JULY 1, 2003

The Coulthard-Alonso incident

The incident between David Coulthard and Fernando Alonso in the closing laps of the European Grand Prix has caused a certain amount on controversy in Formula 1 circles because it is clear that, for whatever reason, Alonso braked around 10 meters earlier than expected. The Renault team said that this was because of tire problems, but Coulthard argued that the Spanish driver's braking points were inconsistent and in the end resulted in David having to swerve to avoid an impact. As a result he had an accident and had to retire from the race.

"I don't want to get involved in a childish argument about the rights or wrongs, but he did brake significantly earlier for the corner than on the previous lap," said Coulthard. "I had to take evasive action. The data will show that he braked early. I would be disappointed to think that it was deliberate and it is difficult to accuse someone of something. He was having problems and he was trying to be defensive. At the end of the day he is the one in the points and I am the silly one because I have gone off."

The FIA Stewards received a report on the incident from Race Director Charlie Whiting and talked to both drivers and representatives from the teams and, having heard the evidence and having viewed video and telemetry evidence decided that the incident did not warrant any "further judicial action".

The worry in F1 circles is that this is not the first time where such incidents have occurred and been unpunished by the officials. In the Formula 3000 race at Monaco, Enrico Toccacelo slowed suddenly during at one point and the closely-following Vitantonio Liuzzi could not avoid running into the back of him. Liuzzi's car went into the air but fortunately came down to earth before hitting a barrier. No action was taken by the stewards despite claims that the telemetry showed that Toccacelo lifted off for no reason.