Fernando Alonso responds as Alex Albon suggests he 'played system' during Azerbaijan quali

Fernando Alonso has responded to comments from Alex Albon that suggested the Spaniard might have gone off in Q1 on purpose to ruin the lap times of drivers trying to get into Q2 in Azerbaijan.

A red flag in Q1 caused by Lance Stroll meant that we had two and a half minutes left when the session restarted for the drivers that did not feel they were safe to get out and try and set a faster lap time.

Indeed, it was frenetic stuff as they tried to get round in time, though things were somewhat neutralised by the yellow flag caused by Alonso who ran long at turn 15, and that meant several drivers had to slow and could not set a quicker time.

For Alex Albon, the insinuation was that that had happened on purpose, with him irate on the radio at the time and also having this to say to the media post-session:

“I’ll leave it for you to decide. Have a look, and comment later.

“I just think it would be a good idea if we had a rule change where people who create yellow flags or red flags get their laptimes deleted.

“I know we’ve talked about this previously [most recently in Monaco]. But it doesn’t put any penalty on the driver who makes a mistake, and I think, there are games, of course there are games….

“It is one of those things. I’m not angry at Fernando, he’s a smart guy and he plays the system well.”

Alonso, though, said there was no foul play and that he was fighting hot brakes and worn tyres:

“There was a lot of smoke on the brakes even when I stopped [in the garage.]

BAKU, AZERBAIJAN – JUNE 11: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Williams FW44 Mercedes on track during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Azerbaijan at Baku City Circuit on June 11, 2022 in Baku, Azerbaijan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“Everyone complains when there is a yellow flag, but I don’t think that today that corner was the easiest corner to negotiate. I went off, yes, I was with the old tyres, yes.

“Sebastian tried to make the corner and touched the wall. The McLarens [were] undecided to make the corner and then they took the escape road as I did.

“I mean, it was a lot of frustration, I think, for everybody at the end of Q1, with two minutes and a half and a queue of 15 cars trying to open the lap. I understand them but for sure it was a mistake that can happen for everyone.”

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