Fernando Alonso has been reinstated to his third place finish in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after the stewards cancelled his post-race 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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2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix
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96 comments on “Alonso gets third place back after FIA cancels penalty”
19th March 2023, 22:14
It was a jack, and not Jack, that touched the car.
Now, can you cancel the 2021 Abu Dhabi race result?
19th March 2023, 22:31
Bang on the money!
19th March 2023, 22:46
Could have been Jack on the jack. Just saying…
19th March 2023, 23:08
Sure. And what difference would that make to the 2021 championship?
19th March 2023, 23:15
Ahah, I’m guessing the point is: let’s cancel a race that makes no difference whatsoever in the championship result, so agree with that!
19th March 2023, 23:33
Yep, lets cancel a race that does not make any difference for the 2021 championship. That way RBR saves some money and the budget cap isn’t a problem.
20th March 2023, 7:45
Should we cancel Singapore 08 too while we are at it? That one will actually have an affect on the standings.
Red Andy (@red-andy)
19th March 2023, 22:16
Wow, FIA having a shocker here.
Will Wood (@willwood)
19th March 2023, 22:33
Ironic that the first time the FIA’s Remote Operations Centre appears to have made a material intervention in a grand prix, the resulting decision made by the stewards due to the prompting of the ROC is overturned after the race.
When the entire point of the ROC was to try and improve how the rules are applied in the first place.
19th March 2023, 23:51
That’s from FIA document #51, “Failure to serve a penalty during a pit stop”. Something made race control change their minds because the next paragraph starts with “Subsequently, at the last lap of the race…”
Then the next paragraph says the Race Director and Sporting Director showed video and the “SAC agreement” that touching counted as working, but what prompted them to do review the pitstop after having already determined it was fine?
It has to be the Mercedes team, otherwise how could George’s engineer tell him Alonso might get another penalty?
Maybe you can ask Toto about it at the next press conference?
20th March 2023, 0:50
The biggest joke was the SC. I said F1 now throws an SC if they see a bird’s shadow on the track and I wasn’t wrong.
As for the rest, have they ever heard of discretion? Stewards just aiming to ruin the racing up and down the field. Whiting is rolling in his grave.
20th March 2023, 6:25
The SC deployment was indeed a joke, as no one had any chance of hitting the recovery vehicle or Stroll’s car.
Ultimately, the hasty SC decision was apparently down to lack of awareness regarding Stroll’s car positioning, which is pretty unexcusable with modern technology that allows for race control to be aware of where every car is at all times.
Mostly likely only a one-off case, though, as otherwise, no questionable SC deployments have happened after Masi’s sacking.
20th March 2023, 8:02
@jerejj – Sky commentary indicated at the time that Race Control had said the GPS had indicated Lance was still on the circuit, hence the safety car call.
20th March 2023, 8:08
@muzza Precisely my point that race control shouldn’t mess up with these things, given the modern technology at their disposal.
20th March 2023, 8:09
@muzza Additionally, they have several camera angles, including the same world feed footage, so unexcusable hastiness.
20th March 2023, 13:00
I knew that when I commented, but IMO that was just an excuse. I think the
director did what he thought was expected of him, which since about 2020, a safety car no matter how safely off the track a car is.
F1 is already safer than almost every single sport, safer than karting, way safer than club racing, etc. I don’t want danger for danger’s sake, but F1 has become so Mickey Mouse with basically no wet driving and stopping the race for anything.
20th March 2023, 6:19
Maybe they should start using ChatGPT.. if they can’t interpret their own rule book maybe AI cab and probably also in the blink of an eye – would be a lot less embarrassing and more fair than after the race! Would be fun to see what ChatGPT would make of the Jack with jack situation ;-)
20th March 2023, 6:26
@JezH79 I see what you did there by using an SP reference.
19th March 2023, 22:23
This makes me happy. I’m not entirely sure how the rear jack works, other than slotting in under the diffuser / gearbox casing and then they pull back and lift the car. Does it slot into a groove somewhere? I couldn’t see any contact with the car from the footage.
We all know how this season will pan out (Max), but Fernando having his moment in the sun is perhaps something to celebrate. He’s made some silly choices in his time, but to see him with a smile on his face does brighten my day. He won’t be WDC, but he is enjoying himself. I like that.
19th March 2023, 22:58
The jack basically cups the rear impact structure from below and levers it off the ground. (the release is usually mechanical and built into the jack so that the arm holding the cup holding the car gets released without the jack man having to move the handle)
19th March 2023, 23:12
Its true, and I am really glad to see FA finally having some success after a long drought.
