Renault banned from European Grand Prix following Alonso’s wheel loss

2009 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Renault did not warn Alonso his front-right wheel was loose
Renault did not warn Alonso his front-right wheel was loose

Renault are to be suspended from the next round of the world championship – the European Grand Prix at Valencia – following Fernando Alonso’s wheel loss in today’s race.

Renault's punishment is:

  • Too harsh (68%)
  • Fair (27%)
  • Too soft (3%)
  • No opinion (1%)

Total Voters: 3,121

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The stewards’ decision says:

Having carefully reviewed the available film recordings and radio recordings and having met the team manager twice to discuss the matter the stewards believe:

1. that the competitor knowingly released car no. 7 from the pit stop position without one of the retaining devices for the wheel nuts being securely in position, this being an indication that the wheel nut itself may not have been properly secured,
2. being aware of this failed to take any action to prevent the car from leaving the pit lane,
3. failed to inform the driver of this problem or to advise him to take appropriate action given the circumstances, even though the driver contacted the team by radio believing he had a puncture,
4. this resulted in a heavy car part detaching at Turn 5 and the wheel itself detaching at Turn 9.

Offence: Breach of article 23.1.i and Article 3.2 of the 2009 FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.

Penalty: The competitor ING Renault F1 Team is suspended from the next event in the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship.

The relevant articles are as follows:

3.2 Competitors must ensure that their cars comply with the conditions of eligibility and safety throughout practice and the race

23.1.i) It is the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pit stop only when it is safe to do so.

This weekend’s stewards are Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Morrie Chandler and Lajos Herczeg.

The penalty means Fernando Alonso will not be able to drive for Renault in his home Grand Prix.

He may be able to drive for another team and suspicion will inevitably fall on Ferrari. They will probably need a driver to replace the injured Felipe Massa and Alonso has long been linked with a move to the team.

Alonso lost his front-right wheel following a pit stop on lap 11 of the Hungarian Grand Prix. The wheel was not properly secured after the stop and it came loose shortly after the wheel fairing had come off the car.

This is the first time a team has been banned from a race as punishment for a car shedding a wheel. It seems the FIA are clamping down on the teams taking such risks after the accident that claimed Henry Surtees’ life last week, and Massa’s serious crash in qualifying yesterday.

Following the Australian Grand Prix Red Bull were fined $50,000 after allowing Sebastian Vettel to drive along the track following a crash which had torn a wheel off his car.

However you have to ask where was this kind of diligence from the stewards when Kimi Raikkonen was allowed to drive round Magny-Cours with his exhaust hanging off last year?

Renault has confirmed it will appeal the decision. The last team to be suspended from a race was BAR, which was banned from the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix in 2005 after claims it had run its cars underweight.

303 comments on “Renault banned from European Grand Prix following Alonso’s wheel loss”

  1. To be honest I think that is a bit harsh, they wouldn’t have done this two weeks ago, they are only doing it to try and make out they are the good guys.

    1. Sebastien Carter
      26th July 2009, 17:48

      Agreed, I have a feeling it’s a bit of a knee jerk reaction to debris on the track. The Valencian crowds aren’t going to like this too much.

      But Alonso in a Ferrari…hmmmmm

      1. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that Alonso will be in red next race.

        There is a Spaniard who drives for Ferrari and recently won the 24 Hours of Le Man who can fill in for Massa (Marc Gene)…

        1. Indeed – he’d still be driving for Renault at least until the end of the season (though Flav told BBC they’re looking at it on a race by race basis — curious!). Allowing him to sub for Massa would result in Renault knowing too much about the Ferrari car — and vice versa.

    2. I think it’s perfectly reasonable.

      Wheel tethers would never have been put on the cars if that Italian marshall hadn’t been killed. Situations change from events.

      Nothing against Alonso, not at all his fault and I feel incredibly sorry for him, but with everything that’s happened, to know that Renault intentionally left him on his way knowing it wasn’t secure is disgusting.

      When I saw it wobbling, I was instantly concerned, when it flew off, there was nothing to stop it hitting Alonso’s head.

      Correct decision, unfair on Alonso yes, but 100% totally and utterly fair on Renault.

      1. it wasnt renaults fault the guy changing the wheel tried to secure the retainer even when alonso was diving away but the man with the lollipop left him go too soon

        1. So basically it’s not Renault’s fault because it was their employees fault?

          Renault let him on his merry way, didn’t tell him to leave the track and didnt tell him his wheel was loose.

      2. race_sceptic
        1st August 2009, 6:29

        There was a period of a few seconds when it would have been clear to Alonso that his wheel was in danger of coming off. At this point, he should have pulled over immediately out of respect for the safety of the other drivers. Given that he chose to ignore this, it’s hard to feel any sympathy for him. In fact, I think that he should be punished for his reckless behaviour in addition to the team’s penalty.

  2. Good. Motorsport has had 2 freakishly similar and dangerous accidents in the last month. Also, Alonso should’ve stopped the car the moment he saw the tyre vibrating so violently. The team could’ve also communicated the same. How you can endanger your own and fellow drivers’ lives after something tragic happening so recently is beyond my understanding.

    1. I’ve got to disagree with you….STRONGLY!
      If I saw Fernando or infact any driver stop the car instead of trying to nurse it back to the pits I would of felt cheated as a viewer. Sure in a perfect world Alonso would of been stopped before he left the pits but by the time people knew what was going on he was already a few corners in. I think people complain too much about their being a lack of racing one week then put in place all these over the top rules which kill racing the next.

      1. Because so long as you’re entertained, its okay for the drivers to have their lives threatened, right?

        1. They are paid to entertainment, now that in no way means I want to see them get hurt, but they signed up for it, it’s part of the sport and people need to deal with that.

          Yes it’s tragic what’s happened over the past two weeks, but safety is amazing considering how quickly these drivers are going. We need to look at this properly, not just get all worked up because of two similar incidents in 2 weeks.

          1. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion
            26th July 2009, 20:53

            I think it’s a bit too much to expect some guys to read the whole post before throwing some trash on Alonso. What the FIA stewards said it’s that the team never said a word of what was happening to the driver…. but you know…. you have to be able to read and then make a judgement… and only then make a comment. This blog is loosing it’s quality on the comments fast and furious. A shame.

          2. I found Alonso’s driving on the lap when the wheel fell off rather strange and too quick. If you think you have a puncture, the proper thing to do is to drive slowly back to the pits to minimise tyre and, in extreme cases, aero damage (the latter looks likethe eventual cause of the car’s retirement). Even without information from the team, Fernando has been driving F1 cars long enough that he should be able to do damage limitation.

            Fernando shouldn’t have been put in that situation though. At the very least, Reanult need to do more pit stop drills…

    2. Alonso didnt realise the wheel was loose, he’d contacted his team via radio thinking he’d had a puncture, and one of the reasons for the penalty on the FIA website was that the driver never got told about this. Alonso wasn’t to know the tyre would fly off and by the time it had it was too late. Fair enough a punishment should be issued but surely being suspended from the next round is a bit too harsh. The punishment wouldnt be as harsh a couple of weeks ago.

    3. How can so many people on this forum be this ignorant. or all of you just neutered.
      Racing has risk, racing creates situations where everything doesnt go right. This penaly is rediculous, and I dont even like Alonso or Renault. Is it going to be common practice that every time something happens on the track there is going to be someone or some organization held accountable.
      I see it now Hamilton doesnt cross his arms correctly during a press conference and boom there goes McLaren for another race, Ross Brawn forgets to button his top botton aand there goes Brawn for a race.
      All of you guys need to grow a pair or find a new sport to watch.

      1. I don’t need to grow a pair because I was born with one.

        What an idiotic post, congratulations.

  3. at best they should have put a monetary penalty, not ban them!!!! this is absolutely idiotic!!

  4. Didn’t Renault/Alonso lose a front wheel at the Hungarain GP 2006? Nothing happend back then.

    So should Brawn not get bann for losing the spring?!

    1. That was just the wheel nut I think. But I’e seen F1 cars lose wheels before without teams getting penalties like this.

      1. Yeah, you are right, Alonso then crashed.

        I doubt that Renault had intentionly not informed Alonso, maybe they thought it was only the fairing? (I saw loose fairing on Ferrari and McLaren before)

        1. That the competitor knowlingly released car no. 7 from the pit stop position without one of the retaining devices for the wheel nuts being securely in position, this being an indication that the wheel nut itself may not have been properly secured.

          I think the knowingly bit is the key. That’s the difference between this and any other incident of a car losing a wheel. But I still think it’s harsh. They didn’t deliberately release him without the wheel being secured, so it’s a big accident, but an accident all the same. Perhaps making them start from the back would be a little better, but a total ban? People make mistakes, and in this sport every judgement involves a level of risk; sometimes they are life threatening, but everyone involved is aware of the risks when they sign up.
          Would love to see Alonso in the Ferrari though, just for one race. He shouldn’t be punished for the team’s mistake, so Renault should allow it. Would this be a first if he did move to another team for one race?

  5. maybe alonso might take massa’s emty seat at ferrari, is that a possibility?

    1. I wouldn’t think so.

  6. Did they warn the drivers before the race that they should park their car if a part was threatening to fall off?

    If so then I can understand it, but otherwise this is just utterly lame.

    1. I broadly agree – this is a very harsh penalty, but if the teams were warned this sort of thing wasn’t going to be tolerated any more (and Red Bull’s punishment at Melbourne suggests that is the case) then that’s a different matter.

      1. Red Bull was punished for not calling Vettel in. That’s not the same as telling him to park it.

        Vettel tried to finish the race with that broken car.

        1. I haven’t got the stewards report on that incident to hand but a report from the time says:

          The German driver’s Red Bull team was also fined $50,000 for instructing Vettel to stay on track despite running on three wheels.

          Telling him to stay on track is surely the same as telling him not to park it?

          1. Yes well, the team told him not to pit.

            Vettel just kept on going round (going past the pit lane entry) hoping he could keep the cars behind him during the safety car period. He caused quite a commotion.

            In fact this caused Trulli to fly off and Hamilton to pass him, ultimately triggering the whole lie-gate debacle.

          2. Vettel’s car was already too badly damaged to continue the race and was shredding sharp carbon fiber all over the circuit. The team just wanted the car brought back quickly to the garage.
            In Alonso’s case, the car was still working reasonably well, had lost a wheel that was traveling not so fast and also in the direction of normal traffic.

            Many teams have driven back with only 3 wheels attached. The main contention here is that Alonso was released from the pit area without a properly prepared car and also the team failed to notify him of the problem.

            Can I hear anyone saying the FIA are “over reacting”!!!!

          3. Wrong, Vettel was told to stay OUT. He didn’t go into the garage quickly, but he went past the pitlane entry onto another lap.

      2. Very good point there, Keith. Forgot about that…

        1. Why don’t they use black flag with orange circle in cases like Vettels in Australia is beyond me. In my opinion this is too harsh penalty, they should have punished Brawn as well then as the debris from their car caused Massa’s injury…

          I wonder if the same punishment would happen if pitwall told Alonso what is the situation.

  7. I think alonso making it back to the pits on 3 wheels is not allowed, the team should have told him to park it.

  8. Yeah this is a direct response to the saftey concerns surrounding parts falling off cars, especially when they are avoidable as in the case of not putting a wheel on properly.

