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RENAULT BANNED FROM EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX
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RENAULT BANNED FROM EUROPEAN GRAND PRIX
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Jul 2009   |  8:01 pm GMT  |  122 comments

Renault have been banned from next month’s European Grand Prix after Fernando Alonso’s right-front wheel came off during today’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

The ban means the Spaniard will now miss his home race on the streets of Valencia.

Alonso had been leading the race from pole position when he emerged from his first pit stop without his right-front wheel sufficiently fitted. Alonso tried to recover to the pits, however the wheel freed itself and bounced off into the barriers.

The penalty is very severe and probably would not have been given had the Henry Surtees and Felipe Massa incidents not happened recently. But in this climate of heightened sensitivity to flying objects, the stewards felt that by allowing the car to continue until the wheel came loose, Renault had not taken sufficient regard for safety.

However, to penalise Mark Webber with a drive through last week and not hit Kimi Raikkonen with a similar penalty for his actions at the start today when he made contact with Sebastian Vettel seems inconsistent.

Renault have appealed the decision with a hearing likely to take place during the four week summer break.

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122 Comments
  1. In my view it sounds like a great and convenient way to allow Alonso to break his contract early and join Ferrari.

    1. Don says:

      Interesting idea… I wonder could Alonso make the jump to Ferrari now… Massa will be out for the rest of the season…. so the seat is vacant…

    2. MichaelC says:

      There has been some speculation that because of the holiday period the appeal will not be heard until after Valencia. This would allow Reanult to race under appeal. If Renault then loose the appeal it might ‘free’ alonso from his contract to take up any vacant seat at Ferrari.
      It was interesting that Flavio would not give a clear answer to if Alonoso would be racing at Renault next year (before the race). Instead he said they were operating on a race-by-race basis.
      Much would depend on what exactly is in Alonso’s contract.

      1. And if you also consider that if Renault lose an appeal they could receive a harsher penalty, it all plays into Alonso’s hands!

  2. Andy Gibson says:

    I think the Webber and Raikkonen incidents were very different. Mark was effectively in clear air, while Kimi was looking for space in a pack.

    As far as Renault goes, I think they were really irresponsible to keep the car running with an obvious lose tyre. Having said that I think the penalty is over the top. I think a suspended ban would have been appropriate – or at worst a grid penalty for Alonso in Valencia.

    1. Rich says:

      I agree with Andy here – I think Kimi got boxed in somewhat. In the case of Mark he moved across very deliberately to prevent being overtaken. Webber’s move therefore had far more premeditation about it so they are not as similar as they might at first appear.

      1. vicki says:

        I agree that not to penalise kimi for the vettel coming together was correct, however we all seem to have forgotten that there was a potentially far more dangerous event just after they all started coming down towards the first corner when kimi veered violently across the track nearly taking Hamilton out. That in my view was akin to the Webber incident at the last GP, where webber was given a drive through. In my opinion the same penalty should have been applied to Kimi. Simply because he didnt push hamilton off the track was to Hamiltons credit and skill and the fact that Kimi didnt cause an accident, should not have excluded his actions from being given the drive through penalty.

      2. Andy Gibson says:

        I think there are far far too many penalties for “racing incidents” in F1 at the moment. Drivers should be encouraged to race, not fear that if a move does not come off exactly as planned they will get penalised.

        “Professional fouls” should be penalised, but a bit of wheel banging has always been part of the sport and should not be legislated out of it. If a driver can’t fight for their place on the track, and needs to win their battles in the stewards office, then they should not be in F1 imo.

        The worst incident of the weekend imo was RBR’s release of Webber into Kimi’s path. The Williams team could have gone down like skittles if they had touched.

    2. JT says:

      I think the big inconsistence here was not punishing Red Bull for unsafe pit release of Mark Webber in the path of Kimi.

      As Andy states above Webber and Raikonen incidents were completely different.

  3. Robert McKay says:

    Inconsistent.

    That’s the word here, isn’t it? The inconsistencies between Webber/Raikkonen’s incidents, both in terms of the final outcome and in the way they were dealt with (Webber’s decided during the race, Kimi’s afterwards).

    The Renault penalty would not have been anything like as harsh had it happened two weeks ago. It might be justified but it’s not really consistent.

    Inconsistent.

    1. Racing not Politics says:

      agreed

  4. Aaron cooper says:

    Renault got what they deserved, however I can see the ban becoming a suspended ban. What I think is crazy is that red bull got away with let webber amost collide with kimi

    1. Rich says:

      I agree Aaron with you on the Red Bull incident – especially as they did the same in the last race. The team should have got a fine at the very least. The Renault penalty is harsh for the drivers but it was inexcusable so you are probably right about it being deserved.

    2. Dominic J says:

      Have to agree with Aaron here. Webber’s dangerous pitlane release was far worse than those that used, routinely, to be penalised. Since the Massa incident in Valencia last year, have stewards decided it is no longer a punishable offence?

      On Renault: Exceptionally dangerous. Remember that Vettel got a 10 place penalty for driving an unsafe car in Melbourne, this car was more dangerous, so quite rightly, the penalty is serious.

      1. Raj says:

        I just wonder why was the same rule not applied for Kimi in France last year! If my brain serves me right, he was going round the track with a detached exhaust.

      2. PT says:

        As Martin Brundle pointed out in commentary, there was no contact between Webber and Kimi AND Webber lost the place which the stewards seemed to deem punishment enough. Felipe was released in the path and ahead of Sutil and (whether lapping him or not) gained from it.

      3. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Complete agreement with you all. It makes no sense to me that F1 should have so many pit stop problems, period. After all, and correct me if I’m wrong, unlike other series, there’s no limit to the number of crew over the wall. That in itself is (I’ll be polite) questionable and dangerous.

        I can understand an equipment failure. But to deliberately release a car KNOWING of the equipment problem? Sorry. The punishment fits the crime.