It can be argued that he made “bad” decisions (there is certainly substance to the argument), but who would have thought that Aston Martin, of all teams, would give him the best chance at success since 2014? In that time, he has driven for Ferrari, Mclaren and Renault (Alpine) all of whom have won multiple championships.
19th March 2023, 23:18
2 races, 2 podiums, 17 years after his last championship he’s still very consistent!
Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
19th March 2023, 22:23
Mercedes will appeal Aston martin and win the case and get the no podium – podium – no podium back into a podium ;)
19th March 2023, 23:13
Starting to sound a bit like Brazil 2003 where no-one could decide the race winner. And ironically enough, FA was supposed to be on the podium there but wasn’t…
19th March 2023, 23:19
Ahah, indeed, he got his podium celebration back!
David BR (@david-br)
19th March 2023, 22:24
So the ‘new evidence’ was an absence (of any clear agreement)? How can an absence be new evidence?
Whatever! Basically Alonso was penalized 5 seconds for a starting grid infringement that made no racing difference, then received a 10 second penalty for an infringement during the 5 second penalty that also made no racing difference, then had the 10 second penalty rescinded with new evidence of there not actually being any evidence of an agreement that the said infringement that made no difference would actually make a difference. FIA stewarding clear as mud, as always.
19th March 2023, 22:47
@david-br I would assume the “new evidence” would be the other examples AM presented to the FIA showing other teams doing exactly the same and not getting a penalty:
19th March 2023, 22:54
Others not having gotten penalized is not an argument to ignore your current offense.
19th March 2023, 23:07
@proesterchen Seemingly it depends who you ask. If you ask the FIA, it clearly is a good argument. If you ask pretty much anyone else, you’re probably right.
I didn’t mean to clarify whether I thought it was “good” evidence, but it is probably something the stewards considered in reaching their verdict.
19th March 2023, 23:19
The problem really is clarity. And now, for the umpteenth time, the FIA has introduced yet another grey area. So if you connect a fuel hose (not relevant these days of course) but no fuel flows, by the same logic, that is not work on the car.
A simple “no touching” would leave no grey area.
19th March 2023, 23:21
I’m one of those who think it’s a good argument: IF touching the car with the jack is a penalty, let’s go back and penalize everyone in every race, otherwise no penalty here either, fairness.
19th March 2023, 23:23
@deliberator Yeah 100% agree. Rule should be no touching, plain and simple. No work just adds the potential for unnecessary debates.
19th March 2023, 22:51
@david-br the more cynical interpretation is that the “new evidence” is likely to be the volume of complaints about the penalty and Alonso’s prominence in terms of his brand value to the sport and his finishing position.
After all, the sequence of events in Jeddah is pretty similar to what happened with Ocon in Bahrain – getting a time penalty for being too far laterally to one side on the grid, and then having a member of the pit crew touching the car before the timer was up. However, Ocon doesn’t have the same brand value as Alonso and was far further back on the grid, so it was a lot easier to throw the book at him in Bahrain than it was to do so to Alonso here.
19th March 2023, 23:22
This is a very good point, there must’ve been some bad publicity for the fia because of this.
20th March 2023, 0:00
Ocon did not server the first 5 second penalty properly — they only waited 4.6 seconds before starting to work on the car. Whether anyone was actually touching Ocon’s car never came up last race.
20th March 2023, 1:01
This, they did start undoing the cone on Ocons car before 5 seconds was up so it’s clearly not the same situation.
20th March 2023, 1:34
The original statement when the penalty was issued said “They stated that what was agreed at the SAC meetings with the teams was that no part of the car could be touched while a penalty was being served as this would constitute working on the car.” The explanation for overturning the penalty said “In support of the petition for review, the stewards were shown minutes of the latest SAC meeting”.
My guess is the stewards based their decision on the assumption that agreement had been reached at this meeting, and the new evidence included the minutes from that meeting, which presumably showed that an agreement hadn’t been reached. The video of other teams doing the same thing would also support the argument that agreement hadn’t been reached, as other teams thought it was allowed.
20th March 2023, 10:14
19th March 2023, 22:25
The name of the game is consistency ;-)
20th March 2023, 3:00
i agree that consistency is needed, but stewards had plenty of time to assess penalty in the 32 laps completed before checkered flag. If Fred had know a 10 second penalty was being assessed, he would have driven out of the Mercs life just as he did in the final 2 laps to open the gap back up. Stewards have a job to get it right in a timely manner, not just when Toto and company feel that this is their only way to compete for a podium. Even George didn’t want it this way. Never been a huge Fernando fan, but dang, his smile on podium and his attitude on original penalty was just great. Making me a fan.
