Fernando Alonso claimed third place and a podium in the Australian Grand Prix despite being falling to 11th on the second last lap of the race. The Spaniard benefitted from the grid reset as cars had not got to through sector one when the red flag was shown, meaning the FIA’s one reference point was the original restart itself.
Kevin Magnussen’s collision with the wall on lap 54 had more impact than anyone could have believed at the time with the FIA bringing out the red flag to clean up tyre debris following a short safety car period.
A standing start got the race back underway sometime later on lap 56 and chaos immediately ensued.
Alonso started in third place but was spun around by Sainz in the first corner dropping him to 11th position. However, that was not the only collision to occur with the Alpines of Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon coming together while Logan Sargeant and Nyck de Vries also went out resulting in another red flag.
Uncertainty reigned as the drivers returned to the pits. With no time for any more racing laps the final order was unclear, some believed it would the current order would remain while others like Alonso argued that the restart grid should be reset.
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It was the Spaniard who got his wish as the grid order was returned, putting him back on the podium with many fans left confused.
The reason for the decision was the fact that cars were yet to pass through the first sector when the red flag was shown meaning the FIA had no reference point to reset the grid other than how they lined up at the restart, restoring Alonso to third.
The remaining cars took to the track for one last lap behind the safety car, taking the chequered flag in classification order with the 41-year-old the big winner.
His team mate Lance Stroll also was a major beneficiary after he took his own trip through the gravel during the restart. He fell to 12th as a result but came back to take a fourth-place finish.
Sainz was the biggest loser after he received a five-second penalty for his collision meaning he fell eight places at the chequered flag promoting those around him.
Nico Hulkenberg may also feel aggrieved. The German holds the all-time F1 record for most races without a podium but would have finally got his hands on the elusive prize had the post-carnage order been maintained.
The Haas driver was running in fourth place as he gained positions after the collisions but was sent back to seventh by the chequered flag leaving Guenther Steiner fuming.
The fall out from the events in Melbourne are likely to play out for some time as teams and drivers come to terms with the chaotic final lap scenes.
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