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 (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.

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

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  1. TommyB said on 26th July 2009, 19:04

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

  2. 159Tom said on 26th July 2009, 19:06

    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.

  3. vet4snak said on 26th July 2009, 19:13

    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. Damon said on 26th July 2009, 19:13

    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.

    • Patrickl said on 26th July 2009, 23:44

      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 said on 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.

    • 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.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th July 2009, 19:26

        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.

      • John H said on 26th July 2009, 22:54

        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. Daniel said on 26th July 2009, 19:34

    I Think FIA Have To Take Action After Last Week!

  8. Alonso Ferrari said on 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. saab said on 26th July 2009, 19:47

    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?

  10. Oliver said on 26th July 2009, 19:55

    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.

    • dsob said on 29th July 2009, 9:23

      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 said on 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. Louise said on 26th July 2009, 20:00

    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. Brian said on 26th July 2009, 20:07

    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. mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 20:07

    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 ;)

    • mp4-19b said on 26th July 2009, 20:17

      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. Santiago said on 26th July 2009, 20:13

    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.

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