Saudi Arabia Formula 1 2023: why was Fernando Alonso’s podium taken away and rewarded - what did FIA say?

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Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso lost out on third place only for FIA to reaward it later

Red Bull dominated the circuit once again in the second Formula 1 race of the season as the drivers took to the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in Saudi Arabia. In fact, the figures on the podium were exactly the same as seen two weekends ago in Bahrain with Sergio Perez picking up the win for Red Bull and his teammate, Max Verstappen, coming second.

Issues continued for Ferrari as Charles Leclerc ended his race in seventh while McLaren endured yet another troublesome weekend at the back of the pack, finishing in 15th and 17th. However, while the nightmare continues for the Prancing Horses and Papaya team, Fernando Alonso endured his own drama when his second podium of the year was taken away, only to be re-awarded it a few hours later.

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Here is all you need to know about what happened to Aston Martin’s Fernando Alonso in Saudi Arabia...

What happened to Fernando Alonso?

The two-time world champion still remains in third place but Aston Martin were forced to appeal an FIA decision to remove Alonso’s podium. The Spaniard was served a five-second penalty for not placing his car correctly in its grid slot at the start of the race.

Alonso, 41, served this penalty at his pit stop on lap 18 but was then handed a further 10 seconds by the stewards at the end of the race as they ruled that the rear jack touching his car before the five seconds had elapsed constituted ‘working on it’. Mechanics and pit stop crews are prohibited from ‘working’ on the car until the penalty has been served and the FIA believed Aston Martin broke this rule.

George Russell leads Alonso George Russell leads Alonso
George Russell leads Alonso | Getty Images

However, Aston Martin then presented minutes from a recent meeting of F1’s sporting advisory group (SAG) which went through seven different instances of cars being touched by the jack in such a way without being penalised. The team, lead by Lawrence Stroll, also argued that 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”.

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The stewards accepted they had been mistaken, reawarded Alonso’s podium, and said a clarification on these issues would be issued before the next race in Australia.

What has been said?

Following the FIA’s decision to initially give the penalty, Alonso said: “(The FIA) 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. 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, who now returns to fourth, said he believed both penalties were too harsh: “I understand why these rules are there. 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.

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“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.”

Top 10 finishers in Saudi Arabia:

  1. Sergio Perez - Red Bull

  2. Max Verstappen - Red Bull

  3. Fernando Alonso - Aston Martin

  4. George Russell - Mercedes

  5. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes

  6. Carlos Sainz - Ferrari

  7. Charles Leclerc - Ferrari

  8. Esteban Ocon - Alpine

  9. Pierre Gasly - Alpine

  10. Kevin Magnussen - Haas

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