Late FIA drama as Fernando Alonso regains 100th podium after post-race penalty is quashed

Henry Valantine
Fernando Alonso embraces his engineer. Jeddah March 2023.

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso embraces a team member after qualifying. Saudi Arabia March 2023.

Fernando Alonso has been reinstated to the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix podium after the FIA overturned his post-race penalty in Jeddah.

Alonso had crossed the line third in Jeddah on Sunday, but after serving a five-second time penalty in the pits for failing to line up in his pit box correctly on the start line, the FIA opened a further investigation into the Aston Martin driver after its Remote Operations Centre in Geneva reported that Alonso’s rear jack operator had touched the back of his car before five seconds had elapsed – meaning the penalty had not been served properly.

In a decision document published after the race, the FIA believed Alonso’s car to have been touched, meaning it had been “worked” on as per the rules agreed to by the teams, and a 10-second penalty was his punishment – dropping the Aston Martin driver down to fourth place and taking away his 100th career podium finish, promoting George Russell into the top three in his place.

“The Stewards were shown video evidence of how Car 14 served the penalty by the Race Director and the Sporting Director,” read the FIA’s statement.

“They stated that what was agreed at the SAC meetings with the teams was that no part of the car could be touched while a penalty was being served as this would constitute working on the car.

“In this case, it was clear, that the car was touched by the rear jack. Based on the representation made to the Stewards that there was an agreed position that touching the car would amount to “working” on the car, the Stewards decided to impose a penalty.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Sergio Perez calls for review after ‘different information’ given to Max Verstappen
George Russell reveals ‘confusion’ over Alonso penalty amidst Lewis Hamilton battle
Saudi Arabian GP: Sergio Perez wins race but Max Verstappen keeps championship lead

But Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack hinted that an appeal was possible from the team, and Alonso himself tweeted hours after his penalty had been confirmed to say: “100th Podium! What an amazing TEAM we have and fast car! Proud of you @AstonMartinF1 💙.”

This sparked confusion as to whether or not Alonso was joking about the penalty, having said after the race that it was a “poor show from the FIA” to penalise him so long after the alleged offence had taken place.

The governing body subsequently confirmed the team had held a right of review hearing in Jeddah, and Alonso’s penalty was then rescinded and his podium finish was reinstated as a result.

The third place trophy had already changed hands from Alonso to Russell in the paddock, but a swap back will now be taking place as the Spaniard becomes only the sixth driver in the history of Formula 1 to reach the 100-podium mark.

Explaining their decision to overturn the post-race penalty, the FIA wrote: “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, without more.

“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.”