  9. It means Alonso will miss his home event that takes place in Valencia next month, unless he moves to another team.

    a cryptic remark,perhaps from autosport??

    i’m sure there will be rioting in valencia if alonso is not allowed to race!!!

  10. if that is the case even brawn must be banned for 5 races, at least the renault wheel didn’t knock someone unconscious!!

    1. The difference is, something broke off of the brawn, whereas on the renault it was never put on properly at all!

    2. I’m baffled by this whole debate and quite suprised by what Keith’s attitude seems to be. The stewards have awarded the penalty on the basis that the evidence they gathered shows that the team KNOWINGLY released a car that posed a severe threat to safety and, further, did not even inform the driver EVEN when he radioed in that he had a problem. In other words the team, despite the very recent tragic evidence of the possible fatal outcome, deliberately and avoidably risked the lives of their own and other drivers. This preclude any discussion about parking the car after the wheel came off or of any other incident where there was no KNOWING act of recklessness. If the stewards analysis of the evidence is correct then the fact is that Renault committed an act of reckless endangerment that in any other circumstances would likely result in criminal charges, never mind a race ban. If that wheel had caused another death would you guys still be bleating on about the penalty being harsh because after all ‘it’s a big boys game’? Apparently a lot of people think that fibbing to the stewards deserves the loss of a seasons contractors points and a mega fine but deliberately risking lives is a much less serious issue.

      1. very well said.

      2. Absolute tosh. Let’s see this alleged evidence the Stewards have gathered. Are we to believe that the guy on the lollipop – who is the one who released Alonso – looked down and said, “Yeah, wheels not on right, but sod it, I’ll let him go.”
        Nobody knowingly released anyone – why on earth would they, what would they have to gain? They would much have preferred a 10s longer stop and the wheel on right.
        The stewards have issued a ridiculous statement – not for the first time – and everyone seems to have swallowed it. Another ridiculous decision, defensible only if you you live in the FIA dreamworld.

  11. Its just a knee-jerk reaction from FIA after the fatal crash of Henry Surtees at Donington park when a tyre from another car banged his head. Not to forget Massa’s critical condition because of a spring from Barichello’s Brawn!

  12. So…a driver needs to stop at any problem to not risk losing a piece of the car? On those circumstances Vettel should have stopped too the moment the car was not feeling ok.

    There must be another reason other that the solely fact that the wheel broke loose.

    This seams Renault paying for everything that has happenned.

    1. Yes, there is. Amateur stewards!
      Unbefu##%%##lievable!
      Mandatory 30 second pit stops starting next season? Next: tea break at 5.

      1. 100% agree, You would never see this in the US, maybe a drive thru penaly or a stop and go penalty be not this.
        This sport is being ruined by the nonparticipating officials in the FIA and the stewards they have. What a bunch of idiots.

  13. There are going to be some very angry Spanish fans… Come on it wasn’t the teams fault, mistakes like this happen, nobody got hurt!

  14. Why would Renault allow Alonso to drive a Ferrari, for one race, when they allegedly are attempting to keep him on the team for 2010???

    THAT would be idiotic IMHO.

    Could this also be backlash from Alan Doney led stewards for the leading FOTA teams? If Kimi receives a demotion for his first turn contact with Vettel, you can take that notion to the bank.

    1. Raikkonen has already been cleared.

    2. Flav’s response during the pit walk on the BBC to the question “Will Fernando be racing at Renault next year?” was:

      “We’ll see, race by race.”

    3. Paige Michael-Shetley
      27th July 2009, 9:42

      “Why would Renault allow Alonso to drive a Ferrari, for one race, when they allegedly are attempting to keep him on the team for 2010???”

      1. $$$$$$$ for Flavio, Alonso’s manager and the owner of F1’s TV rights in Spain
      2. $$$$$$$ for Renault, either for a loan fee from Ferrari, Bernie opening his pocketbook because Valencia would clearly be an utter failure without Alonso in the race, or both

      It absolutely will happen. It makes too much sense for everyone involved in F1 for it to not happen, and the people who really make the decisions in F1 will see to it that it does.

      Remember: it’s not unheard of for a driver to drive for one team during a season while being under contract with another. Vettel tested for BMW-Sauber and filled in for the injured Kubica at Indy 2007 while being under contract with Red Bull.

  15. i would have agreed on a hefty fine, but not banning them. this will surely affect the commercial interest of reanult & f1 in spain. lets not forget, its cuz of renault & alonso that f1 has gained popularity in spain. a hefty fine would have been enough imo.

  16. Looking at the stewards’ decision, it doesn’t reflect well on Renault that they didn’t warn Alonso the wheel was loose.

    1. I’d have thought that the team hierarchy would have known about the same time as Fernando felt the car wasn’t turning into T1 properly.

  17. Wow – I’m surprised. Shouldn’t Brawn be suspended because of Barrichello’s spring falling off?

    1. This isn’t good for the sport… It really isn’t. Let Renault Race purely because thousands of people are going to be paying JUST to see Fernando Alonso, spains hero.

    2. They couldn’t have warned him about that, surely?

      1. I have no idea – I was purely speculating.

        I thought I read that RB knew something was wrong and thus, it should have been checked?

      2. They must have seen something on the telemetry.

        1. the most boring circuit in the world has just got more boring!

    3. I know I’m way late to the party, but just in case anyone happens along to read this thread, I need to point out a couple things.

      What Vettel/Red Bull did in Australia was stupid. And had it come 1 week after a driver was killed from a tire flying loose, doubtless they also would have been banned from the next race, instead of being fined. So not quite apples-to-apples comparing that to Renault’s penalty.

      Brawn did not KNOW that the spring was loose/damaged/had a bolt failing, and still said nothing to the driver. Brawn did not know what EXACTLY was wrong with the car until it was back in the garage after that lap. There was nothing intentionally done or not done by the team. Therefore, no penalty.

      Renault, on the other hand, knew damn well that wheel was not properly secured. They knew it the instant the car pulled out and the wheelman from the right front picked himself off his ass and said ” Hey! I wasn’t done yet!”

      Watch the tape, it’s plain as day, the lollipop man blew his job, releasing the driver before ALL crew members finished.

      Bad form, he’s probably looking for a job now, but nothing sinister so far. Had Renault radioed Fernando as to what happened, and he slowed way down and managed to get back, I doubt anyone would have said a word.

      Instead, Renault chose to NOT radio the driver to apprise him of the situation, even when Fernando radioed in to say he had a problem.

      So Renault getting a damn sharp penalty comes as no surprise to be. I’m not certain the ban is the correct penalty, but the correctness of the penalty is another debate. Seems the debate here is whether Renault deserved a penalty, or not. Answer: Yes.

  18. At least this settles the debate wether Piquet will drive the next race or not …

    1. Hehe..

      1 debate close. Another opened :)

  19. @mp4-19b-In the case of Brawn no one had any idea about the spring until it came lose but in Alonso’s case Team and Driver both knew about the wheel and yet the team didn’t order Alonso to stop the machine.But I too feel the ban to too much.

    But i don’t think Alonso will drive for Ferrari next race….as there is so many things to consider like sponsors,contracts etc.

  20. this is the latest

    A statement issued by the stewards on Sunday night said that there had been multiple breaches of the regulations by the Renault team.

    Stewards talked to Renault representatives twice after the race.

    The statement said that Renault “knowingly released car no. 7 from the pitstop position without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position, this being an indication that the wheel itself may not have been properly secured.”

    It added that Renault, “being aware of this, failed to take any action to prevent the car from leaving the pitlane….failed to inform the driver of this problem or to advise him to take appropriate action given the circumstances, even though the driver contacted the team by radio believing he had a puncture.”

    It said that the team’s actions had compromised safety in breach of Article 3.2 of the Sporting Regulations, and in breach of Article 23.1.i had released the car from the pits before it was safe to do so.

    Renault has been reminded of its right to appeal the decision.

  21. BTW Mohammed Ben Sulayem knows about taking wheels off of a Renault Formula 1 car. Good to see a steward with hands on experience finally.

      1. is this the same man who crashed a renault at dubai?? no wonder he’s seeking his revenge!!! look at this!!!!

        http://www.jazarah.net/blog/mohammed-ben-sulayem-crashes-a-2-millon-f1-car-in-dubai/

        1. Lol, yeah, that’s the dude. Maybe he wasn’t happy with his repair bill :)

    1. who is Mohammed Ben Sulayem ?

        1. sorry for posting, i think a similar video

    2. This is the best comment I’ve read in this post…

  22. The punishment was an emotional, yet understandable, reaction to the “flying debris that hit helmets” issue, that surely became the most concering safety problem in Formula 1 these days, given the last events… I think that, more than the penalty itself, the conclusions were very harsh, almost saying Renault intentionally released Alonso without the safety device… It would be something like conscious negligence or even recklessness in criminal law… anyway, too harsh… won’t Brawn be investigated?

  23. Mark Hitchcock
    26th July 2009, 18:10

    If they really didn’t tell Alonso what was wrong, even after he said he thought he had a puncture then they totally deserve a suspension.

    This is nothing like Vettel’s accident in Australia, he crashed and decided to continue, this is different because Renault could have prevented the accident in the first place.

    It may well be a reaction to Surtees and Massa but in my opinion it’s a perfectly reasonable reaction.
    This incident shows that Renault have learnt nothing from the recent accidents so they need to be shown what they should be doing by being harshly punished.

  24. I think the people that are saying Brawn should be punished are missing the point.

    Renault are not being punshied for the wheel coming off they are being punished becuase they knew the wheel was about to come off and did nothing about it. Thus knowling putting people lives at risk (which i for one belive is unacceptable and think the punishment is fair).

    The statement said that Renault “knowingly released car no. 7 from the pitstop position without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position, this being an indication that the wheel itself may not have been properly secured.”

    It added that Renault, “being aware of this, failed to take any action to prevent the car from leaving the pitlane….failed to inform the driver of this problem or to advise him to take appropriate action given the circumstances, even though the driver contacted the team by radio believing he had a puncture.”

    Brawn had no idea that anything was about to happen and when they did relise what did happen they check Button’s car straight away. (the right thing to do)

    To put this in a real world example;
    – If I knew my car’s brake’s where broken and then i drove my car into somthing or someone i would be charge with either dangerous driving or mansloghter.

    – If i was driving along and my brake’s just failed and i went into somthing or someone it would be an accident.

    1. I was merely asking re Brawn but your explanation makes sense.

      As an FA fan, it still sucks, though!

    2. Mark Hitchcock
      26th July 2009, 18:18

      Exactly.

    3. At last, a balanced view point.

    4. Well put Chris. It’s the deliberate choice to continue with a dangerous course of action that is key here.

      As I’ve said previously, if that was really the case they fully deserve the penalty. I really find it hard to believe they would be so stupid as to think there was anything to gain from releasing a car with a loose wheel. Do you think their appeal will be on the basis that they did NOT know the problem before releasing the car?

  25. Having seen the stewards statement, they did the right thing. Lucky for Renault someone was not hurt. Life is more important than any race. Is that not so.

