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Formula 1 Saudi Arabian GP

Russell: Alonso's penalties in Saudi Arabian GP too extreme

George Russell had sympathy for Fernando Alonso losing his Formula 1 Saudi Arabian Grand Prix podium finish for what he called "too extreme" penalties.

George Russell, Mercedes-AMG, 3rd position, with his trophy

The Mercedes driver benefitted from Alonso's 10-second penalty, which he was handed because his pitcrew worked on his car during his pitstop before he served his first full five-second penalty, for incorrectly lining up on his grid spot at the start of the race.

Alonso's second penalty, announced after the podium ceremony when he had celebrated his 100th F1 career rostrum finish, promoted Russell into third place in the final results.

But the Briton felt Alonso had been hard done by with both his penalties and has called for "common sense" when applying the rules.

"I understand why these rules are there, we've got to stick within the guidelines, a little bit of common sense needs to be shown," Russell said.

"Ultimately I think he was a bit to the left, was that right? He gained nothing from this, perhaps a five-second [penalty] is too much.

"But then in regards to his pitstop again, I don't know what happened and why he received a further penalty exactly, but a 10-second penalty is too extreme in that case again."

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14

Photo by: Sam Bloxham / Motorsport Images

Russell felt Alonso's penalties were the latest examples of uncertainty surrounding rules about track limits and procedures which were causing friction between the drivers and the FIA.

"It makes it a little bit frustrating for everybody," he added. "There is a lot of conversations that were going on this weekend about which lines you can touch and which lines you couldn't touch, especially at the pit exit and at the pit entry.

"In qualifying we saw a number of cars get laps deleted for touching a bit of the red paint when ending their lap. I thought that was a little bit senseless, really, so I think we all need to come together to find a common centre ground."

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Russell added that the starting grid penalty Alonso was given has become a particular focus with the current generation of F1 cars, as Esteban Ocon was penalised for a near-identical incident in the opening round in Bahrain.

"It is incredibly difficult [to see grid markings from the cockpit]. We are sat so low and to put some perspective on it, we only see the top four or five inches of the tyre so we cannot actually see the ground itself," he explained.

"We have these big long yellow lines pointing out but I cannot even see the yellow line, let alone the white lines determining your lateral position. It is really, really tough, so that is why I think in this regard we need to show a little bit more common sense."

Alonso also felt the decision was unfair to Russell as he was denied the opportunity to celebrate his promoted third place on the podium, after his second penalty was announced after the ceremony, and he has called for the FIA to speed up its penalty process. 

"It's not fair for George, because I guess the Mercedes sponsors would love to be on the podium," Alonso said.

"But for us, it's good. We have Aramco we have the picture. And I think it's not fair for George, because if he really was third in the race, he should enjoy the podium and not me."

Additional reporting by Matt Kew and Jake Boxall-Legge

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