      4. Patrickl says:

        For the incident with Sutil the team got a fine and a reprimand.

        Massa was only punished when he had a second unsafe release later in the season.

  5. Manos says:

    Thank you for the quick and accurate report James.

    I do not know but I feel that this ‘suspension’ could trigger an option in Alonso’s contract, so that he could switch to another team ASAP.

    This penalty is too convinient to be true…

    1. Sam says:

      Are you seriously suggesting this is all a conspiracy to allow Alonso to take Massa’s vacant seat early?

      Wow, that’s right up there with the Moon Landings!

    2. Neven says:

      There is some bias in your comments. English team must be right. Kimi did not touch Hamilton (as opposed to Webber in Germany) on the beginning of race start. Later after turn no.1 Kimmi was squeezed to the right by Webber and he hit Vettel with his rear wheels which is huge difference to bumping into someone while driving in parallel. also I do not think that races should be decided after it is finished. When you have ceremony and press conference it should be final.

      If there wasn’t title on the screen announcing investigation, nobody would miss it.

      Renault penalty is too much. I am sure appeal will work to some extent. Punishment interfers with sporting side while the incident is completely out of driver’s control. I think 1 million pound of fine would serve the purpose just right.

  6. Sven says:

    Yes there is a bad smell about this penalty.
    Why is the team penalised instead of the driver?
    Alonso must have been the first to feel the wheel was loose. On the other hand how many times have we not seen drivers limping back to the pit with loose wheels without any penalty what so ever. There seems to be a purpose about this penalty.

    1. Sergio says:

      Did you read the FIA statement? Renault released Alonso, knowing about the problem. Alonso even radioed in, reporting vibrations, thinking he had a flat tyre, and even then, Renault did not inform him of the problem.

      The penalty is fair on the team, but unfair on the drivers

    2. Rich C says:

      While it may be the team’s fault he went out with a loose wheel, any “continuing” is clearly Alonso’s fault. So in effect they are penalising Piquet for his team mate’s action.

      But I think its crazy to think conspiracy here.

  7. Ray McGrath says:

    Either Alonso moves to Ferrari for the next race (unlikely), or Renault win their appeal (probable). If he isn’t on the grid at Valencia, I will eat my hat.

    1. PT says:

      Last time I said that was 2007 in Australia where I claimed Alonso would win. Barbequed hat doesn’t taste good mate!

      Yours is a different point though and I agree – Bernie could never let the main attraction for the Spanish crowd be taken away, not with CVC screaming and shouting in the last few weeks. Perhaps we’re both wrong and, at this sensitive and safety conscious time, they’ll let the punishment stand. Who really knows? The only thing I do know is I’ll eat my hat if Alonso is driving a Ferrari in any of the next 7 races!

    2. manatcna says:

      Is it a big hat?

  8. jw1980 says:

    The decision making does indeed appear to be very inconsistent. It’s frustrating that Raikkonen’s decision was not made until after the race. You can only think that the stewards wanted to manipulate the results to keep the championship alive until the last race. Do they get a bonus for achieving that? We are coming into that time of the season again.
    With regards to the Renault decision it does seem harsh. Safety is very important but we have seen incidents like this before go unpunished. Also Consider Hamilton losing a tyre at Monaco last year during the race. Should he have stopped immediately or continue to the pits like he did and ultimately win the race? It throws up a lot of questions and potential problems.
    Finally the Renault suspension reminds me of the issues facing McLaren at the start of the season when race bans were discussed and one of the GPs that could have been missed was Silverstone. Lets not forget the Spanish fans who have paid to see the race in Valencia and support Alonso. A more suitable punishment would be a grid penalty.

  9. Ino says:

    “However, to penalise Mark Webber with a drive through last week and not hit Kimi Raikkonen with a similar penalty for his actions at the start today when he made contact with Sebastian Vettel seems inconsistent.”

    And yet so consistent when you think that Raikkonen drives for Ferrari.

  10. artorwar says:

    This is a joke to be honest. Yeah it’s not good letting the car run on but to make judgements based on any climate is a bad move. Consistent standards for all situations are required. Poor old Alonso. I will be watching the GP in a tiny bar within earshot of Valencia (no ticket but I live round here anyway!) and I for one would hate to see the effect on the local fans. Gutted for Fernando. Maybe strip Renault of Valencia points/prize money, suspended ban, start from the pit lane, something like that, but a ban is way too much.

    As for the Jamie Vs Buemi question, I think it will be nearer to a flat second this time….but what do I know haha!

  11. Brian Armitage says:

    I echo the comment above about Webber’s dangerous release in the pit lane. Is this not the second race in a row that Red Bull have been “reprimanded” for the same thing?

    As a contrast, note the responsible way that McLaren released Kovalainen after his first stop today…

  12. Steve B says:

    I must admit that the second I saw that spinner not on properly on Alonso’s car I was thinking he has got to pull it off the track… and I watched with surprise that he kept driving it round leading to the inevitable wheel release. It was lucky noone got hurt again. As I understand it Fernando did not know the wheel was loose, the fault lies with the team for not informing him. I do think the ban is fair, and I too am interested in whether we will see him in a Ferrari in Valencia!

    On a side note James – given the Massa accident yesterday do you think that a lack of testing could have an impact on driver safety? Surely teams are having to throw new components on cars without fully testing them in anger now, which means we may see more failures (I’m not suggesting this is the cause of the Brawn failure) But.. this would be an interesting one for the FIA…

  13. Fausto Cunha says:

    I think it´s a arch penalty for renault.

    As for Kimi he had no space where to go.It´s a diferent situation from Webber´s Nurburgring manouver in my opinion.

  14. Is Alonso banned personally from taking part in the next race? It’s wild speculation of course, to link him with any other teams, but the same thought seems to have occurred simultaneously to almost every F1 fan.

    So, should a seat theoretically be made available for him to race at one of his home grands prix, would the Renault ban prevent him from taking it up? The stewards’ judgment did seem particularly geared towards pointing blame towards the team and away from the driver.

