Williams Martini Racing Chief Technical Officer, Pat Symonds, was none too pleased with the decision made by stewards after the United States Grand Prix, not to penalise Fernando Alonso for his late race collision with Felipe Massa.
It was perhaps an opportunistic move from Alonso, who on advancing through the field and catching up to the back of the Brazilian, saw a chance to dive up the inside at Turn 15. The pair ended up banging wheels and Massa was shoved off track, sustaining a puncture in the process.
The move allowed the Spaniard to jump ahead of the Williams driver and turn his sights to the Scuderia Toro Rosso of Carlos Sainz Jnr up ahead instead. The double world champion duly passed his fellow countryman to take fifth place, whilst Massa was forced to pit, though luckily the Brazilian did not lose position in doing so, having enough of a gap over Sahara Force India F1 Team driver Sergio Perez, to still make it home in seventh place.
The incident was investigated after the race, but the steward’s official statement deemed “no driver was wholly or predominantly to blame for the collision” and therefore no penalty was awarded, but Symonds does not agree with the decision made by the FIA.
“The FIA have determined it is a racing incident, which I don’t agree with. Look at how Alonso overtook Sainz, he was so far off the track…
“They’ve decided it’s a racing incident. I think Alonso braked so late, even when he hit Felipe he still left the track. Having used Felipe as a brake he still left the track.
“Then he did the same thing with Sainz a couple of laps later. OK, he didn’t hit Sainz but he was so far off the track I thought he was going to Mexico early.”
Although it was a forceful move from Alonso, a sufficient gap appeared to convince the Spaniard he could make a clean pass on his former Scuderia Ferrari team-mate.
It is also possible Massa had not seen the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team driver move in alongside him due to fixing his attentions on Sainz Jnr, who he was also still battling with and had locked up just ahead coming out of the previous corner, causing the Brazilian to take a wider line than usual.
Williams had felt their driver had a chance of passing the Toro Rosso in the closing stages of the race, having lost out to Sainz Jnr under the Virtual Safety Car, but the puncture put paid to that possibility, a further annoyance for Symonds.
“Firstly, if it hadn’t been for the Virtual Safety Car then it wouldn’t have been a battle.
“Secondly, at that time we were just sitting there. We had a bit of a go at Sainz, it wasn’t easy but we could see his tyres were just going down and down and down, so we actually turned the engine back and said ‘Let’s wait, we’ll get him at the end’.
Of course, then we weren’t there at the end.”
Despite their troubled afternoon, with driver Valtteri Bottas also receiving a puncture at the start of the race and never really recovering, the Grove based squad were able to get home ahead of the sole remaining Force India of Perez, and close the gap to them in the Constructors’ standings slightly, to eight points.
If nothing else, that is at least one positive for Williams to take away with them from what they will likely consider to be a disappointing United States Grand Prix.