Fernando Alonso, Alpine, Suzuka, 2022

Alonso regains seventh place in US GP as stewards cancel his penalty

2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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The penalty Fernando Alonso received after the United States Grand Prix has been cancelled, and the driver restored to his originally finishing position of seventh, after his team successfully petitioned the stewards to review their decision.

Alonso was highly critical of the decision to penalise him by adding 30 seconds to his race time, which dropped him to 15th place in the race’s classification. Following a protest brought by rivals Haas, the stewards originally judged Alpine had run his car in an unsafe condition after it was damaged in a collision with Lance Stroll, leading to its right-hand mirror falling off.

Alpine succeeded in overturning the decision by showing the stewards they had been wrong to accept the protest by Haas because it had been submitted too late. The decision was reached following two hearings involving the teams and the stewards on Thursday, the first of which saw Alpine’s initial protest quashed by the stewards on the grounds it was inadmissible.

However the team still retained the right to request a review of the incident if it was able to prove new evidence had emerged. It did this partly by relying on information which it learned during the two protest hearings.

The stewards acknowledged in their original verdict last week that Haas lodged their protest 24 minutes after the deadline for such submissions, which is 30 minutes after the provisional classification of the race is issued. Alpine were not aware of that fact until the first hearing at the Circuit of the Americas.

It then emerged during Thursday’s protest hearing that an FIA race control official had informed Haas it had one hour to submit a protest rather than 30 minutes. Alpine submitted this new information showed the protest could have been submitted on time, arguing Haas “could have lodged a handwritten protest within the 30-minute deadline.”

Speaking to media at the circuit on Thursday, Haas team principal Guenther Steiner indicated they could have submitted their protest earlier. Asked by they submitted the protest 24 minutes late, he replied: “Because we were not in a hurry.”

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The stewards accepted Alpine’s submissions included a “significant and relevant new element” and therefore agreed to review whether Haas’s original protest should have been considered.

Alpine argued that the stewards cannot permit teams to contravene the rules of the International Sporting Code. Although the ISC allows stewards to accept protests submitted after the deadline if it is “impossible” for them to be made on time, Alpine successfully argued Haas’s protest could have been made earlier.

“The stewards accept the argument of Alpine that the word ‘impossible’ indeed sets a very high bar and
that in hindsight, that very high bar was not met in this case,” they said.

“Of significant importance is the fact, unknown to the stewards previously, that Haas could have lodged a handwritten protest within the 30-minute deadline. By definition, this fact alone means that it was not ‘impossible’ to lodge the protest within 30 minutes and therefore the original protest should not have been admitted.”

The stewards therefore reversed their decision that Haas’s original protest was admissible. As a result they ruled “no penalty is to be applied to car 14 [Alonso] and the final classification should be amended and reissued”.

However the stewards reiterated their concerns over the safety lapses which led to Alonso’s mirror falling off on the circuit long after it had been damaged in a crash.

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“The stewards are, notwithstanding the above determinations, concerned that car 14 was permitted to remain on track with a mirror assembly hanging loose which finally fell off, and strongly recommends procedures be put in place to monitor such matters and where necessary, require the problem to be rectified as has been done multiple times in the past, through either a radio call to the team or display of the black and orange flag, requiring the car to return to the pits for the problem to be repaired,” they stated. “Teams also have a responsibility under the FIA Formula 1 Sporting Regulations Article 3.2.”

The controversy arose following two protests brought by Haas over cars which shed parts on track during the race. The other, concerning Sergio Perez’s Red Bull, was dismissed. While Haas driver Kevin Magnussen has been shown the black-and-orange flag on three separate occasions this year, forcing him to pit for repairs, the same was not done for either Alonso or Perez. FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem “has initiated a review into the use of the black-and-orange flag,” the stewards noted.

Alpine welcomed the stewards’ decision and Alonso’s reinstatement to seventh place in the final classification. While Alonso gains six points as a result of the decision, the team’s score only increases by five, as Alonso’s team mate Esteban Ocon falls from 10th to 11th.

“BWT Alpine F1 Team thanks the FIA stewards for convening and reaching a positive conclusion on the matter involving car 14 from last weekend’s United States Grand Prix,” it said in a statement.

“The team welcomes the decision made by the aforementioned stewards, whereby car 14 [is reinstated to] its seventh place finish and six points from the race. We look forward to continuing our collaborative work alongside the FIA to ensure the racing spectacle is maintained to the highest quality.”

