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.

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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)

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  1. The Limit said on 22nd September 2009, 3:58

    To be quite frank, this is the verdict I expected. The comparisons with the McLaren fine were always going to be made, but at the moment in Formula One, the political landscape is on trying to keep teams in the series.
    A huge McLarenesque scale fine would have almost certainly killed off the Renault Formula One team amidst all the bad press, and all the bad car sales and losses the French marque has endured. The FIA, in many ways, have made the best possible move in order to keep Renault in the sport, as an engine supplier and as a team.
    This, however, does not make the matter go away nor does it do anything to repair the damage between Renault and the fans, and other teams in the paddock.
    The death of Henry Surtees in the summer proved, yet again, how dangerous loose tyres and debris can be on a racing circuit. This is a problem that has always been with us, but is even worse on the tight confines of a street circuit.
    For a team, and a so called professional driver, to plan and execute a delibrate crash in order to gain a victory is not only irresponsible, but downright criminal.
    For those who scoff, may I suggest what the reaction to this scandal would have been if someone had have been killed? Forget Imola 1994, forget any tragedy this sport has seen before, it would have tore this sport to pieces and any dignity it had left would have been gone.
    For the likes of Briatore, Symonds and Piquet Jnr, the result would have been possible prison sentences instead of pink slips. It was totally disgusting, deplorable, and against everything F1 and sport stands for.
    Lets not for one minute forget McLaren, and the crime they were found guilty for. To compound matters, they lied and lied and lied in a hopeless attempt at keeping their deceit secret. But in doing so, did not endanger race stewards nor the thousands of fans packed into the stands at Singapore.
    They showed supreme arrogance toward authority, and total disregard to their peers and to sportsmanship, but not towards human life.
    When a team crosses that line, for me, it is not welcome in any sport, regardless of how famous or important it is. $100 million for handling stolen goods compared to nothing for risking the lives of goodness knows how many!
    And when someone does get hurt, I will be here to remind those who ‘claim’ this verdict was in the sports best interest.

    • mp4-19b said on 22nd September 2009, 4:54

      Well said! The best post on the entire forum.
      I think they have gotten away way too lightly. Not only were Renault guilty of cheating, but also flaunted safety rules carelessly. People say that comparing this with the 2007 spygate is unfair & irrelevant. But what else would you compare this with?? Nothing like this has ever been done in the history of motorsport.
      The FIA, if they really cared for the sport should have dealt with Renault more severely, Even if it meant banning them with immediate effect. That would have set the right precedent. A life time ban or at least a long term ban would have ensured that no one would have even dared to think about cheating. But see what’s happened now!! Teams can get away with outrageous cheating as long as a “FEW” top brass heads roll.

      FIA have set a wrong precedent imo.

  2. bwells said on 22nd September 2009, 4:24

    Wow… 300+ rerponses… sorry I don’t have the time to read them all… lol… my 2 bits worth… yes it seems like a light sentence but really should Renault be punished for the wrong doings of 3 people? Flav and Pat are done for awhile… yes I think the Flav will be back one day… and Nelson who’s ultimate decision it was to put himself and everyone else in harm get’s off scott free.. that one is mind boggling… Jr will never be a great racer like his Dad and I think his performance has shown that so I can’t see him getting a ride soon unless Dadddy buys a team for him.. So really this was not a shock to me at all…

    Let’s put this mees behind us and carry on with the season… and look forward to a 19 race schedule next year!!!

    Cheers all…. :)

    • mp4-19b said on 22nd September 2009, 4:43

      should Renault be punished for the wrong doings of 3 people

      Of course not, but certainly for employing them ;)

      • bwells said on 23rd September 2009, 1:37

        I agree if they kept them employed knowing what they did… but if they had no knowledge… that’s a tough one… :)

  3. mp4-19b said on 22nd September 2009, 4:42

    If I were to be the Prime Minister of Singapore, I would have extricated these three idiots & put them in jail!!

  4. Not really a suprise- the FIA saw that the main guilty parties were evicted and that was pretty much it. I still think any driver who crashes on purpose deserves to have their Super License pulled, but they let Nelson off easy on that one.

  5. Oliver said on 22nd September 2009, 5:37

    The FIA and WMSC can find a much cheaper way to have a gathering just to have a cup of tea.

  6. I haven’t read all of the comments posted here, but I have to agree with the sentiment of the majority. My thoughts follow.

    I think Briatore and Symmonds got what they deserve.

    I think Renault’s suspended sentence is fair – taking them out of the competition altogether would not be good to the sport – but for them also not to be fined and/or have constructors points deducted is a joke! Also I think the wording of the decision, with another offence having to be ‘comparable’, means any future decision would be too subjective.

