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Renault win appeal and will race in Valencia
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Renault win appeal and will race in Valencia
Posted By: James Allen  |  17 Aug 2009   |  5:26 pm GMT  |  29 comments

Renault today achieved something which doesn’t happen all that often; they successfully appealed a Formula 1 Stewards’ decision. The result is that they will not be banned from this weekend’s Grand Prix in Valencia and the Spanish fans will be able to see Fernando Alonso in all his glory. Remember that he was the pole sitter in Budapest (albeit fairly light on fuel) and we should expect more fireworks from him this weekend, no doubt.

We can also expect to have it confirmed that Romain Grosjean will take the place of Nelson Piquet in the second car. This is something of a poisoned chalice for Grosjean, but I will post on that over this weekend, when I’ve had a chance to examine his situation more closely.

As I posted yesterday the issue today in the appeal court was not really about guilt, but rather about the severity of the sentence, given the way situations like this have been judged in the past.

The judges felt that the sentence was too extreme and reduced it to a $50,000 fine, the same penalty as Red Bull received in Melbourne when Sebastian Vettel continued with a ‘dangerous’ car. This seems pretty fair to me.

The statement read, “Renault admitted to the Court that it breached the Sporting Regulations, in that it failed to ensure that car no. 7 complied with the conditions for safety throughout practice and the race, and that it released the car after a pit stop when it was unsafe to do so. However, it requested the Court to reconsider the severity of the sanction imposed by the Stewards.

Having heard the arguments of the parties, the Court has decided as follows:

1. to allow the appeal and overturn the sanction imposed by the Stewards in the Contested Decision;
2. to issue a reprimand and impose a fine of $50,000 upon Renault.”

So not even a suspended sentence, to go with the fine.

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29 Comments
  1. artorwar says:

    Almost sounds like fairness and common sense. Feels less and less like an FIA decision each time I re-read it haha. Look forward to reading about the musical chairs at Renault this weekend to James, thanks for keeping us in the loop again!

    1. Rich says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself – full marks.

      James: I love your phrase “Fernando Alonso in all his glory” as if he is some scenic view like the Alps or something. Made my laugh

  2. SS says:

    The right verdict yes, but more to do with commercial pressure i suspect. A Valencia GP without Alonso would have been financial suicide for the sport. I suspect however that had there been a release clause in his contract, Alonso would have been ‘moved’ to Ferrari by the same higher powers in F1.

  3. George says:

    Good call.

    I’m looking forward to seeing Grosjean in F1, he’s been impressive in GP2 but you never know how they’re going to cope. Shame about Di Grassi not getting the seat though, I wonder if he’ll get a place at campos or something next year.

  4. DavidT says:

    So there’s a surprise! As if anyone expected anything less. Regulation within F1 is beyond a joke and little less than corrupt.

    1. Cliff says:

      David, Congratulations for being the first person to imply something under-hand has gone on. There was no other verdict possible. The Stewards acted, not because the wheel came off, but because they were still thinking about the Massa accident. To claim that Renault deliberately broke the rules and risk the life of their driver, Competitors and the Trackside Marshalls is wide of the mark. I suspect that the Stewards would have taken a dofferent position had we not had the events 24hrs earlier. I will agree that F1 does make questionable decisions, but a Suspended Sentence and a heavy fine would have been enough. We got the heavy fine so let’s move on! It would be good to know what you think a one race ban would achieve, don’t bother saying that it sends out a message to the other teams and sets an example.

    2. Cort says:

      Do explain how this was expected – and the corruption bit too. That is, if you can without sounding foolish or like you’re speaking from under a tinfoil hat.

      1. DavidT says:

        I’m afraid that you have both misunderstood my comment. Perhaps brevity failed on this occasion. The outcome was widely predicted and no one will have been surprised. The powers that be will have made sure of that. I did not consider a ban appropriate but anyone who follows F1 cannot be other than bemused and amazed at the inconsistency regularly demonstrated. I wonder what the stewards reaction would have been had the car been painted red?

  5. Racing not politics says:

    IMO the officials have seen sense. The initial penalty was much stronger than normal/necessary and was clearly influenced by the two recent tragic accidents.

  6. Robert McKay says:

    Right decision, although I suspect wrong reason.

    And besides, given how strongly downgraded the penalty has become, surely someone out there should be asking serious questions of the original penalty decision.

    1. Boston F1 Fan says:

      - I agree completely. I have a feeling that they administered the race ban with the knowledge that they would rescind it due to Alonso’s clout in Spain. All those fans who bought tickets to Valencia expecting to see a Schumacher-Alonso battle would have been sorely disappointed.

  7. Jonathan Dye says:

    Its about time F1 had the courage of its convictions. Yes an F1 race in Valencia without Alonso would have been a flop with the Spanish fans but the punishment seemed fair enough in light of recent events.

    A slap on the wrist for Hamilton and Mclaren at the start of the season, and now back tracking on this.

    It seems more important to keep the big names on the grid no matter what they do, rather than, in this, case punish them for serious safety issues. It just makes light of the fact that Massa recieved a serious life threatening head injury and Henry Surtees lost his life.

    Is it important to learn lessons from these events, or brush them under the carpet so it doesnt hurt the revenues?

  8. Matt W says:

    F1 once again makes itself look daft when it comes to the regulations. Was there anybody who seriously thought they would race in Spain without their star attraction?

