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Alonso and Alpine win United States Grand Prix protest saga

Alonso and Alpine win United States Grand Prix protest saga

Alonso and Alpine win United States Grand Prix protest saga

Alonso and Alpine win United States Grand Prix protest saga

Fernando Alonso has been reinstated in seventh place at the United States Grand Prix following a four-day saga.

Alpine opted to pursue justice for Alonso despite the FIA stewards ruling its protest against Haas was inadmissible.

Alonso finished seventh in Sunday's race at the Circuit of the Americas following a remarkable fightback that saw him drop to the rear of the field after an airborne crash damaged his A522.

Haas, however, appealed Alonso's result after a mirror dropped off during the race, citing the fact Kevin Magnussen had been shown a black-and-orange flag on three occasions this season due to elements of his front wing flapping following collisions.

The flag signifies a driver has to pit in order for the car to be repaired.

At no stage was Alonso shown the flag, allowing him to race on into the points, only to be handed a 30-second time penalty after the race that relegated him to 15th in light of Haas' protest.

As a time penalty cannot directly be appealed, Alpine countered Haas' protest by stating it should not have been allowed as it was lodged 24 minutes after the permitted 30-minute timeframe required at the end of a race.

The stewards, however, rejected Alpine's protest as Haas sought immediate clarification after the race, and once received, were informed it had one hour to launch its protest.

A stewards' document cited the fact that "there is no ability or right for any party to 'protest' a decision of the stewards nor against a summons to the hearing".

Further, as Alpine's protest was lodged 68 minutes after the decision of the original protest was published, it was deemed to be outside the time limit prescribed in the international sporting code.

The stewards stated that Alpine's course of action should have been to appeal to the FIA International Court of Appeal, and within one hour of the decision.

They added that "should a significant and new element be discovered, it could petition the stewards for a review", needing to do so within 14 days.

Alpine swiftly did so, leading to a video conference on Thursday evening in Mexico involving parties from Haas and Alpine.

Alpine ultimately won its right to that review, and with all parties remaining present, opted to immediately conduct a hearing.

Alpine sporting director Alan Permane cited the fact there was no leeway available to the stewards to extend the 30-minute deadline unless it is 'impossible' for a party to lodge the protest within the deadline period

Permane claimed the word 'impossible' sets a very high bar, even going so far as to quote from the Oxford Dictionary that defines impossible as 'being something that cannot happen or be achieved'.

In this case, there was nothing preventing Haas from lodging the protest within the 30-minute deadline, with Haas conceding it could have lodged a handwritten protest within that timeframe.

In response, Haas stated it would have submitted a handwritten protest to the stewards within the 30 minutes had it not been told by the FIA official in race control that it had an hour to do so.

Further, it suggested the stewards could use their discretion on such matters as they have "supreme authority” over the application of the rules and the power under the ISC to “settle any matter”.

In conclusion, the stewards "accepted the argument of Alpine that the word 'impossible' indeed sets a very high bar and that in hindsight, that very high bar was not met in this case".

Its findings added that "of significant importance is the fact, unknown to the stewards previously, Haas could have lodged a handwritten protest within the 30-minute deadline.

"By definition, this fact alone means that it was not 'impossible' to lodge the protest within 30 minutes and therefore the original protest should not have been admitted."

On that basis, the stewards have determined Haas' original protest "was not admissible" and that "no penalty" should be applied to Alonso.

In its observations, however, the stewards have expressed concerns, notably that Alonso "was permitted to remain on track with a mirror assembly hanging loose which finally fell off".

It "strongly recommends procedures be put in place to monitor such matters and where necessary, require the problem to be rectified as has been done multiple times in the past, through either a radio call to the team or display of the black-and-orange flag, requiring the car to return to the pits for the problem to be repaired".

Further, "the FIA president has initiated a review into the use of the black-and-orange flag".

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