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. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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?

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. S Hughes said on 21st September 2009, 15:19

    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.

    • Ned Flanders said on 21st September 2009, 15:48

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

      • S Hughes said on 21st September 2009, 16:04

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

  12. stjoslin said on 21st September 2009, 15:19

    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?

    • stjoslin said on 21st September 2009, 15:20

      (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.

  13. 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.

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

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 21:15

      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…

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 21:17

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

  14. 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.

  15. “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.

    • Nitpicker said on 21st September 2009, 21:24

      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.

    • Patrickl said on 21st September 2009, 21:51

      McLaren got more punishment for “liegate”.

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