    Piquet’s immunity might seem unfair to some, but he will get punished in other ways – don’t ever expect him to ever be given a high level role in a top team. He has shown he can be too easily bent and nobody likes a snitch.

    Alonso could not be proven to be involved, so I don’t think he deserves any punishment. You could maybe take the points off him he earned in Singapore in 2008, so instead of finishing 5th last year he’d finish 7th – not really much of a punishment anyway, and you can’t start shuffling other driver’s points around, because that just get’s too complicated and points positions affecting driver motivation for the races between Singapore and Brazil.

  7. billwah said on 22nd September 2009, 7:01

    ….So let me get this right………

    If renault don’t cheat anymore (as they shouldn’t) or break anymore major rules (as they shouldn’t), then the net result of this punishment is:………….No effective punishment! Nothing! Nada!

    Max Mosley you have shown you are more interested in getting into bed with the teams than upholding the rules you claim to stand up for.

    You are truly a ridiculous head of this sport.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 22nd September 2009, 8:16

      Ok, make no mistake, Renault have been made to suffer in this whole affair more than anybody else. It had 2 rogue employees, who acted without consideration for the sport, safety or integrity for the company for which they were employeed. The brand damage to Renault is enormous, the whole of Renaults ethics has been called into question globally because of a couple of individuals. They are and will suffer enormousley, more so than any sanction that can be applied by the WMSC. If people feel anger at this decision then it should be directed at the Piquet family, they have manipulated the entire situation to obtain revenge in a personal vendetta. If they cared for the sport, or the company that gave Nelson his chance, or the fans who dig deep time after time to support the sport, or even the sponsors that meet the exhorborant wage demands and supply the lavish lifestyles, he would have come forward long ago, and without trying to hide behind immunity. It is their behaviour that has cost the image of the sport so badley, and yet I read a post on nelson jr web-site yesterday and he asks for forgiveness, FFS OMG, he actually thinks people will think its ok because Flavio was giving him a hard time. And as for his father, triple world champ, not in my eyes anymore, I will always look at him as a bitter individual who cared less for the sport than his own petty personal mission. If you feel angry about any of this, then direct it at the Piquets, or Flavio and Pat, but to blame Renault or the FIA/WMSC is pointless.

      • I could not agree more. Good insight, good post.

      • Dave F. said on 22nd September 2009, 11:50

        It had 2 rogue employees

        No, there were three of them!

      • Jav1900 said on 23rd September 2009, 16:38

        That is complete tripe – How many people do you need to say that it was Renault who committed the crime.

        These individuals were appointed by Renault to serve Renault as stewards of the racing team and therefore they were Renault.

        Renault were happy enough collecting the points and money and publicity when they were winning

        In the real world if a CEO and and his deputy concocted an illegal activity which they got the company to perform then that company would be held responsible (it is likely that the the CEO and deputy would also face sanctions). It is only right that Renault face the pain because they created the machine which made the plan happen.

        If the FIA/WMSC want to be taken seriously as unbiased and fair then they need to act more consistently i.e. treat their favourite teams (Renault, Ferrari) the same as their disliked teams (McLaren).

        Despite cheating and endangering the life of other drivers, stewards, and fans they received a suspended sentence. They even retained the points they achieved by fixing the race – ?????? how can that be fair punishment.

        Lets be clear the FIA/WMSC did everything they could to retain Renault in F1 while being seen to slap them on the wrist – the two yr suspended sentence is a joke i.e. As long as they don’t cheat by crashing a car at Singapore in the next 2 years then they should be alright.
        No financial penalty – McLaren lost all the points awarded to them 2007 (and therefore a share of the F1 pot) and were fined in millions. They were fined $100m because Mike Coughlan (a rogue employee-that rings a bell) had a Ferrari manual.

        Whilst fining was necessary in that case the excessive amount was designed to drive McLaren out and destabilise their hunt for the 2007 crown in favour of Ferrari.

        So please understand that until F1 puts into place proper, fair, unbiased and consistent courts and judgments then these cases will continue to damage the sport. It is the sports chief’s who damage the sport.

        Blaming Piquet doesn’t wash – fool he may be and using these events for his own purposes doesn’t absolve the bigger players and the system.

    • It’s well-known that I have no great love for Max Mosley, but ridiculous isn’t a term I’d apply to him. However, since none of the terms I would apply can be printed in this blog, I won’t mention them.

      But by no means should you think Mosley has “gotten into bed” with any team. Especially not a manufacturer. Mosley has always hated the manufacturers, and has always worked to undermine them and get rid of them.

