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Alonso drops from 7th to 15th at US Grand Prix following protest by rival team

Austin (Texas), Oct 24 (IANS) Alpine Renault’s Fernando Alonso has dropped from seventh to 15th in the classification for the 2022 US Grand Prix Formula 1 race, following a protest against his car by rivals Haas.

The stalwart was involved in a dramatic accident with Lance Stroll on the Circuit of The Americas’ back straight, with the Spaniard getting airborne after making contact with the rear of Stroll’s Aston Martin before miraculously continuing on.

All was not well with Alonso’s right-hand mirror, however, which shook violently before detaching itself, as the two-time champion charged through the field to take P7 at the flag. However, a protest on Sunday night by Haas against both Alonso’s car and that of Red Bull’s Sergio Perez — which suffered front wing endplate damage early on in the race — was deemed admissible by the stewards, according to formula1.com.

And while the stewards opted not to act in the case of Perez’s car, Alonso’s Alpine was deemed to have been in an unsafe condition following the crash — with a 30-second post-race penalty imposed on Alonso (a 10-second mid-race stop-go penalty no longer being feasible), dropping him from seventh to 15th.

The stewards noted that they were “deeply concerned that Car 14 (Alonso) was not given the black and orange flag (shown to a competitor judged to have suffered mechanical damage that requires immediate attention in the pits), or at least a radio call to rectify the situation, despite… two calls to Race Control by the Haas Team.

“Notwithstanding the above, Article 3.2 of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations is clear — a car must be in a safe condition throughout a race, and in this case, Car 14 was not. This is a responsibility of the Alpine Team.”

Arguments from Alpine that similar damage on the cars of Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix had not received any warning were also considered immaterial. The stewards also noted that Haas “had been given the black and orange flag on three occasions this year for situations involving their car being in an unsafe condition” — the most recent of those occasions coming at the Singapore Grand Prix, according to the report.

It’s not yet clear whether Alpine will consider an appeal against the penalty — which saw Alonso’s team-mate Esteban Ocon promoted into the final points-paying position of P10, as Haas driver Kevin Magnussen jumped to eighth.

–IANS

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