Rumor: Mercedes lobbied to get Alonso penalized, rule to be reworded (Update)
(GMM) It was Mercedes that was responsible for alerting the FIA to Aston Martin’s pitstop penalty transgression in Saudi Arabia.
That is the claim of the newspapers Bild (Germany) and Blick (Switzerland).
They each separately reported that Toto Wolff-led Mercedes asked the governing body to look at whether a mechanic had touched the green Mercedes-powered car with a jack while Fernando Alonso was serving a penalty during the Jeddah race.
The subsequent penalty initially cost the 41-year-old Spaniard his podium place, although after a farcical process Alonso’s third position was reinstated at 1.02am on Monday morning.
“According to our information, it was the Silver Arrows who gave the FIA race stewards the hint through their radio system during the race,” Bild claimed.
Mercedes declined to officially comment on the claim.
But boss Wolff did admit that his team saw the transgression of Alonso’s mechanic.
“We saw it and played the video a few times. It wasn’t entirely clear if there would be a penalty,” said the Austrian.
Reportedly, the FIA initially penalized Alonso because it thought there was an agreement between the teams that merely touching a car was a no-no.
But that agreement apparently did not exist – and so the decision was reversed.
Wolff now admits that he would be open to ensuring such a misunderstanding never happens again.
“We need to discuss whether a penalty is correct if the jack just touches the car,” he said. “Maybe that needs to be changed, even if we may benefit in such a case.”
March 20, 2023
–by Mark Cipolloni–
A rumor in the F1 paddock suggests Mercedes were the team who reported Alonso’s team to the Saudi Arabian GP stewards, according to Sky Sports F1 pitlane reporter Ted Kravitz.
Alonso finished third on the road in Jeddah but was demoted to fourth after his team were deemed to have touched his car while he was serving a five-second penalty during his pit stop.
But the stewards’ overturned their decision and reinstated Alonso’s podium after Aston Martin successfully argued there were previous examples of drivers not being penalized in similar situations.
On top of that, as reported by AutoRacing1.com, the penalty on Alonso was not served within the 30 lap requirement, meaning it would have ultimately been overturned regardless.
Mercedes was apparently already on the horn to race stewards lobbying for the penalty. How do we know that? Because only Mercedes knew about the possible penalty.
With two laps remaining, Mercedes’ George Russell was told there could be another penalty on the way for Alonso, despite no official investigation being launched. So either they were the ones squealing, or Mercedes has a mole at the FIA, which has long been assumed.
“Is he getting the penalty or not?” Russell responded. “I am pushing like a madman at the minute.”
“He got a penalty, but when you serve a penalty, you are not allowed to do any work on the car,” Kravitz said.
“The remote operations center had seen whether the guy at the back holding the rear jack had actually touched the car before the five-second penalty was served.
“At the time, they had decided that there was no real hard place to go with Aston Martin, that he hadn’t touched the car, and even if he had, it was OK.
“But then later on, another team that had something to gain, the rumor is Mercedes but that is unconfirmed, complained and said we think you need to take a further look at this because the Sporting Advisory Committee (SAC) had said maybe you can’t touch the back of the car with the rear jack.
“At the end Aston Martin said no, the SAC had never said that you can’t touch the car with the jack, it is just you can’t do any meaningful work on it and there had been plenty of other instances where teams had touched the car with the jack.
“So, that in the end meant Alonso was confirmed in his third place.
“It is a difficult question because the previous race for Esteban Ocon, a team member had touched the car within the five-second penalty period, and he had been given a 10-second penalty for the team member doing that.
“So, there is a little bit of inconsistency, but Aston Martin were able to show that the minutes of the SAC had shown it doesn’t count if you attach a jack.”In a sporting way, it is a little thing, it didn’t affect the outcome in a sporting sense.
“Alonso didn’t gain any time by a team member attaching a jack to the back of his car so I think on balance, in a sporting way, it was the right thing to do to confirm his third place finish.”
Prediction: The FIA will soon reword the rule that you cannot touch the car whatsoever until the time penalty has been served.