Renault escape ban for crash (Poll)

2009 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

385 comments on “Renault escape ban for crash (Poll)”

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  1. Sorry to lower the tone, but saw this while searching on YouTube re. crashgate – my, NPJ is mighty fit. He seems to have spent most of his career wandering around the paddock shirtless.

    1. Judging by those photos, either young Nelson has lost his T- shirt, or he suffers from vanity at an industrial scale…

      1. Ha ha – it’s quite funny actually. Don’t think I’ve seen a driver wandering around shirtless before.

  2. I feel this punishment is far too lenient. I mean what the FIA are saying is – we Fined Mclaren $100M because they knew they could get away with punishing Mclaren so hard and knew that Mclaren would rebuild after and still be racing the following year. 12 months down the line the FIA are now going softly softly so not to upset teams.

    Just a thought are the FIA scared of manufactures as strongly pure racing teams?

    1. (Cont)……they should at least retrospectively punish the team for 2008 – Take their constructors points and money away from them – at least take their race constructors points off them for christ sake! Do Renault still get to keep all their constructors prize money? I am sure other teams could think – Its almost worth doing again – just as long as we are not caught out until the following year.

      What if this had been for the championship? This leniency from the FIA almost breads the possibility of this happening again.

      I don’t want to see a racing team leave the sport but Renault should have been put to the sword as strongly as Mclaren and this just smacks of one set of punishment for one team and another set of principles for another.

      Because Renualt made noises they might leave it looks like they have got of lightly.

      Stripping it all down – If Mclaren had moved Ron Dennis out of the way before their hearing then they would have got off equally as likely.

      The common thread here seems to be that the FIA will provide leniency as long as your teams strong leader is disposed off. Basically Max’s personal agenda.

  3. So in the end, no-one got punished for anything.

    Renault get off with a suspended ban… which is as good as giving them nothing. No ban, no fine, no deductions.

    Flav and Symonds don’t get to work in motorsport, big whoop, I’m sure they have many strings to their bows.

    The guy who crashed in the first place is hardly even mentioned.

    McLaren should demand their $100 million back…

    Renault should have had last years poins taken away, and been banned from Formula One. Leaving a nice new team to swoop in and pick up the pieces.

    1. totally agree with you
      Mclaren should demand their 100 million back!

    2. Flav and Symonds don’t get to work in motorsport, big whoop, I’m sure they have many strings to their bows.

      I doubt they could get a job anyway. Imagine you’re recruiting for a big racing team, and one of their CVs lands on your desk. Umm…

    3. … oh and look out for an autobiography or two. I say we give it three months. Any advance on three months?

  4. Despicable. I’m not especially a McLaren fan but it makes my blood boil to see such disparity in punishments. Renault’s crime was far far worse than McLaren’s for Spygate, and yet their punishment was far far lighter. This makes it even more clear (if it were necessary) that the punishment of McLaren was purely politically motivated. I know that some people will say that McLaren kept denying their “crime”, but the fact is that as soon as Ron Dennis found out that Alonso had knowledge of the spying, far from covering it up, he went straight to the FIA.

    Disgusting. The only upside of today is that at least Flavio is gone for good.

  5. “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.”

    So the team is accused of what would generate a list of cirminal counts as long as your arm in any jurisdiction, as well as “compromising” the sport, and they get off scot free.

    There is no point in comparing this favorably to spygate, because the FIA itself in this ruling, has announced that Renault’s behavior was of “unparalled severity.”

    And these arguments that leniency was due becuase FB already got the sack are without any merit. when you hire someone to work as your agent, and they do wrong in the course of their work, you pay the price as well. That is a bedrock and universally recognized principle of fairness in business dealings and public duties that even a child can understand.

    As for Alonso, relying on the little comments that he is innocent, from a ruling establishing that his Singapore win was borne on a farce of “unparalled severity”, is faint praise at best. And, anyway, as we know from spygate, there should be no great haste to exonerate this man from shady affairs. Much more is to come here.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, although I wouldn’t describe Freddie as shady. He is no doubt a tenacious competitor but until I see evidence of his involvement in crashgate, he must be considered innocent despite being the beneficiary.

    2. McLaren got more punishment for “liegate”.

  6. I’m sorry, but this is clearly far too lenient, especially given the severity of this case. Regardless of how quickly the team took the right steps to let go of those employees directly responsible for this scandal, anything but a clear signal that this kind of intended manipulation of the sport will have serious consequences probably won’t achieve anything to prevent anything similar from happening in the future.

  7. Bob Thomas - US
    21st September 2009, 15:29

    All three known to be guilty are gone, Briatore forever, Symonds for five years and Piquet because no team will ever hire him,

    Why punish Alonso without proof. He “could” have known for sure but there is no positive proof. He was not at the meetings for sure. All “evidence” against Alonso is speculation or circumstantial.

