Alonso scores podium, loses it… then gets it back
Alonso’s yo-yo podium? Another shambles by the FIA.
His drive to third place might have lacked the fireworks of Bahrain, yet this was an equally accomplished effort as the 41-year-old maximised everything his AMR23 offered up – although admittedly it was his own initial error that began the sequence of events that appeared to strip him of his 100th F1 podium, only for the FIA stewards to change their mind and give it back to him in a new show of incompetence.
At the start, the veteran made an uncharacteristic mistake by lining up too far left of his grid box and, like Esteban Ocon in Bahrain, that earned Alonso a five second-penalty. But like the two Red Bulls and Mercedes, Alonso took advantage of the Stroll safety car to make his single pitstop, took his penalty and then his hard-compound Pirellis and was still able to re-join second – much to the chasing Russell’s frustration. The trouble was, in another echo of Ocon’s Alpine crew last time out, Aston appeared to have been a little too keen to service Alonso before the five-second penalty was up. The rear jack was in contact with the green car before the time was served – and that earned Alonso another ten-second penalty that knocked him down to fourth. But why had it taken the stewards so long make that call? The race was over and the podium celebrations were already complete. It left a bitter taste.
Then a reprieve. Aston questioned the ruling and pointed out a blatant grey area in the rules. No, you mustn’t work on the car during a penalty, but nowhere does it say you can’t touch the car. The FIA was forced to U-turn and Alonso had his 100th podium back. That was good – but what an embarrassing way to referee a motor race.