F1 Winter Break
Briatore banned for life, Renault escape lightly
Briatore banned for life, Renault escape lightly
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Sep 2009   |  5:06 pm GMT  |  168 comments

Flavio Briatore has been banned from motor sport for life and his co-conspirator Pat Symonds for five years, as Renault escape lightly, with a two year suspended ban and no fine for the Singapore crash scandal.

Briatore: Banned for life

Briatore: Banned for life

The hearing in Paris today took just 90 minutes and was attended by Renault Sport president Bernard Rey, Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet.

As expected Briatore came off worst today, the World Motor Sport Council taking a very dim view of the fact that he continued to deny any involvement in the plot, despite the FIA’s and Renault’s investigations concluding that he was involved, albeit the FIA’s less conclusively than Renault’s.

The result is a ban which not only means he cannot attend F1 races again, but GP2 races also (of which he is the founder) and he must decouple himself from the driver management company which looks after Mark Webber, Heikki Kovalainen and others, or the drivers will not receive superlicences, without which they cannot race. His liutenants the Michel brothers will likely take over but it remains to be seen whether the allure of being managed by them without Briatore’s influence behind the scenes is attractive to the drivers.

Pat Symonds was given a five year ban because he admitted his part in it and also wrote a submission to the WMSC that it was to his “eternal regret and shame” that he participated in the conspiracy. He will be 62 at the end of the ban and may not return to the sport at all, on that basis.

Renault had already decided not to contest the charges so it was down to Rey to submit some mitigating pleas. He offered to pay the FIA’s costs of the investigation and to contribute funds to FIA road safety campaigns. It did the trick, with the WMSC deciding not only to suspend the ban for two years, but to activate it only if Renault commits a ‘comparable’ crime again, which is highly unlikely.

Briatore’s scalp was always the main target for the FIA, but Renault’s punishment will still look rather odd in the history books compared to the huge fine McLaren got two years ago for a far less serious crime. The difference between the two in the FIA’s eyes is honesty, in the way the team conducted itself and tackled its defence of the charges. But $100 million is an awful lot of honesty in comparison with the sheer danger involved with Renault’s transgression.

According to the FIA statement, “Renault F1 stated at the meeting that it had conducted a detailed internal investigation, which found that: (i) Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr. had conspired to cause the crash; and (ii) no other team member was involved in the conspiracy.

“It had accepted, at the earliest practicable opportunity, that it committed the offences with which it was charged and cooperated fully with the FIA’s investigation; 
- it had confirmed that Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds were involved in the conspiracy and ensured that they left the team; 
- it apologised unreservedly to the FIA and to the sport for the harm caused by its actions; 
- it committed to paying the costs incurred by the FIA in its investigation; and
- Renault (the parent company, as opposed to Renault F1) committed to making a significant contribution to FIA safety-related projects.”

Nelson Piquet walks away with nothing, despite having been one of the three conspirators, because he was granted immunity at the outset, in exchange for the information and Fernando Alonso is cleared of any involvement.

Piquet’s role in the saga and the way he has been able to walk away without any kind of sanction, despite being the person who actually crashed the car on purpose, will play badly with many in the sport. He issued a statement shortly after the verdict (see separate post).

The FIA will publish the full proceedings in due course so we will discover what evidence Alonso was required to give and what else Symonds said in his written submission.

* Apologies to readers for the site going down this afternoon – sheer simultaneous volume of traffic. We will rectify the problem so it doesn’t happen again.

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We are all being taken for a ride!! I don’t necessary support hefty financial penalties, but considering the seriousness of the crime, the verdict is not just.

People get satisfied too easily. PLZ note: Flav & Pat both resigned & knew at the time of resigning that they were never going to come back! A life ban for Flav & pat means nothing. Its just an eye wash.


Eye wash or not I expect that the inevitable Court case(in a real Court that is)may well see Flav laughing all the way to the bank.


I think the lifetime ban for flav is a bit more than an "eye wash". Flav isn't allowed to be involved with managing drivers any more, which means no more 10/20% cut of their pay (which could be a fair few million per driver per year for someone like Alonso). Flav is also barred from being involved with other FIA series like the GP2 feeder he and bernie set up.

