantage over the Spaniard and despite being given a drive-through penalty, was able to finish the race in second position while Alonso struggled to maintain a points finish, though he was later promoted to eighth after Sebastien Buemi, the Toro-Rosso driver, was penalised five seconds for driving too fast behind the safety car.

"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 told reporters after the race. "We were running well, in third after a good start. Then the safety car came out, which wasn't too good for us, but Hamilton overtook the safety car, something that I had never seen, overtaking the medical car with yellow flags. We were a metre from each other, and he finished second and I finished ninth."

He continued: "This race was to finish second. Then with the safety car I would have finished where I finished in ninth, and Hamilton in eighth. "But here, when you do the normal thing, which is respecting the rules, you finish ninth, and the one who doesn't respect them finishes second." When Hamilton did take his penalty he was able to still retain second place after driving through the pitlane, and Alonso also was unhappy at how long it had taken to implement the punishment, coming 20 laps later from when the offence had happened.

"It must have been very hard to know," said Alonso, "They must have taken a lot of laps to see the replay of how he overtook the medical car. "But that's how it is. Unfortunately everything goes against us and it seems they are allowing everything." Alonso's teammate Felipe Massa was also hurt by the safety car, running fourth at the time, and eventually finishing 11th after falling down the order.

* AFP

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