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Mercedes: Alonso podium pursuit came after seeing pit stop footage

Mercedes say that their decision to ask George Russell and Lewis Hamilton to push at the end of the Saudi Arabian GP was caused by seeing video evidence of Aston Martin's controversial pit stop penalty.

Mercedes have revealed that their decision to try and close the gap to Fernando Alonso in the Saudi Arabian GP came after seeing "video footage" of their alleged pit stop infringement. A post-race penalty for Alonso originally demoted the Aston Martin driver from third to fourth, which in turn promoted Mercedes' George Russell to third place. Long after the podium ceremonies, Alonso had been demoted from the podium, and then reinstated following a successful appeal from the Aston Martin team . There was confusion towards the end of the race when the first sign of a potential Alonso penalty came from radio communications on the Mercedes pit wall, rather than any notification from the stewards. This prompted a pace increase from Russell, who attempted to move to within five seconds of Alonso in case a post-race time penalty was applied. Aston Martin then responded with the new information, with Alonso increasing the gap to over five seconds, but a ten-second time penalty was handed out following the podium ceremony. The first official mention of an investigation came after Sergio Perez took the chequered flag to claim victory.

When explaining their decision to ask Russell and Hamilton to decrease the gap to Alonso, Mercedes' Technical Director Mike Elliott said that the decision was made after seeing video footage of the alleged pit stop penalty infringement. "At that stage all we had seen is the video footage of the penalty served by Aston Martin and we could see that one of the mechanics had made contact with the car and we didn’t know whether that would turn into a penalty or not," Elliott commented in Mercedes' F1 Debrief feature. "We also didn’t really know what penalty would be applied, while we thought it probably would be a 10-second penalty it could also be a five-second penalty. So, both drivers were asked to push. "In George's case he got close to the five seconds and in Lewis's case he got close to the 10 seconds. "Unfortunately for us the stewards decided there wasn’t actually a penalty to serve and therefore it made no difference in the end anyway."

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