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FIA explains why Verstappen avoided Alonso pass penalty

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FIA explains why Verstappen avoided Alonso pass penalty
By:
Mar 25, 2018, 12:53 PM

Max Verstappen was asked to let Fernando Alonso through because the Dutchman was 0.1 seconds behind the Spaniard as the pair entered a yellow flag zone during the Australian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33 and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 Tag Heuer, leads Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team R.S. 18
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33 Renault, Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren MCL33 Renault
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 and Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL33
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB14 recovers from a spin

The incident occurred on lap 26 when the virtual safety car came out due to Romain Grosjean's Haas being stranded on track.

McLaren driver Alonso was leaving the pits when Verstappen swept past on the track to claim fifth place.

The Red Bull pit wall realised that Alonso had reached the yellow flag first, albeit by a tiny margin, and asked race control about the incident.

Although he had technically passed under yellows, race director Charlie Whiting used his discretion, as it was such a close call.

He agreed that the pair should swap places while running under the VSC, which led to some urgent gesturing from Verstappen, as initially Alonso didn't know that he could re-pass.

The swap ultimately decided fifth place, as Alonso stayed in front to the flag.

"Red Bull said, 'We think Fernando was in front'," said Whiting. "I wanted to check because it's not completely clear. I asked the timekeepers to confirm which car was first, and they said Alonso by a tenth of a second.

"And hence that's why it was difficult to actually see with the naked eye – unless you've got the facility to replay it slowly, and that sort of thing.

"We've got to make sure of course, and once we were sure, I said to Red Bull Max has got to let Alonso past. Before I could get on to McLaren and say we've told Max to let Fernando past, Max was saying, 'Come on then!' [waves].

"And we hadn't got the message to Fernando. We've done that before, when it's not clear to the drivers it's not fair [to penalise them]."

Watch our 60s video report of the race...

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