  26. Renault are going to appeal, but will it do any good? A usual 10 place grid penalty and fine would have been more appropriate.

  27. How likely is it Fernando could drive Massa’s Ferrari? Would it even be possible?

    1. Incredibly hard to say, it’ll all come down to what’s in the contracts I guess. If Alonso has a get-out clause which allows him to drive for another team if Renault are to miss a race, then it’s conceivable.

      Button and Sato didn’t go off to drive for other teams when BAR where banned for two races in 2005. But neither of them would have been as coveted by other teams as a twice-champion.

      1. OK< thanks. I suppose we just have to wait and see then, especially with Renault appealing.

        Would be nice to see Fernando in a Ferrari but I didn’t think it could possibly happen in these circumstances!

        1. But driver switching teams mid-seasons isn’t unprecedented. Maybe Alonso has a clause of getting out of contract free if Renault brought him in dispute (like we know Hamilton has). He will deffinetly not be happy with this decision.

    2. Paige Michael-Shetley
      27th July 2009, 11:53

      Well, there weren’t any openings for Button or Sato to fill in 2005, while Ferrari have a driver injured. It’s no use for a team to sit a driver for one race for someone else and then put him back in the car as the permanent driver. It’s not good for the working relationship with the driver who you have signed on as a permanent man.

      Then again, if they had been banned the race before, he would have had the opportunity to drive a McLaren at San Marino in relief of the injured Montoya! Yet another chapter in the story of Button’s pre-Brawn life: right situation at the wrong time!

      But you are right: Button wouldn’t have been nearly as highly coveted then as Alonso would be now. Adding to that, Ferrari have an open seat due to an injured driver, and Toro Rosso could conceivably have an open seat as they are mainly putting Alguersuari in the car to bring him up to speed for next season.

  28. John nobles report on autosport

    Renault has confirmed that it will appeal the FIA’s decision to ban the team from the European Grand Prix for the events that led to a wheel coming off Fernando Alonso’s car in Hungary.

    The team lodged its paperwork and a deposit for the 6000 Euros fee for the appeal, with a hearing now likely take place in the summer break before the European GP on August 23.

    The paperwork, lodged in conjunction with the French motorsport federation, was signed by Renault’s team manager Steve Nielsen and was received by the FIA’s stewards’ advisor Alan Donnelly shortly before 7pm.

    1. On a tangential issue, this is the first I’ve seen of a €6000 charge being applied to appeals. Last I knew it was €2000… …the FIA is clearly feeling the pinch in these economically harsh times.

  29. These are the regulations on the formula 1 site

    Teams may use up to four drivers during a season, all of whom may score points in the championship. A driver change may be made with the permission of the stewards any time before the start of qualifying. The new driver must use the engine and tyres allocated to the original driver.

    On top of this, in each of Friday’s two practice sessions teams may run additional drivers, though each team is still limited to two cars. Any holder of a Super License may run as an additional driver, but stewards must be informed of a team’s plans before the end of initial scrutineering on the Thursday prior to practice.

  30. In Rubens’ situation, that wasn’t on purpose, neither this one, though. But Renault could prevent it, let’s admit. Eventually, there was an tyre flying around and it looks pretty horrible, especially after what we’ve been through these couple of days. So I think it’s fair. We’ve seen some harsh decisions before, but all of them made because of a reason.

  31. Renault’s punishment is very harsh, especially in keeping with previous examples of similar things (e.g. Raikkonen’s exhaust at Magny-Cours last year), but in the context of the last week it is understandable.

    What is not acceptable, however, is that if the stewards are going to come down hard on Renault like this, that Brawn were allowed to start the race at all given that problems with their suspension seriously injured a driver yesterday.

  32. I agree with the punishment now that we know the FIA statement.

  33. i wanna know whether the same punishment would have been given, if it were a ferrari instead?

    1. To be honest what ever your views on this and i personally disagree with you dispite being a McLarren fan we are never going to know so what the point!

  34. If Renault messed up in a pit stop causing a wheel to come of Alonso’s crawling car, then how come Webber and Red Bull don’t get banned for damaging Ruben’s car the other week, potentially causing debris from his car. Or Raikkonen and Ferrari for driving into and damaging the suspension of Vettel, Or Red Bull for not telling Vettel to park it when his suspension broke and he drove to the pits etc.

    And on and on.

    Despite it being an emotional response, it screams of the usual inconstancies. What did Webber do in Germany that Raikkonen didn’t do today?

  35. As much as I dislike Alonso but it surely wasn’t his fault! Why punish the driver for this? Name me one F1 driver who’d park his car.

    Should’ve been just a fine! Penalise the team not the driver!

    1. They aren’t punishing Alonso. They are punishing RENAULT, and Alonso is part of TEAM RENAULT.

      I believe the punishment after appeal will put them at the back of the grid.

    2. Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Piquet has nothing to do with that situation, but he(or who replaces him) doesn’t deserve this. Point-ban for the team could be an acceptable decision.

    3. Surely there must be something in Alonso’s contract preventing him from driving with Ferrari anyway?

      I like Damian’s points above. If Renault really did release him knowingly then fair enough, but the decision to actually release him from the pit seemed to be a split second one.

      Once the wheel’s lose, Alonso was trying to make it back to the pits – fair enough. For example, should have Hamilton pulled over in Monaco 2008 because his rear tyre could have flown off??

      1. Hamilton didn’t drive at full speed but limped back to the pits, i think. Alonso was still racing.

        1. Too much knowledge here…

  36. Mohammed Ben Sulayem, Morrie Chandler and Lajos Herczeg?

    Why oh why do they not have stewards who have raced in F1?
    Why oh why are we talking about this again in 2009. Arrrghh!

    1. Mohammed has driven an F1 car. (And crashed it on debut)

    2. Why oh Why indeed…
      :(

    3. Because at the moment no ex-F1 driver has done the necessary stewarding in lower forumulae to be eligible for the steward Superlicence.

  37. It is little harsh though, but, I like this part in your article…

    “The penalty means Fernando Alonso will not be able to drive for Renault in his home Grand Prix.

    He may be able to drive for another team and suspicion will inevitably fall on Ferrari. They will probably need a driver to replace the injured Felipe Massa and Alonso has long been linked with a move to the team.”

    putting aside the situation, it is always intriguing to see a top driver in a different car with in a season… that would, in a way, give a picture of his talent and the comparison of the cars he has driven.

    I’m in no way happy about it and I feel really sorry for Massa and his accident that lead to this situation, but since this possibility in now on cards, it interests me a little to see this happening!!!

  38. In the FIA’s defense, the issue here is that Renault willfully released their driver when they knew their car was dangerous, that is why the radio communication is being used as evidence. (As far as we are aware) in the previous similar incidents the teams have been ignorant to the problem.

    The flipside, as people have mentioned, is that this could be a knee-jerk reaction to the accidents involving Surtees and Massa.

    The compromise position is that, considering the sensitivity of this sort of situation right now, Renault were politically careless to release a car like this, considering what has happened recently.

    The truth is, we’ll never know, but it’s become very fashionable to assume the FIA is wrong all the time rather than to take their word for it. I’d prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt, considering they are in possession of all the facts and we are not.

    Imagine the headlines if this situation had got to the press and Renault *hadn’t* been punished. I can see the headlines now: “FIA do nothing after Renault risk another serious injury… or worse”.

    1. Nicely put, especially the last paragraph. That sums up why the suspension is ‘not wrong’.

      1. Excellent comment. I think the only thing that is debatable is the harshness of the penalty given that it is FA’s home grand prix and Renault’s major market. A fine and a suspended ban might have been more appropriate.

        I think the FIA should make more use of suspended or probationary penalties.

        1. I very much hope that it makes NO difference at all which race(s) would be missed by a team suffering a ban, in the same way as it shouldn’t matter which team/driver committed the offence…

  39. Alonso at Ferrari would be nice…. But then STR might be more realistic? ;)

  40. Im Sorry But After Last Week The FIA Need To Take Measures On Stopping This Happening.

    These Our Very Heavy Tyres! Renault Made The Mistake They Should’ve Secured It Properly!

    They Must Take The Blame. This Will Be Interesting… If Massa Isnt Back Which I Hope He Is.. But If Not.. Will Alonso Drive For Ferrari? Hmmm I Wonder!

  41. It is as if everything has been conspired to make Alonso drive for Ferrari. Isn’t it Keith?

    Even autosport (and Keith as well) writes this time “unless he moves to another team”.

    Why does every event in the motorsport world have to do with Alonso going to Ferrari.

    This is about Renault being suspended, why, and what, and how about that incident.

    If Red Bull were fined in Australia, then clearly there is a precedent for this kind of 3-wheeled antics, so Renault have been negligent. But then, the penalty is also harsh. But given the present context of the accidents, its hard to say that FIA have done anything wrong.

    Its a knee-jerk reaction, no doubt. But thanks to it, the now know what is the price to be paid for having loose components on cars. It will make them pay more attention henceforth.

  42. Bartholomew
    26th July 2009, 18:30

    This is too harsh. Could have just punished Uncle Flav with no pancakes daily for a month.

  43. does anybody think Brawn GP should be punished as well for the loss of dangerous debries during qualifying?

    1. Again, no, because they couldn’t reasonably have prevented that. The point the stewards make is that Renault knew the wheel was not on properly and didn’t tell Alonso. It’s a different case I believe.

      1. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion
        26th July 2009, 21:07

        But we have a precedent here, dear Keith. Do you remember when Red Bull was put under investigation when his suspension collapsed, and FIA was to suspend the team? Why oh why there wasn’t such an investigation on the Brawn’s suspension? I wait anxious for your answer….

        1. There is an investigation in progress into the Brawn/Massa incident, Roger. Since it’s more wide-ranging than a simple “Did Brawn do anything against the regulations?”, it could be a while before we hear any results.

      2. I seem to remember that some cars had a sort of keeper pin that stops the nut coming off the car. Renault would still have the pin in the pit if this is general usage.

  44. I am a bit ambivalent about the penalty, but I tend to agree with the need to enforce some kind of punishment given the end result of the bouncing wheel.

    This, I think, was less about him driving back to the pits on three wheels, than it was about the team understanding that he did not have a puncture, the team understanding that the wheel was going to come off and the tether was not going to function, and then letting him drive near full bore until it came bouncing off.

    and of course, I have to say something about the exhaust piece on Raikkonen’s care at Magny-Cours last year…
    how much do think that piece of his exhaust weighed? would be curious to do a comparative analysis on its weight and the spring in Massa’s incident
    Then we should look at the relative speeds. Massa to the spring and the exhaust piece ripping off on the corner.

    to understand the lethal potential that incident had, remember that the damage to Felipe occurred with him wearing his racing helmet, the spring weighed about 3/4 of a kg and he ran into it at about 170mph (weights and speed are my guesses from reports so far, I could be way off)

    with the exhaust piece, Kimi was turning that corner at about 150 mph, I am sure that exhaust piece must weigh more, but more importantly, spectators, camera men etc, would not be wearing any protection.

