At the British Grand Prix sprint race he was brilliant on the first lap, vaulting from 11th to fifth and afterwards he made reference to remaining ‘on the dark side’. It was a curious comment, but when he later explained further, it was about him still being sore about those Austrian starts and about his reputation as the bad guy.
“I’ve been always clean driver,” he said, “and I will remain a clean driver for all my career. I think I’m one of the few ones that I don’t have any points on the license. But what I referred to yesterday is that I felt a little bit like an idiot in Austria by respecting the rules. And we try to speak with the race director, and we try always to say or blame all the things that the people were doing with not many answers. That was strange.”
One can only imagine the steady barrage of pointed Alonso questions to race director Michael Masi. The unofficial policy has always been that with things so crowded on the first lap, a blind eye will be turned to most infractions – so long as the driver is clearly not deliberately taking the mick.
“So, I don’t want to be blaming or I don’t want to be crying every race for something that the others do,” he continued. “The strategy in the first races didn’t have any solutions, or didn’t bring us any solution. So we understood that the solution is to do what the others are doing. That’s the only thing we can do.” Except he didn’t. Not until Sochi several races later. It was as if he’d been looking for the perfect first corner track layout to make his point.
There, he blatantly challenged that first lap blind eye convention. On the formation lap he very deliberately drove through the Turn 2 run-off, as if advertising what he was about to do on the first lap of the race. Which he then proceeded to do. There was no penalty, and it was almost as if it would have been too inflammable to have applied one. Besides, Alonso didn’t actually make up a place in his move, taking care to rejoin where he’d been.