FIA is said to clarify the Alonso penalty ahead of Formula 1 Australian GP. The sport’s governing body has announced that it will clarify the rules ahead of the next round of the season following the shambolic mess surrounding Fernando Alonso’s penalty in Jeddah on Sunday.
The FIA has confirmed that the circumstances surrounding the shambolic mess over Fernando Alonso’s penalty at Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix will be investigated ahead of the next round of the calendar, which takes place in Australia at the end of March.
Fernando Alonso was given a five-second penalty for mispositioning his car on the grid in Jeddah on Sunday. But when the Spaniard stopped in his pits to serve the penalty, one of the team’s mechanics (the one with the jack on the back) touched the car before the end of regulation time.
As a result of this error, the race stewards at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix handed down a second ten-second penalty to Alonso, but this was announced after the podium ceremony, which Alonso had already climbed to in order to collect his third-place trophy.
Post-race additional penalty
As a result of this error, the race stewards at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix handed down a second ten-second penalty to Alonso, but this was announced after the podium ceremony at which Alonso had already climbed to collect his third-place trophy.
The Aston Martin driver was stripped of his podium finish for a few hours, but finally regained his third place following an appeal by his team against the stewards’ decision. Fernando Alonso finished third on Sunday in Jeddah and pocketed the 15 points associated with the race.
Poor application of penalties
On the last lap, the stewards were informed by race control, which in turn had received a report from the ROC, that they considered the penalty had not been properly served as the rear jack had touched the car before the 5 seconds were up.
Aston Martin then successfully argued that the stewards were wrong to believe there was an emphatic agreement in place that the jack touching the car did indeed constitute working on it.
As evidence, Aston Martin presented minutes of the latest sporting advisory committee 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”.
In their report justifying the cancellation of Alonso’s second penalty, the stewards wrote the following:
“There was no clear agreement, as had been suggested to the stewards previously, on which to base a determination that the parties had agreed that a jack touching a car would amount to working on the car.”
“In these circumstances we considered that our original decision to impose a penalty on car 14 should be reversed and we have done so accordingly.”
More than the decision itself, it was the length of time it took for the stewards to decide to penalise Alonso that surprised drivers and teams most. Indeed, the race stewards had more than 30 laps to reach a decision, but the decision was not announced until after the podium ceremony.
However, an FIA spokesman said that it was because the Aston Martin team requested a right to review the penalty on the last lap of the race that the time limit was extended.
“The request to the Stewards to review the original decision was made on the last lap of the race,” said a spokesman for the governing body.
“The subsequent decision by the stewards to hear and grant the competitor the right of review was the result of new evidence regarding the definition of ‘working on the car’, for which there was conflicting precedent, and this was exposed by this specific circumstance.”
“This matter will therefore be addressed at the next sporting advisory committee to be held on Thursday 23 March, and a clarification will be issued prior to the 2023 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix.”
“This open approach to reviewing and improving its processes is part of the FIA’s ongoing mission to regulate the sport in a fair and transparent manner.”
Regardless of when Aston Martin made the appeal, ene must question exactly why suddenly this penalty was issued in the first place when Aston Martin themselves can quickly compile a catalogue of instances where other cars and drivers have served penalties during the pit stop when jackmen have made contact with the car, with zero additional penalties given.
The argument for a permanent race steward team continues.