F1 2023: Fernando Alonso’s podium finish restored at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
Shortly after celebrating third place, Fernando Alonso was handed back his trophy after a penalty – and that was just the beginning of the farce at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso’s 100th career podium was snatched from his clutches moments after the Spaniard celebrated with a champagne shower in Jeddah – only to bring it back hours later in a back room.
In a crazy few hours after the Aston Martin star’s outstanding drive to the third step of the podium, Alonso had his trophy taken from him and presented to Mercedes’ George Russell while the race stewards were told to read their own rules.
Alonso was slapped with an early five-second penalty for lining up outside his starting box to cross the finish line third behind the all-conquering Red Bull duo of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen – but his smile soon turned sour.
He was then handed a 10-second time penalty after the checkered flag fell, relegating him to fourth place behind Russell.
Aston Martin was believed to have illegally handled Alonso’s car, with footage showing a rear jack being fitted before the five-second time penalty was up.
The two-time world champion was frustrated with the result and wondered why the 10-second penalty wasn’t communicated before the end of the race.
“It doesn’t hurt to be honest,” Alonso said.
“I was on the podium, I took the photos, I took the trophy, I celebrated with the champagne and I seem to be down three (championship) points now.”
“I think it’s more (that the) FIA missed out today than a disappointment on our part.
“You can’t impose a penalty 35 laps after the pit stop. They had enough time to really let (us) know about the penalty because if I had known that I might have (had) opened up 11 seconds (gap) to the back man.
“It’s important to me, but it’s not that important to me because I celebrated (the podium) and now I’m down three points (so) OK, let’s try to win it back in Australia.”
Article 16.3 of the FIA Sporting Regulations states: “Any decision or communication affecting a specific competitor should be communicated to him within twenty-five minutes of such decision being made.”
It took more than 30 laps – and past the end of the race – for the FIA to tell Aston Martin the 10-second penalty.
And the stewards were apparently made aware of their own rules, voting hours after the end of the race to restore Alonso’s podium.
Aston Martin applied to the FIA to review the 10-second penalty ruling and was successful on appeal.
“In support of the request for review, the stewards were shown minutes of the last SAC meeting and video evidence of 7 separate instances of cars being jacked while serving a similar penalty to that given to car 14, with no penalties to become.” The FIA said in a statement.
“The team’s clear assertion 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, constituted ‘work’ on the car within the meaning of Article 54.4(c) of the Sports regulations are incorrect and therefore the basis for the decisions of the sports commissioners is wrong.
“After reviewing the video evidence submitted and after hearing the Aston Martin team representative and the relevant members of the FIA, the Stewards determined that there was significant and relevant new evidence pursuant to Article 14.1.1 to warrant a review of the decision, particularly the video evidence and the oral Evidence of the team and the FIA.
“After reviewing the new evidence, we concluded that there was no clear agreement to rely on to establish that the parties had agreed that a jack touching a car constituted work on the car, as previously proposed to the stewards.
“Under the circumstances, we felt that our initial decision to penalize Auto 14 needed to be reversed and we have done so accordingly.”
Russell told reporters after the race that he thought the penalty was “harsh” and that Alonso deserved to finish third.
“To be honest (I was) happy to come home in P4. I think Fernando’s penalty is pretty tough,” he said.
“They are the deserved podium finishers today, but I’ll take an extra trophy with me so I don’t complain too much.”
PIASTRI REACHES DISASTER WHILE RED BULL’S ROLL CONTINUES
Red Bull’s promotion to the Formula One World Championship appears to be a fait accompli after Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen clinched another one-two on the streets of Jeddah.
Perez just turned his second career pole into a fifth win to lead his home teammate Verstappen, who incredibly climbed from 15th on the grid to the second step of the podium.
On the same roads where a safety car stole a potential win in 2022, Perez refused to be denied a second time.
Amidst all the fanfare over Aston Martin’s upgraded AMR23, Fernando Alonso could only watch in trepidation as an enraged Verstappen thundered past him on lap 25 to restore Red Bull’s double dominance at the front of the field.
“Max is a racer and he will push and I think it’s pretty unusual to go from 15th on the grid to second on a street circuit,” said Red Bull boss Christin Horner after the race.
“Sergio rose to the challenge after that safety car and obviously my heart was in my mouth at that point because I envision in three laps we’re going to have two riders using hammer and tongs but it’s not happens materialize. Checo got the gap and did it and his pace was fantastic today.”
Even the most optimistic competitor must now admit that the championship race is but a procession, given the ease with which the two Red Bulls made up ground and then created a gap.
Alonso came home comfortably in third, only to snatch his 100th career podium from his clutches.
The Spaniard was on the third step but had to return the trophy just moments later after being handed a 10-second time penalty by race stewards.
The Aston Martin man ended up fourth, just ahead of Lewis Hamilton.
Ferrari’s sad start to the season continued as Carlos Sainz crossed in sixth ahead of Charles Leclerc in seventh – the quality gap between the Scuderia and Red Bull was laid bare on the streets of Jeddah.
After suffering a 10-place penalty before the race, Leclerc started from P12 – three places higher than Verstappen – but was powerless to force his way through the field using the same means of his one-time title rival.
With Verstappen unable to bridge a staggering seven-second gap on Perez, the Red Bulls instead fought for possession of the fastest lap in an entertaining sideshow to an otherwise signed, sealed and delivered one-two.
“What is the fastest lap?” Verstappen inquired about Red Bull radio in the dying phase, to which they replied: “We’re not worried about that, Max.”
“Yes – but I am,” said Verstappen.
The Dutchman struggled with a driveshaft complaint, yet responded with a smashing final stint to steal the fastest lap on death from his team-mate and retain the championship lead – by a single point ahead of Perez – ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.
“I was second and we were huge behind, so at some point we decided to call it a day and settle for second, which I think was a very good recovery anyway (from 15th onwards)” said Verstappen .
“I tried it (the fastest lap) at the end, so luckily it worked.”
The race is really between the Red Bulls and nobody else.
Never bet against things getting worse for McLaren.
The climax of Oscar Piastri’s first top-10 qualifying result lasted just seconds before Monday morning’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, with another issue quickly relegating the Australian to the back of the field.
Just a fortnight after completing just 14 laps in his Formula One debut before being forced to retire, Piastri suffered damage to his right wing during the opening changes in Jeddah.
The Australian rookie had to pit at the end of lap one after colliding with Alpine’s Pierre Gasly and he fell from 8th to last.
Lightning struck – once again – for McLaren twice, with Lando Norris also being forced to pit for a new front wing at the end of lap two, putting the Papayas in 19th and 20th place.
Incredibly, Piastri finished the entire race on a single set of tires and still managed to overtake Norris in the closing stages before zooming past a battered Logan Sargeant to finish 15th.
Norris came home 17th – the penultimate car across the line as both Lance Stroll and Alex Albon failed to finish the race.
Originally published as F1 2023: Fernando Alonso’s podium finish at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix restored
https://www.codesports.com.au/motorsport/f1-2023-disaster-strikes-oscar-piastri-as-red-bulls-sergio-perez-max-verstappen-dominate-saudi-arabian-grand-prix/news-story/6394e55661fc2f00d407fec731cd66d6?nk=3d22fed083031d5f759f645c3701a4d8-1679268425 F1 2023: Fernando Alonso’s podium finish restored at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix