Martin Brundle has labelled the post-race penalty saga concerning Fernando Alonso at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix as "embarrassing".
Soon after securing his 100th podium in F1 by finishing in third, Alonso was hit with a 10-second penalty by the stewards for failing to properly serve an earlier five-second time penalty during his pit-stop for being out of position on the grid.
After a review of video evidence following a request on the last lap, the stewards deemed that a mechanic touched the car with the rear jack during the stop and that it constituted as "working" on the car, which is not allowed when serving a penalty.
Aston Martin appealed the penalty by arguing that the "agreed position" about what counted as "working" was "incorrect". Following this, the stewards reversed their decision and Alonso was given back his third place.
"The third-place trophy would be Fernando's, but only after a couple of rounds of 'pass the parcel'," Brundle wrote in his column for Sky Sports F1.
Brundle on penalty saga
"As he served his penalty in the pit lane, the rear jack was casually put into place ready to service the car at the end of the five seconds," Brundle continued.
"This was pointed out to race control – presumably by Mercedes – as an infraction of the rules.
"Inevitably in previous team meetings this issue, whether positioning jacks constituted 'working on the car', had been discussed.
"There were obviously different recollections of the outcome of those discussions but it's pretty clear that gently bumping into the front jack is all part of an F1 car arriving into its service zone."
Brundle admits that he was "surprised" by "how the rear jack was positioned during the penalty time", with the incident following on from Esteban Ocon receiving a 10-second penalty in Bahrain for a penalty-serving infringement.
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With George Russell receiving Alonso's trophy after Aston Martin had received their initial punishment – and this then having to be reversed in the hours that followed – Brundle deemed the back-and-forth as "embarrassing".
"Sure enough post-race Aston were informed of the breach and penalty," Brundle explained.
"Cue lots of unhappy people, and a few happy folk. The trophy made its way to George Russell who received it with some dignity, saying he thought Fernando deserved third place.
"By the time Aston had made
their case that it had been agreed by discussion and precedents that the
jacks can touch the car but not lift it, the trophy was winging its way
back along the paddock to confirm Alonso's 100th podium in F1.
"All rather embarrassing and this will be tightened up before the next race in Australia."
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