And wow, his faith in Lawrence Stroll is being paid off handsomely
19th March 2023, 22:34
This gets more stupid by the hour.. people tripping over themselves to show their own incompetence. Surely Liberty is fuming behind the scenes.
Races finishing.. nobody celebrating anymore.. it will be useless because you won’t know who actually won until next week.. law forms become main sponsors
19th March 2023, 22:43
This is all more than a bit desultory and ridiculous. But the funny thing is that Merc knew about the penalty before there was any kind of announcement about it.
19th March 2023, 23:24
Yes, that’s a bit strange, how did they learn about the penalty in advance?
19th March 2023, 22:48
It’s a pretty ridiculous decision to overturn the penalty. Why not just leave the rule as nothing can touch the car for the duration of the penalty. This just muddies it up even further. Can they fit the wheel gun before the penalty is up? How would that be any different?
20th March 2023, 0:14
“nothing can touch the car for the duration of the penalty. ” Hmm, define (no)thing. Paper bag? Hawk poop? Adjoining team’s coffee cup? Dust? Wind? Sniveling toadies?
Stephen Crowsen (@drycrust)
20th March 2023, 7:53
It seems now the rule is jacks are allowed to touch the car, but I’m guessing they aren’t allowed to lift the car.
There is another point here, in that if you fail to serve the full 5 second penalty then does it actually need to have 5 seconds added to it? Maybe that’s necessary if the car fails to pit before the end of the race, but if you happen to go to the pits again is it actually necessary to serve 10 seconds because going to the pits takes longer than the additional 5 seconds, so maybe there’s room to say you must repeat the first 5 second penalty again but the additional 5 seconds can be served concurrently with driving along the pitlane at 80 km/h (or whatever).
20th March 2023, 9:51
IMHO If the team fails to serve the penalty correctly, at a bare minimum it should be as if the penalty was not served at all. There needs to be a significant penalty for failure to serve a penalty. If, for instance, they said “you gained a tenth so we’ll penalise you a tenth”, all the teams would push it where they thought it might benefit, because there’s no risk.
19th March 2023, 22:49
How in the world is an agreement between the governing body and literally anyone else needed to make a rule enforceable?
20th March 2023, 9:30
If the rule is not clear between all parties, then all parties are playing by different rules. That’s why.
19th March 2023, 22:55
This while situation is even sillier than it first seemed. The regulations for these type of penalties state:
In the original decision (to give the penalty), the stewards said:
So was work done or was work not done? To give a penalty, work needs to be done on the car, but the reason they didnt disqualify him is that no work wasdone on the car. Ridiculous. Stewards tripping over their own feet, and sadly this latest twist doesn’t really help them…
19th March 2023, 22:56
Sorry for the awful formatting in the quotes, the FIA PDF documents never format nicely when copy and pasted, especially on a phone.
19th March 2023, 22:59
I agree. Mercedes should appeal. Not that I want Alonso losing points but it would force clarity.. and hopefully less of these situations in the future
19th March 2023, 23:03
The rear jack touched the car. Work was done.
19th March 2023, 23:10
@proesterchen I’m not arguing with this, I think the penalty was probably fair enough all things considered.
What I’m annoyed about is the FIA giving a penalty for “work being done on the car”, while giving a mitigating factor of “no work was done on the car”. Its just silly.
Mark Zastrow (@markzastrow)
20th March 2023, 0:33
Work = force * displacement. If the car wasn’t displaced upward, no work was done.
20th March 2023, 4:36
The jack was displaced enough to be in contact with the car to save time. Hence, work done.
Mark Zastrow (@markzastrow)
20th March 2023, 4:56
@baleux That’s work done on the jack, not work done on the car.
20th March 2023, 5:04
@markzastrow Agreed, but you know as well as I do that that work is part of the pit stop.
20th March 2023, 9:32
They had tires out and crew standing at the car.
Man if I laughed as loud as your comment deserves, I think you’d hear it.
Mark Zastrow (@markzastrow)
20th March 2023, 15:03
@baleux Yes, but the wording of the regs says the “car … may not be worked on.” Taking the tyres out of the warmers and carrying them (as well as the jack and the wheel guns) over to the pit stall are all measures that save time and are clearly part of the pit stop, but don’t do any work on the car. Should they be banned as well?
