Alonso hopeful new grid box changes will work

Fernando Alonso is hopeful of avoiding future grid box penalties in light of recent changes

Fernando Alonso is hopeful of avoiding future grid box penalties in light of recent changes

Fernando Alonso believes at least one of the grid box changes made ahead of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix will prove beneficial in the wake of his recent penalty in Saudi Arabia.

Alonso was punished with a five-second time penalty at his first pit stop at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit for being wide to the left of his grid slot as he lined up alongside eventual race-winner Sergio Perez in his Red Bull on the front row.

It was later alleged that penalty was incorrectly observed, leading to an additional 10-second penalty applied post-race that dislodged Alonso from third place, only for the stewards to later reverse their decision after receiving new evidence.

It was the second successive grid box penalty this year after Alpine’s Esteban Ocon was punished in the season-opening race in Bahrain that sparked a similar sequence of events.

For the race at Melbourne’s Albert Park on Sunday, the grid boxes have been widened by 20 centimetres. In addition, there will also be a centreline in each slot to aid drivers with the positioning of their cars.

From the start of last year, all boxes now have a yellow line that is at the front, and that extends to the right that serves as a guide.

Explaining the apparent issues this season, Alonso said: “It is difficult. Apparently this year, it seems even more because in two races to have two penalties is a little bit strange.

“In my case, things haven’t changed much from last year. It is difficult, and we are very concentrated on the yellow line, to not go too far forward.

“So you approach the box, not looking at the box, you are looking on one side of the cockpit, so maybe that’s a bit of a distraction.

“But I made that mistake there (in Saudi Arabia), so we will try to be more focused on the box this weekend and avoid another penalty.”

Monaco and Imola are different – Alonso

Asked whether the additional changes from this weekend will help, Alonso added: “The centre line, I don’t think so because as I said you approach the box looking sideways, so you are not looking forward. That’s the biggest difficulty.

“The 20 centimetres will help, I guess, but there are going to be some circuits, maybe Monaco or Imola, where you start a little bit sideways anyway because if not, you’ll crash if you start straight.

“So we’ll have to see how we apply the penalties and things like that in those races. But no one wants to get a penalty for the start.

“Also, I think the FIA doesn’t want to have any problem with that because there is no performance advantage, as long as you don’t go too forward.

“So hopefully we will avoid anything from now on.”

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