Fernando Alonso has been reinstated to his third place finish in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after the stewards cancelled his post-race penalty.
The Aston Martin driver was stripped of his third place finish in the second round of the championship after the stewards ruled his team had failed to serve a penalty correctly during the race. The stewards ruled the team had touched the number 14 car with a jack while Alonso was serving a five-second time penalty.
“In this case, it was clear, that the car was touched by the rear jack,” the stewards noted. “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.”
However the sport’s governing body subsequently confirmed the Aston Martin driver had been summoned to a right of review hearing shortly after midnight at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Around 18 minutes after the review began, Alonso posted a celebration of his third place finish on social media. “100th podium,” he wrote. “What an amazing team we have and fast car! Proud of you Aston Martin.”
The FIA subsequently confirmed Alonso’s penalty had been overturned. He therefore regains third place in the race and George Russell is demoted back to fourth.
Alonso’s penalty was overturned as Aston Martin successfully showed the stewards were wrong to claim that touching the car with a jack constituted “working” on it, and was therefore not a breach of the rules. “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,” the stewards noted.
“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.”
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FIA statement on Alonso’s penalty
The stewards received a letter dated 19th March 2023 from Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant Formula One Team with a petition for review pursuant to article 14.1.1 of the International Sporting Code (ISC) of this stewards panel’s decision to impose a 10-second penalty to car 14 for failing to serve the penalty properly.
In support of the petition for review, the stewards were shown minutes of the latest SAC meeting and video evidence of seven different instances where cars were touched by the jack while serving a similar penalty to the one imposed on car 14 without being penalised.
The clear submission by the team was that the alleged representation of an agreement between the FIA and the teams that touching the car in any way, including with a jack, would constitute ‘working’ on the car for the purposes of Article 54.4 (c) of the Sporting Regulations, was incorrect and therefore the basis of the steward’s decision was wrong.
In the light of the petition, the stewards had to decide if there was a ‘significant and relevant new element [that was] discovered which was unavailable to the parties seeking the review at the time of the decision concerned’.
If there was such an element(s) then the stewards would need to consider whether the decision needed to be modified in any way.
Having reviewed the video evidence presented and having heard from the team representative of Aston Martin and the relevant members from the FIA, the stewards determined that there did exist significant and relevant new evidence as required under Article 14.1.1 to trigger a review of the decision, in particular the video evidence and the verbal evidence from the team and from the FIA. It was clear to us that the substratum of the original decision, namely the representation of there being an agreement, was called into question by the new evidence.
We therefore proceeded to hear the substance of the request for review.
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. [sic]
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.
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