Add to this that the football league may now require him to relinquish his stake in QPR and he's actually been given quite a stiff penalty all things considered.

I'm getting quite angry at all the people who were baying for Renault's blood - there are hardworking, highly specialist staff working behind the scenes who you all seemingly want to put out of a job through no fault of their own, in the worst economic downturn for almost 100 years (which has affected the car industry the most). Remember, justice should also show compassion where appropriate.


Im amazed there are people like you who would let the cheaters off so lightly.Flavio gets

what he deserves.Renault should get the standard 100 million fine.Anything less is a sham.


Stop rewriting history, there is no "standard 100million" fine, that fine was meted out at a SECOND hearing into "spygate" after McLaren were initially LET OFF at the first.

It was only AFTER internal emails (which should have been found by the internal investigation McLaren stated they had performed) were forwarded to Bernie Ecclestone that the FIA decided that not only had the use of data been larger than they had been told but that they had also been misled that the 100mil fine was imposed.

But of course, the facts get in the way of everybodies impotent rage that a company, who having rid itself of the bad apples, accepted full responsibility first time round, aren't being punished to the point of putting 300+ skilled workers on the dole queue.


Renault are the Luckiest F1 TEAM IN THE PADDOCK

———> Let off in J-damper gate

———> let off in Tyre-gate

———> let off in crash-gate

---> let off in the fuel temperature gate

If you go back to their Benetton days(same bunch ‘o’ people)

illegal traction control

illegal fuel rig


illegal wing etc etc



WOW...his arrogance got him a life ban...they are sending a message.


Renault are the Luckiest F1 TEAM IN THE PADDOCK

———> Let off in J-damper gate

———> let off in Tyre-gate

———> let off in crash-gate

If you go back to their Benetton days(same bunch of people)

illegal traction control

illegal fuel rig


illegal wing etc etc



F1 is has become a sham with inconsistent rules.


ALL THE TIME? Not really... Renault got its mass damper [movable aero] banned in a middle of a championship that almost gave Ferrari the championship 2006...


Pity that, because the mass damper is a brilliant idea. Used all over the world now in tall buildings.


Now the interesting question would be as to whether Flavio will contest his ban? He’s not the type to quietly ride into the sunset. He’ll seek his revenge. He’s an Italian, that too a fat one 🙂 He’ll not give up, I’m sure of it.


Now now. Let's not insult Italians even fat ones, just because we're angry.


Ah, but wasn't some of that in J M Ballestre's time when Renault could do no wrong and the sun shone out of its exhaust pipes?


James, as I understand it the ban is a permanent exclusion from F1, but it is suspended for two years. That's slightly different to a "two-year suspended ban."


I am afraid it is not. There is a permanent ban involved. But the ban has been suspended for 2 years. Ban will be brought into place if Renault is caught in doing something of similar magnitude in next 2 seasons ;).


Renault have “Concealed” the biggest LIE in the history of motor sport for over an year!! Isn’t that reason enough to punish them more severely??

The fact is that a FIA official( that too Charlie whiting) was aware of this since last November. There is a lot of difference between a normal lie(like the hamilton one) & a rotten lie. They don’t call it rotten lie for nothing folks. This is the perfect example of a rotten lie. This lie was concealed in some of the most rotten brains of f1 for over a year.

But in case of the 2007 spying,the matter came to notice only somewhere in mid july & the sentence was pronounced in September.

The mclaren incident was a clear cut case of witch hunt.

This verdict is a joke, its a farce, its blatant bias . Its a public eye wash!!


Renault weren't in the sight's of Mosley's elephant gun. This was personal - Surely that's obvious?




What really sadness me is that the real perpetrators of the crime have gotten away with this!!

Dunno what they are upto now. But I suspect one is upto planning something very sinister, cuz the fatso will not rest in peace until he seeks his revenge & the other I hear is shamelessly holidaying in Spain. I suspect he’s sunbathing on one of those nude beaches in Costa Natura or Playa de la Mar Bella or wherever. Absolutely pathetic 🙁


It really doesn't matter about Nelson Piquet because no one will hire him anyway. And I rather doubt anyone will deal with the family in the future....



This reeks of witch hunt - and the scalp that Mosley wanted before he disappeared quietly.

