FIA clarifies Alonso penalty

Fernando Alonso pits during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso pits during the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix

The FIA has issued a sporting directive clarifying what constitutes ‘working on a car’ while serving a penalty during an F1 race.

In Saudi Arabia, Fernando Alonso was handed a five-second penalty by FIA stewards for starting the race outside of his grid box.

The team served that at the Spaniard’s stop under the Safety Car, pausing for the requisite time before servicing the Aston Martin.

However, as they waited, the rear jack was in contact – but had not lifted – the car.

Following the race, officials deemed that was a breach of the rules and penalised Alonso, which dropped him off the podium.

The team promptly exercised its right of review, which resulted in the penalty being overturned after new evidence (precedents) came to light.

The situation has since been discussed by the F1 Sporting Advisory Committee, with a directive issued to teams.

From this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, neither mechanics nor equipment may be in contact with the car before it has served its penalty.

“For clarity and until further notice, in this context the physical touching of the car or driver by hand, tools or equipment (including the front and rear jacks) during any such penalty will all be considered to constitute work,” the directive confirmed.

“The use of cooling fans during a penalty is permitted providing any such fan does not physically touch the car.”

It means, in the case of Alonso in Saudi Arabia, the team breached the rules as the FIA now applies them and the post-race penalty would have stood.

Other changes have also been made for this weekend, with the grid boxes widened by 20cm to help drivers position their cars more easily.

During Friday practice, a central line will also be trialled to further assist with alignment.

Alonso on the starting line in Jeddah

Alonso on the starting line in Jeddah

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