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2022 Mexican Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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60 comments on “Alonso regains seventh place in US GP as stewards cancel his penalty”

  1. I wonder what @proesterchen has to say on this.
    The jumping up and down seems to have worked ;)

    1. Alpine can jump up and down or stomp their collective feet, they have no basis for a protest. (but that’s just trademark Otmar for you)

      Alpine’s initial protest quashed by the stewards on the grounds it was inadmissible.

      Thanks for tooting my horn for me! 👍

      1. Rightly overturned, but for the wrong reason. The penalty shouldn’t have been given, to begin with. Alonso wasn’t given the black and orange flag during the race. It’s the FIA’s failure by not following procedure. In my opinion.

      2. You forgot to read/mention the reason why the initial protest was not admitted (ironically it was ‘too late’) and upon reviewing the protest merits it was granted.
        A bit like Trump(eting) your own mistakes as achievements :P

        1. The relevant decision document has yet to be uploaded to the FIA’s website, but from reporting on the topic, Alpine’s protest of the stewards’ decision on the admissibility of the Haas protest was thrown out because there’s no basis for such a protest.

          Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what I’ve maintained since Alpine made public their desire to protest.

          1. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your beliefs.

          2. @jff The facts are out there, available for anyone to find and read.

            You can of course choose to ignore them, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t spot on.

        2. This fool doesn’t admit he’s wrong, just talking gibberish

  2. Good decision. Now we can recognise how crazy and brilliant the fact that Alonso drove that car to seventh after it had been up the air and smashed into the barrier at high speed. Are there any recordings of how Alonso reported the car felt afterward the crash? I still struggle to believe the car was drivable afterwards. Brilliant stuff.

    1. Good few errors there – apologies!

    2. @newfangled His radio soundee he had the wond knocked out of him…definitely sounded shaken up.

    3. He told to the media that after the clash the car leaned towards the left, so he turned fine to the left, but not to the right.

      1. @wsrgo and @K Wow! Thanks, both. Yeah, the fortitude to brush yourself off and have faith in the car’s integrity after that. Great spectacle. Alpine build their cars pretty tough! Some people will find anything to moan about though, and just can’t enjoy a great moment – see below :D

    4. Enough with the “brilliant race” thing, please.

      By the time the mess was cleared he was behind the safety car with new tyres (the correct ones) and had 30 laps to overtake cars clearly inferior to him, most of which had to pit again.

      Not to mention that the moment Stroll covered his place Alonso rammed him instead of going to the left like a 41 years old guy with no reflexes.

      1. Yeh and you know Senna at Donnington in 91 had gambled on a wet weather set up the night before the race and the others hadn’t? Sometimes you just enjoy the moment no?

      2. He effectively had an airborne crash at 250+kph! The mental resilience to keep going and be just as quick is incredible, irrespective of anything else. Most people would have thrown in the towel at that point.

      3. Some people will do anything but give Alonso credit for a brilliant race lol

      4. Your comment is perhaps the worst opinion I’ve read here. Fortunately, you are very alone in such nonsense. Otherwise this place would be unbeatable

    5. It is all on f1tvpro. Initially he said it felt ok, then he told the team to look for suspension damage, at that stage the car was running on square tyres then he pitted came out and said the car was turning more to the left.

      1. @Facetious Thanks for this! Cool – thank you for the info. I figured it can’t have been totally sound. I rewatched the incident and figured my memory overdramatised how hard he hit the barrier, but no, that was a proper slam at high speed. Great stuff.

    6. Alonso has a habit of finishing in a good position after a crash causing a safety car to come out. Singapore 2008 is a good example.

      1. Lewis also has the same quality like when he crashed Imola 2021 and Bottas also crashed at the same time with Russell to give him time to unlap and finish on the podium.

  3. This looks like the correct decision on technicalities and also no-one could argue a 7th place was better earned than Alonso’s drive on Sunday.

    But you’ve got to feel for Magnussen and Haas. 3 meatball flags this season and nothing for several very similar issues on other cars and at other races this season. Race director decisions have to be more consistent next year.

    1. Exactly.
      The FIA penalising the competitors for their own misdemeanours is pointless and unproductive.

  4. So, again, FIA needs to fix race control (and in more than one way).

    1. Yeah, FIA have been dismal this year. Inconsistency, dangerous decisions, unfair decisions.

      Well they haven’t been good in last year either…

  5. Up there with Baku when he drove round with 2 punctures on lap 1. I’m not sure how the car survived enough to race on either occasion!