I'm not a fan of Briatore - but it seems as if he was asked to take the fall, and did so. Then, thinking that it was all over, ended up with more than what he'd agreed to taken from him.

Also, the fact that Nelsinho walks away leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. Nelson Sr was an unsavoury character himself in the past, and part of this reeks of him as the avenging father annihilating the opposition.

Other things don't add up here, like Symonds' involvement in this, Briatore's vocal outbursts the weekend of Monza, and subsequent silence.

And the difference between the penalties of Spygate Vs. Crashgate.


Great post. Witchunt it is - Mosley has clearly sat down and surgically, forensically, excised any potential involvement or benefit Briatore can derive for the rest of his life from any form of motorsport, save perhaps in the US.

This has scant relevance to fairness or 'justice', and everything to do with Mosley smarming his way to another decisive victory before leaving office.


Quite true, but some witches need hunting down and putting out of business.

Here obviously some other witches escaped by using their magic powers.


I can't understand the FIA.

Their precident is that its OK to be dishonest and deceitful to millions and millions of people throughout the world,

but if you get caught,

then all you have to do is confess to get immunity!



Also FIA=Illuminati


I hope this is good for F1.

For me Flav is a showman and wanted to make F1 a spectacle for us the viewers, (setting aside this incident)and maybe his vision for the future didnt hold up well with the FIA people.

I guess we the viewers/fans will not be told the reasons why etc but have to go along with their verdict.

I am a little uneasy with the ease of punishment given to Renault even with their overall involvement in motor sport I would have thought something more than a suspended punishment - there should have been a fine as a minimum.

This now set a precedent in that so long as you admit dishonesty then getting caught is not a major problem - even after sacking/firing/pushing the two main protagonists in Flav and Pat.

However I shall still tune in this weekend!


But is this what Flav had in mind all along about making F1 a better show?


Piquet walking away unpunished is horribly wrong. After all, it was he who actually crashed the car. He changed the outcome of the championship and put lives at risk. He should not only be banned but shunned as well.


"He changed the outcome of the championship and put lives at risk."

He (Piquet) didn't change the result of the championship, Ferrari messed up Massa's pit stop, not Renault/Piquet, then the FIA/stewards awarded a drive through penalty.

Also these other poor results caused Massa to lose last year's championship.

Australia, retired

Malaysia, spun off & retired

Britain 13th, 2 laps behind

Hungary, engine failure, retired.

Japan 7th.


don't worry. his career's over in all of motor racing. that's punishment enough when you think about it...


In vein of what I posted on the other thread...

The punishment is an absolute disgrace.

The implications are severe: A slap on the wrist for fixing race a result...

Disregarding the consequences within the sport, such a slap - sorry, severe punishment - is something that might even lead to outside implications regarding, for example, sponsorship agremeents or betting.

FIA sacrificed justice at the altar of money: Renault's big-penalty-and-we're-off tactic worked (IIRC similar to McLaren's liegate).

Well, for those of you who don't know the 'I' in 'FIA' means inconsistent.

I really do hope Vatanen would be the next FIA president instead of Todt.


I can't help but feel sorry for Flavio/Pat in some respects since the guy that fired the trigger completely got away with it. My issue with Piquet Jr is that he only seemed to reveal the information in revenge rather than any sense of moral justice.

As for the Renault punishment, it really is very light. Honda/Brawn can feel very hard done by with they race bans they received a few years ago for an incredibly minor offence in comparison. Also Mclaren, as you say James, were incredibly harshly punished when in effect a lot of information seemed to have been withheld from the management for the initial inquiry (I'm thinking of those emails here). As soon as Ron Dennis found out about them he also went straight to the FIA to report the evidence.

At the end of the day, it leaves another sour taste that the whole mess was uncovered to settle certain scores, by Piquet who was sour about getting sacked, and the FIA who were sour about the FOTA war.

It is interesting that since the FOTA signed up to the new concorde agreement, they have been severely weakened. Anyway, just thought I would say thanks for the reporting James. First class job as always, and you always seem to report with neutrality and honestly which is refreshing. I think you would have done an excellent job on the BBC and they are missing a trick by not having you involved (but don't tell anyone I said that!). Thanks again James.