  45. The punishment is fair – if they knew, first, they never should let the car out, but they did worst – they didn’t even tell the driver…

    Now they’ll pay – and pay hard, because the next GP is in Spain (Valencia), Alonso’s house of groupies, so, no yellow and red flags on the stands… So sorry, old chap… :)

    I’m only astonished that they did this to Renault and didn’t find anything to penalize McLaren… Come on… it’s a classic by now – Stewards Vs. McLaren – Always seeking something to crash them! It would give a nice motion picture… lol

  46. williams did the same thing to nigel mansell in 1991 at estoril, ofcourse he got black flagged for the race but williams was not handed a ban for the next race. seems too harsh. maybe they could fine them 25bn $ or so.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fl1ZiNws7WE&feature=related

    1. I thought that was because they pushed Mansell backwards.

      1. Ah sorry, putting on the wheel in the fast lane.

        I thought they pushed him back once too. Or was that Prost?

        1. You’re probably thinking of Nicki Lauda. He actually shifted into reverse gear and reversed into the pit stop! He wasn’t black-flagged during the race – his 5th place was tossed out after the race I think.

          1. That was Mansell probably? Or at least he did the same.

            Mansell backing up in the pitlane at the 1989 portugese GP:
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxlee0qjVu0

            Mansell ignores the black flag and manages to crash into Senna taking the both of them out of the races.

            Amazing what utter idiocy drivers got away with back in those days.

    2. Mark Hitchcock
      26th July 2009, 18:43

      You can’t really compare this to ’91.
      Safety is a much higher priority than it was then so obviously putting people in danger will be more harshly punished now.

      1. Mansell was banned from the Spanish GP in 1989, which was the next GP after the Portugese, for the black flag pitlane incident. So in that respect the Renault ban isn’t completely unprecedented.

        1. If he was banned then that would have been for ignoring a black flag and for ramming Senna after he gotten that black flag.

          Like Schumacher almost took Berger off after he got his black flag. Think schu got a 3 race ban though.

  47. Lets hope the Spanish fans don’t let there frustration out on Hamilton. I fear we may see more racist abuse that goes unpunished after numerous warnings.

    1. well done!!! you’ve spotted it! if that happens, i think f1 should move out of spain forever.

      1. I am a Spanish fan. I think your comments here a totally offensive. There were 2 people out of 130,000 that were dressed that way. Come on!

        1. Well Them 2 People Have Let Your Country

          But Them 129,998 People, They Wernt Noticed.. It Was The 2!

          So Thats What People See…

          I Really Hope It Doesnt Happen This Year

    2. I’ve seen here as much racist abuse as in Barcelona

      1. Good point!

    3. Come on now, why would the spanish fans take it out on lewis? It’s got nothing to do with Lewis.

      1. Indeed, I would think that even if Alonso isn’t in action next week, the fans have nothing to blame Hamilton for. If anything, they should channel their anger at the FIA I suppose.

        As for those Spanish fans, I haven’t been to the country but I suspect those fans that caused so much trouble were one a very, very small number…the vast majority of fans are probably well-behaved and act in a very positive manner. Sadly, you’ll find a few idiots at any sporting event in the world, and that was the case with the racism in Spain.

        I don’t think it’s exactly fair for Spain to have two races when other vital markets go without even one, but the handful of fans who acted up last season are no reason for F1 to stop visiting SPAIN ENTIRELY.

  48. i’m sure bernie will now intervene. how can he afford to have the valencia gp with 18 cars and without its home hero- alonso. will be interesting to see how renault’s appeal goes. i think bernie will have a word with the fia…

    1. Why would Bernie care?

      Bernie has already made his money from Valencia, doesn’t matter if zero spectators show up.

      1. oh yeah i’m sure he wouldn’t mind…

        it’d be bad for the f1 image if the seats were half empty. and we all know Bernie’s job is to keep the image good. if no one turned up, the circuit would make a huge loss and maybe have to drop off the calendar. (good for us, bad for him)

  49. I don’t understand items 1 and 2 of the verdict.

    Are they seriously claiming that Renault sent Alonso on his way with one wheel loose on purpose? That’s just preposterous.

    They might have known the moment Alonso drove away and his wheel faring was spinning round, but by then it was too late to stop him.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      26th July 2009, 18:48

      Of course it’s not too late to stop him!
      You tell him on the radio that something’s wrong and he has to stop, then you wheel him back into the garage.
      Alonso asked the team what was wrong because he thought he had a puncture and

      they didn’t tell him

      .

      1. Mark Hitchcock
        26th July 2009, 18:49

        oops, “they didn’t tell him” was supposed to be bold not quoted :p

      2. Number 1 say “knowingly released” and number 2 “prevent the car from leaving the pit lane”

        You are responding to the other numbers.

        So again, it makes no sense whatsoever that they would send alonso out KNOWING that the wheel was not on

        What, they are going to let hem do a lap with 3 wheels because staying in the pit for 2 seconds longer takes too much time?

        1. Mark Hitchcock
          26th July 2009, 19:06

          They knew he had a loose wheel because the guy with the gun would have realised, it was obvious from the replay.
          So yes, they knowingly released him because they knew the wheel was loose…

          And like I said, they could have prevented him from leaving the pit lane by telling him to stop when they realised what had happened. Instead they didn’t tell him, even when he asked about a possible puncture.

          How can you not see what they did wrong?

          1. Mark Hitchcock
            26th July 2009, 19:08

            They obviously didn’t deliberately put the wheel on loosely, the only reason I can think of for them letting him carry on is that they hoped it was secure enough to carry on the race.
            A stupid and dangerous decision.

          2. Like I say in reply to Keith below. I simply misunderstood the verdict (which explains why I didn;t understand it …)

            They probably thought the “wheel nut” was installed just fine. Simply an extra safety was not installed.

      3. What we don’t know here is at what point did Renault realise the the nut wasn’t on properly. Before they sent Alonso away? Before he got out of the pits? The FIA presumably believe it was the former, hence points 1 and 2 of their verdict. I’d like to know how they know that.

        1. Actually, rereading the verdict, they say that they didn’t install the “wheel nut retaining device” and knowingly sent out the car.

          Sorry, I misunderstood this for “not fixing the wheel nut”.

          So indeed Renault might have thought the wheel was fine, but simply an extra safety device was missing.

          Obviously these things are there not just for fun.

          That turns the thing completely around. Indeed they knowingly took a risk and didn’t even inform Alonso.

        2. Exactly- that was the first question to pop up in my mind. After all, what team knowingly sends their star driver out on track with a bad wheel?

        3. Looking at the BBC coverage there is a replay after the incident showing the right wheel going on and one of the wheelmen moving the “spinner” into the locking position. Believing the wheel is on the lollypop man releases Alonso and you can see the wheelman repeatedly trying to get the spinner to lock, at least 2 attempts, as the car moves away. At this point ONE member of the team knows the spinner didn’t lock. How long it took to tell the team manager what happened and what action was taken we don’t know as we don’t have the information that, presumably the stewards had.

          I voted too harsh. I do think a fine is justified but unless a team must be perfect these incidents will occur.

          What I find unfair is that apparently Alonso was not found culpable for any part of the incident, the team was, but by punishing the team they are also punishing Alonso, and Piquet (assuming he would drive in the next race).

          Hopefully more intelligent heads will prevail on the appeal.

          BTW I am not a big Alonso fan, actually I am a F! fan ;-)

  50. Too bad what Kimi did to Hamilton and Webber on turn one “requires no further action” by FIA…

    He could have killed the race for both of them, right there… and no punishment.

    I guess we must be getting used to it, after all, last race, Webber ended Hamilton’s race also on turns 1/2 by hitting him with the front wing on a rear tire, puncturing it…

    It’s live… or not – it’s those incompetent FIA Stewards that have no qualifications to do what they do and abuse their power, just to get their names on the net and the papers…

    1. What’s he supposed to have done wrong? I saw nothing untoward.

      1. Neither Hamilton or Webber mentioned anything about Kimi doing something wrong.

        But after the penalty Webber got in Germany I understand your point.

        1. This kind of incident is inevitable though when you’ve got Mclaren and Ferrari now consistently qualifying around positions 4 to 10, especially at first corners like Nurburgring and Budapest. Unfortunately, we might get more of the same at Spa and Monza in particular, where 4 cars side by side into the first corners just won’t fit.

    2. @net.sticks

      Webber ended Hamilton’s race also on turns 1/2 by hitting him with the front wing on a rear tire, puncturing it…

      I watched the tape and Webber didn’t “hit” Hamilton. Webber never moved left into Hamilton, instead Hamilton came across a bit too soon and didn’t clear Webber.

  51. we need to start discussing about felipe’s potential repalcements…
    Badoer
    Gene
    and potential….Alonso…with suspension in place….if the Ferrari-Alonso rumor is true, then they might as well bring it forward..

    maybe we should start a poll and see what happens..

    i think we should also sticky Massa’s current situation on the top, so that the topic doesn’t fall behind in to next pages

  52. Are the FIA getting even with Alonso’s 2009 F1’s ‘worst year in history’ remarks and criticism?
    Will they even let him drive for Ferrari this year?

  53. i don’t think so renault will allow nando to go to ferrari for a single race. i think its never happened before. flavio will murder alonso if he does move on.

  54. Spain is lucky to have a GP full stop. Some of the abuse a driver receives is unacceptable. The FIA’s toothless threats of punishment should be executed. Alonso missing his home GP shouldn’t be an issue because there shouldn’t be one. Renault did not warn the driver therefore a race ban is the correct punishment.

    1. So you should punish hundreds of thousands of well behaved fans because of a few simple, racist, waste of space idiots? should british GP be banned because of that idiot that ran along silverstone during a gp? especially when they are specifically suppose to keep the track safe? No, that would be unfair and stupid. Imagine the outcry over that.

      1. Yes. For letting them walk around freely with painted faces and racist t-shirts. They shouldn’t be let in and other spectators should not stand for it.

  55. Nice place to place my comment, as a spaniard. Congratulations to Hamilton for another flawless, start to finish win. OK, from lap 8, but he already looked good for the win by then. I know most spanish fans see it like that too, but one cannot avoid a person in 10000 being an idiot. So, please, don’t take it too seriously if 6 people out of 100000 say something bad about Hamilton.
    Back to the penalty. I found it ridiculously hard, it is a new interpretaion of the rules, etc, etc.
    But what I dislike the most is the perverse logic behind it. Renault, knowingly, did this, and then, Renault, knowingly, failed to do that. Well, if I met this guy, Renault, in the street, I would ask him why, but since Renault is not a person, I would like to give my interpretation of how it might have happened:
    There is a pit stop, and one mechanic doesn’t get the wheel quite perfect. Everybody is in a rush, because there is a race going on. The guy sees that the wheel is kind of OK, even if he may (or may not) know that something didn’t quite snap in place. He hesitates for a second. Then the lollypop guy releases the car and alonso is off. 20 guys rush back to the garage, each one with functions to perform and places to go. Likely the mechanic at the wheel tries to talk to some important team manager. 15 seconds pass before he manages that. Alonso notices something funny with the car, can see the thing rotating with his wheel. In the garage, they all wonder what’s that, is it a puncture? Maybe by then the mechanic has managed to speak to one person, “the wheel what?!” Oh, not good, are you sure? Call the data guy on the telemetry, what can he see? Well, the wheel looks bad, but doesn’t look like falling off after five corners, he can surely come to the pits and change it. So, telemetry guy, is it a puncture? Oh, the wheel fell off!
    Seriously, the full drama involving Renault, a team of about 40 people in the spot, all very busy, happened in about 40 seconds.
    A tiny bit harsh, maybe?

