Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023

Alonso loses podium finish after team fails to serve penalty correctly

2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso has lost his podium finish in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after the stewards ruled he failed to serve a penalty correctly during the race.

The Aston Martin driver was originally penalised when the stewards deemed he did not line up in his starting position correctly. He was given a five-second time penalty which he served when he made his only pit stop of the race during a Safety Car period.

However after studying replays the stewards determined Aston Martin had not served that penalty correctly. Alonso was therefore given a further 10-second time penalty.

The sanction drops Alonso from third place to fourth. George Russell is promoted to the final place on the podium. Alonso kept fourth place over Lewis Hamilton by just three-tenths of a second.

Race start, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2023
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Alonso was originally penalised for failing to line up correctly in his starting position. The stewards noted “the contact patch of the car’s left front tyre was outside of the starting box.”

Stewards’ explanation for Alonso’s penalty

Car 14 [Alonso] had come into the pits during the safety car period to serve the five-second penalty that was imposed on car 14 for being out of position at the starting grid.

As is customary, race control aided by the Remote Operations Centre (ROC) in Geneva examined whether car 14 served its penalty in accordance with the regulations. The stewards were informed that both race control and ROC had determined that the penalty had been properly served. The stewards did not examine the matter further thereafter.

Subsequently, at the last lap of the race, the stewards received a report from race control that they considered that the penalty was not properly served by car 14 and they asked the stewards to investigate the matter. The matter was reported to race control by ROC.

The stewards were shown video evidence of how car 14 served the penalty by the race director and the sporting director. 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.

In this case, it was clear, that the car was touched by the rear jack. 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.

Article 54.4(e) gives the stewards the discretion to disqualify a car for failure to comply with Article 54.4(c). However, given that no work was done while the car was touched, we considered that disqualification would be too harsh an outcome. In the circumstances, the stewards imposed a 10s penalty on car 14.

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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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63 comments on “Alonso loses podium finish after team fails to serve penalty correctly”

  1. Drivers have served time penalties during pit stops under SC before, so weird.

    1. Was it because they touched the car before 5” or because it was in a SC period? The second one is kind of absurd if you do your only pit stop under SC

      1. @melanos No mechanic seemingly touched or at least I couldn’t note anyone touching prematurely.

        1. I’m afraid the mechanic on the rear right was to early on the wheel nut.

        2. I don’t know if this was it, but the rear jack looked to me to touch the car immediately… I noted it at the time, but wasn’t sure if that counted. It may be something else, though.

          1. Henrik Møller Jørgensen
            19th March 2023, 19:52

            The rear jack lifted the chassis a tad. That is probably enough

    2. Is it because of the SC period? Surely not. In this era there is nothing wrong with serving a penalty under SC (that I’ aware of). I thought it was because of the rear jack touching the car.

    3. Scotty (@rockonscotty)
      19th March 2023, 19:14

      I think the rear jack may have touched the car before the 5seconds elapsed

      1. Scotty (@rockonscotty)
        19th March 2023, 19:16

        Just watched the replay, the rear jack did touch the car. That being said, no reason for it to take till the end of the race to call the penalty.

        1. I think it can be explained by Mercedes waiting for enough time to fool Aston so that Alonso doesn’t gain time to Russell, and then Mercedes formally complained.

          1. @Sviat:
            Yes, that sounds plausible. But still Mercedes messed up thinking he would get a 5 second penalty while all they had to do was review last race to see it would be 10. I’m sure they could have urged Hamilton to gain a few tenths to gain 3rd AND 4th place…

          2. Sviat, the stewards have stated that the decision was made by the FIA’s own Remote Operations Centre, and the teams do not have lines of communication with the Remote Operations Centre. If you want to be angry at somebody, then it’s the FIA’s own staff you should be complaining at here.

        2. Yeah that’s the part where the it gets strange

    4. @Jere As far as I’m aware unless it was changed drivers can serve the penalty during VSC or SC as per article 54.3. I believe it is most likely one of the mechanics got a jumpstart. Better question would then be why did it take so long to notice or deal the penalty.

      1. @rob8k Indeed, the action should’ve been quicker, given how quickly the 5-second penalty came.

    5. Mechanics touched it or something which cancelled it. In the end AMR screwed up.

  2. … Is it because AM touched the car or because the penalty was served under a SC/Yellow?

  3. Unbelievable teams don’t know some rules and race direction don’t even inform them during the race

    1. CheeseBucket
      19th March 2023, 19:41

      Teams don’t know the rule to not touch the car until the penalty has been served? Lol

      1. And, after Ocon last race!

  4. Pretty good for Merc’s #1 driver. Extremely harsh though

  5. Ridiculous, lap 18 they pitted and it took them till after the race to give the penalty.

    1. Dutchguy (@justarandomdutchguy)
      19th March 2023, 19:05

      yeah, just plain old bad stewarding.

