Alonso’s 100th career podium reinstated

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Alonso's 100th career podium reinstated

Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso has had his third-place finish at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix reinstated following a Right of Review.

The race, which saw the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) reverse the decision of handing Alonso a post-race penalty, initially saw the Spaniard dropped off the podium to fourth.

Also read: Pérez holds off charging Verstappen to win in Jeddah

Alonso crossed the line third at the chequered flag but was given a 10-second time penalty post-race for not serving his original penalty properly. Alonso, who started P2, led the race going into Turn 1 but was awarded a five-second penalty for “lining up incorrectly on his grid slot”.

When he did come into the pits to serve his penalty, the stewards stated that the rear jack was touching Alonso’s car during the five-second penalty, giving the Aston Martin driver an additional penalty, which briefly promoted Mercedes’ George Russell on the podium post-race.

Aston Martin submitted a review for the 10-second penalty to the FIA, following which the decision was reversed, giving Alonso his 100th career podium. 

The FIA stated:

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 penalised.

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.

Having the podium reinstated means Alonso becomes only the sixth driver after Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton to score 100 career podiums.

The podium also means Alonso has now scored two back-to-back podiums in his first two races with his new team. He remains third in the Drivers’ Standings with 30 points, while Russell is sixth with 18.

Aston Martin remain joint-second with Mercedes in the Constructors’ Standings with 38 points, 49 adrift of Red Bull.

The 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was won by Red Bull’s Sergio Pérez, with reigning World Champion Max Verstappen making a tremendous comeback to finish second, having started P15. Alonso took home the final podium place ahead of the Mercedes duo of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

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