Fernando Alonso’s 100th career podium finish in Formula 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix has been reinstated after his Aston Martin squad won a right to review.
The Spaniard finished third behind Red Bull duo Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen at the Jeddah circuit on Sunday.
However, shortly after the chequered flag, the FIA announced that Alonso had been handed a 10-second penalty for having not properly served a five-second penalty he had been given for failing to line up within his grid box earlier in the race.
This dropped Alonso from third down to fourth behind Mercedes driver George Russell.
The penalty was given out after video footage of the incident appeared to show the rear jack briefly touching the back of the car as Alonso waited for mechanics to begin a tyre change.
After the decision, however, Aston Martin representatives visited the stewards to seek a review of the situation because they felt the rules regarding the serving of penalties were not clear.
While the focus may have been on the jack hitting the car, the regulations do not explicitly state that mechanics cannot touch it.
Instead, Article 54.4 c) of F1’s Sporting Regulations states: “While a car is stationary in the pit lane as a result of incurring a penalty in accordance with Articles 54.3a) or 54.3b) above, it may not be worked on until the car has been stationary for the duration of the penalty.”
Aston Martin team principal Mike Krack said he believed Aston Martin had followed the rules and did not work on the car until after five seconds had elapsed.
He confirmed that sporting director Andy Stevenson had been in talks with race stewards about the matter as he suggested that was a certain “ambiguity” about the specific wording of the regulations.
“There have been discussions,” he said. “There are different things in the sporting regs because it says, ‘not working on the car.’
“I think the time was clear, actually it was more than five seconds, because we took some margin.
“The rules say you cannot work on the car and, to our understanding, we have not worked on the car. But I think now this discussion is around the jack touching the car or not. And this is I think what is at the moment being clarified.”
The FIA was clear, however, that there was an acceptance among teams that it would deem it a breach of the rules if mechanics did touch the car.
A statement from the governing body said about the stewards: “They stated that what was agreed at the SAC (Sporting Advisory Committee) meetings with the teams was that no part of the car could be touched while a penalty was being served as this would constitute working on the car.”
A few hours after the race, however, the FIA announced that it had changed its mind because Aston Martin said that no such agreement was in place among teams.
A statement said: "Having reviewed the new evidence, we concluded that there was no clear agreement, as was suggested to the Stewards previously, that could be relied upon to determine that parties had agreed that a jack touching a car would amount to working on the car, without more.
“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.”