Motor racing-Alonso gets lucky again to claim third podium

Formula One F1 - Australian Grand Prix - Melbourne Grand Prix Circuit, Melbourne, Australia - April 2, 2023 Aston Martin's Fernando Alonso during the press conference after finishing third REUTERS/Jaimi Joy

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Fernando Alonso made it three podiums out of three races at the Australian Grand Prix as the Aston Martin driver ended up on the right side of Formula One stewards again on a drama-filled Sunday.

Starting fourth on the grid, the twice world champion fell behind Ferrari's Carlos Sainz on the first lap but benefited when Williams driver Alex Albon crashed early to bring out a red flag.

With Sainz and Mercedes' George Norris having earlier pitted for a tyre change, Alonso jumped to third and spent most of the race camped behind second-placed Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's eventual winner Max Verstappen.

A second red flag brought another restart late in the race, and Alonso tumbled down the field after Sainz made contact with him at turn one.

However, the race was red flagged for a third time and the 41-year-old Spaniard was put back up to third again for a processional final lap behind a safety car.

With team mate Lance Stroll finishing fourth, Aston Martin moved into outright second on 65 points, behind Red Bull (123) and nine points ahead of Mercedes.

"We had a rollercoaster of emotions today," Alonso told reporters.

"Many things going on at the beginning, but then also at the end. The last half an hour was difficult to understand what was going on.

"The second red flag probably didn’t help us, obviously with the incident there.

"We got lucky again ... to just see the chequered flag in P3. As I said, P3, P4 for the team is just an amazing Sunday."

Third in the first two races in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia as well, Alonso's second podium of the season in Jeddah and 100th of his career was also confirmed by a stewards decision.

He was demoted to fourth in Jeddah by a 10-second post-race penalty but a U-turn by the officials saw him reinstated to third.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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