I can't bring myself to feel sorry for Flavio.

The man with the $100 million super yacht and the notches of a dozen supermodels on his bedpost has made a mockery of the sport I most love. I feel sorry for the people who bought tickets for last year's Singapore event and thought they'd seen a race. Flav can start issuing refunds out of his own pocket before I'll have a shred of respect for him.

Weird really, Flav is disgraced, and Mosley leaves the FIA with the moral highground. Who'd have thought it possible?


Mosley could have offered Piquet immunity last year. So what was the hold up, I wonder? He was clearly waiting for an opportunity when the impact would be more lasting and Briatore would never get up from the blow. Or maybe the "narrative" had not been finalised with each participant. But he cannot be upset that Ferrari have one less vote in their camp and that Renault are likely to present a FIA-friendly face.

As for Briatore, having witnessed the Hamilton/McLaren fiasco in Australia he must have known the little weasel was going to squeal. What made him think that ritual public humiliation would work on the two Piquets? Either he had guarantees that came to nought or ... he was not quite as responsible as the "narrative" would have it?

So what happens next? Here are my preferred made-for-TV-drama endings? Todt is seen picking out the curtain colour for his new FIA office. Flavio dusts off his very little black book to contact all his "made" friends from Palermo to Rio de Janeiro ... Nelson and Nelsinho go into hiding. Max hand-writes the invitations for a very exclusive celebratory event in London. The White Duke of Maranello is seen sporting a small plaster on his left hand: the result of squeezing too hard on the white cat on this lap when he heard the news of Briatore's fall from grace ...

... oh, and this blog hits 100 000 unique visitors and JA takes the family on a splashy holiday, taking care to avoid Sardinia's Billionaire Club.


Thanks for that, Facchetti. We're nearly at those numbers now, but I'm not planning any splashy holidays, as you put it!


I agree, I only meant that in comparison to Piquet they have some reason to feel hard done by. It isn't like Piquet went to the FIA out of good concsience!

But yes, the boats and bank notes will help console him.


In general a fair punishment not including Jnr.

Flav and Pat deserve to be punished fully and considering it was a plan hatched between the three then any further punishment against the team would of been harsh. As proved in teh McLaren case there were alot more people involved hence the punishment against the team.

Junior should not of been given immunity, he too deserves to be banned from the "sport".


I think this punishment is appropriate and sufficient. The main culprits have been dealt with pretty harshly, with the exception of Piquet Jr., but he was given immunity, so he never was going to be punished. He will, however, probably never drive an F1 (if any) car again.

Personally, I always felt that the McLaren penalty was overboard and too harsh. So, comparing the current situation to the Spygate situation and saying Renault should have recieved a similar penalty is flawed, in my opinion.


I agree, it is fair.

1) the mastermind (FB) is banned from ALL FIA sporting events and can't manage drivers, that is a serious amount of $$

2) the technical operator is banned for 5 years, unlikely to be wanted back in F1 after that, but who knows for sure

3) NPJ is a bloody *kid*, barely out of his teens. Have you forgotten how stupid some kids can be? Why do you think the armed forces is full of them? Maybe he didn't want to run to dad every time, ashamed of his performance, thinking "all i need in one more chance", FB manipulating the *kid* to do something stupid to keep trying for F1 glory?

will NPJ get that chance now? Probably not... by some of comments posted I think some people would not believe to the extent someone who is depressed and brain washed will sink... not until you read somewhere NPJ attempted suicide or something.

my two cents... sorry for the rant, but don't forget F1 drivers are getting younger and younger. They may have the technical/physical skill, but not likely the maturity to handle a manager *and* boss like FB.


I think you may be in the minority opinion here, but that doesn't mean you're wrong!

I agree that the McLaren penalty was very harsh, but the crime Renault committed (and they have to take responsibility for their employees actions - as stated in the sporting code) was far worse and so not to receive any financial penalty or stripping of their 2008 constructors points and prize money seems to be very unfair as well as being inconsistent from the FIA.


Pat was given immunity too but still punished. There seems to be a set of double standards operating in the FIA, but it's complex, probably 3 or 4 sets of standards apply depending on who the transgressor is.


