Fernando Alonso was bullish after being stripped from his 100th podium at the 2023 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, accusing the FIA of putting on a poor show, rather than blaming his team.
Fernando Alonso started his race in Jeddah with a misstep as he lined up wrongly on his starting position on the grid, and was slapped with a five-second time penalty to be served during the pitstop.
However, a timely Safety Car brought out by his teammate Lance Stroll’s AMR23 gave up on lap 18, an incident the Spaniard benefitted from, pitting and serving his penalty without losing his position due to the Safety Car.
Alonso thus finished the race third, and celebrated on the podium after collecting his second trophy this season, but it was soon announced that he would be given a ten-second time penalty as it seems his mechanics touched the car before five second elapsed in the pitstop.
That meant the double Formula 1 Champion lost his third place to George Russell who was 5.1s behind him at the chequered flag, while noting that Mercedes instructed Russell to remain within five seconds of the #14 Aston Martin as their was a potential penalty coming.
Alonso, on the other hand, pushed and kept the gap with Russell over five seconds, but as it turned out, that was not enough.
It doesn’t hurt too much
After the race, Alonso spoke of the penalty and was unapologetic blasting the stewards for the delayed penalty; he said: “I was good and it doesn’t hurt too much to be honest.
“I was on the podium, I did pictures, I took the trophy, I celebrated and now I have apparently three points less- I don’t have 15, I have 12,” he added, speaking to Sky Sports F1.
“I think it is more FIA, poor show today. More than disappointment from ourselves,” Alonso insisted. “You cannot apply a penalty 35 laps after the pitstop.
“They had enough time to inform about the penalty because even if I knew that maybe then I open up 11 seconds to the car behind,” he reflected. “Today, we didn’t put on a good show for our fans.
“I know the team is trying to review it with the stewards now because we didn’t understand fully the second penalty. I care, but I don’t care that much as I have celebrated and now I have three points less? OK, let’s try and recover in Australia,” the 41-year-old maintained.
Alonso was happy with his car’s pace in Jeddah; he commented: “We had some concerns about Jeddah after being very strong in Bahrain but arguably here, we were faster than Bahrain on race pace.
“We could control the Ferraris, we could control Mercedes and I don’t want to be too optimistic but it looks pretty good for the future,” he concluded.
Russell, who benefited from Alonso’s misfortune admitted the latter’s penalty was harsh, but would not review a free gift.
“I think Fernando’s penalty was harsh,” he said.T”hey are the deserved podium finishers but I will take the extra trophy and not complain too much!”