Nate SaundersEditor-in-Chief, F13 minutes to read
Fernando Alonso has been stripped of his 100th Formula 1 podium after a penalty kick at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
The decision moved George Russell up to third, and gave Mercedes its first podium of the year.
Alonso had served a five-second penalty before his first stop, as punishment for lining up outside the penalty area at the start.
In the closing stages, Mercedes told chaser Russell that Alonso might have a penalty, with suspicions growing that Aston Martin’s pit crew had touched the car before he had been stationary for five seconds.
Alonso still finished third and celebrated on the podium.
Shortly after claiming the trophy, the stewards’ investigation was confirmed, with a 10-second penalty shortly afterwards moving Russell into third place.
After the swap was confirmed, Alonso criticized the FIA for waiting post-race to confirm a penalty, when his pit stop came before the halfway point in the race.
“Today is not good for the fans,” said the Spaniard. “When you have 35 laps to apply the penalty and you are shown the penalty and you are waiting after the podium, something is wrong with the system.
“I feel sorry for the fans, but I enjoyed the podium, I took the trophy, I have the pictures, I celebrate with champagne and now 15 or 12 points doesn’t change much for me, but it’s a bit sad for the FIA, yeah.”
He also said he felt bad that he had denied Russell and Mercedes the chance to celebrate.
“It’s not fair to George and the Mercedes sponsors, they love being on the podium.
“If he’s third in the race, he should be enjoying the podium and not me, I feel sorry for George, for the Mercedes sponsors, for George’s fans.”
Lewis Hamilton finished the race 10.3 seconds clear of Alonso, meaning the Aston Martin driver narrowly avoided losing two places to Mercedes.
The decision corresponds to the penalty received by Esteban Ocon for not executing a penalty properly during the Bahrain Grand Prix.
The penalty cost Aston Martin a chance to secure their first consecutive Formula One podium, with Alonso also finishing third in Bahrain.
The Red Bull duo swapped positions from that opening race, as Sergio Pérez held off teammate Max Verstappen, who started 15th, to take the win.
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