Just curious, was Symonds actually given immunity?

My understanding was that he was offered immunity, but did not choose to take it.

If he was given immunity and still punished, then Piquet Jr should be treated the same.


He didn't take it, as far as I know, but I'm waiting to see the contents of his written submission to the court..

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

This is farcical when compared to Spygate. Justice should not be dependent on the economic climate. McLaren should be given a rebate.


Simply ridiculous. Mclaren got £50 milliom for an offence that didnt include members of the senior staff. Flavio came up with the plot and while he has now left/sacked I hardly see how this is fair on Mclaren or more importantly the sport. Renault also got off with having Mclaren Data and then do something far more serious.

While we dont really want Renault to leave its obvious to me that it will happen. Once Alonso leaves it will only be a matter of time.

If Man U were about to get a huge fine but that would put them in to Administration, would that stop the governing body from doing so??? At the end of the day Renault cheated to the highest degree. They tried to fix a race...... and succeeded, yet all they get is a 2 year warning basically.

On a side note all the Massa should have won the title stuff is crazy. Firstly it wasnt the safety car that cost him it was a pit stop. Secondly I still think a MAJOR over looked desision last year was to penalise a toro rosso for massa crashing into him at Hungry which gave Massa and extra point. Lewis won it end of!!!


"...all the Massa should have won the title stuff is crazy."

Agree 100% Ross, folks should also remember Massa's other poor results in 2008.

Australia, retired

Malaysia, spun off & retired

Britain 13th, 2 laps behind

Hungary, engine failure, retired.

Japan 7th.

Sorry for the late reply, been on a short break away from a PC.


The football analogy is interesting. Many of us rant at the inconsistency sometimes shown by the FA but they are paragons of fairness in comparison to the FIA who don't appear to give a damn as to how they are perceived.

If ever he was in any doubt, Ron now knows just how much Max hates him.


There are several questions, James, that are not answered and the outcome is illogical in aspects of the case:

1. Mr Piquet is the one who committed the crime. He had a freedom not to do it, yet he chose to do it for his personal benefit - contact, career, money. If you compare it to the situation when a person it told to kill somebody - one is still responsible, not just the person who planned the murder.

2. Nothing was said about the fact that by planning this crash human life was at stake, the one of NP and possible others. Why?

3. If I compare this crime to the one that McLaren committed in 2007, than it seems that the crash-gate is much more severe, but the punishment is "lift" if I may to call it like this:-) Is it because Renault management did not object to the fact and they fired FB and PS?

No to mention that Alonso did not know:-) I can imagine the discussion he had with Pat when he learned that he only has a fuel for 13 laps where overtaking is not possible - "Do not worry, Fernando, trust me...Singapore is a small country, you do not need a full tank":-)


Oh, yeah... And subsequently:

1. Mr unknown German soldier is one who committed the crime - he fired first bullet and started WW2. He had the freedom not to do it...


Unsurprised... however, i'm not personally affected so I'll retain any righteous indignation - save to say that i'd support any McLaren effort to retrieve some of that extortionate fine. I simply don't agree with any argument i've seen as to why the two cases should not be compared.

All change at the top please, sooner the better, the current lot is sick to the core.


I'm afraid that the FIA lost the chance to prove that the punishments they hand out reflect the gravity of the crime and are not based on who the perpetrators are.

As I have said before, the FIA kangaroo court appears to be merely a vehicle for the persuit of Max Mosley's personal vendettas.

Given this "penalty" and the penalty (?) that Renault incurred for espionage versus the infamous McLaren fine, I think that we can safely say that consistency is not a word that one would associate with the FIA's "court".

I noticed that Renault didn't lose a single point for this, let alone receive a fine, and, thus, incur no financial penalty whatsoever. What a surprise. Or rather not, given that, this morning, Bernie was carefully preparing the media for Renault to escape scot free.

The FIA are a disgrace.


Totally agree. The FIA are a joke.


Several commentators (including your good self James) have said that Renault's crime is more serious than McLaren's in spygate.

Is this true? It is certainly debatable.

In the case of Renault, it was a one off, stupid act by three individuals, and Renault has kicked them out once it was know what had happened.

