Fernando Alonso says it is “sad” for the FIA that it took until after the race to hand him a penalty that demoted him from the podium in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, and shows the system needs addressing.
Aston Martin had to perform a five-second time penalty when Alonso made his one and only pit stop after the Spaniard was deemed to be out of position on the grid, and did so under safety car conditions. However, like Alpine with Esteban Ocon’s car in Bahrain, the team was deemed to have started work on the car before the full five seconds were up, this time but no investigation was communicated during the race and it was only after the podium presentation had started that a 10-second time penalty was announced.
Taking a closer look at that all-important pit stop 🔎#SaudiArabianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/P9O1lnqWaN
— Formula 1 (@F1) March 19, 2023
“Less than standard — today is not good for the fans,” Alonso said. “When you have 35 laps to apply the penalty and inform about the penalty and you wait after the podium there is something wrong in the system. It’s the way it is — I feel sorry for the fans, but I enjoyed the podium! I took the trophy, I have the pictures, I celebrate with the champagne and now 15 or 12 points doesn’t change much for me; but it is a little bit sad for the FIA, yes.”
George Russell was promoted to third place as a result and was informed of his result while he was doing interviews and far from the podium, something Alonso says also isn’t correct.
“No, it’s not fair for George as I guess the Mercedes sponsors will love to be on the podium. For us it’s good — we have Aramco, we have the picture, it’s not fair for George as if he was third in the race he should enjoy the podium and not me. I feel sorry for George, for Mercedes sponsors, for George’s fans.”
Alonso also believes he would have been able to pull the required distance clear of Russell to finish third in the race — for what would have been his 100th podium — having responded in the closing stages to a call to try and open a five-second gap to be safe.
“I need to rewatch the race but apparently I was too much on the left so (the original penalty) was my mistake — I need to pay more attention to that. It’s also strange in two races that two cars — Esteban (Ocon) and myself — had similar things so maybe this year’s cars, the halo, whatever, is interrupting the vision of how we position the car.
“But anyway, that was my mistake. The thing is, they told me you have a five-second penalty so I pushed harder and opened a gap of seven seconds and I paid the penalty. In the second stint there was no investigation, no nothing, so if someone tells me I need 10 seconds I would open 11 seconds.”