In principle, they could — you could force the mechanics to stand in a penalty box in the garage and not allow them to touch any equipment. But the simple solution is obviously to ensure the wording of the regs aligns with their intent, and simply state: touching the car constitutes work. Those five words could have saved us from all of this.
20th March 2023, 5:08
Mark, they might aswell put the wheelguns on, and let them rotate after 5 seconds.
Or put the wrench on the bolts of Ocons nose cone, and not turn it yet.
Mark Zastrow (@markzastrow)
20th March 2023, 15:02
I agree, they might as well. There is nothing in the rulebook that says that touching the car is prohibited. The problem is precisely that “work on the car” has been enforced through unwritten agreements and not clearly defined regulations.
19th March 2023, 23:12
Yeah MB must appeal again, i love when a team in any sport wins anything on papers and not on threir ability.
19th March 2023, 23:27
Would look pretty bad for a team that won 8 constructor’s championships in a row to appeal for a 3rd place against a customer team they shouldn’t be fighting with, a customer team that is currently faster than them, when they should be fighting with red bull instead, embarassing even.
Plus russell himself thinks alonso deserves the podium.
19th March 2023, 23:13
The rule now is you can touch the car? Absurd. Why not let them put the wheel guns right in the wheels and wait five seconds.
19th March 2023, 23:28
Indeed, while I like that the penalty was overturned, it’s a very poor argument for that.
19th March 2023, 23:18
Not a good day for F1. Such unnecessary drama.
19th March 2023, 23:22
After watching the pit stop you see the jack positioned ready to raise the car with no forward movement needed to position it… Does this mean you can place the wheel guns on the wheel but not use them?
F1 never fails to surprise me when it comes to shooting itself in the foot, but thats Show Business for ya…
20th March 2023, 0:12
I think one maybe could argue that yes? As it was pointed out, the rule is quite vague.
We should wait for the clarifications that will come before Melbourne. They’ll likely determine what you can touch and what you can’t.
20th March 2023, 0:00
What a farce, all evidence of others getting away with it in the past shows is incompetence by those enforcing the rules.
20th March 2023, 1:11
@slowmo i agree but if you’re going to change the status quo you need to make it explicit before you start doing something inconsistent with the standard set previously. Like w track limits finally being properly enforced.
The rules should also clairfy no contact rather than no work because work implies activity. Contact isn’t necessarily work but it could be. Another ambiguous rule and precedent.
20th March 2023, 9:55
While I agree this is how things should be, we’re talking about the FIA here. The only thing they are consistent at is being inconsistent.
20th March 2023, 11:19
I don’t think the stewards should have to agree anything with teams. If they think from now on that touching the car is classified as “work” then I’m fine with that moving forward. I personally thought they were not allowed to touch the car with the jack either during the penalty even before this happened.
21st March 2023, 9:01
They shouldn’t have to agree it with the teams, but they should have to publish guidance in advance to state how they will be changing their interpretation going forward.
Jim from US (@jimfromus)
20th March 2023, 1:24
Mercedes might appeal but won’t Alpine appeal Ocon’s penalty from last race. If touching isn’t working on the car, then touching isn’t working on the car.
ALO needs all of the points or the championship will be decided 1/3 of the way through the season.
20th March 2023, 4:25
The championship’s already been decided unless the Red Bull breaks down every other race.
Red Andy (@red-andy)
20th March 2023, 6:43
@jimfromus Ocon’s situation was slightly different as the mechanics started unfastening his nose cone before the 5 seconds was up – there was no dispute that what they were doing was “work.”
20th March 2023, 1:48
I just glad lawyer fee is excluded from cost cap.
20th March 2023, 2:41
Is this a yoke? Or is the yoke on the Race Director, Stewards, FIA etc?
20th March 2023, 3:51
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”
The important part.
You can not punish a pilot/TEAM after 30 Laps, the end of the race and the podium ceremony for something like that.
20th March 2023, 4:38
The part I don’t understand, why is nobody asking about serving the penalty under the Safety Car? It’s not acceptable in junior categories for very obvious reasons, but is absolutely fine in ‘the pinnacle of motorsport’?
20th March 2023, 4:45
Alonso definitely deserved the initial 5-second penalty for the grid infringement and subsequent penalty for incorrectly serving it by having ‘work done’ on the car when it was inappropriate to do so. Ridiculous however by the FIA and race control/stewards that it took so long to hand out such a simple penalty that every viewer on TV could instantly identify and apply. Especially so, considering the precedent for such was set in the most recent race previous, with Ocon. Ridiculous still that the processes set up to help sort these situations out added to the absurdity.
