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”

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

  2. 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…

  3. 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

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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??

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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’.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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,

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

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

    But given the current problems in OWR it is unsurprising

  20. 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…… 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.

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