    Why punish the team? Past punishments handed out to McLaren were unfair to begin with and have nothing to do with this case. Yes, what happened in Singapore last year was terrible but those who were guilty are gone.

    Now lets get on with racing and hope Renault can survive this scandal. And lets hope the draconian punishments handed down during Mosley’s leadership are now a thing of the past.

    1. “Why punish the team?” – Because Renault benefited from this dishonesty, even though they may not have been a party from it. They won a race because of breaking the rules.

  8. Mussolini's Pet Cat
    21st September 2009, 15:31

    Rather that kick Renault out, I reckon the FIA have made a deal stipulating that Renault MUST stay in F1 for at least a couple more years!!!!

  9. Just seen that the FIA are equalising manufacturers engine performance for 2010.

    So that’s another piece of good news for Renault today. They won’t have to work hard to improve their slow and unreliable engines – everyone else has to bring their down to their standards!

    Tongue in check here, but – do you think this could have been part of the deal between the FIA and Renault to ship Flavio and Symmonds?

    1. Thought initially it would be a win for Renault, except what the FIA really want is for all the other manufacturers to be detuned to match Cosworth’s engines…

      how much will the old homologated Cosworth design be detuned to last 3 race distances…I remember when Williams last used them they were blowing up all the time cause they were trying to run them at 19 or 20 thousand rpm!

  10. Renault have “Concealed” the biggest LIE in the history of motor sport for over an year!! Isn’t that reason enough to punish them more severely??

    The fact is that a FIA official( that too Charlie whiting) was aware of this since last November. There is a lot of difference between a normal lie(like the hamilton one) & a rotten lie. They don’t call it rotten lie for nothing folks. This is the perfect example of a rotten lie. This lie was concealed in some of the most rotten brains of f1 for over a year.

    But in case of the 2007 spying,the matter came to notic only somewhere in mid july & the sentence was pronounced in September.

    The mclaren incident was a clear cut case of witch hunt & I don’t wanna debate further on that.

    This verdict is a joke, its a farce, its blatant bias . Its a public eye wash!!

  11. Hey!……McLaren’s fine was way too high. It started the ball rolling for Ron Dennis to leave McLaren F1. Mosley got what he wanted. End of story.
    Renault’s fine is just about right.
    What do you guys want? Expulsion for Renault from F1 for the next 2 years? (Like they would ever come back if that happened.) 100MM dollar fine? (Like they would continue if that happened.)
    Maybe if they just got out of F1 that team slot could be taken up by another nice small independent team. Like….Piquet Sport! Generic chassis, Cosworth power. In fact, the other Renault powered teams, and the teams wanting to go with Renault next year could go with Cosworth as well. Then we could further narrow the front running teams that actually have a shot at winning every other week. Wouldn’t that be nice?
    Let it go!!
    Maybe when Mosley leaves and if Vantenen gets elected FIA president we can just worry about the RACING in this World Wrestling Federation sport we call F1.

  12. I’m curious about the Symonds ban. If I remember rightly, he was offered immunity on the basis that he was to provide more information. Clearly he didn’t take that immunity, so presumably he didn’t provide more information.

    However the FIA stated that:

    “In determining that such instructions should be effective for a period of five years the World Motor Sport Council has had regard: (i) to Mr. Symonds’ acceptance that he took part in the conspiracy; and (ii) to his communication to the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council that it was to his “eternal regret and shame” that he participated in the conspiracy.”

    It seems to me that Symonds owned up, admitted everything, but refused to accept the immunity that the FIA offered him. In which case, although I strongly condemn his actions, I have to take my hat off to the fact that he realised that what he did was wrong and, instead of accepting immunity, chose to take his punishment for it. For me, that goes a long way to explaining the difference between his and Flav’s punishments.

    Anyway, overall I think this is a fair punishment. The FIA were far too harsh on McLaren back in 2007 and that has set such a big precedent that all recent punishments are considered far too soft. But, looking at it in context, the key players (Briatore and Symonds) have been punished correctly with their respective bans. The team were quite clearly unaware of the plan (I remember reading that even the engineers were questioning Piquet Jr. at the time) and therefore a suspended ban for the team is fair in my opinion – not so much a punishment, but more a warning to those who weren’t involved this time of what to expect if it happens again. Maybe removing Renault from the results of the 2008 Singapore GP and annulling the win would have been good too, but on the whole I think this punishment is about right.

  13. It’s about right. On the evidence available, the only three people involved have now been forced out, with a big black mark against their names. Two of them will never be back in F1; Symonds possibly could return, but not until at least 2015. To miss five years’ technical development, and at his age (he’s 56 now)… I’d be surprised to see him come back either.

