19 March 2023

Fernando Alonso criticises FIA after late demotion stripped him of F1 milestone

19 March 2023

Fernando Alonso accused Formula One’s governing body of lacking common sense after he was stripped of his 100th career podium at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

lonso, 41, finished third but he was demoted to fourth, behind George Russell, after he was hit with a retrospective 10-second penalty only minutes after he celebrated on the rostrum in Jeddah.

Alonso’s Aston Martin team were adjudged to have illegally touched the Spaniard’s car as he served a five-second sanction for an earlier start infringement.

But Alonso criticised the FIA for the length of time it took to deliver the punishment for a crime which occurred on lap 18 of 50.

“Today is not good for the fans,” he said. “When you have almost 35 laps to apply a penalty, and you wait until after the podium, there is something really wrong in the system.

“I feel sorry for the fans. But I really enjoyed the podium, I threw the trophy, I have the pictures, I celebrated with the champagne, and now to have 15 points or 12 doesn’t change much for me, but it is a little bit sad for the FIA. Common sense needs to come back.”

Alonso led the opening handful of laps in Jeddah after he beat pole-sitter Sergio Perez to the first corner.

However, before being overtaken by Perez, Alonso was dealt a five-second penalty after he started too far on the left of his grid box.

The Spaniard added: “It was my mistake and I need to pay more attention to that. But they told me you have a five-second penalty, so I pushed harder and I opened up a seven-second gap.

“But in the second stint, there was no investigation, no information, no nothing. If someone told me you have a 10-second penalty I would have opened up 11 seconds.

“It is not fair for George. The Mercedes sponsors would have loved to have been on the podium, but for us it is good. We have our Aramco branding, we have the picture.

“If George was really third in the race he should have enjoyed the podium, and not me, so I feel sorry for George, Mercedes’ sponsors and for George’s fans.”

Russell took advantage of Alonso’s punishment to take third place, and earn both his, and Mercedes’ first silverware of the new campaign.

“The penalty on Fernando was harsh,” he said. “They are deserving podium finishers today, but I will take an extra trophy. I am not complaining.”

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