Toto Wolff makes Abu Dhabi 2021 comparison with Fernando Alonso penalty

Michelle Foster
Fernando Alonso pits, rear jackman. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Aston Martin driver Fernando Alonso pits, rear jackman. Saudi Arabia March 2023

Toto Wolff has drawn parallels between Fernando Alonso’s Saudi Arabian penalty and Lewis Hamilton being “robbed” of the 2021 World title.

In both events he says it was up to the FIA to “come to the right decision” rather than the rushed one.

The story of Hamilton’s 2021 title loss has been widely reported on, Mercedes and the Briton to this day feeling he was “robbed” of an eighth World title by then FIA race director Michael Masi’s controversial decision to set-up a final lap shoot-out between the reigning World Champion and Max Verstappen.

The Australian’s decision was villainised by Mercedes, who believed it was quite simply the wrong call.

It ultimately led to Masi’s departure and an overhaul of the FIA’s race control system with two race directors put in charge last season. That became one this year with Neils Wittich the sole man in charge but, according to Wolff, the mistakes keep coming.

The latest was at last Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix when the stewards initially declared Alonso’s penalty pit stop okay.

The Spaniard was hit with a penalty early in the race, five seconds for lining up incorrectly on the grid, and took that when he came in for his one stop of the night.

But pulling into the pits, his rear jackman slid the jack underneath his car, thereby touching it, before the team paused for the five-second penalty.

The stewards later reviewed the pit stop and slapped the Aston Martin driver with a 10-second time penalty only for that to be overturned when Aston Martin appealed.

Wolff says, as with Abu Dhabi, he just wants the stewards to make the right calls.

“First of all,” he told Channel 4, “the penalty was super harsh because from the pure driving performance Fernando and Aston Martin deserved to be on the podium.

“We have to look at those regulations and see is there is anything we can tweak because it didn’t affect his race.

“I’d rather have the FIA come to the right decisions than be too quick and obviously fall into something that’s wrong.

“We’ve been victims of that in 2021 where everything was down to the entertainment for a quick decision and it robbed the greatest driver of the championships.

“So in that respect, I think I’d rather not go to the podium and have the correct result afterwards.” recommends

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Alonso, who was on the podium spraying the ‘champagne’ but not in the post-race press conference, also wasn’t impressed with the stewards.

“I think it is a poor show from the FIA,” he said before his penalty was overturned, “more than disappointment from ourselves. You cannot apply a penalty 25 laps after the pit-stop.

“They had enough time to really inform about the penalty because, if I knew that, maybe I could have opened 11 seconds to the car behind.”

Explaining why they’d overturned the 10-second penalty, the stewards declared there was no clear agreement regarding what would be considered ‘working on the car’.