ING and Mutua Madrilena drop Renault

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Renault won't need its ING or Mutua Madrilena logos this weekend
Renault won't need its ING or Mutua Madrilena logos this weekend

The FIA felt Renault’s deliberate crash in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix was hardly worth punishing.

But two of the biggest names on the teams’ cars no longer wish to be tainted by association with the team’s flagrant act of cheating.

Title sponsors ING jumped ship within hours of Mutua Madrilena abandoning the team. Neither of their logos are expected to remain on the car this weekend.

ING were already going to end their association with the team at the end of the year. But they haven’t gone quietly, issuing a stinging statement leaving no-one in any doubt of why they’ve dumped Renault four races early:

In light of the verdict of the World Motor Sport Council of 21 September 2009 concerning the events that occurred at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, ING will terminate the contract with Renault Formula 1 with immediate effect.

ING is deeply disappointed at this turn of events, especially in the context of an otherwise successful sponsorship.

On the face of it, Mutua Madrilena could be running true to form by leaving the team but remaining with Fernando Alonso. The company did much the same when it left McLaren to join Alonso at Renault in 2008.

The company may now be about to follow Alonso to Ferrari, as it looks increasingly likely the Scuderia will announce him as a driver for 2010. However it’s not hard to see why an insurance company would not want to be associated with a team that deliberately caused a crash.

There has already been vociferous condemnation of the FIA’s weak punishment of Renault from the media and the majority of fans. This is a further indication of how serious Renault’s transgression was, and how the FIA failed to deliver a suitable punishment.

Alonso, meanwhile, has shown no regret for what happened and the team are obviously eager to sweep the matter under the carpet. The FIA are apparently happy to collude with them in this, and spared Alonso an appearance at today’s press conference for drivers. There will be no Renault representative at the teams’ press conference tomorrow either.

When Alonso was tracked down by Autosport’s Jonathan Noble he brushed off a series of questions about the incident and showed a distinct lack of remorse for his ill-gotten victory.

Asked what the trial had done from the reputation of the sport, he said:

I am not an expert of that. I only know what is about me, and what is about this weekend – which is the only thing that really matters.
Fernando Alonso

I had nothing but admiration for Alonso when he railed at the FIA following his patently unjust qualifying penalty at Monza in 2006, famously declaring “F1 is no longer a sport.”

That same sense of sporting integrity now seems to have deserted him. I hope he finds it again soon.

Perhaps the disappearance of two of his team’s major sponsors within hours of him declaring “That is behind us and we move on,” will persuade him that this is a bigger deal than he would like to believe.

Renault Singapore crash controversy

Image via @lukehmuse on Twitter