Renault escape ban for crash (Poll)

2009 F1 season

Renault ony received a suspended sentence for causing a crash in Singapore

Renault ony received a suspended sentence for causing a crash in Singapore

The FIA used strong words to describe how Renault conspired to cause a deliberate crash to win the Singapore Grand Prix. It said:

The World Motor Sport Council considers Renault F1?s breaches relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity. Renault F1?s breaches not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself. The World Motor Sport Council considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship.

But it has not banned Renault from a single race nor stripped them of its position in the 2008 championship, nor fined them. Instead the team has received a “suspended punishment” which will last until the end of 2011.

Renault's punishment is:

  • Far too harsh (2%)
  • Too harsh (2%)
  • About right (25%)
  • Too soft (33%)
  • Far too soft (39%)

Total Voters: 2,993

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Presumably this lenient punishment was designed in the hope that Renault will remain in F1 until 2011, instead of leaving in disgrace as many feared it would.

The FIA claimed it reduced the punishment because Renault had conducted its own internal investigation into the crash and taken reasonable steps.

The individual culprits, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, have in effect been barred from competing in FIA-sanctioned events – Briatore for an unlimited period, Symonds for five years. As the FIA cannot punish them directly, as the pair are no longer represented by licence holders, the regulatory body has achieved this by vowing not to sanction events in which the two compete for the respective periods.

The FIA specifically stated that no-one beyond Briatore, Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jnr were involved:

As regards Fernando Alonso, the World Motor Sport Council thanks him for cooperating with the FIA?s enquiries and for attending the meeting, and concludes that Mr. Alonso was not in any way involved in Renault F1?s breach of the regulations.

The full verdict is here and the FIA will shortly publish further details. What do you make of Renault’s punishment, or lack of it?

Renault Singapore crash controversy

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385 comments on Renault escape ban for crash (Poll)

  1. Arun.India said on 21st September 2009, 14:48

    This is the stupidest punishment i have heard .Suspended ban is nothing but letting them go free.Not even a once race ban.The mclaren spying incident was much lighter offence than this one and these words are coming from a hard core ferrari fan.

    • Arun.India said on 21st September 2009, 14:50

      But flavios punishment is alrite no regrets in that…

      • Bigbadderboom said on 21st September 2009, 17:08

        And it was Flavio and Pat Synmonds who committed the offences, why punish the parent company?? And i wish people would stop comparing the McLaren incident and this, they are two very different things in very different circumstances.

  2. verstappen said on 21st September 2009, 14:48

    I think justice has been done. Especially if you look at the punishment for Briatore.

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 20:43

      Oh how I love the line that explains how any driver managed by Briatore will not be reissued a superlicence. No more 20%s Flav!

  3. This was expected, very sad day for F1. Not to be taken seriously and most important of all, do not waste your money on it. I might watch if I have nothing better to do, but will no longer attend any races or spend one single penny on this so call sport. Disgraceful.

  4. It is a very soft punishment. But I can’t seem to blame FIA for this one. They somehow stopped a team from leaving the sport, which is important considering the larger picture.

    A mixed bag really.

    • just me said on 21st September 2009, 19:54

      I do blame FIA for this: Why was there no serious investigation right after the race in 2008? All the ‘hard’ evidence (the technical data and voice recordings) were available then as they were now. Suspicions were raised even during the race by various reporters and other teams.

      Who is punishing FIA for not doing its job of governance?

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 20:47

      They somehow stopped a team from leaving the sport, which is important considering the larger picture.

      Oh yeah! Let’s have a grid full of cheating teams! We could see how many cheats they can commit during a single race. Back in the Benetton days they could manage two or three, perhaps an extra one if it was a title-decider! Who needs integrity and honesty when we can have back-stabbing, dirty dealing and race fixing! All adds to the intrigue and excitement innit!!

  5. Dr. Mouse said on 21st September 2009, 14:53

    To those saying “A big fine or bans would scare Renault off”: So? Yes, it may be ‘bad for the sport’, but rules are rules. This develops (or rather extends, in the FIAs case) the “one rule for some, another for the others” mentality, which is worse for the sport. They should be punished based upon the ‘crime’, not on the consequences of the punishment.

