The Saudi Arabian GP 2023 was highlighted by 2X WDC champion, Fernando Alonso’s 100th career podium after 17 years of his debut in 2006. This was his 2nd podium in a row after his performance at the Bahrain GP in Sakhir that earned him the title of ‘Driver of the Day’. He came third behind an inverted usual Red Bull one-two, identical to the podium at Bahrain.
The race originally ended with Mercedes’ George Russell at P3 instead of Alonso due to a time penalty that was imposed while he was serving a previous penalty. The initial penalty of 5 seconds was imposed upon Alonso for an incorrect starting position at the grid post the formation lap.
Fernando Alonso’s penalties
Alonso started at P2 behind last year’s winner, Sergio Perez who had a provisional pole. But an incorrect start position to the left of the start box after the formation lap saw Alonso penalized by 5 seconds. He started the race on a high note, taking P1 from Perez, who had an inferior start. He then was overtaken by Perez a few laps later.
BREAKING: Fernando Alonso is given a 10s penalty for an incorrectly-served penalty, and loses his podium in Jeddah— Formula 1 (@F1) March 19, 2023
He drops to fourth, with George Russell moving up to third#SaudiArabianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/PWA3dM3wI4
Perez maintained his position throughout the race except during the pit stop when his penalty was being enacted. The rear jack was touching the car in the pits during the penalty and the FIA regulated it to be an offense, hence, a ten-second penalty was re-imposed on the 2X WDC champion. He was deemed to be 4th at the end of the race and Mercedes’ George Russell was about to claim the final spot on the podium.
But after a lot of investigation and commotion, Alonso was awarded the 3rd place behind Max Verstappen who was, in turn, behind the race leader for the day and polesitter, Sergio Perez. The FIA race engineers said “In the circumstances, we considered that our original decision to impose a penalty on Car 14 needed to be reversed and we did so accordingly.” they reversed the 10-second penalty after a right-to-review appeal by the Aston Martin team.
SAFETY CAR DEPLOYED (LAP 18/50)— Formula 1 (@F1) March 19, 2023
Lance Stroll is told to stop on-track, and he parks up#SaudiArabianGP #F1 pic.twitter.com/aWmuzZMGfO
His teammate, Lance Stroll suffered a DNF when he was asked to pull over by his race mechanic on Lap 18.
Fan reactions on Alonso’s penalty scenario
Most fans have shown disdain towards the FIA race control for the mistake.
Justice has been served.— Daniel a.k.a. Prokonover (@Prokonover) March 19, 2023
Alonso is back where he belongs.
Meanwhile, FIA embarrases themselves once again.
Overall a good day of racing.
Live scenes with Aston and the FIA pic.twitter.com/vVQEUcAUn4— Becky Weaver (@beckywvr_) March 19, 2023
The person making the FIA decisions today: pic.twitter.com/EwhADeV4X0— Laura Marise (@lauramarise) March 19, 2023
Overall, the fans seem to be in union about FIA’s irresponsible behavior irrespective of the fact that they support Mercedes or Aston Martin.
Fernando Alonso on the race outcome
Alonso also mentioned to SkySports that “It doesn’t hurt much, to be honest. I was on the podium, I did the pictures, I took the trophy, and I celebrated with champagne. Now I have three points less;”
Fernando Alonso is now 3rd overall with 30 points in the WDC standings, behind Max Verstappen and Sergio ‘Checo’ Perez. It has been a long way for Fernando Alonso, since his first podium back in 2006.
Fernando Alonso. The Centurion. 💯#SaudiArabianGP #F1 @alo_oficial pic.twitter.com/pD4LPgzrNk— Formula 1 (@F1) March 19, 2023
He now has 100 podiums with the last two from the two races this season. 2X WDC champion and reigning WDC champion Max Verstappen seconds the fans in the opinion that Alonso and Aston Martin are more competitive as compared to the rest of the grid and can challenge for podiums.