Alonso hit with 20-second penalty for incident with Russell

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Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso has been given a 20-second time penalty following the Australian Grand Prix after the stewards determined that he was to blame for the incident with Mercedes racer George Russell in the dying stages of the race.

Alonso occupied P6 as the race approached its closing stages, although Russell was constantly closing in on the two-time champion. The Briton had slightly fresher tyres as he completed his last pit stop as last driver in the top ten. With the Albert Park circuit sporting four DRS zones, Russell was able to mount huge pressure on the Spaniard until the penultimate lap when he crashed out at Turn 6.

Although the pair did not make contact, the FIA stewards launched an investigation amid suggestions Alonso had braked earlier than usual and may have caused Russell to lose control of his car.

The stewards handed Alonso a three penalty points and a drive-through penalty that is converted to 20 seconds. The decisions means that Alonso falls down the order from sixth to eighth place – promoting team mate Lance Stroll and RB’s Yuki Tsunoda.

The FIA statement read: "Telemetry shows that Alonso lifted slightly more than 100m earlier than he ever had going into that corner during the race. He also braked very slightly at a point that he did not usually brake (although the amount of brake was so slight that it was not the main reason for his car slowing) and he downshifted at a point he never usually downshifted.

"He then upshifted again, and accelerated to the corner before lifting gain to make the corner. Alonso explained that while his plan was to slow earlier, he got it slightly wrong and had to take extra steps to get back up to speed. Nonetheless, this manoeuvre created a considerable and unusual closing speed between the cars."