    (Also, thanks very much for keeping in touch with all of us who were worried about Massa’s condition yesterday evening. Hearing your reports was a great relief.)

  15. Ambient Sheep says:

    Hmmm, and yet they were quite content to let Raikkonen (in a Ferrari) drive round and round with a loose exhaust pipe banging about a year or two ago, weren’t they? At the time I was incredulous that he wasn’t shown the black & orange flag or that no penalty was given.

    Obviously the timing this weekend is bad following the two tragic accidents we’ve had, but I think a large fine would have done. As others are speculating, there seems to be ulterior motives at work here.

  16. Lee says:

    I don’t think you can call it inconsistent that Webber was penalised for colliding with Barrichello and Raikkonen wasn’t for colliding with Vettel. If you watch it again, Kimi only moved over and hit Vettel to avoid colliding with Webber who was doing to Kimi what he did to Barrichello in the last race – only without the contact this time!

  17. omar says:

    it’s the mistake of the team. alonso had no hands in it. they should have allowed renault to race but not to add the points they score to the constructors championship

  18. Buttoneer says:

    I can’t help but feel this is a cynical attempt to keep F1 in the headlines during an otherwise F1-news-silent period. Sorry, I know that’s cynical.

  19. TruckyBoy says:

    Convenient to jump into Massa’s empty Ferrari ?

  20. Chris says:

    If there had been similar penalties for this sort of thing in the past, it would be understandable. But this is crazy. Regardless of recent events, this is a crazy penalty, and must have been given for, ahem, alternative reasons.

  21. Nick F says:

    Renault wouldn’t be suspended if the Surtees and Massa incidents hadn’t happened so recently. I’ve seen lots of peoples wheels come off or flail around after a puncture during the time I have been watching F1. I don’t remember that team then being banned for it in the past. It’s an emotional time with all these bad things happening in the last few weeks. emotions cloud peoples judgement. At difficult times I think its sensible to attempt to be analytical. The FIA should go by precedent and look back in history and find an analogous incident and then impose a similar penalty as was imposed then. Normally these type of things incur a grid penalty or a fine.

  22. Craig March says:

    You’ve got to feel sorry for Alonso. First the mistake by his team cost him a good finish and then to be told you can’t race in your home GP is tough luck.

  23. James,

    I’ve written plenty on other sites about my anger over this. So I won’t go on and on.

    However I do feel that this is knee-jerk reaction by the FIA in regards to safety. What happened to Henry Surtees and Felipe Massa was horrific, but it isn’t the only danger to a racing driver.

    The FIA should think long and hard about measures to make things safer and not ach so rash.

    This “war on danger” should be fought on all flanks, but in a conservative and constructive way.

    Danger can never be evaded, but damaging the sport any further can.

  24. Steve says:

    I have to say that inconsistencies have always been rife amongst stewards decisions. I mean, look at the decision NOT to give Webber a drive through penalty today for an unsafe release – which was nigh on identical to the releases that Massa and Ralf Schumacher were punished for. Personally, I’d agree that they made a mistake at the nurburgring, but that’s not to say they should make the same mistake twice, just because they made a mistake before!

  25. C.M. says:

    I must feel for Alonso, guy did nothing wrong and he’s being punished not only once but twice. 1st team makes a mistake and he has to retire and now ban him from his home race? Makes no point for me. A big fine for the team is what I would have seen better or take some points from the team, don’t punish drivers who have not done nothing wrong.

  26. Paul says:

    Would they have negotiated a clause in Alonso’s contract in the event the team are banned from a GP? I would love to see Alonso in a Ferrari come the next race but I don’t think it’s likely I’m afraid.

    Besides, Bernie has so much invested in Valencia. He was the one that championed it and continues to do so despite a dull race last year. He knows that ticket sales are massively down and will be dismal if Alonso isn’t racing. I think he will have a say and make it a suspended ban.

    I wonder what Piquet reckons of all this. I bet he couldn’t give a monkeys, as he won’t be racing in Valencia anyway!

  27. Dave Walker says:

    As you state James, this is clearly in light of what happened with Henry Surtees and Felipe Massa.

    I personally think the Renault punishment is severe. However, Alonso maybe should’ve pulled off to the side of the track. A grid penalty for Alonso would have been a more appropriate punishment.

    By the way, what was with Flavio Briatore leaving the pit wall while Nelson Piquet was still racing? It just goes to show Flavio’s lack of faith in him.

  28. Qiang says:

    I think the Renault ban is another farce to many fans including me. Honestly I will have less problem to hear that the Brawn team got a race ban for their metal spring hitting Massa.

  29. Scott says:

    This punishment is really over the top and a severe knee jerk reaction to recent events, yes motorsport is dangerous.

    Renault should have been fined for this incident at the most.

    Alot of Spanish people have bought tickets to see their hero Alonso, with the prospect of a podium or better. There will be alot of very upset people in Valencia in 4 weeks time.

    A really bad decision, that will worry the pit crews up and down the pit lane,not only can they ruin their drivers race they can get the team banned for one race!

    Hope this gets over turned!

  30. Jonathan says:

    Whatever you think of the Raikkonen & Webber verdicts, they weren’t inconsistent, because the circumstances of the two incidents were different. Presumably in the Webber case the stewards thought that Webber *intentionally* caused a collision.

  31. Peter says:

    I think you can not compare Webber`s and Kimi`s incident as they did not touch in the straight this time. Also, you can not blame Kimi because the back of his car slipped for a moment whilst accelerating from turn 2 and touched with Vettel. Webber was not penalised for almost crashing into Kimi in the pit was he? Please be fair with critisism.

  32. CTM says:

    I imagine renault will appeal it, race under appeal, and/or be commute to a suspended ban. Somewhat knee jerk over reaction, begging the question where’s Brawn’s ban for a spring not correctly fitted or allowed to fail on Rubens’ car in the firt place.