On the other hand in the McLaren case there was an ongoing and sustained use of stolen Ferrari material that was known about by many in the company. This was denied, then admitted, and finally one person lost their job (though I guess you could argue Ron lost his as well).

Anway, I think it's difficult to say that the Renault case is clearly more serious than the McLaren one.


OK. Let's say they are equal. 100 million, please.


Let me put it this way. If Ron resigned at the time, Mclaren could have gone away with it. This is a game between individuals ..


"Briatore’s scalp was always the main target for the FIA, but Renault’s punishment will still look rather odd in the history books compared to the huge fine McLaren got two years ago for a far less serious crime."

You serious? Renault fixed one race whereas McLaren cheated the whole 2007 championship. McLaren was the one that got lightly there. Renault's punishment was consistent with the liegate where Hamilton got away easily because Mosley only wanted to get rid of Dennis.


This makes it obvious that the penalties against Mac were personal.

Anyway, I am glad this BS is over. Flavio was bad for the sport.


No he wasn't. He gave the world Schumacher the champion, Alonso the champion, years of great racing, he almost exclusively understood the need for the 'show' as opposed to arcane deliberations over minute tolerances of esoteric technical elements, and was always an irreverant, larger than life figure. And, as one who has several mutual friends, I know that those close to him like and respect him dearly.

He was, on balance, GOOD for the sport, and he gave the sport far, far more than he took by playing his role in this crash.


He was good at finding talent. Good for him. Alonso and Schumi would undoubtedly have won without him. As far as this...

arcane deliberations over minute tolerances of esoteric technical elements

He knew nothing of these that's why he paid little attention. He was a loud mouth businessman that acted like a child when things did not go his way.

I understand what you say, he was there to reap the rewards of others talents, however, he also broke down and destroyed others. Even JB who was clearly quicker than Trulli he attempted to sabotage near the end of his contract to promote keeping Trulli.


Well the FIA has just made a bigger mess for itself.

So the most blatantly addmitted cheating has occured in the sport and what does the FIA do?

1.Say because Flavio and Pat have gone... thats was a good way to begin. NOT They are not part of the punishment.. they were the problem. so them going was a given not a punishment.

2. Admission is not part of a punishment... it was also a given. If there is that much evidence against you, of course you are going to confess... so that should not be a mitigation

3. Renault saying there going to do some road safety work as a fine?... they were going to do that anyway.

4. FB and PS banned for Life, they both could walk away and that is no real punishment for the team... they are both rich and guilty.

5. A suspended ban unless they do something virtually the same... so unlikely you may as well have not said that part...

This is terrible. No loss of conttructors points, deletion from that year or future.

Considering that by the FIA's admission, this was the worst case they had seen, it is the lightest punishment ever.

What are they going to do when the next team does the same?

Utter maddness... total pandering to Renault..


I think the punishment is Ok considering that Renault didn't try to defend themselves and removed the apparently responsible parties. At least this way the majority of innocent staff at Renault aren't being punished.


I agree that it would be a shame for hundreds of innocent Renault F1 team employees to have been affected, but the FIA could have given them a large enough fine without this happening.


does any of us know who exactly is guilty of what in this whole saga?


That,I think, was the really clever part of Renault's no defence strategy. That is why they played it that way, so that the very minimum would become known about what actually went on.

Unless Pat writes his biography at some point, we probably never will know. Anybody elses version I'm afraid, is less than likely to be candid, Alonso included.


Hi James, the other day after I told you I had walked past the FIA headquarters you suggested I go there again on Monday. I did just that and here are the photos. Enjoy everybody!


Opposite Lock (Ken)

Thanks for doing that Dan. Much better idea of the chaos outside than the carefully selected news photos showed. Pity about Alonso. Very much appreciated.


Very very sad decision. Now we have a precedent : any team is allowed to do its worse. If found out, just sack your manager. Team and manufacturer are untouched. Terrible.

Did they erase Alonso's points at least? His victory is the result of blatant cheating and they still give him the points? Absurd.


Hi James,

What I don't understand, and I think reflects very poor on the sport, is why Nelson Piquet Jr has got away scott free in all this.

