Alpine win right to review, Fernando Alonso reinstated to P7 for the US GP

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso in the Alpine garage. Suzuka October 2022.

Fernando Alonso relaxes in the Alpine garage while the race is red-flagged through wet weather. Suzuka October 2022.

Fernando Alonso’s six points from the United States Grand Prix have been reinstated after Alpine requested a right to review the stewards’ decision to penalise him, and won.

Alonso was involved in a high-speed crash at the United States Grand Prix, one that left his A522 with a damaged mirror that eventually fell off the car.

He still managed to finish in seventh place but Haas later protested, believing the car to be unsafe. FIA technical director Jo Bauer agreed and the stewards hit Alonso with a 30-second time penalty.

Alpine protested Haas’ protest but that was deemed inadmissible, with the stewards saying what they should have done is request a right to review.

They did just that, and won.

In Formula 1 the right to appeal is based on significant and new evidence, which the stewards felt Alpine produced.

Speaking for the Enstone team, sporting director Alan Permane reiterated Haas’ protest at the Circuit of the Americas was lodged 24 minutes after the deadline.

Having learned at the earlier protest hearing that Race Control had told Haas they had an hour, Permane argued that the International Sporting Code “prescribed 30 minutes”.

This was accepted as the “significant and relevant new element” to allow the rest of the hearing to go ahead.

In that Permane explained that there is no “leeway” for the stewards to grant any team extra time to protest unless it is “impossible” to do so in the 30 minutes that are allowed.

Haas accepted they could have lodged a handwritten protest within that time, but added they thought they had an hour based on what Race Control said.

The stewards ruled in Alpine’s favour.

The statement read: “The stewards accept the argument of Alpine that the word “impossible” indeed sets a very high bar and that in hindsight, that very high bar was not met in this case.

“Of significant importance is the fact, unknown to the stewards previously, that Haas could have lodged a handwritten protest within the 30 minute deadline. By definition this fact alone means that it was not “impossible” to lodge the protest within 30 minutes and therefore the original protest should not have been admitted.

“Accordingly the stewards determined that the original protest was not admissible and therefore the decision in Document 61 is rendered null and void.

“No penalty is to be applied to Car 14 and the final classification should be amended and reissued.”

The decision will be welcomed by Alonso who earlier on Thursday warned that Formula 1 risks setting out a bad precedent if his penalty is upheld.

“The FIA was not showing me the black and orange flag,” said the Spaniard. “So, they felt that the car was safe to keep driving.

“The car went to parc ferme, passed all the scrutineering. Green light on parc ferme, and then the protests arrive too late.

“So, between all, I think there is no doubt that this was not the right decision to take. And if this is the right decision to take, it will open a huge problem for the future in Formula 1.

“I think fifty, sixty, seventy per cent of the cars will have to retire the car when they have an aerodynamic device that is not properly fixed because it’s going to be unsafe, the car.

“It will open also… if 20 minutes too late is okay to protest, is one month too late? Is one hour too late? Is 10 years too late? When is too late?

“So that, I think, we cannot afford. So, as I said, this is a very important day for our sport. I don’t care about seventh, I’m not fighting for the World Championship, but if this goes ahead, I think we will open a very… we don’t want to open that box.”