    As for the rest, yes, Flav and Symonds quit, but that was not (at least officially) the action of the team. Personally I find it difficult to beleive that noone else knew anything, but I have no evidence. In the end, I consider this a little too lenient, and probably motivated more by politics than anything else. A fair punishment would have been at least a fine in the millions, a race ban AND this suspended permanent ban.

    Only my oppinion of course, but I’m entitled to that :P

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 21st September 2009, 15:38

      I think I agree, Dr Mouse.
      But I never really epxected any dramatic penalty and certainly no revelations today. Once Pat ‘n’ Flav had gone and Team Renault admitted responsibility, there was no prospect of a real investigation and exposé.
      Rather it was a damage limitation exercise for Renault and a political fudge from the FIA so as not to upset Renault itself.
      Pathetic really.

    • It would also be bad for the hundreds of highly specialised staff who work for Renault F1, being made redundant during a global financial crisis that has hit the motor industry particularly hard.

      It sickens me how many of you are baying for the blood of Renault F1 when there are real people who were not complicit who would be the only ones to suffer.

  6. I’m not going to vote on the poll because I’m not certain whether the punishment is too soft or too hard, but it certainly is too inconsistent. Thanks for that FIA.

    • maybe the best post till now

    • What’s inconsitent ?

      When McLaren claimed the Ferrari information had not been seen by any other than the chief designer, not been used, and that said designer had been suspended, they got away with no punishment at all, not even a suspended one.
      When they were caught lying to the stewards, they got a suspended 3 races ban.

      Looks like as long as you’re fully open in front of the WMSC, and show you’re taking actions to prevent the event from happening again, you have a chance to get away without much damage. So far only McLaren has been caught lying to the WMSC, so we have yet to see if another team would be punished the same way.

    • Bezackly ! If you come down on one team like a tonne of bricks, then you must do it to all the others. FIA is playing favourite child, again.

  7. Considering the FIA said the offence was of “unparalleled severity” I think the punishment given to Renault is too soft, they are saying it is the worst crime committed in F1 but all they get is a suspended sentence and pay legal costs of the FIA.

    For spying McLaren got a $100m fine and excluded from the championship and for having an underweight car because of their dodgy fuel tank BAR got a two race ban, and for lying earlier this year McLaren and Hamilton were disqualified from the race in question and given suspended race ban.

    I think by looking at the punishments handed out we can see that the main target was Briatore and having given him a lifetime ban from having anything to do with motorsport they couldn’t let Symonds off.

  8. mp4-19b said on 21st September 2009, 14:56

    Renault are the Luckiest @#$%&* F1 TEAM IN THE PADDOCK

    ———> Let off in J-damper gate
    ———> let off in Tyre-gate
    ———> let off in crash-gate

    If you go back to their Benetton days(same bunch ‘o’ people)

    illegal traction control
    illegal fuel rig
    illegal wing etc etc


    • The Beard said on 21st September 2009, 15:17

      + fuel cooling (the FIA couldn’t do anything because they didn’t measure ambiant temp which the rules required)

    • It always helps to be a close personal friend of Bernie.

      • If you actually read the FiA statement fully, you will see that friendship with Bernie apparently did Briatore little good in this instance.

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 20:54

      Renault couldn’t be “punished” for the tuned mass damper, you fool. It was a technical gadget that was outlawed mid-season. It stretched the rules a bit too far, but that is what the technical innovation in F1 is all about.

      It would have been daft to punish Renault for the loose wheel at Hungary. No team would release their car in the knowledge that a wheel would fall off a few corners later.

      However a funny thing about the Hungary incident is that you can buy a 1/18th scale model of Fernando’s Renault F1 car that raced at Hungary, and manufactured by Hot Wheels! Simply brilliant. It’s not the 2009 model though, because it has four wheels. Click here.

  9. neracer said on 21st September 2009, 14:57

    The FIA & WMSC may as well have a slogan on their headed paper “Down with McLaren, Tolerate the rest”. What a load of rubbish. And suddenly Alonso, one of the most cunning drivers who always knows how to exploit events in a race, is very naive and had no idea that all this was going on.????