    2. I agree. Sure give a penalty if they made a mistake but waiting for the race to end to give a penalty is so stupid. I feel it was Mercedes that must have complained during the last 5 laps because how did Mercedes know if he’ll be given penalty even before there was any message by the stewards that there will be any investigation.

      1. True, this sounds plausible, I was wondering how they knew this information before anyone else.

    3. And in further news, Alonso has also been handed a 10 second penalty for Singapore 2008 !

  6. How come drivers all of a sudden don’t know how to line up on the grid, and teams don’t know how to properly do a 5-second penalty?

    Were there some rule changes or something?
    This seems rather strange that 2 races in a row, we get this same sequence of events for the same type of infringement…

    1. RandomMallard
      19th March 2023, 19:18

      There has been a rule change/clarification for this season regarding the grid if I remember correctly, and I believe they are now being stricter on being inside the grid box in terms of side to side as well as being too far forward, so I would assume that’s what’s caught a few teams out?

      As to why suddenly no-one can serve penalties, I think it’s just sloppy mistakes in pitstops.

  7. Well, it seems Mercedes knew of the rules as they mentioned that possible extra penalty but they were talking about 5s.
    Eventually they were consistent in giving him the same 10s that they did to Ocon (although at the moment I don’t know the exact reason they didn’t serve the first penalty).

    The only weird thing in that they didn’t give him the penalty during the race…
    Why did it take so long?

    1. Russell was talking about the original 5s penalty, not realising it had already been served. If they’d been talking of a penalty for not serving correctly, they’d know that this is almost always more harsh than the original penalty, so would be 10s at least.

  8. Way too late. Either they pay attention and penalize on the spot, or it’s fine.

    This robbed Aston Martin of the chance to ‘fix’ it during the race, and cheated the fans (and Russell) out of a proper podium.

    1. This site needs upvotes, agree wholeheartedly with your post.

      1. As long as it only allows upvotes and not downvotes because remember the 2021 hamilton vs verstappen situation? Imagine how many posts would get buried due to people rooting for the opposing driver, I play world of warcraft where the community is horrible and they had to REMOVE downvotes from forums, too toxic.

    2. Maybe Aston Martin just needs to learn how to serve penalties correct…..and line up at the start also.

    3. I also agree with this, it’s not the first time we have penalties after the race ended.

  9. The Circus!

  10. Formula. 1 is becoming ridiculous put on touring cars more entertainment and truer racing formula 1 becoming more like wrestling all staged and insulting to viewers. And fans

  11. Ridiculous. I saw the jack man seemingly touch the car with the jack. Wondered why no one else mentioned it and then lo and behold he eventually gets penalised for it. After the podium ceremony. Someone at the FIA want to give me a nice salary and I’ll give you a heads up at the next one.

    Also utterly ridiculous for Aston Martin to allow this to happen. The rule seems very clear. DO NOT TOUCH THE CAR. But they’re so blinded by impatience and saved themselves a fraction of a second maybe and cost them so much in the end. The team should make it clear to all pit crew not to touch the car. Don’t even go a fraction of an inch close to save time. Just stay clear for gods sake.

    1. @davidhunter13 I recall Ross Brawn would often go stand near as allowed to the car when there was a penalty that needed to be served. His mere presence probably ensured everyone was in line. These are the kind of unforced errors that top teams shouldn’t make. Especially when they had warning from the previous event that the stewards apparently made this their new pet peeve!

    2. To be honest, I can understand if they accidentally touched the car due to the hurry, they were trying to keep russell behind at that moment, had they been 1 sec too slow, potentially they could’ve lost the place, and there’s no guarantee you can get it back after.

      1. But they also know that the penalty for not serving a penalty correctly is normally more severe than the initial penalty, as it should be. They know that, of they incorrectly serve a 5s penalty, they will most likely lose an additional 10s. Risking that to gain fractions of a second, especially when Alonso probably wouldn’t have had much trouble passing Russell anyway, seems a little stupid.

  12. I don’t understand from first why was the SC out! Stroll was in a very safe place, it was even a hard VSC call. This call has changed the whole outcome of this race.

    1. Cos the GPS indicates Stroll car was on track and they call the SC based on that

    2. I think it’s pretty much automated, or at least strongly codified, and the computer said the car was on track.

      That said, it was a ridiculous call here. There was absolutely no need for a full SC, they barely even needed a VSC… In fact, if there hadn’t been a vehicle in the way, the car could probably have been driven completely off track with no stoppage needed at all. They should review this to see if the current procedures need tweaking.

  13. As a result of this Russel gets 3rd Alonso gets 4th and Hamilton remains in 5th.

    The downside of this is the relative gap between Russell and Hamilton. One place was to be expected, but now suddenly its two places.

    1. Just to make the point again. What was going to be a 2 points gap between Russell and Hamilton, is now a 5 point gap. In terms of driver standings. Russell is now in 4th on 21 points, with Hamilton in joint 6th position on 20 points.

