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SEPTEMBER 10, 2006

Alonso damns F1

Fernando Alonso and Flavio Briatore have spoken out about the penalty that pushed Fernando down to 10th on the grid.

"Fernando never intended to impede Felipe Massa," said Briatore. "Everybody could see we had a tyre problem, and it was actually quite dangerous, Fernando going out again. But we are fighting for the World Championship and one of the reasons he went out is because we love the sport. Fernando is a sportsman. We told him on the radio that he had to drive his out lap like a qualifying lap, because it was very close after we had checked the chassis and the suspension.

"It was never our intention to stop Massa. We do not argue the decision of the stewards, we only want to tell you our position. Fernando took a risk to do a lap and he was doing his best. It was an incredible lap.

"The intention of the rule is that anyone who deliberately blocks will be penalised. But we had no such intent. Massa was at least 100 metres behind Fernando's car."

Renault's executive director or engineering Pat Symonds was equally upset by the penalty.

"The funny thing at Monza is that you spend half your lap trying to get a tow and the other half trying to avoid traffic," he said. "Massa got a good tow from Fernando, so he got some advantage there. Into Parabolica, I am not at all convinced that he lost time through the aerodynamics. Only Ferrari can say whether that was the case. If you go in too deep you can saturate the tyres and lose time. That's a pretty normal thing. Prior to 2003, this sort of thing was what qualifying was all about."

Alonso himself was unhappy with the ruling.

"I had no intention of holding anyone up," said Fernando. "As Flavio said, I am a sportsman. I went out on another set of tyres and tried the two braking points, then switched to another set. Half the back of the car was broken. But I did the lap and I didn't block anyone intentionally. I only went out because I love the sport and there were all the fans who came to see qualifying. But I no longer consider F1 is a sport."