    I initially thought Kimi’s move toward Lewis was a little out of order from head on however from the camera above yu could see Lewis and Kimi going for the same gap 50-50 to me.

    On penalties and inconsistencies where was Webber’s drive through for a dangerous release from his pit stop into Kimi had the pitlane not been fairly wide and only because there wasn’t car in the box ahead, a mechanic in the pit in front may have been seriously injured had their been one working on a car in the box in front. Sure penalties have been handed out for this in the past?

  33. dakai says:

    That seems too harsh for the Wheel coming off. I’ve seen plenty of times a driver trying to drive back with a damaged wheel. The wheel came off pretty quickly.

    The Webber incident was very different from Kimi’s today. Kimi was sandwiched between Vettel and Webber at turn 2. Vettle was behind to his right. So I’m not sure why you’re trying to draw a comparison here.

  34. Hammad says:

    Too harsh… I was shocked when I read this.

  35. Osama says:

    What an ironic coincidence for Alonso!
    Renault are banned from participating in next week’s GP while Ferrari needs a replacement for Massa who is probably going to miss it.

  36. Colin says:

    I think the Webber Kimi thing looked worse because Hamilton was trying to go around Vettel and Kimi around Mark and they were comming together and Kimi could see because he was ahead of Hamilton at that point. As for Vettel and Raikkonen I dunno what Kimi could have done, Webber was on the inside and ahead of Vettel, So I dont think its Kimi’s fault.

  37. Filipe Viola says:

    This penalty is really a sign of things to come from recent incidents, it is rather severe and i really think that 2 weeks ago it would result in loosing all points from the race and a possible a 10 place grid penaly.
    I’m curious about GPDA’s reaction to this penalty.

  38. Hugh says:

    James,

    I think the Webber/Barrichello and Raikkonen/Vettel incidents were very different. Last week Webber was penalised for effectively driving dangerously on the straight – as he admits, he didn’t see Barrichello. Today Vettel was not complaining about the move Raikkonen made on the straight, which nearly caused Hamilton to touch Vettel, but the mid-first corner touch between his Red Bull and the Ferrari.

    Which, imho, wasn’t really anybody’s fault, and I’m glad to see a penalty hasn’t been dished out.

  39. Jon says:

    The sooner the lawyers stop running this sport the better. That penalty is ridiculous. So every car with a loose piece of bodywork has to pull over and stop now, just in case it comes off and hits someone in the head?

  40. Fudce says:

    Looking at the incidents today, specifically the Alonso and Webber ones, the stewards really haven’t been consistant at all.

    I’d agree that the Renault penalty is too large. He was penalised of an “unsafe release from pit lane”, the team apparantly letting him go without correctly attatching the wheel. They also didn’t tell him to pull off when they realised the issues. The tyre came off, and it became a possible threat to any people nearby.

    Looking at Mark Webber’s own unsafe release, I have to point out that while I do like the Red Bull driver, I feel that if they find it worth penalising Renault for being released unsafely, and endangering others, then Red Bull too should have been penalised.

    It is the team’s duty to make sure that it is safe to release a driver after a pit stop. They released Mark Webber into the path of Kimi Raikkonen, and the Australian had to take avoiding action. Had things gone differently, he could have easily taken out a mechanic at the Williams (?) pit, who looked like they were preparing for a pit stop of their own.

    It’s clear that the fact it was a tyre bouncing down the track only a week after the tragic loss of young Henry Surtees had an out of proportion effect on the penalty given, and the appeal should reverse or lower the penalty. I feel a penalty should be given, but something like a grid or points penalty.

    In regards to Kimi Raikkonen, the choice not to penalise was right, but likewise in Germany Webber shouldn’t have been penalised. Mark Webber should have got a drive through penalty for his unsafe release, or the team should have got a fine from the FIA.

  41. Luke says:

    James,
    Kimi at the start today was moving to avoid webber and seb was behind Kimi mostly he may not have seen him and tbh he didn’t have anywhere else to go! That’s totally diffrent to nurburgring when webber swerved into someone on clear air on a straight!

  42. Brown Eyed Girl says:

    Wow that’s a bit shocking but I can understand why its being done.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if by (if not before 2010) there is a rule that says teams are liable for damaged caused by thinks coming of their cars due to negligence.
    The surtees accident was completely fluke and terrible luck. The brawn incident with massa is still to be investigated but I’m guessing again its a freakish accident
    However what renualt did was stupid. By trying to save a few tenths of seconds in the pits they allowed a car to go out that wasn’t properly race fit.
    Obviously it was human error made under pressure but there needs to be an attitude of safety before competition.

    Yes its sad but if this ruling makes every mechanic really think as to whether the car is safe to leave the pits it may stop something nasty in the future.

  43. pbyrne says:

    Valencia would not even be on the calendar were it not for Spanish interest in Alonso and now he’s to miss it?

    Is somebody somewhere trying to engineer a temporary move to Ferrari to improve box-office?

    I can’t imagine Bernie being too happy about Alonso missing this race otherwise…

  44. Ginger says:

    Looks like a warning that will be ‘suspended’ upon appeal.

    There are tickets to sell in Valencia!

  45. Duds says:

    Can’t really argue with it though, it was careless at best. That said, it seems a shame to ban Piquet, they should really be restricted to just his car in Spain.

  46. Steve JR says:

    Yes this is a good move – Teams and drivers need to be reminded that it’s not on to take such risks for track results that could cause injury or death – I applaud this

  47. tomo says:

    Any word on who will be filling in for Massa for the rest of the season?

  48. Charlie W says:

    James,
    If Ferrari focus their attention on
    Kimi Raikkonen now because we do not know when
    Felipe will return, you can see what a good
    driver he is . Do not put Schumacher in the
    car his time has past,allow your test driver
    some work,fix the car to Kimi’s driving style
    and he will win again.Ferrari remember an old
    proverb: A bird in the hand is better than a
    thousands in the bush.

    until
    some work

  49. teamworkf1 says:

    We all know that there are different sets of rules!