    F1 is like pop music, constantly curtailing it’s natural and creative direction to cater for the imagined public taste! Eugh! Reminds me of ‘The Jam’ – “the public wants what the public gets”.

    Anyway, rant over. I’m gonna watch F1 next year and if it continues in this vein, I’m giving it up!

    • mp4-19b said on 21st September 2009, 15:01

      It has always been & will always be:

      McLaren VS FIA,WMSC,FOM & rest of the thugs.

    • S Hughes said on 21st September 2009, 15:02

      Well said! If you’re McLaren, you don’t stand a chance. If you’re not, anything goes, cheat away. Teflon man rides again.

      • You two are hilarious!

        That said the penalty was too soft – they desrve some sort of monetary fine, but not in the league of Macca’s.

        • Martin said on 22nd September 2009, 1:50

          I am not a mclaren disciple but they are not far from the truth. The fia and all the other groups are definetely anti mclaren.

  10. Kevanfolan said on 21st September 2009, 15:02

    Well thank god that Briatore is gone. That cheating little fecker. Disgrace he was even still in the sport.

  11. S Hughes said on 21st September 2009, 15:05

    Keith, I’d love you to stick your neck above the parapet and tell us what you really think, whether you think it’s fair or not.

  12. A great opportunity for Keith to hold a competition in the closed season. Competitors must work out the most sophisticated means by which a team can cheat despite being forbidden to crash “in a similar manner” for two seasons. e.g. Burning down the pits is too symplistic and laxative in the drinks bottles too uncouth.
    So we were able to get Ron with a hard fine because he was a team owner, then Flav with banishment now who is left? Luca? Who else do we suspect for setting up the News of The World in bumgate?

  13. The Beard said on 21st September 2009, 15:11

    I think it is a soft punishment – but perhaps thats ok. (Flabio got fully banned though which is quite solid)

    I would have liked to have seen an (at least) symbolic removal of Alonso’s win though. Perhaps just removing Renault from the 08 championship results in the history books.

  14. In FIA’s own words:

    “The World Motor Sport Council considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship”

    Yet they walk away with with a “don’t do it again”, not even proper spanking.
    If they deserve “permanent disqualification”, the possibility that too severe a fine would make them leave the championship should be a tolerable risk, one would think.

    What a farce!

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 20:58

      The FIA doesn’t get involved in spanking any more. At least not without Women A, B and C signing a confidentiality agreement.

  15. Also, plz stop saying Massa would have been champion…
    if if if..

    If this didn’t happen he might have made a stupid crash.. or this or that..
    As Lewis said, he drove his races with the results that where there!

  16. What this is about is probably saving Mosley’s skin and, as with the dubious ‘not guilty’ over the McLaren disks to Renault affair, trying to create divisions between the teams.

    Charlie Whiting was informed last year. When did he inform Mosely? If it wasn’t within a week or two he should be sacked. If it was, as I suspect, before this season, why did Mosely not act? For whatever reason, the delay in action is not only inexcusable, but has influenced the penalty.

    A penalty of any severity would drive Renault out if F1, certainly next year and probably with immediate effect if it involved race bans. Renault would thus no longer be a member of FOTA, and FOTA could go to town on Mosley’s failure to take earlier action.

    Instead, while Renault remain in F1 and FOTA, complaints against Renault from the other teams would cause divisions, so I don’t expect there to be much of an outcry from them. I thought yesterday the smart money was on losing last year’s money and everything quickly swept under the carpet… but this is beyond even what I expected. Perhaps if Ron had stepped down immediately McLaren could have saved themselves $100 million…

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 21:05

      Get real. It doesn’t matter who goes telling tales to Uncle Max, if they don’t have proof, then an investigation cannot begin. Little Piquet decided to keep schtum for nearly a year, finally blabbing when he got the boot. NPJ is to blame for the delay, no-one else.

      Stuff Renault. The team’s management decided the best way of competing in a Grand Prix was to stage a potentially dangerous accident to bag themselves an undeserved win. They deserved a good slap today but managed to get off.

  17. Clare msj said on 21st September 2009, 15:16

    I think it is about right – although maybe a fine possibly should have been issued as it doesnt really match previous penalties for others.

