Fernando Alonso slapped with post-race penalty meaning George Russell takes podiumMirror 19/03/2023 19:01
Fernando Alonso must wait longer for his 100th podium in Formula 1 after being demoted to fourth place in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix by the stewards.
The Spaniard crossed the finish line in Jeddah in third place and looked to have secured back-to-back podiums to start this new season. But he was soon being probed by the race stewards who were looking into a penalty he had been given earlier in the race.
Alonso lined up in the incorrect position on the start line and given a five-second penalty in the early stages of the race. He thought he had served it when he made his pit stop, but footage showed the rear jack was in contact with the car before the five seconds had passed.
So Alonso was given a further 10-second penalty after the end of the race. He had already been to the podium to collect his trophy, but he will have to give it back and the place will be passed on to George Russell.Alonso finishes fourth instead, splitting the two Mercedes drivers. Lewis Hamilton was a few tenths of a second too far back from the Spaniard to also leapfrog the Aston Martin race and will stay in fifth place.
The penalty does not affect the winner of the race, Sergio Perez. The Red Bulls were by far the quickest cars on track again in Jeddah and the Mexican rarely looked under threat from anyone, after moving back past Alonso when the Spaniard beat him off the line.
Max Verstappen finished second despite starting 15th on the grid. But there was some controversy involved as he was given a huge helping hand by a safety car, called out when Lance Stroll suffered a mechanical failure.
However, replays showed the Canadian had stopped his Aston Martin well off the track and apparently in a safe area. So questions remain over whether or not it was necessary to bring out the safety car which enabled Verstappen, and others, to get a very cheap pit stop.
The FIA released a statement explaining the stewards' decision, which read: "From the initial camera angles available the exact position of the stopped car (STR) was unclear, and therefore safety car was deployed as the safest option."
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