    Got to say I’m surprised Stroll didn’t get more grief for the jink, he did move very late.

    1. @mysticarl wonder who his teammate for 2023 is… :)

  6. I don’t have the words to adequately describe just how unfit for purpose the FIA at large is. How can it be acceptable to flip-flop over a relatively straightforward situation a week after its occurrence?

    The most worrying part about this, is that the FIA have effectively admitted that protests carry more weight that rule breaks. How is it that a penalty for Alonso can be issued on the back of a rule breach (driving a dangerous car), but that same penalty be cancelled because the protest that resulted in it was inadmissible? Either the rule was broken or it wasn’t; a protest is just a formal nudge for the stewards to investigate something and has (should have) nothing to do with any resulting penalty.

    1. Did you not know that Alonso’s penalty was only issued DUE TO A PROTEST by Haas AFTER the race?

      By your own words, since Alonso wasn’t issued a penalty during the race, or shown the black and orange flag, the protest “should have nothing to do with any resulting penalty.”

      The penalty was overturned only because Haas didn’t follow the RULES and submit their protest within the allotted time.
      The FIA is literally enforcing that a RULE is more important than a PROTEST.

      1. The FIA, Wittich, told Haas that they had 1 hour to file the complaint. Thats why the complaint was late. If FIA can’t uphold their own rules then what. You make this as it is all Haas own fault for talking with FIA, and who also during the race called in twice and the same did the stewards, yet FIA didn’t enforce their rules.

        You’re also stating that enforcing a rule is more important, I feel exactly the same, but they didn’t enforce the same rule on Perez as they did Magnussen, neither did they enforce their own rules on Alonso who’s car were breaching both safety rules and technical rules as per FIA’s own rulebooks.

  7. It would have required Alonso to complain about it more and that wouldn’t benefit him. Aston Martin are 1 point behind Haas in the constructors so Alonso won’t want to make things harder for his new team in a fight he’ll hope they win.

    1. Was meant to be a response to @mysticarl

      1. @petebaldwin Good thinking, who knew Alonso could be diplomatic?!

        On the flip side, they’d get more CFD time if they finish lower this year… good relations with Stroll is probably a better long-term plan though.

  8. The FIA has been completely ridiculous once again, applying double standards. Haas shouldn’t had to file a complaint to begin with. Just like they acted upon Haas 3 times already this season, the FIA should had given both Perez and Alonso the meatball flag. They didn’t, because one is driving for a top team and the other is a top driver. Yet, for a small team they bring out the flag immediately.

    Yes, Haas filed the complaint too late. But it shouldn’t matter as Alpine ran a car in a dangerous matter against the regulations. It was FIA’s job to enforce the rules and they did, albeit sometime after the race.

    1. I’m in two minds about this. Alonso broke the letter of the rules, so from that perspective, the penalty was just. However, I strongly disagree with the idea of penalties being passed after the race.

      To me, the “sanctity” of the race should be preserved as much as possible. The outcome of the race is ultimately defined by the actions of drivers; by imposing a penalty AFTER the race, such that Alonso lost something like 6 places, the opportunity for other drivers to behave differently due to Alonso being out of contention has been missed. The penalty is supposed to “repair” the race classification, but fails to take into account the different behaviour of drivers had Alonso got a black and orange flag, therefore the race is almost made pointless. Outside of specific infringements, like the car being found to be running underweight or with illegal parts (which would only be known through post-race scrutineering), “what happens in the race stays in the race” should apply as much as possible.

      I realise how philosophical this sounds, but it’s the FIAs own sport, and it’s their duty to consider the very fundamentals of race proceedings. Trying to “fix” the race afterwards just leads to more problems, more consternation, more outrage. If stewards can’t deal with these things during the race, they’re either understaffed or incompetent. Possibly (probably?) both.

  9. Has anyone been meatball flagged before for a loose/missing mirror, and was anyone able to fix it? I remember a couple of occasions of cars losing their mirrors and racing on, but I don’t recall anyone being forced to pit or trying to fix it.

    1. Leclerc’s mirror was ripped off on the approach to 130R at Suzuka 2019. Funnily enough, he got penalised for front wing damage and the mirror wasn’t mentioned.

  10. OMG, so the reason the FIA didn’t explain their reasoning for them deeming that it would be impossible for Haas to protest on time was because they were covering up *another* FIA mistake, whereby they had misinformed Haas what the time limit was. By accepting it, they were retroactively ‘correcting’ a FIA mistake of not ensuring safety during the race by meatball flagging Alonso, except this wasn’t correcting it as it then made zero improvement to safety, which is the sole purpose of the flag.

