Mike Krack questions ‘ambiguous’ rule with FIA now set to clarify official wording

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso comes in for a pit stop. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso comes in for a pit stop. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Aston Martin team boss Mike Krack has called the regulations regarding working on a car during a penalty period “a little bit ambiguous” after Fernando Alonso almost lost his Saudi Arabian GP P3.

Alonso finished Sunday’s race at the Jeddah circuit in third place, 5.1s ahead of George Russell, only to be informed after the podium celebrations he’d been hit with a 10s penalty.

That was given to the driver after the stewards reviewed his in-race five-second penalty for lining up incorrectly on the grid, the stewards noting the rear jack man had pushed the jack under the rear of the car.

Article 54.4 of the FIA’s Sporting Regulations dictates: “Whilst a car is stationary in the pit lane as a result of incurring a penalty, it may not be worked on until the car has been stationary for the duration of the penalty.”

Aston Martin appealed the penalty, winning that as the stewards agreed there was no clear cut rule as to whether touching the car with the jack could be considered working on it.

Krack says the rule is too ambiguous.

“The regulations say you cannot work on the car,” the Aston Martin team boss explained to Sky Sports. “It is maybe a little bit ambiguous but this is something that we need to look at.

“We have a clear procedure for it, we have a countdown and everything was actually fully safe.

“There was no advantage gained from it.”

The FIA have already announced a SAC meeting will be held before the next race in Australia in order to clarify the wording of the regulation.

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Team boss weighs in on Safety Car after Stroll’s exit

While his one Aston Martin finished on the podium, the other didn’t see the chequered flag with Lance Stroll retiring on lap 18.

Told to stop the car immediately, the Canadian pulled off the track at Turn 13 and drove partially into an escape road.

Despite his car being well away from the track, Race Control deployed the Safety Car much to the surprise of all those watching.

Krack, though, reckons if the FIA feel it’s a safety issue they should always err on the side of caution.

“We had to stop the car and then told him to park it in a safe place,” he said. “But safety first, if the race director decides safety first and he wants to bring out the Safety Car, then that’s okay with me too.”

As for Stroll, he said: “It wasn’t like there was a crane in front of me. I wasn’t completely off the track, but a bit of the car was still looking out. But I haven’t seen exactly where I am.”

The FIA were quick to explain why they’d opted for the Safety Car, motorsport’s governing body putting out a statement that read: “From the initial camera angles available the exact position of the stopped car was unclear, and therefore safety car was deployed as the safest option.”

A ‘poor show’ from the FIA decries Alonso

With Aston Martin involved in not one but two controversial incidents in Saudi Arabia, Alonso has hit out at the FIA for a “poor show”.

“The FIA, a poor show today – more than disappointment from ourselves,” he said.

Speaking about his post-race penalty, he continued: “You cannot apply a penalty 35 laps after the pit stop. They had more than enough time to really inform about the penalty.

“If I knew about it, maybe I could have opened 11 seconds to the car behind. So today, I think we didn’t put on a good show for our fans.

“No-one told me this, they just told me the five seconds in the first stint and I opened seven or eight. And then in the second there was no information at all, not even that I was being investigated.”