Can you imagine an athlete not being punished for taking drug because 'his manger told him to do it' or a footballer not being disciplined for allow the opposition to score a goal because he was told to!! What makes Piquet's action even worse is that not only did he endanger his own life but that of other driver, marshals and spectators.

Piquet is not a child and yes he deserves some credit for bring the matter to the FIA's attention, what ever he motives may have been, but he to deserves to be punished.

Perhaps you can tell me why he 'did the crime' and yet he's the only one involved 'not doing the time'?


"Can you imagine an athlete not being punished for taking drug because ‘his manger told him to do it’ or a footballer not being disciplined for allow the opposition to score a goal because he was told to!!"

Or, indeed, a driver getting away with lying to the stewards because his team manager told him to....


Piquet has got off 'officially. However I agree that mud will stick, but as far as the history book goes, it will read 'Nelson Piquet jr: no punishment', which is wrong.

I acknowledge that a certain someone got away with lying to the stewards, however while what he did was wrong & did deserve a punishment, he did not endanger the lives of marshal's & spectators, or indeed his own.

What Piquet did was on a total different level, he could have killed some one and if anything deserves an 'official punishment' it's that.


It doesn't sound like Piquet has gotten off lightly. Sure, he still has his super license, but who in their right mind would employ him after he nearly brought down a whole team? He didn't seem all that great when he was driving (maybe thanks to Renault/Briatore).


I'm preparing a post on Piquet now


I'm looking forward to that.

Keep up the great work coming!


James, as far as I got from WMSC press-release, the ban is not for two years, the ban is permanent. Forever. Two years is the period during which Renault should not commit anything similar.

Could you please comment on this?


This is nuts... Unless i'm much mistaken, they're saying its fine to offend provided you either tell us afterwards and/or pay us some money - is that right? I don't understand how this shows other teams that the consequences for the of cheating outweigh the benefits.


Shirley GP2 is not an FIA event, as neither are BTCC or LMS. F2 is obviously FIA but the others are not listed on the FIA site as being under their jurisdiction.

However I suppose since GP2 runs on the F1 event rosta then the areas of track paddock etc fall under FIA control.

VERY/too lenient on Renault IMHO.

Ton of bricks and a bargepole on Flav. (Deservedly so)

Note that the sentence stopping Flav being a manager was aimed at the drivers directly:


Piquet now hoping to re-build his F1 career! I don't think so.


Not run to FIA rules, but is sanctioned by them; same race director etc


My first instinct is that Renault got off too lightly. While Briatore and Symonds (to some extent) have been properly chastised, Renault have had to do little more than promise to play nice in future. Paying the costs, and the donation to the road safety projects is a gesture, but that's all. I agree with your point that the dishonesty aspect of the McLaren case had a significant effect on the size of their fine, but given the genuine danger to life and limb of the crash, I think the punishment should have included something with an actual effect, even if the fine was less harsh than the one handed to McLaren.


I'v got to say that, looked at from a selfish F1 fan's point of view, this is the best decision I could have hoped for. We started the day with the press baying for blood. Everyone was implicated in the plot, from Mosley up to Renault. This was instutionalised corruption, runningthe whole way through the sport.

Now what have the press got to bite on? It would appear that it is all down to one man: Flav. Cor! what a relief. There's me thinking that other people had not been 100% trustworthy when in point of fact the only error is that the FIA should have spent less time looking after the sick in India and even less time trusting the honesty of the competitors.

The only blame one can now level at the FIA is one of naivity. Still, who could have thought one man would betray the honour of the sport in such a way. At least the FIA will know better next time.

The relief I felt at the decision does not really say much for me I suppose.

And good for Alonso. He's come out bright and shining yet again. Still, who would have bet against it? Not someone who knew there were two Spanish GPs I reckon.

Symonds has probably got off lightly, if you don't take into account Piquet, the co-cospirator. Indeed, Symonds, who refused to answer some questions put to him as he didn't want to lie, did say that the suggestion, the idea to crash, originated from Piquet. That doesn't lower Pat's culpability but does bring into question the immunity. Did Piquet mention this in his statement to the FIA?

Despite my belief that we don't know a tenth of what actually happened, I do hope it ends here. But with Piquet's post-enquiry statement absolving himself of any real blame (you are 24 - act it), I've got to say Briatore might bite. If the FA decide to act then his silence on the matter might well be strained.