    Thing is with this one though, I dont think Renault as a team is to blame so much, it is more the actions of a couple of individuals, and those individuals have all been punished one way or another. The incident was a one off, not a longer running thing like the spy stuff, or BAR’s fuel tank – and although the points will have affected the titles in the long run, it was essentially an isolated incident.

    I’m not sure a race ban would have been…relevant is the wrong word..but what i mean is the incident happened last year – therefore i dont think it should directly affect this year – its a completely seperate campaign. Nor should it change last years result (not that it can be changed, so it is academic) but Alonso wasnt the only one who benefitted from the safety car, and without rerunning the whole race again, you will never get a true result from that race as so much got affected.

    I still feel for Piquet in this – you wouldnt carry out a request like that if you werent under some serious pressure. And he is going to struggle to shake off that reputation and continue in his career now. briatore wasnt just his boss, but his manager too – extra pressure. I wish him luck in the future – i would like to seem him get another shot at F1 with a team who actually want him to be there.

    • Clare.
      Young men from NATO of Piquet’s age are serving honourably in Afghanistan and taking a harsh responsibility every day, risking their lives sometimes for their comrades.
      Piquet could have had one of his normal crashes down an escape road to solve his dilemma or just say no once he had his evidence. His Daddy could have talked to Max just the same.

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 21:09

      I still feel for Piquet in this – you wouldnt carry out a request like that if you werent under some serious pressure.

      Pressure to get your contract renewed? Greed at wanting to play at racing cars for another year before everyone realises you’re a useless driver? If Piquet had revealed this charade before he was sacked then I would have a lot more respect for him. And as CJD says, he wasn’t really under “pressure.” He wouldn’t know the meaning of the word.

  18. mp4-19b said on 21st September 2009, 15:17

    Now the interesting question would be as to whether Flavio will contest his ban? He’s not the type to quietly ride into the sunset. He’ll seek his revenge. He’s an Italian, that too a fat one :) He’ll not give up, I’m sure of it.

    • What’s being Italian and fat got to do with it?

    • Bigbadderboom said on 21st September 2009, 20:18

      Apparently he was talking to Bernie and was saying he didnt want to get old and still be playing with racing cars. Maybe he will just call it a day, sell all the interests that he is no longer allowed to own and retire in disgrace.
      More to the point, has Prost been confirmed as new Renault team principle yet?

  19. Patrickl said on 21st September 2009, 15:19

    Apart from the farcical “stern speaking too” as a punishment for Renault, what about:
    – All the leaks?
    – FIA letting this sit for months?

    No explanation or apology from the WMSC for that?

    • mp4-19b said on 21st September 2009, 15:23

      Why wasn’t Charlie Whiting present? Wasn’t he the one to whom Piquet Sr confided last year at Interlagos?

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 21:12

      NPJ letting this sit for months?

      Fixed that for you.

      • Patrickl said on 21st September 2009, 21:48

        Well that was sort of explained with the immunity and all.

        Besides Mosley was keen to blackmail the McLaren drivers to hand over evidence against McLaren. Why didn’t he do that to Piquet?

        Still, I was wondering more why FIA didn’t explain or apologize for their negligent handling of this case.

  20. I at least expected a fine close to what MacLaren faced.

    What a complete joke. Renault get awya with it, as does Alonso.

    If the cars had been silver, I wonder what the punishment would have been..

    • probably the same…the silver team has gotten away with a lot….

      all three of the teams that have won the past 11 championships (Ferrari, McLaren, Renault) have gotten away with a ton of BS…

      It’s nice to know that none of these three teams are going to win this year, just for a change of pace really.

      • Patrickl said on 21st September 2009, 21:49

        Yeah luckily now the team that found a loophole in the regs and got away with it is going to win. Much better.

        • Martin said on 22nd September 2009, 2:10

          Remeber that Ross Brawn himself told the OWG9who he was a memeber of) that the was a flaw in the regulations and that it would be exploited by several teams. He was right and his as well as Williams and Toyota all exploited the rule.
          You cannot blame the teams for exploiting the rule especially when it was brought to their attention way ahead of tome.

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