      The following quote comes from a post a bit further down, posted by steph90, and my reply here can be a reply to him as well.

      With the FIA though, it’s personal. I bet they even knew why they were summonded apart from to get rid of Flavio. Their thorough and detailed investigation was simply to get Flav. The FIA knew since last year, yet nothing was done.

      If that were true, if this whole thing had been only an effort driven by Mosley to get rid of Briatore, believe me, it would have surfaced far earlier this year. Mosley could have used this in May to destroy not only Briatore but FOTA as well.

      So, while FiA may have had some suspicions, I believe they honestly felt there was insufficient evidence to begin an investigation. After all, Piquet Sr talking to Whiting was third-party information, and at that time Piquet Jr was still walking the company line and would say nothing about it.

      When FiA did have sufficient and probable cause to launch an investigation, they did so.

      I can’t see that any of this was Mosley getting into bed with the teams, nor can I see it motivated only as a witch-hunt against Briatore.

      • that post ….up there ^^^ … WAS to have been in reply to billwah’s post, above Big’s

        don’t know how it got where it did

      • Bigbadderboom said on 22nd September 2009, 9:35

        Agreed, the question for me is the immunity for the Piquets, there must have been ways in which to force a testamony without so quickly offering him the immunity. It grates me that the pair have walked away from this.

  8. steph90 said on 22nd September 2009, 7:38

    The few people who caused it are not the only ones who have damaged the sport, it is the FIA also.
    A man deliberatly crashed, risking lives of others surely that is criminal?
    With the FIA though, it’s personal. I bet they even knew why they were summonded apart from to get rid of Flavio. Their thorough and detailed investigation was simply to get Flav. The FIA knew since last year, yet nothing was done.
    The scandal was that a foolish boy crashed a car to please his bosses, the tragedy is that nothing will be learned and there is no justice at all.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 22nd September 2009, 9:29

      I think that honestly Steph the percepition isn’t neccesaraly the truth here, although it may look like a Flavio witch hunt the fact it has taken so long to come in front of the WMSC indicates otherwise. The truth is Flavio is 100% responsible as team principle, and Renault are in part also victim to Flavios actions, the Piquets are compliant and in effect guilty as well, so the FIA mistake is in offering them immunity. The question is wether there was enough evidence to nail Flavio with no chance of appeal without the statement from Nelson, or could the statement be extracted in any other way without offering immunity. For me this is the only miscarriage of justice.

      The scandal was that a foolish boy crashed a car to please his bosses, the tragedy is that nothing will be learned and there is no justice at all.

      The foolish boy is a multimillionaire adult with the world at his feet and a father who has seen it all before and should have advised his son correctly. As for nothing being learned, I will differ with that in that perhaps the lesson to be learnt is for manufacturers to be more observant in their teams activities. If Renault are guilty of anything then it’s neglegence in letting Flavio have complete control of one of their prime assets, but hindsight is a wonderful thing, so lessons should be learned.

  9. I don’t know why pat symonds would destroy his reputation by getting involved ,i always thought he was good at his job.
    Now he’s will be remembered for this .
    Briatore has always been a chancer , his arrogance is assuming no one would catch him .
    Any man who wears a thong …

    • Dave F. said on 22nd September 2009, 11:59

      …his arrogance is assuming no one would catch him .

      It’s worse than that.
      His arrogance is assuming everybody would believe him when it did come out.

      How Briatore/Symonds could think it would stay hidden is beyond me.

  10. steph90 said on 22nd September 2009, 9:46

    Bigbadderboom you have made me change my mind somewhat, though I still think Piquet should have been punished and severely but at least Flavio got what he deserved. I don’t think Renault as a team should have been punished, though they have been a bit thick to not no any of this and / or let one man run a dictatorship.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 22nd September 2009, 11:34

      Agreed, and that was the power of the man, and part of what has enivitably lead to this mess. perhaps rather than simply continue to apply pressure to Flavio and the Renault F1 team to get results, Renault should have been more proactive in the teams running. It was a mistake to give complete autonomy to Flavio, but that is the lesson to be learnt.

  11. I believe FIA think the punishment is literally based upon the size of the people committing the crime. If McLaren had been in danger of leaving F1 forever, their punishment would’ve been tiny.

    • Jav1900 said on 23rd September 2009, 16:44

      Rubbish – in 2007 the judgement was designed to drive McLaren out $100m is not peanuts.

      Ron Dennis publicly capitulated to Max and thats what saved McLaren nothing else.

      Max would have been over the moon if they left.

  12. jack koh said on 24th September 2009, 10:25

    Money is the root of all evil .. renault willing to pay for the cost of investigation and sponsor the safety programme set by the FIA.

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