Fernando Alonso loses 100th F1 podium due to postrace penalty

March 19, 2023, 3:49 PM

Fernando Alonso has been stripped of what would have been his 100th Formula One podium after a postrace penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The decision elevated George Russell into third, giving Mercedes its first podium finish of the year. 

Alonso had served a five-second penalty ahead of his first pit stop, a punishment for lining up outside his grid box at the start. 

In the closing stages, Mercedes told the chasing Russell that Alonso might have a penalty, with suspicions growing that the Aston Martin 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 he had received his trophy, the stewards' investigation was confirmed, with the 10-second penalty coming shortly afterwards and moving Russell up to third. 

After the swap had been confirmed, Alonso criticised the FIA for waiting until after the race to confirm his penalty, when his pit-stop had come before the mid-way point in the race. 

"Today is not good for the fans," the Spaniard said. "When you have 35 laps to apply the penalty and are informed about the penalty and you wait after the podium, there is something wrong in the system.

"I feel sorry for the fans, but I enjoyed the podium, I took the trophy, I have the pictures, I celebrate with the champagne, and now 15 or 12 points doesn't change much for me, but it is a little bit sad for the FIA, yes."

He also said he felt bad that it denied Russell and Mercedes a moment to celebrate. 

"It's not fair for George and the Mercedes sponsors; they would love to be on the podium.

"If he was third in the race he should enjoy the podium and not me, I feel sorry for George, for Mercedes sponsors, for George's fans."

Lewis Hamilton finished 10.3 seconds behind Alonso in the race, meaning the Aston Martin driver narrowly avoided losing two positions to Mercedes. 

The decision is consistent with the penalty Esteban Ocon got for not serving a penalty correctly during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The penalty cost Aston Martin the chance to secure a first back-to-back F1 podiums, with Alonso also finishing third in Bahrain. 

The Red Bull duo swapped positions from that opening race, with Sergio Perez beating teammate Max Verstappen, who started 15th, to the win.