Formula 1: Fernando Alonso reinstated on podium in Saudi Arabia after demotion overturned
Fernando Alonso has been reinstated to third place in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after stewards overturned their earlier decision to demote him.
The Aston Martin driver had been dropped to fourth after it was ruled his team had worked on the car while he was serving a five-second penalty.
But his team successfully argued there were previous examples of drivers not being penalised in such circumstances.
The stewards agreed and overturned their original verdict.
It was the end of a confusing set of events that Alonso had earlier labelled a “poor FIA show” when he believed he had been demoted from the podium to fourth behind Mercedes driver George Russell in a race won by Red Bull’s Sergio Perez.
Alonso’s initial five-second penalty was for not placing his car correctly in its grid slot at the start of the race.
He served this at his pit stop on lap 18 but was penalised a further 10 seconds by stewards at the end of the race when they ruled the rear jack touching his car before the five seconds had elapsed constituted “working” on it.
Aston Martin presented minutes from a recent meeting of F1’s sporting advisory group (SAG), which discussed seven different instances of cars being touched by the jack in such a way without being penalised.
Aston Martin argued there had been an agreement between teams and the governing body that it was “incorrect” to rule that “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”.
The stewards accepted they had been mistaken.
An FIA spokesperson said there were “conflicting precedents, and this has been exposed by this specific circumstance”, and a clarification would be issued before the next race in Australia following a meeting of the SAG.
Alonso also complained that it took too long to be told of the second penalty – and had he been, he would have been able to drive faster to make up the required time deficit.
He had already done this to ensure he was five seconds ahead of Russell when it became apparent late in the race that he might receive a second penalty, but on the assumption this would be five seconds, not 10.
“They told me I had a five-second penalty so I pushed a little bit harder and I opened seven seconds and I paid the penalty,” he said, before the punishment was reversed.
“In the second stint, there was no investigation, no information, nothing. If someone had told me, ‘You have 10 secs’, I’d have opened 11 secs.”
Alonso added: “Today is not good for the fans. When you take 35 laps to apply a penalty and to inform about the penalty and you inform after the podium, there’s something really wrong in the system. It is a bit sad for the FIA.”
Russell, whose final position has been put back to fourth, said he believed both penalties were too harsh for the offences in question.
“I understand why these rules are there,” he said. “At the end of the day, we’ve got to stick within the guidelines. But I think a little bit of common sense needs to be shown.
“Ultimately, I think he was a bit to the left [on the grid], was that right? He gained nothing from this. Perhaps a five-second [penalty] is too much.
“And then with regards to his pit stop again, I don’t know what happened and why he received the further penalty exactly. But a 10-second is too extreme in that case again.”
Alonso accepted he had made a mistake in positioning his car, but Russell and race-winner Perez agreed that a lack of visibility from the cockpit was a problem.
Perez said: “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 or from 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. – bbc.com