Fernando Alonso has been hit with a 10 second penalty after his mechanics made a mistake at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The team are understood to have touched Alonso’s car when he was serving an earlier penalty for a grid infringement.
The punishment drops the Spaniard down to P4, promoting George Russell onto the podium as Lewis Hamilton misses out. Mercedes had demanded Russell let his team-mate pass but the former-Williams star refused.
However, his decision denied Hamilton a chance to secure his first top-three finish of the season after the seven-time champion finished just 0.3 seconds behind. Viewing footage of the incident, Martin Brundle predicted that Alonso was likely to be punished.
He explained: “The (rear jack) was touching the back of the car. Esteban Ocon got a 10-second penalty for that last time out. Hamilton was 10.2 seconds behind Alonso so that would keep him out if he gets the same penalty. There is no doubt about it, the jack was touching it.”
News of a possible penalty emerged ahead of the chequered flag with Aston Martin mechanics urging Alonso to pull out a five-second gap. Russell demanded to know whether the Spaniard would be penalised and stressed he was pushing “like a madman” in the closing stages.
Russell appeared to haver missed out after he crossed the line just over five seconds behind but benefitted when the eventual 10-second sanction was confirmed.
Damon Hill commented: “It is a shame but you have to be consistent. You can’t keep changing the rules. If the jack is in place and touching it was in breach.”
However, Nico Rosberg called out Aston Martin for making the basic error which ultimately cost Alonso his 100th podium finish in F1.
The former Mercedes star added: “It is really unacceptable. If something happened so recently, you would analyse the mistakes other teams have made and not make them. It is a tough one to digest as Fernando drove brilliantly.”
Russell appeared shocked as he was told of his promotion into the top-three. But, he described Alonso’s penalty as harsh and stressed Aston Martin deserved to finish above them.