Alonso rejects Albon's claim he drove slowly 'on purpose'

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Alpine's Fernando Alonso swept away Alex Albon's accusation that he drove slowly and went up the escape road at Baku's Turn 15 in Q1 on purpose to hinder drivers behind him.

The incident occurred as the first segment of qualifying got back underway after a red flag period cause by a crash by Aston Martin's Lance Stroll.

But those desperately seeking a spot in Q2 only had time for one final hot lap, and Albon's effort was ruined by the slow moving Alpine and then by a yellow flag brandished for Alonso's excursion down the escape road.

"He needs to get penalised, this guy, he has to!" said the infuriated Williams driver over the radio.

"This is ridiculous. He was doing it the whole lap, he was driving slowly on purpose. He was so obvious how he went off the track, he braked so early and then he just went off the circuit."

Cooler heads prevailed a while later in the media pen, but Albon was still convinced that there had been foul play by Alonso.

"I’ll leave it for you to decide," he said. "Have a look, and comment later.

"I just think it would be a good idea if we had a rule change where people who create yellow flags or red flags get their laptimes deleted.

"I know we’ve talked about this previously [most recently in Monaco]. But it doesn’t put any penalty on the driver who makes a mistake, and I think, there are games, of course there are games.

"I’m 99% sure if I didn’t make a mistake at the last corner I would have benefitted from the slipstream I chose to take behind him [Alonso] for the whole lap, and we would have got into Q2.

"It is one of those things. I’m not angry at Fernando, he’s a smart guy and he plays the system well."

In the Alpine camp, Alonso sympathized with Albon's plight but insisted that there had been no deliberate attempt on his part to hinder other drivers, adding that had simply been caught out by Baku's tricky Turn 15, as was also the case for Sebastian Vettel.

"I mean, that corner, I think we saw during qualifying that it was extremely challenging," explained the Spaniard. "I braked late, I could not make the corner I thought, so I took the escape road.

"McLaren did as well in Q2, Sebastian thought that he could make the corner and broke the front wing.

"There is always a tricky decision that you need to make in one-tenth of a second. I took the escape road.

"I mean, it was a lot of frustration, I think, for everybody at the end of Q1, with two minutes and a half and a queue of 15 cars trying to open the lap.

"I understand them but for sure it was a mistake that can happen for everyone."

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