      All this coming as a result of the Alonso penalties. That said, had Hamilton driven harder for his 5th place he would have been within the 10 seconds Alonso got for his penalties.

      1. Tommy Scragend
        19th March 2023, 21:20

        And why is that a downside?

    2. Then rejoice, because alonso is back to being 3rd, with all that entails in the russell vs hamilton situation!

  14. Ridiculous decisioning by the stewards. Not saying Aston Martin didn’t do a mistake but either the stewards were asleep for much of the race or Toto was really dilligent sending out emails. The blame is on the stewarding room.

    1. From what I saw in the rate the race, many people found the race a snoozefest, maybe the stewards too! Not that I have a great opinion of the stewards, so wouldn’t be surprised.

  15. All this could have been avoided if Alonso simply parked his car properly at the start.

    1. You know if Alonso is fighting for high positions you can expect small tricks here and there. The most experienced driver on the grid probably able to control every inch of space around the car, no way he didn’t know what he’s doing.

  16. Alonso parked fractionally to the left at the start, which most likely would not have caused any advantage. Then in the pit stop the rear Jack touched the car which was then left for 5 seconds and then the stewards never investigated until after the race!

    This takes the the absolute p!** and then affects the race result!

    This is not like Alpine actually starting to undo the front wing, this is noth8ng more than a very minor infraction that should have been disregarded!

    1. Yes, if a driver gains max 1 sec advantage and serves a 5 sec penalty, even if he gains another second because of the jack touching the car (really exagerating here), the penalty is still more than served, no need for more penalties.

      1. IMHO, while ever the teams are responsible for ensuring a penalty is served correctly, then need to be very strict with the rules around it. The teams will do whatever they can to save a tenth, or even a hundredth. Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.

        AM know they are not allowed to touch the car at all until the 5s are up. If they break that rule, they should own it.

        I fact, I would say the teams should be allowed to admit a mistake and “restart the clock”. So, in this case, the rear jack man holds up his hands, admits to touching the car, the clock is restarted and the penalty can be deemed served. If any “work” has been done, it must be put back as it was before the clock is restarted.

        The other way to handle this would be to take it out of the hands of the teams. Make the cars pull in before the garages, and have the FIA hold them for their required penalty.

        All that said, it is absolutely ridiculous that the stewards didn’t pick this up straight away. I spotted it on the TV, and I wasn’t really paying attention.

  17. To me this looks like the race direction manipulated the results as they did before (for one, Valencia 2010 comes to mind, the stewards were waiting for Hamilton to build the gap to third place, and then he served the penalty without actually losing anything).

    Another reason could be that Mercedes knew that Aston Martin made an error during the pit stop and they didn’t complain until the last five or so laps so that AM doesn’t warn Alonso.

    In any case, the stewards, race direction and Mercedes all can go to hell.

    The stewards don’t issue a penalty when a championship contender deliberately, purposefully pushes the other championship contender outside the race track (and goes off track himself), but they give a penalty for an infraction so meaningless.

    Okay, rules are the same for everybody, Alonso made an error, the team made an error. Then warn the team in time, issue a penalty and give them the opportunity to fix things. Instead, they wait and wait and rob the team and driver of podium. Why? Because this is a show and you need controversy and mix up the results?

    Also, it seems a good idea to leave the results as they are if the penalty wasn’t issued in time. If the car is legal after the race, then no penalty should be applied after the race is over.

    1. Time penalties have big issues but there also needs to be timely resolution of infringements. Waiting about an hour to investigate is BS. F1, world class teams, cars, drivers and 3rd class stewarding.

    2. Hanlon’s razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

  18. Made my day!

    1. Don’t know how to tell you but it’s been overturned!

  19. Gutted for Alonso – unbelievable weird that Stewards took so long – they should have checked and confirmed penalty was taken correctly or not. I expect that Mercedes complaint to stewards late in the race to ensure maximum benefit.

    That all said, why oh why were the AM so eager to do the pitstop. The SC was out – the gap behind was certainly big enough to play safe and wait 6-7 seconds so why rush and take risk.

    1. Yes, I guess they could’ve waited 1 second more, but not too much, cause losing the place to russell could’ve been detrimental, without a red bull it’s not guaranteed to re-pass later.

  20. This is all kinds of bad. Alonso should have parked within the markings, don’t the drivers/teams discuss what happened last race? I guess not.. Still, by now all teams should know how to serve a penalty?? Again, no? And how come even Mercedes messed up thinking he would get a 5 place penalty with Ocons precedent??!! They’re all piling up mistakes here. I’m sure there were a couple tenths left in Hamiltons car/tires to bag 4th*

    *I don’t want Alonso to lose another place, it’s just obvious pitwall errors that annoy me**
    **I left Ferrari out of the rant with Leclerc and the timing of that message because it’s Ferrari

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