Franchitti calls for an FIA clampdown, says Alonso is lucky to be alive
Four-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti warned on Monday that Fernando Alonso was lucky to survive a high-speed crash at Sunday’s United States Grand Prix – and called for a crackdown on dangerous driving.
In the wake of the emotional victory of double world champion Max Verstappen, dedicated to team founder and co-owner Dieter Mateschitz, which clinched the Red Bull constructors’ title, much focus has shifted to the dangers of accident-ridden racing.
In particular, in a race that featured two safety car tackles and several high-speed duels, many seasoned observers drew attention to the late defensive moves at high speed.
“These late changes in straightaway are going to kill someone,” said Franchitti, a Scotsman who won the IndyCar Series in 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2007, 2010 and 2012.
Writing on Twitter, he added: “The FIA, it’s time to sort out this behavior once and for all. It bled into a junior formula too.”
Franchitti made a direct reference to the incident that occurred on lap 22 of the 56-lap race when Aston Martin’s Lance Stroll spun in front of his future teammate, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, causing the Alpine driver to crash into the back of his car.
The Spaniard was then launched by Stroll’s rear wheels and veered into a fearful brush with the barriers at high speed, escaping unharmed and able to rejoin the race after a pitstop.
Stroll retired from racing and was subsequently sentenced to a three race penalty at this week’s Mexican Grand Prix (October 30).
“Wonderful,” said 1996 world champion Damon Hill, commenting on the crash. “Another close call there for the boys… There’s some sort of naughty late squib I think from Stroll.”
Another former F1 driver, Giedo van der Garde, tweeted: “Very aggressive by Lance – thank God they are both OK.”
In a thrilling race, there were several exciting duels that raised eyebrows, including that between victorious Verstappen, who re-enacted the 2021 scrap with seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton from Mercedes, and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, from Aston Martin, with Haas driver Kevin Magnussen.
Alonso, 41, admitted he was afraid to try it out.
“It wasn’t nice because when you’re in the air you’re obviously not aware of where you are on the track,” he said.
“I felt like I was on the left a lot, and obviously if you pick up the side fence, the metal fence, you go 360 in the air. You see this kind of accident a lot in IndyCar – and it’s very dangerous.
“So I thought I ended up on that fence…. I’m glad I’m here talking to you because I’m definitely going to be at the medical center. So, I’m glad I’m not…”
He accepted that the accident was a racing accident.
“We got lucky with the first safety car, and then, on the restart, I tried to get into the Stroll. I moved to the side, to leave the ramp, and he moved too… It was a bit of bad luck because we didn’t understand each other.”
Alonso finished the race in an impressive seventh place, but then another drama unfolded when rivals Haas protested that his right mirror had been smashed and flapped dangerously before falling.
He was given a 30-second time penalty which dropped him to 15th place.
Alpine responded by protesting the validity of Haas’ protest as it was submitted 24 minutes after the allowed deadline.
They added that Alonso’s car was deemed safe by the race stewards.
Team principal Otmar Safnauer said: “This is absurd. It’s clearly accident damage and cars are allowed to finish with accident damage – it happens all the time.”
Alonso was glad to be alive. “It was my best race of the season,” he said. But the fear is still in my stomach. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I just wanted to finish.”
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