FIA really need to set some processes for accountability and subsequent actual change (progressive), to stop bringing the sport into disrepute so often.
I personally don’t approve of the penalty being overturned – does that now set the precedent that the rear jack is allowed to touch the car while serving the penalty? Sure, the overturning is a ‘feel good’ moment for the fans (heavily soured by the shambles), but the rules usually exist for justifiable reasons.
20th March 2023, 5:05
It’d be really great if people stopped saying every little thing they disagree with was bringing F1 or the FIA into disrepute. That’s not something for viewers or participants to decide…
The FIA applying the rules to the written wording isn’t bringing the FIA into disrepute – but the teams and FOM for creating and wording those rules and not accepting the FIA’s version of application may well be.
If anything, the FIA is weak for allowing participants and stakeholders so much control over their product.
What really does bring F1 (as a sport) into disrepute, IMO, is the rubbish on track product and being generally defined by money and politics instead of racing.
But still more and more people watch it for the drama and controversy….
21st March 2023, 3:57
“The FIA applying the rules to the written wording isn’t bringing the FIA into disrepute – but the teams and FOM for creating and wording those rules and not accepting the FIA’s version of application may well be.
If anything, the FIA is weak for allowing participants and stakeholders so much control over their product.”
100% agreed and I really think the teams have way too much power in all things F1. But how can the sport not be brought into disrepute when the FIA bungles up so often and for such inane reasons, contradicting themselves all over the place?
21st March 2023, 13:15
I guess everyone has their own ideas of what ‘disrepute’ really means and who is responsible for it.
20th March 2023, 10:20
Completely agree. If the rule was “No touching including jacks”, everyone could see the jack touching the car and the penalty should have been handed out immediately. That said, the FIA have form for this kind of thing…
I think this is just confirming previous precedent: Others have touched the car with jacks only in the past without penalty, so it would be unfair to penalise AM without explicitly stating otherwise. However, again, the FIA have form for this.
Personally, I’m with you. The rule should be that nothing must touch the car until the penalty time has expired. Anything else leads to confusion. I would make a single addition: If a team holds up their hands and admits a mistake, they should be allowed to restart the clock once the mistake has been rectified (i.e. the car is back in the state it was). This would encourage a more honest handling of it by the teams without the stewards having to get involved, similar to handing a place back after an overtake off track. But I would also rule a penalty as not having been served if it is not done correctly, so it needs to be served again, with the option of an additional penalty if the stewards feel it is appropriate.
21st March 2023, 4:02
To me, the simplest solution seems to be to serve the penalty after all the work is carried out. Reduces the pressure on the pit crew to save every millisecond and touch the car prematurely. I wouldn’t want this as a rule, however.
20th March 2023, 4:48
And why was the Safety Car deployed by a situation that could’ve so easily been handled by double yellows, let alone VSC?
Altered the progression of the race events way too much, which race control should try to avoid.
20th March 2023, 6:29
@baleux To my knowledge, race control was unaware of Stroll’s car position somehow, leading to the hasty SC deployment decision.
Unacceptable with modern technology that allows them to be aware of where all cars are at all times, but not the first time, as they fell into the same trap with Gasly in Suzuka.
20th March 2023, 6:59
That wouldn’t appear to be an acceptable excuse.
They rabbit on about having access to all cameras – are they saying they don’t now?
Even with no camera view, ask the marshall on the spot if recovery requires an SC, if they aren’t capable of communicating with them or the marshall doesn’t understand the criteria, they’ve failed at an even more worrying level.
20th March 2023, 10:22
I wouldn’t call that “hasty”. There was a significant amount of time between the yellow flags being shown and SC being deployed. Although I guess when compared to the decision to penalise Alonso for a clearly-visible action by the team, anything could be called “hasty”…
20th March 2023, 6:27
lol & precedent set.
20th March 2023, 7:36
Can you FIA guys apply this also to Ferrari engine deal and cancel that so Leclerc can get the championship. I can show you many occasions where engine has been so powerfull it is illegal.
20th March 2023, 9:39
Evidently, they don’t know jack
20th March 2023, 14:21
GP2 stewarding, GP2 stewarding!
20th March 2023, 16:13
The ruling body needs to have all of this sorted by the time the drivers climb the podium to celebrate. After that point, time or money ok, but no position changes. The sponsors and hosting countries are spending a lot of money and effort for the event and don’t want to look ridiculous presenting drivers who are not the champions of the race.
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