Fernando Alonso’s joy at taking his 100th Formula 1 podium in the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix turned sour on Sunday evening, after he was handed a 10-second time penalty after the race for incorrectly serving a previous five-second penalty.

Alonso leapt into the lead of the race at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit from P2 on the grid – having been promoted to that position by a grid penalty for Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc – but was later ruled to have been out of position on the grid and handed a five-second time penalty.

That penalty served – under a Safety Car brought out to clear up team mate Lance Stroll’s car, which he’d been forced to stop out on track – Alonso then drove a determined race to hold off the Mercedes of George Russell and take what on paper was his 100th podium in the sport, behind the Red Bulls of winner Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 19: George Russell of Great Britain driving the (63) Mercedes AMG
Alonso lost his P3 to George Russell

However, with the cheers of his Aston Martin mechanics still ringing after the podium celebrations, the eagle-eyed stewards ruled that, while serving his five-second penalty, the rear jack to lift Alonso’s car up for its subsequent tyre change had made contact with the AMR23 before the five-second penalty had been served.

With a precedent set by the exact same thing happening to Esteban Ocon in Bahrain two weeks ago, the stewards were swift in handing down an additional post-race 10-second penalty, dropping Alonso to P4 – and thus giving Russell and Mercedes their first podium of the campaign.

After being informed of the news, Alonso told Sky Sports F1: “It doesn’t hurt much, to be honest. I was on the podium, I did the pictures, I took the trophy, I celebrated with the champagne. Now I have apparently three points less; I don’t have 15, I have 12.

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA - MARCH 19: Third placed Fernando Alonso of Spain and Aston Martin F1 Team
Alonso was still pleased with his podium appearance

“No one told me this five seconds [was needed at the end of the race]. They told me just five seconds in the first stint, and I opened seven or eight. Then in the second there was no information at all, not even investigated.

“I know the team is trying to review the thing with the stewards right now, because we didn’t understand fully the second penalty. I care, but I don’t care that much! I celebrated. Now I have three points less [but] let’s try to recover [them] in Australia.”


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