    If Renault “released the car after a pit stop when it was unsafe to do so” then why on earth didn’t Red Bull get a penalty for launching Webber into the path of Kimi? The entire concept of officiating F1 races needs to be completely overhauled. I don’t think there are any other such high profile sports that constantly manipulate results after the event and change rulings so often.

    As a lifelong F1 fan I find it increasingly difficult to talk up the sport to people. To the casual fans, it all looks like an expensive fix, and that is something the next FIA president really has to sort out as a matter of urgency. Let’s get some credibility back so that the basic concept of ‘first under the linen’ can be restored.

    1. Martin says:

      I think too much is made of the Red Bull pit release. Kimi did not have to slow down and Mark did not hit him. As a team Red Bull did not impede the Ferrari team and probably disadvantaged itself by Mark having to slow and then accelerate.

      Mark made contact with Rubens in Germany through claimed carelessness and got a penalty. If he hadn’t made contact then the stewards would have let it go.

      If teams first priority was preventing all accidents then no cars would leave the pits.

      1. Matt W says:

        I don’t think whether an accident happened is really the concern. It is all about prevention. If Webber’s release from the pits wasn’t deemed unsafe under the current rules then you have to wonder just what the rule is there for. Is it only for if there is contact made, or would that be closing the stable door after the horse has bolted?

        I think that is the problem with F1 as it is governed at the moment. Different rules apply every race depending on the stewards of the day. There needs to be some consistency from an independant body. The current set up just doesn’t work. You will almost certainly see another incident similar to the Webber/Kimi one where different rules will apply.

  9. AK says:

    At the end of the day this decision is the correct way to proceed (Valencia WITHOUT Alonso – just wasn’t gonna happen, was it ?)
    - but there has to be some kind of CONSISTENCY in the sport for crying out loud…
    It drives everyone nuts when you read one thing – then a day or a week later there’s a new ‘verdict’ or ‘result’.
    That’s the most annoying part of this whole episode and F1.

    1. Tom says:

      The only thing that’s guaranteed to happen is that people will complain about inconsistency… It’s the same as the tedious arguments at the moment in football (should the game stop when a player goes down, apparently injured?) Any decision is the wrong one.

      For me it’s a sensible decision but I’m suspicious of these snap judgements made on race day – FIA seem to be clutching at headlines.

  10. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    This is the right decision, but a suspended race ban should have been attached to it. It’s time to get serious about attached parts flying off now that a Formula Two driver has lost his life and one of the top Formula One drivers very well could have because of parts striking the head.

    1. michael c says:

      absolutely right – a fine of $50,000 is comletely irrelevant in F1. the initial decision was over the top even in the special cicumstances of that weekend but the reduced sanction is far too much the other way.

  11. michael c says:

    p.s. sorry about the spelling!!

  12. Ian says:

    What a farce.

  13. monktonnik says:

    Right decision. It is a shame that the stewards didn’t make it in the first place.

    I don’t believe that this is a conspiracy, political or even pragmatic move. Just the right decision. I don’t see how they could have done anything else.

  14. JohnBt says:

    Not a surprise but FAIR AND SQUARE. Please do well Alonso. Truly missed his winning days.

  15. Lee Gilbert says:

    This has nothing to do with the fact that its a Spanish based GP and Alonso is involved.

    It has everything to do with common sense and consistency

    I have extensive opinions, like many fans and journalists, that the FIA and the way that F1 is governed is inconsistent and wholly lacking sometimes in common sense. In fact it’s more like common nonsense most of the time.

    But in this case it’s the right call – you find me any serious and balanced F1 fan that thinks different (note I said ‘balanced’)

  16. Adrian says:

    It’s a sorry state of affairs when F1 returns the correct verdict, but it gets a negative reaction because of the usual inconsistancy in the rulings…

  17. jose says:

    Why they have to keep changing their minds about this matters? There is not consistency. It’s getting boring. I am a fan for 30 years, i am a fanatic, so even if i don’t like many things, this is not going to lose me as a fan. But what about the young guys who start now. This is not the right way to atract a new fan base.

  18. Ian says:

    A lot of people seem to be forgetting that a young man was killed recently by a loose wheel.

    By letting Alonso continue around the circuit was reckless at best.

    The ban should have stood. End of story.

  19. Mark Stephens says:

    In regard to Renault racing @ Valencia, there should have been a fine and perhaps a bit more for what happened, but at the end of the day F1 is nothing more than a traveling circus that makes money.

    Since the next race is in Valencia and Schumacher is not running, you had better let Nando race or you will have empty stands. Empty stands means no money and since this is Bernie’s traveling circus, it was already known that the appeal would be found in Renault’s favor. In the mean time safety will be addressed and all will be fine…

    Valencia without Nando is like Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey without Elephants and a big top. Without money there is no F1 so safety will be addressed and the show will go on.

  20. Harveyeight says:

    The ban has served its purpose. At a very difficult time the FIA was seen as coming down strongly on what was seen as dangerous behaviour. I felt at the time that it wasn’t so much about punishment as deflecting blame. Everyone was talking about Renault and the ban when we should hae been considering what is wrong with a new formula where wheels keep coming off cars.

    The problem with a single car formula at F2 level – quite apart from the lack of interest – is that it is one engineer’s idea of what it should be. And it is finished, there is no development, no improvement. The only way cars become better is with the heat of competition.

    We need teams building different cars in F2 if we want any form of career structure leading to F1.

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