    1. Hi Hollus – What are the Spanish media saying about it?

      1. Spanish media opinion is that the measure is too harsh. It is also though that if Renault must receive a punishment, it’s drivers should have not been involved in it.

    2. @Hollus

      Thats exactly how I think it happened. But funny still. :-)

    3. HounslowBusGarage
      26th July 2009, 20:51

      Well said, Hollus.

      1. @Hollus
        I agree, I think chief mechanic did a mistake as the guy on the wheel didn’t signal he is done. Alonso was released after 5 seconds – that is extremly short pit-stop, even for 3-stop strategy.

        1. The guy with the wheel DID signal he was done.

          His hand was up in the way they do to signal everything was done, but his other hand was still doing something to the wheel fairing.

          Renault may not a have reaslised that the wheel would come off, but they probably realised that the fairing wasn’t on properly and could come off – which it did.

  56. This is not even about Alonso, or Ferrari. Its about Renault, who in normal circumstances, have not done much wrong. But in present context, their mistake isn’t trivial.

    Just imagine if FIA didn’t do it, Planet-F1 and Keith would be jumping and screaming “FIA allow reckless Renault to go unpunished inspite of 2 freak accidents happening in the space of a week”.

    Now, the teams know the price to be paid for having loose components on the car.

    Having said that, I wish that Renault appeal his upheld otherwise the Alonso to Ferrari rumours will go into overdrive in this 3-week break.

    1. People aren’t in the main saying they shouldn’t be punished – just that the punishment seems too harsh for the crime.

  57. Keith has a driver ever driven for 2 teams in the same season? If not I don’t think the FIA would allow it anyway.

    1. Oh yeah it’s happened loads – Vettel in 2007 is the most recent example I can think of.

      1. But that would mean releasing Massa and Alonso from their contracts. I don’t think Ferrari would want to do this at this time to Massa. I think they owe it to Massa and his family to wait until he comes out of hospital and let them decide on Massa’s future with Ferrari.

    2. The most legendary case was with Michael Schumacher in 1991. He drove his first F1 race in a Jordan, but the next race he was already in Benetton :)

      1. I remember that now, Jordan took Benetton to court, but Benetton won. Eddie Jordan forgot to get Schumacher to sign a contract. The rest is history as they say. Imagine if EJ did have a contract. Would Schumacher be 7 time champion today? The mind boggles :)

    3. Vettel, Salo and Trulli have.

    4. In 1994, Johnny Herbert drove for three teams – Lotus, Ligier and Benetton. There are other examples of drivers switching teams twice too.

  58. The stewards are the idiots for not giving a Safety Car when that thing fell off. After yesterday you think they’d worry about debrie like that on the track. Complete idiots

    1. The wheel wasn’t on the track, so didn’t impede anyone, hence no safety car.

      1. Fortunately, given how early he had his pit stop, and having slowed down because of the wheel problem, there weren’t many cars near Alonso when the wheel came off.

        1. The aero bit fell of in the middle of the track though.

    2. Well, that is my point. That doesn’t make much sense either. There is no time to deploy the safety car before the wheel stops moving! Big groups of people need a certain amount of time to take decisions.

  59. Valencia tickets – sold less than 30%. Bernie will get involved. Alonso at Ferrari would surely make it sell out!

  60. The stewards are stirring from their sleep now there’s a championship race to manipulate. At least one crazy decision at every race from now on folks. Note their lack of any action against Red Bull for releasing Webber straight at Raikkonen’s Ferrari. That would have denied Webber some points…

    Massa must race in Valencia if it’s safe for him to do so, but it’ll be ridiculous if some has-been/never-was “test driver” gets to race a Ferrari in Valencia, while Alonso misses his home race – and then joins Ferrari next year.

    1. Massa won’t be racing for a while.

    2. Pedro De La Rosa, (a has-been/never-was, as you put it) did quite well in 2006.

    3. Red Bull was fined for unsafe release…

  61. high chance of sell-out crowd if Alonso is racing in a Ferrari in Valencia….even i want to go there if it turned out that way

    on top of that, if he wears an overall bearing Felipe’s name, that would touch all the hearts of F1 fans…

    But i am sure Bernie must have thought of this already

  62. No, seriously guys. How could the Renault mechanics have let Alonso leave the pits knowing the wheel wasn’t attached properly?!?! This makes no sense!
    It’s the most obvious thing that the wheel WILL come off when it’s not attached properly.
    They could know it when it was already too late because Alonso was leaving the pits – had they known that in time, they would NOT let him go. It makes no sense.

    1. I made the same mistake. They didn’t attach the wheel nut retainer. So probably they thought the nut was on OK. They didn’t install the extra safety device.

  63. Andrew White
    26th July 2009, 19:16

    Even if Alonso doesn’t race at Valencia, at least the Spanish fans will be able to support Alguersuari instead :P

  64. Ok, I accept I went overboard a bit.

    And really sorry for quoting you and Planet-F1 in the same line, thats a big mistake. Its like comparing Alonso to Piquet.

    But you two do have 1 thing in common, a constant tirade against FIA.

    This time FIA *had* to do something. They were in a tricky situation. Damned if they suspended Renault, damned if they don’t.

    I think they chose the wiser option. And a suspension was necessary to drive in the seriousness of the incident. If it was anything lesser, it would have deemed the falling off of components from cars as a passable offense.

    1. Err, this comment was supposed to come as a reply to Keith’s comment to my comment a few replies above.

      @Keith :I see that your comment is missing. I do sincerely hope you get my point.

      1. Yeah I thought I’d been a bit harsh so I took it off!

        I have often said I think the FIA gets a lot of these decisions wrong: Webber’s penalty at Nurburgring and Vettel’s at Melbourne for example. And there were some truly disgraceful decisions last year.

        But that doesn’t mean I think they get everything wrong.

        In this case, I understand and accept why they’ve punished Renault. Perhaps the punishment is too severe, I’m not sure.

        I don’t think Renault will get much from an appeal except perhaps an even harsher punishment.

        1. In the typical FIA fashion. Dare to question our reasoning and get slammed harder :-)

      2. One team alone doesn’t deserve this knee jerk reaction by the FIA.

        I’m sure we could find numerous examples in the past few seasons where articles 3.2 and/or 23.1 have been breached and not ended up with suspension.

  65. I Think FIA Have To Take Action After Last Week!

    1. Yes, but they could have employed their brains for once

    2. I Think We Should All Write With Capitolised Words, As It Makes Reading Them A Lot More Fun.

  66. Alonso Ferrari
    26th July 2009, 19:44

    Alonso could be at the track, Renault is banned but Alonso isn’t couldnt Ferrari Borrow ALonso for That 1 Race?? Would it be even possible??

  67. Here we go again. Yet another decision that just comes out from a clear blue sky without any warning. You can drag half a fuel rig down then pit lane without being banned, but not lose a wheel driving slowly on the track. And why ban the driver? Isn’t 1-2 races without constructor points a more suitable punishment?

    1. Alonso Ferrari
      26th July 2009, 19:50

      Driver isn’t Banned Renault Are…

      1. If he can’t race in his team that is pretty much the same as being banned, isn’t it?

    2. Alonso Ferrari
      26th July 2009, 19:51

      which brings me to my question….

      why can’t they just borrow Alonso for 1 race to Ferrari

      That would deffo be worth watching!

  68. In my own opinion a heavy fine like $500,000 would have been appropriate. Unless the race ban is for a deliberate attempt to commit suicide on the track.
    Is a team attempting to cheat, by having the refueling hose still connected to the car as it exits the pit box?
    The same also applies here, a team would not deliberately leave a wheel nut loose.

    By the way, FOTA scoundrel loud mouths, Renault, have recently questioned the governance of F1. Well this should teach you. :-) Max would so love it if Renault say they will pull out of F1 because of this.

    1. I wasn’t going to mention it, but since you did … :)

      Considering one of the race stewards was Mssr. bin Saleyam, “conspiracy” fairly screams out. bin Saleyam was the fellow, you’ll remember, who is so close to MM that he personally contacted all the member clubs and got MM the necessary votes to get MM his vote of confidence, in last year’s Spankgate.

      And Flavio has been a particular thorn in MM’s side this year. One cannot help but wonder if MM is grinning hugely over all this, after a quick word in bin Saleyam’s ear.

  69. carol treurnicht
    26th July 2009, 19:58

    Sorry- but i am just convinced there is some plot here somewhere.
    That Renault should be punished- yes I agree fully with that. What the sport is missing and I hope FOTA/FOM/FIA take this on board is that there should be clear penalties for clear offences instead of this will nilly decisions.
    I am all for penalties when they are due- but I insist on fairness and above all consistency otherwise the sport we all love is becoming a joke.

  70. I think it is fair enough to punish the team but they could have done so in a way that does not affect the driver as it was not his fault, especially as it is Alonso’s homerace and he was not made aware that the wheel was loose.

    Surely a fine or racing withdrawing any constructors points scored would be a fairer decision.

  71. How come last year when Massa left the pits with the fuel hose attached Ferrari was not banned for a race? There are a lot more people in the pit lane then there are drivers on the track.
    I’m not being insensitive to what happend in the past two weeks, I’m just pointing out the ‘lesser of two evils’.

  72. if renault are disallowed from contesting at valencia, at least poor old alonso must be given the post of the safety car driver, this way the spanish fans will atleast get to see their home grown hero lead a race.moreover Bernd Mayländer deserves a break ;)

    1. by doing so, FIA will make sure that renault & alonso don’t flaunt the safety rules again. henceforth every driver who violates safety norms must be compulsorily made to drive the safety car in the following race. this way they’ll learn their lessons.

  73. I think if they want to penalice Renault because of breaking rules do the same they did to McL. A good money penalty, that hurts apparently quite a lot to teams, with a final statement that “we are taking this seriously” so you all better be good, and no points for the next x races, wich is more penalty at the next season.
    Drivers are allowed to keep racing unless any other evidences should arrived.

    Fair enough for me.

  74. In my opinion, had Renault acknowledged the problem when Fernando called in about having a flat, it would have gone a long way in possibly circumventing the penalty, or maybe not, but it my mind it would have been the way to go.
    But had Fernando been injured as a result of rRenaults silence and unwillingness to do the proper thing in the first place, then this penalty would be minor.
    In 2007 , I didn’t like much of Fernandos behavior, but I’ve grown to like him greatly as a result of the way he’s knuckled down and fought his way back last year and his determination and gracious behavior relative to his team. He hasn’t once acted like a prima dona this season or last, and he could easily have. My respect for him is on parr with my respect for Felipe Massa afer the remarkable way he acted after last years devestating(to him) season finale. These examples are the things that make the good Great, and shining eaxamples of gentlemanly and sportsman like behavior.
    I don’t know how to actually send these thoughts to the individuals I hold them for, so I can only hope that they might read this.
    And if they do. I’d also like to say to Ross, Get your flyrod and waders packed, and take a fews days fishing in Montana, as I feel you’ve earned it. The time to unwind might help your team to get back on track, as I’m sure you’re capable of.
    I ‘d like to wish Felipe a speedy and complete recovery, and hope that the joys of fatherhood far outway the joys of racing, although that wish goes hand in hand with my further wish for his having a long and very successful career in F1.
    Lastly, Congratulatiobs, Lewis, and keep at it.
    Reqards to all,
    Barry

  75. Guys and Girls,
    FIA has to do this.
    Henry Surtees is dead and Filipe Massa was close to dead. Parts are supposed to be secured to cars so they don’t fly off. Regardless of your conspiracy feelings, and how irrational FIA can be, they must put safety first.
    Also, already there are rumours that Alonso will be taking Massa’s place at Ferrari, as Massa will not be returning anytime soon. The rumour being that Alonso will be joining Ferrari next year anyhow.