    1- the FIA rules
    2- the ferrari rules

    need to say more?

  50. Oliver Neilson says:

    Since when have the stewards ever displayed consistency?, except in their support of Ferrari.

    If you take the stewards report as read, specifically that Renault knew that the wheel was improperly attached, but sent Alonso out anyway, then a harsh penalty is entirely appropriate. In the last seven days there has been one driver killed, and another one an inch or two away from dying from debris falling off cars.

    The Renault mechanics appeared to have panicked and made a wrong, and dangerous decision. A decision that also defies logic from a racing perspective.

    If the appeal fails, and I hope it does, you can pretty much guarantee that no other team is going to do this again in the short term. A fine or suspended ban is toothless, and no incentive at all.

  51. PaulL says:

    Alonso to fill in for Massa at the European GP? Wishful but we can always hope..

  52. PaulL says:

    I should add, that this is only if Felippe cannot race..

  53. rpaco says:

    Had the wheel not been put on Kimi’s car properly and the same effect resulted I would suggest that the penalty, if any, would have been a fine and/or a warning only.

    It was very obvious that the nut was not on properly as soon as Alonso’s car started to move, even within the first 10 degrees of rotation of the wheel the aero cover (officially denoted a brake cooling device) was moving with it for all to see. It only took a quarter of a second’s indecision on the part of the wheel nut guy and all was lost.
    Also the nut lock was not engaged, it is there to stop the nut and hence the wheel coming off.

    That guy must be having serious nightmares tonight.

    It must be virtually impossible if not dangerous, to try and stop a driver in the pit lane just after he has been released and his mind instantly has gone through pushing the speed limiter release button and is already half way round the first bend and looking for cars in his way while feeling the tyres different grip level and allowing for the new heaviness of the car, also thinking about adjusting the brake balance again; all of this done on automatic, virtually at the same time, to get the notion of stopping again into his brain stands little chance.

    BUT for the team not to yell repeatedly at him over the radio and tell him he has a loose wheel and keep yelling until he understands, is pure stupidity. To say instead that he has a tyre problem is VERY different and means he would drive differently not expecting the wheel to be loose.

  54. Roland says:

    With respect James, I feel that that there is a difference between Kimi’s actions today and Webber’s two weeks ago. Kimi had to avoid Webber both approaching the first corner and accelerating away from it, resulting in him getting sideways and tapping Vettel. At the Nurburgring Webber swerved into Barrichello for no other reason than to intimidate him; there were no other cars to avoid.

  55. Foobar says:

    What about Webber’s exit from the pits almost ramming into Räikkönen? Something that’s most certainly been penalized before.

    The way I see it, the stewards took it easy today and let the boys race leading to one of the least processional dry races in Hungagoring…

    Well, ‘easy’ except for the antics of Flavor Flavio’s Team.

  56. Red Kimi says:

    Webber slammed into RB with no one on his other side at all…. webber was being a bully, period!

    Kimi was in a sandwich and bumped Vettel as he was bumped as well… no comparison

  57. jed says:

    When Mclaren and Lewis Wilfully, knowingly, deliberately and with intent to gain a point cheated, they get a suspended ban. As for renault, one negligent act of one tire changer gets them banned!

    The FIA should look at the way they apply thier penalties.

  58. Gavin P says:

    There is no way that Alonso will stay with Renault now that there is a spare seat at Ferrari. Is the ban a team ban or driver ban? Even if ban isn’t lifted or suspended Alonso will be racing in Valenca albeit in a red car.

  59. Tim PArry says:

    I think Raikkonen got away with his caper because he was shoulder to shoulder in the middle of the chaos at turn 1. Webber’s was right out front where all the TV camera’s in the world could get a good look at it.

  60. Brenda says:

    James,

    I don’t think Kimi’s incident is the same as Webber’s. But there is inconsistency in that they should have investigated the incident during the race (seeing it was the first of 70 laps)and if he was deemed guilty, he should have been punished during the race and not decided after as he would have had plenty of time to take that punishment.

    But since they have cleared him, which I believe is the right conclusion, I guess people are making it into a bit of a fuss because of the inconsistency of the stewarding process where one was dished out during and one was only being investigated after.

  61. Andrew H says:

    I don’t know about anyone else but when I saw the replay for Webber in Germany it looked like he hadn’t seen Barrichello and then once they had collided he pulled left pretty hard away from him. More as instinct to get away rather than hitting the Brawn GTA style. So his big reaction to get away made it look like it had been a larger impact. Possibly the same thing has happened with the Ferrari and just a racing incident. I think the fact that it’s going to be worked out after the race is where a lot of people are going to be upset and I agree that it’s inconsistent. Congratulations to Lewis Hamilton but now I feel sorry for Alonso missing out on a race with his home crowd. After getting pole position the Spanish crowd must be very excited to show their appreciation at the next race.

  62. Simon of Melbourne says:

    James, what are the chances of Alonso jumping into the #3 Ferrari in light of the ban at Valencia?

  63. PaulL says:

    So how was this incident different to Ferrari leaving Raikkonen out with a dangling exhaust, which eventually broke off, in France 2008?

    I’m not speculating bias, I’m just asking what’s the difference?

  64. Meeklo says:

    “The stewards felt that by allowing the car to continue until the wheel came loose, Renault had not taken sufficient regard for safety.”

    I could envision a fine for releasing the car on to the track in an unsafe condition as the lollipop man let him go before the wheelman gave the clear signal. But what was Alonso supposed to do, immediately pull off and park it on track without even attempting to go back to the pits for a replacement???

  65. TD says:

    I don’t think Raikkonen/Weber are the same at all. Raikkonen was moving to pass because he was faster than the car in fron. Weber was moving to block a car from passing him which is clearly wrong.

