A lot of people say that F1 isn’t really a sport as they understand it. Partially because overweight people are instrumental to winning. The engineers play such an important part in the Formula 1 team’s speed that people watching seem to think that it is so removed from other sports to perhaps no longer be one. Of course the fact that engineers are so vital to the sport is also the reason that so many other people love Formula 1.
What Alonso is talking about is something else, he thinks that people are arbitrarily making decisions at the end of each session and are fundamentally affecting the outcome of the race or championship.
First a quick history of qualifying:
Old style – Everyone in eachothers way, if you caught traffic then it was your own fault and you didn’t get to the front. But you could go around as many times as you liked. People said that too many good laps were being ruined by traffic.
Mid style – You could only go around once but you were guarnateed not to be impeeded. People said it was too boring because there wasn’t enough going on at the same time.
New style – Limited number of runs, people going out at the same time and then if they get in each others way a punishment.
I think that you can’t have it both ways in the long run. If people are nervous of getting in each others way then you will loose the excitment of the new format and go back to boring (it never was for me but as perceeved). If you deliberately get in somebody’s way then you should get punished, but everything else if fair game.
However in this instance I think Alonso did deliberately get in the way of Massa. He was deliberately going at quali speed on his outlap to get round in time to be included on his fast lap. So he was deliberately doing something other than standard practice. So it then comes down to another thing which is was he close enough to impeede Massa. And the answer to that seems to me to be no. He wasn’t in the way because otherwise Massa would have been faster not slower. On the final straight I can still remember Martin saying “he’s not close enough to get a tow off him”. And that to me looks right. I think the one lift they used as an excuse was a mistake by Massa and was unrelated to Alonso.
So I don’t think he should have been punished, and I do think the punishments should be less arbitrary. They should set out some plain rules on the subject and stick to them. Perhaps using something like distance between cars.