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

2009 F1 season

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 (2%)

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.

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

  1. mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 18:01

    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.

  2. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th July 2009, 18:01

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

    • ceedas said on 27th July 2009, 8:22

      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.

  3. Leah said on 26th July 2009, 18:02

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

    • 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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th July 2009, 18:07

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

    • dsob said on 29th July 2009, 8:19

      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.

  4. Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 18:03

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

  5. Sriram said on 26th July 2009, 18:04

    @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.

  6. Austin said on 26th July 2009, 18:04

    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.

  7. Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 18:06

    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.

  8. Daniel said on 26th July 2009, 18:09

    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?

  9. Mark Hitchcock said on 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.

  10. Chris said on 26th July 2009, 18:13

    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.

    • Leah said on 26th July 2009, 18:16

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

      As an FA fan, it still sucks, though!

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 26th July 2009, 18:18

      Exactly.

    • Tiomkin said on 26th July 2009, 18:25

      At last, a balanced view point.

    • redbird said on 26th July 2009, 23:22

      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?

  11. Lynn said on 26th July 2009, 18:13

    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.

  12. An absolute joke.

  13. Austin said on 26th July 2009, 18:14

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

  14. Leah said on 26th July 2009, 18:15

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

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th July 2009, 18:32

      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.

      • Leah said on 26th July 2009, 18:51

        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!

        • gabal said on 26th July 2009, 20:53

          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.

    • Paige Michael-Shetley said on 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.

  15. Austin said on 26th July 2009, 18:16

    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.

    • 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.

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