  66. Fran says:

    The penalty for Renault should surely be levied at the team, ie, no constructor points etc, not banning Alonso who was not told of the error and reported over the radio that he thought he had a puncture… far too severe a punishment!!!

  67. Andrew says:

    Surely its not going to happen that easily!
    But if Renault are banned for Valencia could Alonso step in and drive a Ferrari? I mean, Alonso needs a car and Ferrari needs a driver. And Valencia needs to sell more tickets. But I’m sure it will never be that simple.

    And who are Ferrari going to use while Massa recovers? Sounds like Schumi isnt going to do a Lance.

  68. Cridland [CridComment@gmail] says:

    Hello, I’d like to float a conspiracy theory:

    > The penalty is very severe and probably would
    > not have been given had the Henry Surtees and
    > Felipe Massa incidents not happened recently.

    Could this also have anything to do with Saward’s report that Renault may be sold to Russian ‘oligarch’ Alisher Usmanov? Could this be a move to shuffle Renault into or out of the picture somehow? Does the fact that Briattore left the track early suggest anything to anyone? (Nothing to me, but I’m just getting started as a conspiracy theorist.)

  69. Russian says:

    I think the penalty is right, next time all the teams will be more carefully on the pit-stops.
    Every race we can see different types if stewards. In Germany the took care about start accidents – the punished Webber and Petrov in GP2 for little accidents at the start, and they didn’t penalty Raikkonen this time for the same accident. In Hungary they punished Renault for the lost wheel, but, for sure, 2 weeks ago they wouldn’t ban whole team from 1 race.
    F1 need permanent stewards for every race.

    1. Rich C says:

      “F1 need permanent stewards for every race.”

      For sure!

  70. Monktonnik says:

    Disgraceful. I am not a Renault fan, but I think that this is very unfair, and Renault have seen their share of unfair decisions in the past.

    If this is the new rule they ought to have penalised Sebastian Vettel for driving with broken suspension, as this could have culminated in a similar incident, or Rubens in qualifying for that matter. I think they also ought to declare these rule changes before the event, or relevant session if required. I know that the rules can’t legislate for everything, and decisions have to be made by the stewards of the meeting, but surely after the tragedy with Henry Surtees and the accident with Massa they should have said something to the teams about this.

  71. JohnBt says:

    What a let down from Renault when Alonso was driving very well with the new updates. Looks like motor racing is a dark period at the moment. A grid penalty would be appropriate.
    What about BrawnGP bouncing spring? It hit Filipe didn’t it?
    unjustiFIAble!!!

  72. Gurney Tab says:

    Nice work with the blog James.

    Just one question,as there is a high chance of Piquet being ousted by Valencia, what do you think his problem is in F1? Is it the same as Bourdais? (as in, things happening too fast for him).

  73. RH says:

    I must admit I am also surprised that the ban given to Renault was not a suspended ban, and that Red Bull were not fined for releasing Mark into Kimi’s path.

    I am amused about people speculating that Fernando could jump from the Renault ship mid season, but could it really be possible given Felipe’s potentially season ending accident???

    Having said this, as awesome as it would be to see Fernando in a Ferrari I’m sure many of us would prefer Felipe to make a full and speedy recovery and be back in the car asap. Get better soon Felipe :o)

  74. Frenchie says:

    It would be a great shame to penalise Fernando for a team’s mistake. He is driving exceptionally well so far this year and deserve to be racing at ‘home’.

    The F1 fan would also be missing out on a fair bit of the show.

    I think a hefty fine should be more in line with this type of offence.

  75. Eric says:

    I think these decisions are valid and consistent. I think Mark deserved a penalty for lack of situational awareness in Germany and making an aggressive move to force someone else to react. I think Kimi was just trying to find a spot and was not as overtly aggressive as Mark was last time.

    I think it’s also the correct decision to ban Renault for a race. They could see the tyre was going to come off at some point and should have just retired the car as that would be what was going to happen anyway as a result of all the floor damage. You can’t have tyres bouncing around and driving on 3 wheels is also reckless. I’m sure we’ve seen penalties for that before.

  76. Kevin M says:

    I noticed this quote on Autosport.com: “It means Alonso will miss his home event that takes place in Valencia next month, unless he moves to another team.”

    How is it even possible that Alonso could drive for another team in the same season?

  77. virtualmark says:

    Two things come to mind …

    Firstly, what punishment is being meted out to Brawn? They’re the team that had a hefty chunk of metal fall off one of their cars, nearly killing another driver. Yeah … thought not.

    Secondly, wasn’t Briatore at the sharp end of the FOTA/FIA imbroglio? Just saying … Max could win the Olympic Gold at keeping a grudge.

    Moves like this banning of Renault make this sport a laughing stock.

  78. Arun Srini says:

    We all know that you are a great commentator! So comparing the Webber incident with Kimi’s is not an intelligent thing to do!!

    Alonso’s was harsh punishment. Money penalty that would go to drivers safety program that Pedro De la Rosa heads could’ve been a better move!

  79. Amy says:

    As a previous poster said the inconsistency of how penalties are dealt with and their severity or otherwise is just ridiculous.

    The type of thing that happened to Alonso has happened before – to punish the team is over the top – it was a complete accident – I can just about understand if they gave Alonso some sort of penalty (perhaps he should have stopped the car) but the whole team and Piquet (or whoever) is just too much.

  80. Patrickl says:

    BTW Renault was punished for knowingly sending out the car when the “wheel nut retainer” wasn’t on. ie knowingly taking a risk with safety devices.

    They didn’t get the punishment simply for a wheel falling off.

  81. I think the Renault ban is very harsh given that they have already suffered the punishment of losing their first (likely) podium of the year. I think that a team fine or suspended ban would be more than adequate.

    Why punish the driver(s) and the undoubtedly large number of fans who will be traveling to Valencia to see Alonso race? Just when F1 was getting its act together as well…

  82. Red Andy says:

    I wasn’t aware that the stewards could hand out penalties as harsh as race bans. Very strange.

