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Alonso reinstated to podium after Aston Martin appeal penalty

Fernando Alonso took the 100th podium of his career after being reinstated as the third-placed finisher at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix early on Monday. 

The Spaniard finished Sunday’s race in third place but was demoted to fourth when he was handed a post-race 10-seconds penalty for an infringement as he tried to serve an earlier  five-second penalty in a pit stop.

The stewards judged that a mechanic touched the car with a rear tyre jack before the five seconds had elapsed and so the penalty had not been served correctly.

That handed third place to Mercedes’ George Russell who described the penalty as “harsh”.

Aston Martin, however, launched an appeal, prompting the FIA to reverse their decision.

“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,” the FIA said in a statement.

“In the circumstances, we considered that our original decision to impose a penalty on Car 14 (Alonso) needed to be reversed and we did so accordingly.”

The two-time champion had incurred the original penalty when he took the lead at the first corner of the 50-lap race, but started from an incorrect position, too far to the left in his grid slot.

Alonso had appeared unperturbed when he was initially stripped of third after he had appeared on the podium with race winner Sergio Perez and his Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen and in the post-race interviews.

“I’m not too upset,” he said. “It was good and it doesn’t hurt much. I was on the podium, I took the pictures, I got the trophy. I celebrated with the champagne.”

The 41-year-old blamed the FIA for the mishandling of the penalty.

“You can’t apply the penalty 35 laps after the pit-stop. They had enough time to inform us. If I knew about the penalty, I would have had 11 seconds with the car.”

Even Russell agreed: “That penalty for Fernando was harsh. They deserved a podium finish today,” said the Briton who went back to fourth. 

The pit-lane problem was a similar infringement to that of Alpine driver Esteban Ocon who was given three penalties at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix. 

The Aston Martin team’s later appeal drew attention to the confusion over the rule. 

Alonso, making his record-increasing 357th race start, heaped praise on his team after the race. 

“These guys have made a fantastic car, a fantastic execution of the race here and in Bahrain, with the strategy and now two podiums.

“These guys give me power and I push all the way through and in qualifying laps too. The Red Bulls are out of reach, but the rest were behind us so I’m happy with that.”

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