In Bahrain’s season opening race, Alpine driver Ocon was penalised for incorrectly positioning his car in his grid slot.
The same thing happened to Aston Martin’s Alonso in Saudi Arabia, as the Spaniard was given a five-second time penalty for starting too far to the left of his box. However, Alonso still finished on the podium behind winner Sergio Perez and his Red Bull team-mate Verstappen after a penalty for serving his initial penalty incorrectly was revoked.
The Dutchman sympathised with Alonso and Ocon because the lack of visibility from the current crop of cars makes lining up for the correct grid spot hard to do.
The longer noses, larger tyres and the addition of wheelbrows on today’s cars have had the side-effect of limiting a driver’s vision even further than was already the case in a typical single-seater.
“The visibility is just really poor in the car, that is probably the main issue where you end up sometimes not fully correctly in your box,” the two-time world champion said.
“It is painful when it happens but it’s a bit the same with the white line with track limits. Sometimes you argue: did you gain anything going wide or not, going outside of it?
“I think at one point we do need a rule. It looks really silly if people start to take advantage of going really left and right but I don’t know what we can do better.”
Perez concurred, explaining there’s an element of luck involved in hitting your marks.
“It’s really difficult just to see where you’ve stopped,” he said, admitting he even stopped earlier to be on the safe side.
Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB19, Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin AMR23, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, the rest of the field at the start
Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images
“In my opinion I just overdid it and I stopped too early, but you have no idea when you are in the car. You don’t know if you went too far behind or too far forward.
“We need better visibility to be able to come up with a better idea than we currently have it.
“It’s good that there is a rule in place, but at the same time sometimes it’s like luck, to be honest, where you position yourself.”
Mercedes driver and GPDA director George Russell called for “common sense” as he found Alonso’s penalty too extreme.
“It’s incredibly difficult,” reported Russell.
“We’re sat so low and to put some perspective, we only see probably the top four or five inches of the tyre so you can’t actually see the ground itself.
“We’ve got these big long yellow lines pointing out… I can’t even see the yellow line, let alone the white lines determining your lateral position.
“It’s really, really tough so that’s why I think in this regard we need to show a little bit more common sense.”