  83. Spike says:

    Regarding the Kimi-Vettel incident vs Webbers drive through last race. I think even stewards can change their minds. Webber said he didnt even see the other car before it was too late. And as Kimi said in the PC – he wasnt even aware of any contact before he was told. How can you possibly avoid it then? I think JJ Lehto said it best: When they allow KERS at the start, you know there will be cars flying through the grid making incidents like this impossible to avoid.

    As for Renault – I am for the penalty. But why the drivers? That is really unfair to me. Alonso was without fault and I dont think Piquet had anything to do with it either…
    When McLaren got penalized in 07, it was the team that got the penalty. Drivers were still allowed to race.

  84. Peter Freeman says:

    Renault, well, maybe that was a fair call, the wheel was obviously loose and there was the feeling off of the TV screen that the wheel was going to come loose any time, which it did! Clearly they were endangering others by continuing…

    Ferrari… I thought Kimmi hit Hamilton AND Vettel. So why was he not penalised?

    Unfortunately one can only point to the presence of Allen Donnelly in the stewards box and once more ask what the financial dealing between Ferrari and Donnelly’s PR company are. Certainly in the past money has exchanged hands between the two and it casts a very bad light on Ferrari when decisions like this are made.

    No explanation was issued from the stewards as to what was different from the Webber incident in Germany and the Raikkonen incident on Sunday in Hungary and why no penalty was given to Kimmi, so what are the public to think?

    Is it any wonder that many perceive that Ferrari are cheating and that Donnelly is being paid to get Ferrari out of trouble and bring undue penalties on their opposition? (Spa 2008)

    Why do Ferrari not issue a public statement calling for Donnelly to be replaced? I am sure they consider themselves to be a genuine racing team, makers of the THE F1 car to beat! Why then do they keep silent while they are made out to instead look like cheats? Had Massa won the Driver Championship last year, how could it have not been tainted in many peoples eyes? Who want to compete like that?

    If I were Ferrari, I would make a statement at EVERY RACE!

    1. Andy says:

      I do not see what would be the reason to punish Kimi. Before the first corner, he tried to get past Mark and in the process pushed Lewis to the side, however, no contact (at least according to either driver). At the first corner, Mark, ahead to the left of Kimi, moved slightly to the right, Kimi made a move to avoid contact, and Vettel, who is behind Kimi, gets a slight bump in the process. One can’t blame Kimi for that. This is racing.

      I didn’t see the race at Nürburgring, so can’t compare the punishment Webber got. However, one shouldn’t punish others in the future because someone got unjustly punished in the past just in the name of consistency. That’s ridiculous.

      The punishment Renault got is too harsh, though understandable after all the events we’ve seen the past couple of weeks, not just in open wheel racing but also in rallying. However, the punishment should be overturned, it only creates bad blood and doesn’t solve anything.

      Lastly, I find it very bad taste from some Spanish newspapers and some individuals (not on this forum though) to start to speculate, immediately after the race, about Alonso coming to Ferrari to replace Massa in the next race, even saying things like “it’s clearly in the stars” (as someone put it in another forum). I understand their eagerness to get him to Ferrari at any cost, but to try to take advantage of such a tragic accident is beyond disgusting.

    2. Charlie B says:

      Webber’s incident and Kimi’s incident are different. Webber was in 1st place and swerved to stop Rubens overtaking (for no reason). Kimi swerved past a slower car and did not touch Lewis, Lewis even said that. Then Kimi did hit, well touch Vettel beacuse Webber was on the outside of him and would have hit Webber otherwise.

    3. Patrickl says:

      Webber was on a clear track and bumped into Barrichello for no reason at all.

      Raikkonen was pushed to the right by Webber, who in turn was pushed to the right by Hamilton.

      Also, Webber was behind barrichello and Raikkonen was ahead of Vettel. The leading car generally gets a lot more leniency for “taking racing lines”.

      If anything, vettel should be punished for trying to squeeze in as the fourth abreast going into that corner. He was clearly behind and he should have taken his spot behind Raikkonen. Classic rookie error to try and over correct a mistake made earlier.

  85. Caron says:

    I think that Renault deserved to have some form of punishment because they shouldn’t have released him with his wheel not on properly and they should have informed him of what exactly was happening as soon as possible.

    There’s an argument that Alonso should have pulled up, but although he knew that there was something seriously wrong, could he have known that the wheel was in danger of coming off?

    I do think that what’s happened to them is really harsh, though. Why not just fine the team, or take points away? As it is the fans who have paid to see Alonso (because, in the end of the day, F1 in Spain is all about Alonso) are going to be the ones who suffer the most.

    I suppose the other point to make is that Renault isn’t going to suffer that much as a team from the ban – let’s face it, they’re hardly challenging for either championship, so what seems like a major punishment actually isn’t.

    I just feel that it’s a knee jerk reaction to two horrendous accidents. What’s actually needed is careful, calm, considered investigation of these accidents and consultation between FIA, teams and the GPDA to introduce any new measures.

    In acting like this to punish Renault, I feel that the FIA have wanted to be seen to be doing something, but their actions aren’t going to be really that effective and only really penalise the fans.

  86. Robin Capper says:

    Wheel falls off Renault, no harm (luckliy), Suspended.

    Spring falls off Brawn, injury accident, Not Suspended?

    Please explain.

  87. Pat says:

    Has anyone ever heard of ‘natural consequences’?…from 1st to 18th…

    across the pond in Canada…by the way we sell our race out every year!!!

  88. Michael Brown says:

    To those comparing Alonso’s wheel coming off with other “parts coming off” incidents that weren’t punished in the past, you need to look at what the stewards said: “…[Renault] knowingly released car no. 7 from the pitstop position without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position, this being an indication that the wheel itself may not have been properly secured….being aware of this, [Renault] failed to take any action to prevent the car from leaving the pitlane….failed to inform the driver of this problem or to advise him to take appropriate action given the circumstances, even though the driver contacted the team by radio believing he had a puncture.”

