Saudi Arabian Grand Prix – Fernando Alonso has had his 100th podium handed back after Aston Martin requested a review into his penalty.
As the drivers headed onto the podium at the end of the race the Stewards announced that they would be investigating Alonso for incorrectly serving a time penalty during the race. After celebrating his 100th podium alongside race winner Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen Alonso was handed a 10 second penalty for incorrectly serving his 5 second penalty which he had received for starting the race too far to the left of his grid box.
At his pitstop on lap 19 Alonso served his penalty and there was no more talk about it until towards the end of the race when Mercedes had George Russell push to try and end within five seconds of the Spaniard as they believed he might still have a penalty to serve.
The reason for the post-race penalty was that “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 [Sporting Advisory Committee] 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.”
As Alonso and Russell traded places, the Mercedes racer heading to the podium finishers press conference and the Spaniard to the media pen, Aston Martin were researching and asking for a review of the decision.
The Stewards granted the review and Aston Martin’s main arguments were that jacks hadn’t been cause for penalties previously, the team presenting “video evidence of 7 different instances where cars were touched by the jack while serving a similar penalty to the one imposed on Car 14 without being penalized”, and that there hadn’t been any agreement made that which stated that touching a car was counted as working on it.
Presented with the new facts the Stewards had no choice but to reverse their earlier decision as “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.”
That meant that Alonso and Aston Martin could once again celebrate his 100th F1 podium finish and it has definitely made it a memorable occasion for all.
The full text of the Right of Review decision read:
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 [Sporting Advisory Committee] meeting and video evidence of 7 different instances where cars were touched by the jack while serving a similar penalty to the one imposed on Car 14 without being penalized.
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.
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.