George Russell, the driver who stood to benefit had Fernando Alonso’s post-race penalty been upheld, believes the Aston Martin driver’s Jeddah punishments were “too extreme”.
Alonso was hit with not one but two penalties at Sunday night’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, the first for lining up on the grid a few too many inches to the left with the second coming after his pit crew placed the jack underneath his car when he came in for his penalty.
The latter meant that although the Spaniard crossed the line in third place, he was relegated to P4 after the race having been slapped with a 10-second penalty.
That put Russell up into third place but only for a short while as Aston Martin appealed the penalty and it was overturned, Alonso back up to P3.
But even though Russell is the one driver who would have benefitted from Alonso’s penalty being upheld, the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association chairman felt the five and ten seconds were too harsh.
“I understand why these rules are there, we’ve got to stick within the guidelines, a little bit of common sense needs to be shown,” he said as per Motorsport.com.
“Ultimately I think he was a bit to the left, was that right? He gained nothing from this, perhaps a five-second [penalty] is too much.
“But then in regards to his pit stop again, I don’t know what happened and why he received a further penalty exactly, but a 10-second penalty is too extreme in that case again.”
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Alonso’s penalty for incorrectly lining up on the grid came one race after Esteban Ocon was hit with the same punishment in Bahrain with Russell revealing it’s “really, really tough” for the drivers to see the grid markings in today’s cars.
“It is incredibly difficult,” he explained. “We are sat so low and to put some perspective on it, we only see the top four or five inches of the tyre so we cannot actually see the ground itself.
“We have these big long yellow lines pointing out but I cannot even see the yellow line, let alone the white lines determining your lateral position. It is really, really tough, so that is why I think in this regard we need to show a little bit more common sense.”
Ironically Ocon had also earned a second penalty in Bahrain for improperly serving his first penalty as Alpine were already working on the car before the time had elapsed. In Alonso’s case, Aston Martin argued, only the jack had been put in place, it hadn’t even lifted the car.
Russell believes the FIA and the drivers need to find “common centre ground” when it comes to penalties after a slew of lap times were deleted in qualifying for the drivers grazing a “bit” of red paint.
“It makes it a little bit frustrating for everybody,” he said. “There is a lot of conversations that were going on this weekend about which lines you can touch and which lines you couldn’t touch, especially at the pit exit and at the pit entry.
“In qualifying we saw a number of cars get laps deleted for touching a bit of the red paint when ending their lap. I thought that was a little bit senseless, really, so I think we all need to come together to find a common centre ground.”