Why new Fernando Alonso evidence was rejected by FIA in right to review case

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso speaks to the media at Suzuka with a prominent FIA logo alongside him

Fernando Alonso does not see eye to eye with the FIA

Fresh from declaring “nationality matters” with the FIA stewards, Fernando Alonso and Aston Martin had their right to review the Spaniard’s Chinese Grand Prix penalty rejected.

Two weeks ago Alonso was hit with a 10-second penalty, one that didn’t have any consequences given he’d retired from the Sprint race, for colliding with Carlos Sainz.

Chinese GP stewards have rejected Aston Martin’s right to review

He was also slapped with three penalty points onto his Super Licence, bringing his tally to six in less than a month with any driver racking up 12 in a 12-month rolling period handed an automatic one-race ban.

Claiming the stewards were being “tough” on the Aston Martin team-mates, team boss Mike Krack told the media after the Chinese GP: “You feel at that point that is not fair.

“You have yesterday’s [Sprint] incident [with Alonso], then you have an incident today where people are pushing another car off in Turn 6, and then there is no action. Or we had the two Ferraris pushing one another, not leaving the gap, there was no action. Fernando, straightaway 10 seconds.”

Asked if his drivers were ‘easy targets’, he replied: “It’s interesting you asking because it shows that you seem to have that kind of feeling as well.”

Aston Martin subsequently requested a right to review that was heard by the stewards on Friday morning in Miami with the onus on the team to bring significant, relevant and new evidence to the table.

The stewards ruled that Aston Martin had not met that criteria as while they did bring new footage, they felt it wasn’t significant.

They rejected Aston Martin’s right to review.

“The alleged new element presented was a forward-facing video footage of car 14 which was unavailable to Aston Martin and the stewards at the time of the original decision – it was downloaded post the sprint session by F1,” the stewards said.

“While the stewards had various other footage of the incident from different camera angles, they did not have this footage.

“In its written submission seeking the review, Aston Martin suggested that the new camera angle showed that the incident in question was a racing incident and not one for which their driver should be penalised.”

The statement added: “Even though we did not have this footage at the time we made our decision, we did not consider the footage to be a “significant” new element.

“The new footage would not have caused us to question our decision or otherwise give us a perspective that we did not already have of the incident.

“There was sufficient footage from other camera angles to give us a clear basis to make the decisions.”

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The stewards’ decision in full

Petition for the Right of Review

1. On April 23, 2024, the stewards received a petition from Aston Martin Aramco F1 Team (“Aston Martin”) requesting a Right of Review in accordance with Article 14 of the FIA International Sporting Code (“the Code”).

2. The request related to the decisions of the stewards contained in documents number 40 (Infringement on car 14 for a breach of Appendix L, Chapter IV, Article 2d) of the FIA Internation[al] Sporting Code) (“ALO Decision”) and number 41 (Final Sprint Classification) from the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix.

3. A hearing was convened at 0800hrs EST on 3rd May 2024 and the concerned parties were summoned (document numbers 78 to 79).

4. The stewards of the Chinese Grand Prix conducted the hearing.

5. Attending the hearing were:
On behalf of Aston Martin – Messrs. Mike Krack and Andy Stevenson
On behalf of Scuderia Ferrari (“Ferrari”) – Mr Diego Loverno
On behalf of the FIA – Messrs Nikolas Tombazis and Tim Malyon

6. This hearing was to determine, at the sole discretion of the stewards (as specified in Article 14.3 of the Code), if “a significant and relevant new element is discovered which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned”.

7. Therefore, the stewards were required to determine if any evidence presented to them was:
a. “significant”;
b. “relevant”;
c. “new”; and
d. “unavailable” to the party seeking the review at the time of the original decision.

8. Only if that criteria is met, would the stewards be required to convene a further hearing to reconsider their original decision.

The Test under Article 14.1.1

9. Article 14.1.1 sets a very high bar for reviewing a decision of the Stewards. This has been the consistent position taken in previous requests to exercise the right of review.

Alleged New Element

10. The alleged new element presented was a forward-facing video footage of car 14 which was unavailable to Aston Martin and the stewards at the time of the original decision – it was downloaded post the sprint session by F1.

11. While the Stewards had various other footage of the incident from different camera angles, they did not have this footage.

12. In its written submission seeking the review, Aston Martin suggested that the new camera angle showed that the incident in question was a racing incident and not one for which their driver should be penalised.

13. They contended, among other things, that:
a. The new footage was “significant” because it showed “more clearly than any other evidence considered by the stewards and/or the parties to date, that car 14 was in a position of the incident which entitled it to be given room whilst attempting to overtake on the inside of turn nine pursuant to the Guidelines”;
b. The new footage was “relevant” as it showed for the first time the entirety of the incident; and
c. The new footage was “new” as it was not available during the hearing.

14. During the hearing, Aston Martin maintained the above points and sought to convince us that this satisfied the threshold in Article 14.

Our Decision

15. While the footage was undoubtedly “new”, as it was unavailable to us during the hearing, there was sufficient footage from other camera angle to give us a clear basis to make the decisions in Documents 40 and 41.

16. The footage would also be “relevant” given that it related specifically to the incident in question.

17. However, even though we did not have this footage at the time we made our decision, we did not consider the footage to be a “significant” new element. The new footage would not have caused us to question our decision or otherwise give us a perspective that we did not already have of the incident.

18. While it showed the incident from a different angle, it added nothing material to the visual perspective that we already had.
19. We accordingly dismissed the petition for review, without the need for us to proceed to the second stage of the review.

Competitors are reminded that, in accordance with Article 14.3 of the Code, this decision is not subject to appeal. Decisions of the stewards are taken independently of the FIA and are based solely on the relevant regulations, guidelines and evidence presented.

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