    Everyone’s going on about McLaren (I’m a McLaren fan, by the way). They were let off with a suspended sentence after the first hearing, having claimed to have done a full investigation and found no evidence that Ferrari’s data had been used. Then Alonso’s emails and lots more information came out – McLaren had been testing with Ferrari data, and had lied in court, in a big way. The fine was huge, but so was McLaren’s budget. It hurt them but didn’t drive them out of business, and the hugely exciting 2007 drivers’ championship was still allowed to go right to the wire.

    If Renault had been fined or barred from competing again, it would amount to the FIA telling the world that a major car manufacturer is a cheat. There’s no evidence to show that anybody other than Flav, Pat and NPJ was involved in the plot, and I don’t believe anyone else was. The last thing motorsport needs is to disenfranchise one of its biggest global contributors without evidence of corporate wrong-doing.

    Renault, of course, were found guilty of spying in a similar way to McLaren, late in 2007, but were let off – I think that was a terrible decision, but was it taken to avoid dragging F1 through the mud again, at the end of a season which was mired in politics and recriminations rather than sport (just like 08 and 09, as it turns out).

    The better parallel is with the treatment of McLaren after Australia this year. Yes, the offences were of a different magnitude, but there are similarities. The stewards were deliberately misled; lies were told and maintained; those responsible lost their jobs; a suspended sentence was passed. If Renault had their points taken away for Singapore last year (without otherwise altering the race result), alongside their ban (suspended for two years), I feel that would be the most appropriate penalty.

  14. I have to agree with El Gordo’s comment above. The WMSC and FIA need to give serious thought to the punishments they hand out (although I’m pretty sure they don’t hand them out willy-nilly) and must bear in mind the punishments they handed out in the past. They must try to be more consistent or else the whole thing becomes a farce. If you spy on another team, you get a fine of 8 or 9 USD figures. If you meddle with your fuel tank, you get a 2 race ban. If you delibrately try to fix the result of a race and put other drivers and spectators at risk, you get told not to do it again.

    I don’t necessarily agree with the WMSC’s decision, but I can see their logic. Flav, Symonds and NPJ were the main role players, and so flav and Symonds got hefty punishments, but it all seems a bit soft to me.

  15. I don’t get it. Mclaren has done some pretty nasty stuff the last couple of years. But I don’t understand how risking the life of your driver (and others) to fix a race is considered to be better than Mclaren’s lying and stealing.

    If this isn’t the FIA begging Renault to stay in F1, I don’t know what it is.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      21st September 2009, 17:16


  16. FIA (Mosley) wanted Flav out, Flav steps down so Mosley wins and Renualt get off very lightly indeed.
    FIA (Mosley) wanted Dennis out, Dennis doesn’t step down and Mosley loses so McLaren get hammered.

    1. The real winner here is going to be Willy Weber and all the other F1 agents. The likes of Mark Webber, Heikki and Vitali Petrov will all be looking for new agents asap to negotiate their contracts for 2010…

  17. But what does the Suspended sentence really mean.
    Will Renault be keeping this years points?
    Will Renault be able to collect points in 2010 and 2011? And what about drivers associated with the team, or are those considered separate points.
    If they were given a heavy fine like McLaren, then Renault would just leave F1. Maybe they’d stay as an engine supplier.

  18. About the “no fine for Renault” argument, the FIA press release states:

    “Renault F1 made the following points in mitigation:


    – it committed to paying the costs incurred by the FIA in its investigation; and
    – Renault (the parent company, as opposed to Renault F1) committed to making a significant contribution to FIA safety-related projects.

    Seems to me these days were spent negotiating between FIA and Renault the amount of the “significant contribution”, and I think, from the figures rumored, that it can probably be in the same range as McLaren’s fine.

    I think they just didn’t want to put emphasis on this aspect maybe to avoid Renault’s shareholders (and the banks that will lend them money in the near future) to be upset.

    This has the side effect to avoid a “Your fine is bigger than mine” war between F1 supporters.. :)

    1. Didn’t think about that. It will probably come out later on (f1business or some other business source will shed light on it)

  19. Unbelievable…Totally unbelievable. Nelson Piquet Jr has the driving skills to deliberately crash his F1 car on cue and without hurting anybody…unbelievable. And all you people thought he was useless. ;-)

    1. Best comment of the bunch!

    2. Bob Thomas - US
      21st September 2009, 16:26

      I’ve watched the shunt on YouTube and he did a good job. Maybe Nelsino will find work in Hollywood as a stunt driver? :-)

      1. Hollywood as a stunt driver? :-)

        Hahahahahaha!! nice one!

    3. Maybe all those other spins were deliberate practices…

  20. I think they should have at least stripped Renault and Alonso of the win.

    1. My fingers are paining :( I’ve typed that statement at least a dozen times :(

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