    As such, Renault compromised safety in breach of Article 3.2 of the Sporting Regulations, and also released the car from the pits before it was safe to do so in breach of Article 23.1.i.

    The clear difference here is that they knew what was likely to happen and continued anyway, which is completely different to having a part suddenly fly off with no warning, where the team is as surprised as everyone else.

    Having said that, I do think the penalty is very harsh. A suspended ban, a huge fine or a grid position penalty would be more appropriate.

    Regarding Kimi’s star incident vs. Webber’s start incident at Nurburgring it’s very clear, as many others have stated, that they are completely different and so were rightly treated differently. Webber made a deliberate “chop” to prevent Barichello overtaking. While Kimi happened to make contact with Vettel as he was trying to thread his way through the first corner.

  89. Pat says:

    Totally the team and Alonso’s fault – The team could have stopped him before he exited the pits by radio, if not then Alonso would have seen exactly what we saw – a loose wheel on the front right of his car – and should have pulled over and stopped – instead he chose to risk both supporters and Marshalls’ lives – forget what has happened to Surtees and Massa this year – Alonso was around when the Marshall was killed at Melbourne by Villeneuve’s wheel flying off his BAR in 2001 and would have known a Marshall was killed by another flying wheel in Monza in 2000 both as a result of crashes – this was not a crash so the situation was controllable but they refused to do so – GUILTY AS CHARGED

    1. Fran says:

      Alonso did radio the team to tell them he thought he a puncture and the team did not tell him of the problem… he pulled over and slowed down, he was not aware that the wheel was loose…..the team should be punished… not Alonso

      1. Pat says:

        OK I stand corrected but the loose wheel looked obvious to me on TV well before it fell off

  90. Wingers says:

    I have just one thing to add.

    In 2006 at the same track. Alonso was leading by a country mile on a drying track, well on his way to a dominating win.

    At his final pitstop, Renault failed to “SAFELY SECURE” his right rear wheel. He managed “just” to get around turn 1. And then got to turn 2 before the wheel became useless completely and off he spun into the barriers. Game Over.

    And Jenson Button claimed his first win, once Alonso had retired.

    Now… in a season where those points were imperative in his fight against Schumacher in the championship, nothing happened, no penalties, no one once thought that would be the case. Really a retirement in a championship battle was enough to endure. And lets be honest, it would have been the most insane decision had Renault been banned from the following race in 2006.

    So what has changed in the state of play 3 years later (besides Alonso not being in a championship winning position)? I mean Alonso was leading the race, first time all year he had a chance to get on the podium, Reno for a change this year really had stakes, and they not only have the massive disappointment of being out of the race while leading. They now have to get the fun task of going to court to fight to be in a race they have every right to be in. And lets not forget how this will impact the Valencia race which needs Alonso, FACT! 30% Sales, how do they sell tickets with him out, especially seeing that his car is finally sort of competitive…

    Thus said, I understand the current conditions, its the same as I understand the current economic conditions means I eat out a couple times less a month… But that doesn’t mean I need to agree with it! And I don’t agree with kneejerk, scapegoat reactions from the FIA to make sure they appear to be making good in a difficult time for motorsport. But lets not loose sight of the plain facts, motorsport is dangerous, and both Surtees and Massa’s accidents are absolute freak events.

    Anyways, I’m just a fan, nothing important or anything!

    All my best to Felipe, hope he comes through well.

  91. SteveK says:

    The main inconsistency is that Webber’s incident in Germany was considered during the race yet the stewards announced that they would be considering Kimi’s action only after the race yesterday.
    I don’t actually think Kimi deserved a penalty so, although I agree with the stewards’ final decision, I think they should have made that decision during the race.

  92. Glen says:

    For me this is a reflection on current society and culture, which can apply to most walks of life, particularly those covered by the media.

    This seems an over-reaction, and I think in this case core values and principles of competition have been overlooked.

    A team is there to go racing, therefore the stewards of the day are responsible and should have black flagged Alonso.

  93. Michael says:

    I don’t agree with the level of penalty handed out to Renault by the FIA and as others have suggested will probably be downgraded to suspended penalty.
    But if the FIA are going to be consistent in handing out penalties then Brawn should either be disqualified from the championship or at the very least lose all constructors championship points for the utter negligence of having parts falling off their car and putting following cars/drivers in danger.
    At this level of F1 pieces of a car not involved in an accident don’t just randomly fall off without cause. Barrichello should count his lucky stars that the rest of that suspension piece didn’t fall off and possible send him into a high speed crash.

    As for comparing the Webber/Kimi penalties I think they made the right call in both cases just Kimi’s should have been decided within the race. Red Bull should be very thankful they didn’t get a drive through penalty liked they deserved for the pit release.

  94. Craig from Canada says:

    When they announced that Kimi was going to be investigated AFTER the race, there were 59 laps remaining. Why not do the investigation right then?

    And the punishment of Renault is a joke. Remember when Kimi flat-spotted his front tire a couple of years ago? Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before the suspension failed. Where were the black flags then? Instead, he was allowed to keep racing for the win until, surprise, the suspension failed, causing a huge accident. Nobody was penalized for that.

    This is the kind of thing that FOTA was supposed to be against – dictatorial decisions by the FIA. Kinda makes you think that the FIA has something against Renault…

  95. Helen H says:

    If ING was penalised for the loose wheel, why then not GP Brawn for the loose spring?

    Investigations should show that the Brawn mechanics were responsible for the spring coming loose on Barrichelo’s car , just as ING mechanics were responsible for Alonso’s wheel coming off his car.

  96. M__E says:

    ban the team and let alonso turn up and drive on his own :)
    afterall they released him from the pits not the other way round.

    fine the team, dont rob us of a classic Alonso V’s Schumacher V’s Hamilton battle!

    F.I.A–> Frequently Instigating Anarchy

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