Street Fight
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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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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

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


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.

Craig from Canada

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…


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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


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.


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!!!


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

Spring falls off Brawn, injury accident, Not Suspended?

Please explain.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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…


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.


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.


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!


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.


I noticed this quote on “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?


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.


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.


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)


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).

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