    1. But should have Ferrari have been banned for letting Massa do a lap of singapore with a fuel line attached. Part of the whole FOTA FIA row was the governance, or more specifically, the inconsistency of it.

      1. But they didn’t let him do a lap with the hose attached, they told him to stop and he did so – at the next safe place.

  76. It’s a hard consequence to ban the team for one race, but exactly under the current circumstances, the team could have shown more sensible judgement than they did, assuming the Stewards’ description that the team was aware the wheel may not have been secured correctly is entirely accurate.

    Another question is whether the appeal hearing can happen in time before the Valencia race. If for some reason that would not work out, Renault might be able to start there and would potentially, if the ban is then confirmed, have to sit out the following race. We’ll see.

  77. I find it a bit harsh given lack of penalties for similar incidents.

    But given the current problems in OWR it is unsurprising

  78. carol treurnicht
    26th July 2009, 21:16

    Well maybe I am being selfish here but I have scraped and saved for 12 months now to get the cash together to go to Spa to see and will on the team and drivers i support…….but they may just not be taking part……..you think any fan doshing out a couple of grand deserves that?
    Yes the team needs to be penalised and taught a lesson- but penalise the fans? Not OK in my book.

  79. Bernie to the rescue? – didnt you see him throw a swipe at briatori before the race – knowing he is one of the lead fota members what a perfect excuse for max’s lap dogs to attack?? – the wheel came off – no getting away from that – but wasnt there a device which tied wheels on or was that scrapped??
    and was that a Fia decision or the teams – I think it was after a spate of wheels coming off a few seasons ago??

    1. The tether was there, and worked OK. It holds the wheel center (I don’t know its technical name, the part that stays in the car in pit stops) to the car, so that it holds the wheel after the suspension breaks in a crash. In this case the problem was attaching the tire to that wheel center.

    2. Mark Hitchcock
      26th July 2009, 21:47

      There’s a tether that keeps the wheel+suspension attached I believe.
      Today it was part of the wheel nut that wasn’t attached properly, not the tether.

      But I think the tethers do need to be looked into, there have been a few occasions this season where wheels have come off in crashes.

  80. never thought I would see posts like the above on this site. PlanetF1 is out there for people who don’t understand the sport. The stewards have lost the plot on this one because of last weekend and Massa yesterday. Nobody should die or be severly injured for sport but all the drivers want the “danger” money. I have watched and see too many go in40 years of the sport, take out the risk and it dies. What happened to Alonso should never be punished, how many F1 fans have videos of DVD’s of Gilles on 3 wheels??? Lets get real and not go crazy over 2 freak accidents

    1. Thank you, everyone here has lost their minds.

  81. Yesterday, Massa was struck by a piece of broken suspension. Today, Red Bull sent Vettel back out knowing there was something broken on his car, suspension-related.

    Surely if Renault can be penalised for this offence, Red Bull should recieve an equal punishment for failing to “ensure that their cars comply with the conditions of eligibility and safety throughout practice and the race” by knowingly sending Vettel back onto the track with damaged suspension.

    And even in that case, this punishment is far too harsh for so many reasons. The whole Renault F1 team shouldn’t be punished for one guys mistake. These things are going to happen in F1, like the incidents with Massa last year and Albers in 2007 with fuel rigs, Barrichello on Saturday and Raikkonen’s stop in Valencia last year.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      26th July 2009, 23:03

      Red Bull clearly didn’t know what was wrong with the car or they would have tried to fix it instead of just changing the wing.

      Renault knew what was wrong. And even if they didn’t realise until a few corners into the lap, according to the FIA they didn’t even disagree with Alonso when he said he thought had a puncture.
      They evidently made no attempt to warn Alonso, that’s the negligent and very stupid thing that they did. And that’s why they deserve the ban.

      If that wheel had hit someone (which Renault knew it could have if they knew the wheel was loose) then we’d be looking at much more than a race ban.

    2. Did didn’t realize it was the Suspension. On the Radio he just said it wasn’t driveable and he had no more control. The brought him in the next lap, changed the front wing because they thought that was the problem and if you watched the pit stop, you would have seen that a few of the pick crew checked the back of the car and didn’t see anything, then sent him back out. Next lap they called him because he still had problems, and kept him in. They didn’t do anything wrong.
      The fact is, they showed good communication with their driver, and he obeyed their orders. Red Bull did nothing wrong in Vettels situation.

  82. thats a fair one
    This eye brow man should not drive
    and the spanish ppl should have no f1 any more after what happened last year

    1. this is “racism” against Spaniards… punish the guilty guy/s, do not generalize… please, stop those comments

  83. Iv`e sped read the comments and I`am sure no-one has mentioned that Renault knew the wheel was gonna go south(If the frisbee falls off, the wheel will follow), also in turn 3 you can see the wheel move about 2-3 inches to the right, Alonso must of noticed this. But the thing that sealed there ban was that the wheel bounced at a very dangerous height across the line that a following car would of took to overtake the slower car. Tha fact that it nows leaves room for Alonso to drive for Ferrari next race is just a coincidence( Yeah right, if you beleive that your believe anything ).

  84. If Renault did send him out knowing that the wheel nut was not secured then the penalty is fair, if not too soft. Especially after the Surtees incident. I do agree that if that and the Massa incident had not happened then there would have been hardly any fuss made; but the fact is they did happen, and we could really do without any more horrific accidents, which this could have easily caused. Just thankfully he wasn’t near any other driver!

    I guess it’s hard to determine whether they released Alonso knowing the wheel wasn’t secure, maybe there should have been more talks with the team, but I do feel it was a fair penalty to hopefully deter any more incidents like it. Anything harsher would have been very unfair.

  85. This is just ridiculous. First of all, why would you do that to the Spanish fans? If I were all of them, I’d demand refunds for the tickets I bought! Then this is also an extremely harsh decision. Very very harsh. If this had happened in Germany, we would have thought nothing of it. The team did not release Alonso, it was the lollipop guy. And once they’d realized that, what were they supposed to do? Tell him to park it? Throw away the race? That’s outrageous. He was also moving much more slowly than the others, so even if the wheel did come off, it wouldn’t really be too much of a danger. And if this is happening to Renault, how come Brawn were allowed to start this race? This is extremely unfair, and I think it just shows that FOTA were stupid to abandon their breakaway plans…

  86. Surely if the car was too dangerous to continue race control should have either told the team to tell him to stop, or told the marshals to wave the black flag with the orange circle. After all that is what it’s for isn’t it?

  87. I think the worst thing the team did was not inform Alonso, even after he radioed in thinking he had a puncture. I say it’s fair, but maybe a knee jerk reaction after the incidents of this last week.

  88. It’s double standards. Renault get suspended but McLaren lie through their teeth and get reprimanded.

    Renault racing error = suspension.

    McLaren deliberately lie = no suspension.

    It’s easy to see who they like best.

    1. Mark Hitchcock
      26th July 2009, 23:07

      Did Mclaren’s lie put people in danger? No.
      Did Renault apparently misleading Alonso put people in danger? Absolutely.

      The error by Renault was the lollipop man letting him out of the box, the punishment is for not telling Alonso to stop the car when they realised what was wrong.

    2. Mclaren acted properly during that race. They didn’t put any ones life in danger. The issue is not Mclaren, the issue is the FIA.

    3. Yeah, it’s a double-standard all right. Were you saying that after McLaren got the fine and edjection from the championship in 2007?

      I agree that Renault should not be treated this harsh, but there is surely no double-standard when it comes to McLaren in this case.

  89. I don’t understand why some people believe that every single one of the 44 millions of spaniards are racists and are going to do abusive chants to Lewis, and don’t deserve to have a GP. Is it me or there are a few “the Sun” or “Daily Express” readers in this post?

    1. I agree with you on that one. Sadly, you are going to find at least a few fans with bad taste in every sporting venue, in every country around the globe. As I said, I don’t think Spain should get two races handed to it, but the vast majority of fans there are good and respectful from what I can see.

    2. Who says that all 44 million spaniards will?

      A few of them might.

  90. (Through gritted teeth) I have to agree with the stewards on this one.

    It is unacceptable to have a wheel come off, especially as we have seen the result it could have, and has had very recently.

    Some people have short memories.

  91. well there goes half the crowd…

    1. probably.

  92. As a brit living in Spain I object strongly to your assumption that the spanish will take it out on Lewis. We went to the race in Barcelona this year and yes the spanish dont like Lewis and they dont have to, but it isn’t racist they just didn’t like the shenanigans that went on with Mclaren in 2007.
    As for this ban I think it shows a total disregard to joe public who have paid their hard earned money for a ticket to see their hero’s race. After all it isnt the first wheel to come off an F1 car so the punishment doesnt appear to fit the crime here.

  93. I was quite suprised when first reading of this news, and even more suprised now. I do not disagree with the need for a penalty, but a penalty of this magnitude is surely over the edge. Which leads me to the obvious…there is some motive at steak here besides the punishment.

    Max won’t shead a tear at seieng Falvio and company miss one of Alonso’s home races. The events of the past week proved the perfect reasoning, and the tire flying off the perfect excuse, for Max and his goons to get back at Flavio, et al. I tend to think that these events will push Renault over the edge in terms of F1 involvement, and who knows if anyone will catch them on the other side.

    Another note of interest is that I believe the teams were on the verge of signing their new Concorde Agreement, or whatever they are calling it these days. Don’t think for a second that the FIA was going to miss a chance to drive a wedge between the various teams involved with that process.

    At the end, Bernie is obviously furious. Aside from Bulgaria, Spain is the only place outside Asia that he actually cares about, so he’ll be working those phones like crazy trying to get Fernando into one of those red cars next week.

    Oh, wait…there’s four weeks until the next race? Yeah, that’s right, how silly of me to forget that a few good events were pulled from the schedule in the off-season……

  94. There is no way that Renault could go un-punished if they knew they were putting people in harm’s way.A hefty fine would have been suitable on any other weekend….but,not this weekend.Too bad for Alonso and his fans though.

    What a weekend in F1!!….I am looking forward to going back to work tomorow and getting a rest!

    And if I never see the phrase “knee-jerk” reaction again,it would be too soon.

  95. Just noticed while watching the highlights that the front right wheel man does something that I`ve seen a few times before, He places He`s hand in the finished position before rotating the frisbee, the few times Iv`e seen it before I`ve winced thinking someone is going to lose a finger one day doing that, normally they have a second or two to get away with it but this time the car is gone before the complete locking of the disc, `more haste less speed`

  96. Keith, in over 15 years I’ve been watching F1, it was nothing unusual for me today to see a wheel flying off a car shortly after a pitstop visit (and the driver doing a lap on 3 wheels), yet this case seems to set a prescedence as to how the situation was dealt with.

