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Late Paperwork Saved Fernando Alonso’s 7th Place Finish in Austin

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Fernando Alonso in the United States Grand Prix after his collision with Lance Stroll. Note his right-hand-side mirror.

Fernando Alonso in the United States Grand Prix after his collision with Lance Stroll. Note his right-hand-side mirror.
Photo: Mark Thompson (Getty Images)

One of the most shocking moments of last Sunday’s United States Grand Prix was when Lance Stroll’s blatant block on Alpine’s Fernando Alonso. As Alonso attempted to pass the Canadian down the Circuit of the Americas long back straight, Stroll looked into his mirror and turned left directly in front of Alonso. The pair collided. The left-rear tire on Stroll’s Aston Martin shredded, and he was spinning into the barrier.

The front of Fernando Alonso’s Alpine lifted off the pavement. His Alpine looked like it was going to launch off the top of the barrier and into the perimeter fence. However, quick thinking from the two-time world champion avoided a horrific crash. Alonso jabbed the brakes to get his front tires back on the ground and steered back towards the track. The Spaniard got his Alpine back to pit lane, where his car got a fresh set of tires and a new front wing and was then sent back into the race.

Alonso would go on to finish seventh with his damaged car, but it was all for naught. He was knocked out of the points-paying position by a 30-second time penalty. After the race, Haas protested that the race director should have shown Alonso the black-and-orange (or meatball) flag for continuing with damage. The black-and-orange flag has been shown to Haas’ Kevin Magnussen earlier this season with arguably less damage to his car.

The FIA has now overturned Alonso’s penalty after an appeal from Alpine. The decision wasn’t made because the stewards changed their minds about how damaged Alonso was. Haas had filed their protest 24 minutes after the designated deadline. While the state of Alonso’s mangled car wasn’t the subject of the protest, the FIA is going to review the black-and-orange flag’s use and how cars are deemed damaged to a dangerous extent.

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