IN FULL: Stewards overturn Alonso penalty

Stewards rescinded a post-race time penalty that cost Fernando Alonso third place

Stewards rescinded a post-race time penalty that cost Fernando Alonso third place

Fernando Alonso officially finished third in the Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix after a post-race penalty was overturned.

Aston Martin lodged a Right of Review following the race, which prompted stewards to reverse their decision to penalised the Spaniard.

In doing so, they published their rationale in first applying the penalty before subsequently reserving that decision.

Below, both decisions have been reproduced in full.

Document 51, 00:36 – Alonso penalty

Car 14 had come into the pits during the safety car period to serve the 5 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.

Document 53, 01:02 – Penalty reversal

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 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.

Join the discussion below in the comments section

Please note: reserves the right to remove any comment that does not follow the comment policy. For support, contact [email protected]