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Alonso hit with reprimand for ignoring blue flags in Suzuka lead battle

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Fernando Alonso has been given a reprimand by the Formula 1 race stewards for ignoring blue flags during Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka.

Alonso enjoyed a run to 11th in the race for McLaren-Honda after starting last due to a power unit penalty, narrowly missing out on a point after falling short in a late battle with Felipe Massa.

Alonso chased Massa despite being tailed by the leading pair of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen in the final two laps, with his failure to move aside for the leading drivers piquing the interest of the stewards after the race.

The Spaniard was deemed to have failed to adhere to blue flags correctly and move aside at the earliest opportunity, playing a late role in the battle that ended with Hamilton taking his eighth F1 win of the year.

“Alonso was shown a solid blue indicator light o his dash and waved blue flags between Turn 14 and Turn 15 on Lap 51,” a report from the FIA stewards at Suzuka reads.

“”He also had received a flashing blue light informing him that race leader Lewis Hamilton was closing on him for over a lap before. Alonso let Hamilton pass during Lap 52 at Turn 11.

“The drivers have been told in drivers’ briefings that the provisions of the International Sporting Code, that they ‘must allow the following car to pass at the earliest opportunity’ means that they should do this for lapping cars regardless of their current battle.

“Stewards concluded that Alonso did not do this. Alonso noted in the hearing that there was an opportunity to allow Hamilton to pass on the front straight, but not thereafter until Turn 11.

“The stewards accepted that there are limited safe places to let a car past between Turns 2 and 9 which contributed to the length of time it took to allow Hamilton past.

“In applying the penalty, the stewards compared this incident to other similar incidents and considered that while a breach, this was less severe than others and that when he did move over he gave plenty of room, and subsequently to Verstappen.

“The stewards therefore applied a reprimand (driving) and two penalty points.”

The penalty points are the first to be added to Alonso’s FIA Super Licence since 2015.

“We started 20th and we finished 11th, with a good recovery, with only one pit-stop, and starting on a used set of tires. That was a pretty huge effort from everyone on the team,” Alonso said after the race.

“After the penalty on Friday night, due to the engine change, I think we deserved that one point – we fought hard for it.

“β€œIt was an unlucky situation with Felipe towards the end of the race. He was struggling a lot with his tires when the Virtual Safety Car came out. That meant he could breathe a little bit during those laps.

“Then, in the last two laps, the leaders of the race caught up with us, and Felipe again missed out on an attack, and ultimately took the point for 10th place.

“β€œWe’ll try again in Austin. Hopefully with no penalties, and from our usual grid position, and with some better luck.”

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).