Fernando Alonso loses 100th F1 podium after penalty, critical of FIA stewards

Fernando Alonso has been stripped of what would have been his 100th Formula One podium after a postrace penalty at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.

The decision elevated George Russell into third, giving Mercedes a reason to celebrate after a tough start to the year, but not before Alonso had been allowed to celebrate on the podium and collect his trophy.

During the race Alonso had served a five-second penalty ahead of his first pit stop, a punishment for lining up outside his grid box at the start.

It later emerged Aston Martin had touched his car to conduct the pit-stop before the five seconds had elapsed.

The FIA confirmed his 10-second penalty shortly after the podium ceremony, something Alonso was frustrated by as the incident in question occurred mid-way through the race.

"Today is not good for the fans," the Spaniard said.

"When you have 35 laps to apply the penalty and you wait until after the podium, there is something wrong in the system.

"I feel sorry for the fans, but I enjoyed the podium, I took the trophy, I have the pictures, I celebrated with the champagne, and now 15 or 12 points doesn't change much for me, but it is a little bit sad for the FIA, yes."

He also said he felt bad that it denied Russell and Mercedes a moment to celebrate.

"It's not fair for George and the Mercedes sponsors; they would love to be on the podium.

"If he was third in the race he should enjoy the podium and not me, I feel sorry for George, for Mercedes sponsors, for George's fans."

The stewards' verdict said the FIA and the teams have previously agreed "that no part of the car could be touched while a penalty was being served as this would constitute working on the car."

It added: "In this case, it was clear, that the car was touched by the rear jack. Based on the representation made to the Stewards that there was an agreed position that touching the car would amount to "working" on the car, the Stewards decided to impose a penalty"

Lewis Hamilton finished 10.3 seconds behind Alonso in the race, meaning the Aston Martin driver narrowly avoided losing two positions to Mercedes.

The decision is consistent with the penalty Esteban Ocon got for not serving a penalty correctly during the Bahrain Grand Prix.

The penalty cost Aston Martin the chance to secure a first back-to-back F1 podiums, with Alonso also finishing third in Bahrain.

The Red Bull duo swapped positions from that opening race, with Sergio Perez beating teammate Max Verstappen, who started 15th, to the win.