    At least they’re now being a bit more transparent, except when it comes to the Red Bull endplate aspect.

    Incidentally, they also missed the opportunity to clarify whether it would be acceptable for a future team to quickly rip/cut off a meatballed wobbly mirror in a pitstop, or whether retirement would effectively be the only option.

    1. The first time I read about the protest, I noticed the word “impossible” and wondered how could it have been impossible for Haas to submit their protest on time. It’s curious that not one F1 journalist picked up on it. Every article just repeated time and again “impossible”, “impossible”, “impossible”.

  11. So now its down to teams policing every one else and secure the best legal counsel and biggest team of lawyers. What a good way to spend ressources.

  12. Well I did it, I cancelled my subscription to Kayo.

    F1 seems to be 1 farce followed by another – I’m just not enjoying it this year. After 50 years, I’ve given up. I’ll keep an eye on results and maybe consider watching the start of next season but I don’t see anything changing.

    Next up I expect RBR to get a “OK you made a mistake, don’t do it again” with no penalty or a minor fine and we’ll have everyone testing out the limits of the budget cap, the one positive that I’ve seen delivered in recent times. That too will become farcical and the top few teams will just move further ahead.

    And I thought race control and stewarding couldn’t get worse than 2021 ……

    1. Controversy is hardly a new thing in f1. Its part of its DNA

      1. Controversy no, farce like we’ve been having though …… no not really

        1. Depends entirely on individual opinion.
          I think there has been plenty of ‘farce’ in F1 for several decades.

        2. Didin’t the period of Jean-Marie “The best decision is my decision!” Balestre have farcical episodes?

  13. What a mess. Clearly Alonso should have been penalised in the race but because the race director didn’t flag it and Haas protested a bit too late, he gets away with it. Kind of proves Haas statements right about them only penalising the little teams. At the very least the team should have been fined for running the car in a dangerous condition. Most sports in the world allow penalties to be applied retrospectively for incidents reviewed later, F1 should be no different.

  14. LOL, double standard treatment confirmed.

  15. someone or something
    28th October 2022, 11:48

    What a rollercoaster. I can understand all the involved parties to a degree, but it does make me happy that Alonso gets to keep his points for a heroic drive.

  16. I am glad Alonso gets to keep his original position because it was a special drive. However, it seems to me that Haas cannot have been too certain about making the protest or they would have done it more quickly.

    Maybe they were waiting for an internal decision or were in two minds about bothering. It seems this has caught them out.

  17. Teflonso strikes again!

  18. The Pied Driva
    28th October 2022, 12:07

    Mercedes must be regretting giving up on their appeal and protest after Abu Dhabi 2021.

  19. I’m shocked, guess Wittich can redeem himself.

  20. Not surprised even though it was 100% the wrong decision. If Haas had been told 1 hour that should have been accepted. That said Haas once again inept – their team manager should know when protests have to be made by – it’s fundamental!
    More importantly how on earth did Alonso pass after race scrutineering is the bit I haven’t seen explained. Cars are required to carry two mirrors. His didn’t so in the same way that if you are 10ml light of having the required amount of fuel he should have been excluded. Stunning drive or not is irrelevant.
    Once again FIA showing their absolute incompetence.

    1. Teams are allowed to replace parts that were damaged during the race with identical parts to meet post-race weight and scrutineering requirements.

      Imagine a scenario where on the last lap another car knocks off a portion of your front wing. Surely your car would be underweight. Teams are allowed to replace the wing with a spare for scrutineering to bring the car back up to the condition it was in when it entered the race. (Minus refueling, of course.)

  21. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    28th October 2022, 13:04

    Just curious. Perez’s front wing had a loose part that became dislodged and therefore it was not necessary to pit. Alonso’s mirror came off. How are these two incidents different?

    1. They are different because Alonsos car was illegal and a safety hazard, because of a bouncing review mirror that was ineffective and later when it came off didn’t fullfill the technical regulations of having two mirrors article 14.2.1.

      Haas also protested against Perez’ damage, whom should also have been shown a black and orange flag, but only on basis of the part possibly coming loose.

      1. Also, if the mirror was obviously broken right after the accident, Alpine released Alonso from the pits when his car was in unsafe condition.

  22. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    28th October 2022, 13:51

    Stupid decision in the first place and a ludicrously contrived process for overturning something that was clearly black or white.

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