Fernando Alonso’s joy of taking his second podium of the season and one-hundredth podium of his Formula 1 career was initially short-lived, with the Spaniard handed a ten-second penalty after the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix demoting him to fourth.
Alonso got off to a good start and managed to get into the lead ahead of Sergio Pérez early on, but he was given a five-second penalty for being in the incorrect position on the race start, which he would have to serve in the pitlane on his first stop of the race. Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team brought Alonso into the pits under the safety car, and he was handed a further ten-second penalty as the FIA ruled Alonso’s stop to have not been served correctly.
The problem itself was said to be the rear jackman had lifted Alonso’s car before the five seconds were over, meaning contact had been made with the AMR23 before the penalty had been served. Esteban Ocon picked up the exact same penalty in Bahrain just two weeks ago, but Alonso would be disappointed that the investigation had to be undertaken after the race, meaning he could have not prevented a drop to fourth place.
George Russell, who was promoted to third in the aftermath of the penalty, was pleased to gain a place but believed it was harsh on Alonso and Aston Martin who he thinks were deserved podium sitters, “I think the penalty for Fernando is pretty harsh, they are the deserving podium finishers today, but I’ll take a trophy so I’m not complaining too much.”
However, following a right-to-review victory by Aston Martin, Alonso’s 100th podium finish in Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has been restored.
The FIA have now changed their decision, releasing a document that stated Aston Martin had presented a letter to reconsider the ten-second penalty. The official FIA document read:
“In support of the Petition for Review, the Stewards were shown minutes of the latest SAC meeting and video evidence of 7 different instances where cars were touched by the jack while serving a similar penalty to the one imposed on Car 14 without being penalized.
“The clear submission by the Team was that the alleged representation of an agreement between the FIA and the teams that touching the car in any way, including with a jack, would constitute ‘working’ on the car for the purposes of Article 54.4 (c) of the Sporting Regulations, was incorrect and therefore the basis of the Stewards’ decision was wrong.
“In the light of the Petition, the Stewards had to decide if there was a ‘significant and relevant new element [that was] discovered which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned’. If there was such an element(s) then the Stewards would need to consider whether the decision needed to be modified in any way.
“Having reviewed the video evidence presented and having heard from the Team representative of Aston Martin and the relevant members from the FIA, the Stewards determined that there did exist significant and relevant new evidence as required under Article 14.1.1 to trigger a review of the decision, in particular the video evidence and the verbal evidence from the Team and from the FIA. It was clear to us that the substratum of the original decision, namely the representation of there being an agreement, was called into question by the new evidence.
“We therefore proceeded to hear the substance of the request for review. Having reviewed the new evidence, we concluded that there was no clear agreement, as was suggested to the Stewards previously, that could be relied upon to determine that parties had agreed that a jack touching a car would amount to working on the car.
“In the circumstances, we considered that our original decision to impose a penalty on Car 14 needed to be reversed and we did so accordingly.”