    Do you recall other such cases and how they were handled??

    _____
    I recall Manseel (91?) and Alboreto (94), but in both cases the wheel came off already in the pitlane. Nigel didn’t make a lap w/o the wheel on the track, and Alboreto retired just after exiting the pits.

  97. The knowingly bit is striking not just because of how it serves to distinguish this part-loss from Brawn’s but because it implies that the team consciously endangered Alonso here. This is Hitchcock murder-plot stuff here; on these assertions by the FIA a prosecutor probably would likely want to have a look. It’s pretty over the top.

    But, Alonso, from what I read, did not jump in to defend the team. Remember how he ranted about sabotage in 2006? Just saying.

    Anyway, its harsh, but the sport has to take a look at the risks to the enterprise. Yesterday, in the States, FoxSports website’s only headline on the race, which they were to broadcast here was, “driver fractures skull.” Nice, right? Not even his name—because people here wouldnt know Felipe Massa from Adam. That’s not the publicity the sport needs and action has to happen to prevent another such occurence. Imagine the headlines if a name brand driver was coming up behind alonso and had his car destroyed or worse by the tire. Headline: “F1 is a dangerous freakshow.”

    Even aside from these considerations, and though the penaly this harsh, the risk issue is in fact serious. All the talk about getting balls and manning up and facing the danger is pretty silly. The drivers take risks to partake in the sport but they don’t have to be exposed to others willing or grossly negligent acts without recourse. If that’s really the case here, then Renault deserve a good slap in the face as well as the hand.

  98. The Almighty Joe Saward have a point:

    Thus the decision is easily justifiable in terms of safety. It is, however, inevitable – whether the FIA likes it or not – that the move will be seen by some in F1 circles as some kind of a payback for Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, who has been one of the leading members of FOTA in recent months.

    It will not help that the FIA Stewards in Budapest include some of Max Mosley’s strongest supporters, who are advised by Mosley’s right hand man Alan Donnelly.

    One of them is none other than Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the UAE representative, who confessed last year to have personally provided Mosley with 41 votes for last year’s confidence vote resulting from Mosley’s spanking scandal. Ben Sulayem later became an FIA Vice President. It is somewhat ironic that Ben Sulayem was given the opportunity to show off his driving skills in a Renault F1 car in Dubai a few months ago.

  99. I voted the penalty as harsh, although Renault deserved to get punished for what happened. After seeing just how much damage a spring can do to a driver’s helmet and face, the thought of a tyre hitting someone is quite horrific. It could have come back and hit Fernando, another driver, a marshall, anything could have happened.
    Everybody is a little jumpy at the moment, following the death of Surtees and the injury to Massa. This could not have come at a worse moment for Renault, when the eyes of the stewards were on potential incidents like this and setting precedents.
    These things are not uncommon. Three years ago Alonso himself suffered from a loose wheel at Hungary, and ten years ago Hakkinen lost his wheel at Silverstone.
    On the flip side, politically, this has opened up the worlds biggest can of worms as to the future of Fernando Alonso at Renault. The next four weeks are going to be fascinating to see how the Spaniard reacts to the knowledge that he will not be driving in Spain, atleast not for Flavio Briatore atleast. I guess it depends on how advanced the supposed Ferrari/Alonso partnership is.
    If rumours were to be believed two weeks ago, the Scuderia were planning to announce Fernando as their new driver at Monza, replacing everybody assumed Kimi Raikkonen.
    Now that Felipe Massa is not around at the moment, and we all hope he returns soon, that has played directly into the hands of Alonso.
    I am waiting, like us all, to see what Briatore does! As Fernando drives for his team, and Flavio is his manager, will he let the Spaniard off the leash or fight to keep him? If he knows Fernando is going to walk to Ferrari anyway at Monza, then why fight to stop him driving for them at Valencia?
    If these rumours are true, I can see Ferrari making their intentions public at Valencia and not Monza. It is highly unlikely that Massa will be well enough to compete anytime soon, it would also light a charge under Kimi Raikkonen also.
    I still believe that, ‘if’ Massa returns to racing Raikkonen is done at the end of the season. I just can’t see that relationship going on beyond 2009. Interesting weeks ahead!

    1. I really don’t think Ferrari will replace Massa for Alonso, that would be unethical to say the least. If Ferrari wants/needs to replace an injured driver then they should use one of the test pilots mentioned on other coments.

      Of course I’d love to see Alonso on the red car, but my guess is that it won’t happen in Valencia.

  100. Did anyone catch the Indycar Race? Fuel rig didn’t shut properly and Tony Kanaan’s car caught fire. This goes along with the closed cockpit debate. TK suffered some 2nd degree burns but imagine how worse a fire could be if driver is covered? Think about how much fuel is going to be in a F1 tank thanks to the refueling ban next year?

    Penalty on Renault is ridicules. People pay money to see these people race and they ban an entire team for one of the races? Just fine the hell out of them.

    1. StrFerrari4Ever
      27th July 2009, 2:17

      Yeah i watched that race and that was terrifying fire from inside the cockpit luckily he was still near other pit crews for the fire to be put out quickly.

      As for this Renault issue i can understand why they’ve taken this decision but it seems kind of harsh maybe a fine would have been better but will see whether Renault’s appeal is succesful if not Alonso would be itching i think to drive for Ferrai in front of his homecrowd which would make the Spaniards go ballistic.

      Piquet where does he stand in this well he might not have a drive for the European Grand Prix which is rather sad because i was beginning to like him despite the negativity surrounding him.

  101. Well, the FIA has done it again. How many times have we seen cars loose tyres after a pit stop? Never got penalized did they? This where the FIA is lacking in consistency, its obvious that they’ve reacted in the aftermath of the week’s incidents.

    What kind of team would knowingly send their driver out with a loose tyre? Were they hoping that it would magically torque up? I just dont it sometimes, the lack of common sense is largely lacking here.

    Having said all this, I think this could be the last straw for Alonso, he’s stood by the team and given all he’s got to bring the team to where they are, and when he sticks a clearly inferior car on pole, they go and forget the wheel nut. Thats it!..he’s off to Ferrai next year..he has to. There is no point plucking about in Renault, Flavio and his team have failed to deliver a good enough car.

    It would be interesting to see if he will be in Ferrari come Valencia…highly doubtful, but we’ll see.

  102. Are the wheels secured by a tether, why did that not work

    1. This is the reason for the ruling as outlined in the FIA statement. They didn’t lock the wheel before letting the car leave the pits.

      14.7 Wheel retention:

      14.7 Wheel retention:
      All cars, whilst under their own power, must be fitted with devices which will retain any wheel in the event of it coming loose.
      After the wheel nut is fastened, these devices must be manually fitted in a separate action to that of securing the wheel nut.

      1. In the past the FIA was willing to wave of a single wheel nut infraction, that is…assuming 3wheels were secured and a 4th wasn’t. By the way we dont know if all 4wheels were not secured.

    2. @Coling, how can u secure a wheel to a tether and still have it able to rotate?
      It is the wheel hub assembly and suspension that is secured. If the wheel is bolted securely to the hub then everything is fine, if not, then the tether is still attached, but the wheel is free to go where it wants.

      Imagine changing wheels during a race with the tether attached to it. :-)

  103. Its true there are no precedents for such a hard punishment in the recent past, but probably neither had the FIA or teams tought of the serious consecuences involved, as had come to light in the last few days. Renault knew what happened to surtees, so up close what happened to massa, and in memory many more tragedies regarding tires comming off to the crowd, stewards etc in all sorts of motor racing. They should have insured the safety of everyone first. Not to mention forget about the wheel comming off and causing a surtees-massa incident, but alonso not knowing his wheel could come off at high speed in the straight or in a fast corner, he could have had a major accident

  104. Keith’s debate has been brought to fresh light following the wheel incident from Renault, and also the injury sustained by Massa. So closed cockpit team has 2 more reasons to debate huh?? Anyway, also the pre race analysis from this site has been spot on, if only I voted for Hamil in my fantasy game :((

    1. the pre race analysis from this site has been spot on, if only I voted for Hamil in my fantasy game :((

      Me too…

  105. Jonesracing82
    27th July 2009, 3:30

    BMW also got away with it at Barcelona ’07, the wheel didnt come off but he did a lap knowing it was loose!

  106. Quoting examples of 2008, 2007 or before in which teams weren’t punished is completely missing the point. In light of the 2 freakish accidents, a penalty HAS to be given.

    Regarding the harshness, it may be a bit harsh. But if the penalty were any lesser, teams would laugh it off. Also, this is the first instance of a team being punished for a ‘loose fitting’ offense, so there is no precedent for deciding what is ‘fair’ penalty.

  107. Mel Hutchinson
    27th July 2009, 5:58

    Max and his cronies strike again. While I agree that Renault is guilty of negligence, Braun GP’s negligence resulted in consequences, they seriously injured a driver. I ask you, which act is more dangerous? If the FIA wants to protect drivers, fine we are all for that. Everyone is fortunate that the Renault incident didn’t have the outcome of Felipe Massa’s crash and injuries and no one should be living with the tragedy that Henry Surtees’ family is enduring. That being said the FIA has to be consistent. It doesn’t matter is it’s a spring, a tire, or whatever if a part from a racecar becomes a dangerous projectile then the same punishment needs to apply. If Renault is suspended then Braun GP should be suspended too. Common sense tells us that the potential to cause injury is not as bad as actually injuring someone! Wake up Max!

  108. Marshalls decisions seem to be getting more severe and how many locals will go to the gp if there no.1 son is not in the thick of it , that quali performance would have sparked hysteria in valencia and spain could have three drivers in there home race this year giving them alot to cheer about .
    what will this do for piquet?

  109. I have some questions about the whole weekend:
    1. Since the parts came off Barichello’s car in Q2, seriously injuring Massa, why were the Brawn cars allowed to carry on in Q3, and in the race? Surely Brawn’s mechanics needed some sort of penalty, if not the factory, for failing to build it properly.
    2. Why was Kimi’s penalty left to be decided after the race? That basically meant nothing was going to happen!
    3. Yes, the penalty against Renault is harsh, and possibly just a knee-jerk reaction to events, but there have been two similar incidents (one fatal, one nearly fatal), and the Alonso wheel could have been a third. I didn’t like the way it was bouncing towards the cameraman or whatever he was on the inside of the corner!
    In a weekend of strange incidents, why is only one out of three actually given a sensible reaction by the ‘officials’?
    I still don’t believe the FIA Stewards really know about racing or care about either safety or competitiveness. We need a shakeup and a re-education from top to bottom, even if it means people losing their positions……

  110. The problem here, yet again, is the inconsistency in how incidents are handled and how punishments are handed out by the stewards. Sadly their decisions are not based on applying the rules firmly and fairly or for the good of the sport.

  111. Yeah, well, Briatore never learns. He was a crook when he started and he still is a crook… Ban him all you want, he’ll still come back eventually with new tricks and dirty moves.

