Fernando Alonso says his Austrian Grand Prix is effectively “over” after getting impeded by Sebastian Vettel in qualifying and having to settle for a meagre 14th place.
Alonso was on course to break out of the Q2 drop zone by two tenths when he came up on Vettel’s Aston Martin heading out of the penultimate corner, and prepared to thread the needle between the Aston and the inside of the corner.
But with time running out in the session, Vettel – who had been at the back of a queue of cars and was easing off to leave a buffer to Sergio Perez up ahead – jinked to the right to wind up his lap, compromising Alonso further.
Alonso was unable to grab a Q3 time while Vettel didn’t make it to the start-finish line before the chequered flag – but his earlier lap had been enough to ensure passage to Q3.
“What the f**k?! I cannot believe it,” Alonso shouted on the radio in the immediate aftermath, before adding on the cooldown lap: “We were top-three, top-four today. F**king hell.”
Speaking to Sky afterwards, Alonso, who was third-fastest in the opening segment, said: “Now I think we will not score points tomorrow. So whatever penalty they give to the others is never enough. It is the way it is.
“I think it was very badly managed by the people in front and I’m disappointed because I think it was probably our best car of the season in qualifying and we didn’t maximise it.”
The Spaniard called for “harsh penalties” for such offences, “because what happened today is not right”.
He added: “Very, very frustrating to lose a lot of points tomorrow. Now we have a race that we can forget, starting 14th, it’s over.”
Alonso did not specifically namecheck Vettel – who waved at him apologetically after the chequered flag – and it was anyway clear that the case was less open and shut than first appeared.
Speaking to his race engineer over the radio, Vettel described the preparation for his lap as “carnage” and said drivers were “taking the piss”.
Once the Alonso incident happened, Vettel asked why he wasn’t warned in time that the Alpine was coming.
“I only saw him very late, so not much that I could’ve done,” he explained to media afterwards.
Vettel, who qualified a provisional eighth, added that he wound up “sacrificing the lap” in order to try to let Alonso through.
He also placed the blame squarely on drivers who had been jumping the queue for a late-Q2 fast lap.
An overnight update to the race director’s notes ordered the drivers to not wait to leave a gap to the car in front between the penultimate and the final corner, and Vettel said that he was instead doing this exiting Turn 8.
But he says this left him open for drivers to pass him there and then themselves slow down in the final corners, effectively jumping the queue and delaying Vettel’s lap.
“I think we agreed that we slow down between [Turns] 8 and 9, which is what I did, everybody passes me and jumps the queue, and then they all slowed down between 9 and 10, where we agreed not to slow down. And you all know the rest,” he said.
“I think from my side I didn’t do anything wrong, I was the last one in the queue but I think the others should not jump the queue and then slow down after that. I don’t know if they were not listening [in the Friday drivers’ briefing].”
He suggested that Perez was not among those jumping the queue, however, and was instead caught in a similar situation.
Both Alonso and Vettel have been summoned to face the stewards at 4:50pm local time regarding the incident.