  112. Accidentalmick
    27th July 2009, 10:20

    I might be a bit late posting this but…

    I dont remember seeing the wheel man’s hand go up in the air. He was certainly still touching the wheel as Alonso drove off. If that is correct then it was a mistake by the lollipop man.

    Certainly the wheel man would have known the wheel was not on properly but less than a minute later it came off and everyone knewn.

    I think Renailt as a whole just did not have time to diseminate the information from the wheel man and react to it and to suggest that they knowingly released an unsafe car is a spin to make the FIA look good.

  113. its a huge over reaction to the recent death.

  114. After reading all the comments I am surprised nobody even questioned how the stewards got to the conclusion that the team knew the wheel was not secured. Because this is the point, isn’t it? They knew and let him go. What kind of team would do that?! Why letting Alonso come out of the pits knowing that the wheel is going to take off and the race will be ruined? Are these the guys who spend months training how to secure the wheel and just doing this? Was it just a stupid mistake they did not realized until it was too late?

    I really would like to see those two conversations with the team manager and how the stewards got to the conclusion. I would shut up if the team manager just said “yes, we knew”. Then may all hell fall on your team and ban you not for one race but for the whole Championship for imcompetence. However, if this is just interpretation, and my guts tell me so in this political business of money and power, then I don’t understand such a punishment. Penalty? Yes, of course, money, constructor championship points, etc etc. Ban? Ridiculous… For the same reason, because this is a business, Renault will probably be in Valencia.

  115. Don’t FOM have an obligation to have at least 20 cars on the grid for each race? I recall reading something a while ago when Bernie said that was in the FOM contracts with the tracks.

    Maybe it’s not in the Valencia contract but if it is, and the Renault ban stays, what’s going to happen?

    FIA rules state that teams can only run two cars per race, so to make the numbers up to 20 a new team would have to enter. That doesn’t seem likely.

    And, I don’t see the Valencia track being particularly understanding given that, as things stand, they are minus the driver all the home fans want to see.

    Rather than Bernie getting Alonso a Ferrari seat for the next race, I think his efforts will have to go into overturning the Renault ban, perhaps having it replaced with a hefty fine and disqualification for the constructors’ championship.

    1. Don’t FOM have an obligation to have at least 20 cars on the grid for each race?

      2009 sporting regs.5>

      5.7 An Event may be cancelled if fewer than 12 cars are available for it.

      1. Aren’t the 2009 Sporting Regs the FIA’s? The FOM contracts with the tracks is something different.

    2. No, the limit is 18 cars according to deals with tv stations.

      1. So the race goes ahead,but isn’t televised.:)

        Would the race not go ahead if the Ferrari’s and McLaren’s or whoever spun off on the formation lap ?

  116. The Renault mechanic was trying to fix the wheel on properly when the lollipop man let Alonso go. They know the wheel wasn’t on properly. This is completely different to other incidents where it was a genuine accident (like Barrichelos spring coming off). This was shoddy and dangerous pitwork and needs to be clamped down on.

  117. When was this kind of punishment made for the whole team before in the history of F1? I recall BAR being punished for cheating with tanks…

    1. Wasn’t Sauber once told their cars could not race in Brazil after they lost some wings (they clamied this was due to a bumpy track)

  118. I haven’t had time to read the 260+ comments so far so I apologise if any questions have already being answered.

    I think the punishment is way too harsh. When I heard on the news that Renault had been suspended from the next Grand Prix my first reaction was what!? The decision seemed to have come out of nowhere as there had been no indication during the race coverage that the incident was even being investigated.

    To say that Renault knowingly released Alonso from the pit stop without the wheel being properly secured is ridiculous, why would Renault purposely ruin a good chance at a podium?

    How many times have we seen a driver try to nurse his car back to the pits when it has some kind of problem? If there has been an official change in policy regarding situations like this because of what happened to Surtees and Massa then I think a public announcement should be made and not just informing the teams in a private meeting.

    Also does anyone know why the stewards decided to investigate Raikkonen’s start after the race, yet at the previous Grand Prix they managed to investigate and punish Webber’s start during the race itself? I thought as the stewards decisions are supposed to be more open this year I may have missed an announcement that had been issued between the two races about a change of policy regarding when an incident at the start should be investigated. Personally I don’t think either start deserved to be punished as they are no different to starts that have been happening for years.

    I think over the past few years F1 stewards have made some really poor decisions, but I think the stewards at this Grand Prix must be among the worst.

    1. To say that Renault knowingly released Alonso from the pit stop without the wheel being properly secured is ridiculous, why would Renault purposely ruin a good chance at a podium?

      Indeed I asked the same question. The answer is “they released the car without fitting the wheel nut retainer

      They might have thought the wheel was on just fine. The car can probably run fine without the extra security, but it doesn’t comply to safety regulations.

      Of course it would also have made sure they detected that the wheel nut was in fact not fastened properly.

      the difference I see between the Raikkonen and Webber penalty is that Webber wa on his own when he rammed Barrichello while Raikkonen was in fact forced into Vettel by Hamilton and Webber coming right.

  119. It is difficult to judge for us of course as we don’t get provided with all of the evidence.

    However in this instance it appears that the FIA are certain that the wheel safety pin was not engaged as a possible result of the wheel nut not being tightened properly (the safety pin locks the wheel nut and prevents it coming off, it cannot be engaged until the nut is on properly)

    The accident involving Hamiltons wheel two years ago highlighted one potential flaw in the design and it is possible that other flaws exist. Hamiltons’ wheel went on and the pin was engaged but the wheel nut was not fully tightened resulting in a small gap causing the wheel to wobble and rub against the brake drum which caused the wheel to fail. The wheel didn’t come off thanks to the pin but the nut was not on properly. The cause of this was found to be a failure of the wheel gun.

    Renault cannot claim that they have a faulty wheel gun as that doesn’t explain why their safety pin was not engaged, which is a manual process. This suggests that they knew the wheel at best didn’t have the pin engaged and at worst had both a loosely fitted nut and a disengaged pin.

    The only way Renault can get out of this is to prove that the safefy pin was engaged but subsequently failed, possibly as a result of the spinner not being in location.

  120. Some insight from someone who’s father has worked in an F1 pitlane…

    1. The safety device on the wheel is the “frisbee” that is now used for aero control. This is one of thereasons why their future is in doubt.

    2. The frisbee is co-located with the wheel nut, but need to be rotated by hand in order to engage with the locking mechanism on the hub (this is very important).

    3. The TV feed is sent to the screens on the pit wall and in the garage (also important).

    So, it seems that the wheelman did not spin and locate the frisbee into the locking mechanism. Did he know? Unknown.

    However, the loose frisbee was seen on the TV feed in turn one and spotted (in the UK at least) straight away by the commentators. My father saw that and said “they’ll call him in straight away”.

    This is the crux – the evidence was there straight away on the video feed. Telemetry would have told them thatthere was no pressure loss on the wheel (each wheel has a transducer transmitting the pressure). There was no excuse for not giving the order to return to pits because the wheel was loose.

    Brawn will probably not have any evidence that the damper from their car was going to come off. There will probably be a build audit sheet as well as a full history of the part. Most likely that will demonstrate that there was no pre-knowledge of the part failing.

    Two very different circumstances. However, Renault should have communicated the issue with their driver and they didn’t.

    I was also interested in why Ferrari were not penalised for the broken exhaust last year. No definative answer, but probably down to the fact that there is less energy in parts such as exhausts, wings, etc, then there is in the wheel. The safety of wheels is specifically covered in the regs, such is the danger involved.

  121. Renault is appealing the penalty: The correct response may be to allow Alonso and Renault to race in Spain and defer the penalty to the race after that. That will satisfy the home crowds and still make the safety point.

    Watching that wheel bounce down the track is convincing enough that a penalty should be imposed, regardless of the circumstances. And a ban for one race also seems appropriate.

  122. YamaMoto GP
    27th July 2009, 18:33

    At last, the FIA do something right!

  123. 1994fanatic
    27th July 2009, 19:47

    Havn’t the last two weekends shown you that loose objects from other cars cause harm? I think the brawns should have been banned from the next gp too. Atleast alonso’s tire didn’t send a driver to the hospital.

  124. ALO and the other drivers were put in danger, is fair to punish REN. But once again the FIA is punishing the drivers for their team mistakes. A (big) fine would be more apropiate

  125. carol treurnicht
    27th July 2009, 20:58

    The FIA are not punishing Renault- they wil save loads of dosh in not having to go to the race……so where is the penalty here? They may have got one or two points in the race but its not big deal reight? No- the driver and the fans are being punished which is why I think the punishment is totally wrong. Fine Renault a thumping fine and/or deduct championship points but they are punishing the wrong people here. That is the point- not whether the team should be penalised or not.

  126. carol treurnicht
    27th July 2009, 21:00

    PS- I also thought that up to now you only got bans for deliberately cheating which is totally different to the situation here……..but even Maccas cheating didn’t get them banned did it?

    1. McLaren didn’t cheat though now did they?

      Renault didn’t install a safety device. That means fielding an illegal car and thus cheating.

      1. Its only cheating if you gain an advantage which safety devices do not provide.

  127. Totally the team and Alonso’s fault – The team could have stopped him before he exited the pits by radio, if not then Alonso would have seen exactly what we saw – a loose wheel on the front right of his car – and should have pulled over and stopped – instead he chose to risk both supporters and Marshalls’ lives – forget what has happened to Surtees and Massa this year – Alonso was around when the Marshall was killed at Melbourne by Villeneuve’s wheel flying off his BAR in 2001 and would have known a Marshall was killed by another flying wheel in Monza in 2000 both as a result of crashes – this was not a crash so the situation was controllable but they refused to do so – GUILTY AS CHARGED

    1. Alonso’s loose wheel wasn’t obvious coming out the pit lane. Not to me anyway.

  128. I am a long time F1 fan that has supported Alonso for many years. To add interest in our household my husband supports Hamilton. After watching from the sofa at home for years and years we have finally saved up to go to Valencia to see the race. I agree that Renault should be punished but I am sorry I feel like it is me that is being punished. I will not see my driver race. I have read every comment and can only one where a driver has actually been banned from a race and that was for driving under black flag conditions. How can this offence even come close to that? Are they going to refund the entrances to all those that bought tickets to see their idol. How would the Hamilton fans be reacting if we were talking about him missing the British Gran Prix for a similar offence. I am hoping that the appeal sees some sense knocked into the officials. Vetel was not barred for his error so why is Alonso and Renault being barred for theirs?

  129. KES- Because of the death of Henry Surtees and the near fatality of Felipe Massa. Kinda changes everyone’e perspective on safety issues, I think.

    If not for the prior two incidents I don’t think there would have been a race ban for Renault.

  130. According to the Spanish press this morning Bernie is pushing for Alonso to be in red for Valencia. Have any of you heard about this?

  131. George K. I agree with you but the fact is that this doesn’t really punish Renault. They are not in the running for world championship this year. They won’t miss the points. Alonso is in the same situation but it does punish the fans who have paid to see him there. Surely there are other penalties that they can impose that don’t punish those fans that have paid to see him.
    Similarly I feel sorry for Massa fans that have paid to see him in Valencia and other races but this was an accident.

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