What a mess though. The FIA handled it dreadfully. With senior officials being aware of the allegations just a little while after the conspircy, you'd think they'd show a bit of sense. Or perhaps not.

F1 will live on after this. That is just about the best we could have hoped for.


It is all about one thing the personal fight between Mr Mosley and Mr Briatore.


There is not 1 soul who believed these were the only 3 who knew about it. Most of the team should be aware of it to make it work, including Alonso. This doesn't mean they were told literally but the hints were all there and they coppoerated, without reporting this, in my eyes, a very serious crime in this sport, endangering the lives of not just drivers, but marshalls and spectators.

I think it was Patrick Head who said that if his team would do anything like this, many in the team should be aware of it to make it happen succesfully. It can't be just 3 people.

But anyway, Flavio gone, Max got his revenge for this year 😛


James, I had asked you a question about the implications of this verdict on Fernando's alleged move to Ferrari. You had asked me to wait till 21st. Would you like to share anything more as it is 21st today?


A laughable verdict on Renault in my opinion. Suspended sentences are pathetic, useless and irrelevant. Even fines do nothing - look at the zero impact the £100million had on McLaren: WDC last year and (arguably) the best development pace this year.

It's time that punishments hit teams where it hurts - taking them off the track for a period - removing their sponsors from the TV screens.

I know that it is a difficult time for F1, and losing Renault would be a serious blow, but a culture where cheating is not punished is far more damaging for the long term.

The record books still show that Renault won the 2008 Singapore GP despite being convicted of cheating at the event to do so. How is that possible? What other sport would end up with that result.

Not sure I have any interest in seeing Renault defend it's 2008 win next weekend when there is zero deterrent to stop any cheating in the sport.


I just spotted Pat walking by my house!!!

No.. only joking... but if he turns up here in my part of Spain.. I'll don my paparazzi shades and go after him with my camera!.. hehe.

All in all, i think the result was the right one.. except for Nelson getting away scot free.

Yea, I know no-one will hire him again, so thats a punishment, and yes i can appreciate the pressure he was under to agree to crash.. but i think a fine and/or ban should have been on the cards for cheating.

Pat.. well.. what can I say.. i think he will punish himself now the truth is out far more than the 5 year ban is going to hurt him.

I think he was a very well respected man.. he's lost that.. and everyone on the world knows he cheated. That's gonna hurt him.

Flav.. well.. Good. Got what he deserved.

Although the ban from turning up at any FIA event seems a tad overboard. I think an F1 Ban would have sufficed. Hmmm.. then again.. he may have got back into GP2.. no.. actually he had to be banned from all sport really.

Well its done, over.. now.. PLEASE.. can we get back to the racing and more interesting debate about engine equalisation etc etc..

Nice one James, thanks for keeping us all upto speed!

I'd be interested in your views on the punishment if you care to share???


.. now.. where's me camera...


James, firstly well done on having such a popular blog that it is getting such high traffic!

Secondly, I completely agree that Renault have got off far too lightly. The Briatore and Symonds bans seem tough but fair considering the crime, but Renault only have to not do any serious cheating for 2 years (something they should not do anyway!) to get away with this practically scot free, save for paying for the FIA investigation and contributing to road safety.

I'm not a regular FIA-basher and have often defended them, but it was a poor decision not to impose a financial penalty as well as the suspended ban. It sends the wrong message completely and I think it will encourage other teams to bend/break the rules knowing they only have to get rid of a couple of 'rogue' employees, say they are very very sorry and will get away with it. The punishment, as you rightly say, is massively inconsistent with previous cases.

My very humble view would be that the should have fined them at least as much as they did McLaren and stripped them of their 2008 constructors points and corresponding prize money. It would have hit Renault hard, but not crippled them, and would have sent a clear message that cheating will not be tolerated and will be dealt with severely if caught doing it.

Instead, Renault have side-stepped a massive landmine and I think other teams will be tempted into doing things they shouldn't as the FIA, with their decision today, have made it worth the risk.


Can't imagine the Piquet's GP2 team entry for 2010 will be too warmly received. World Series by Renault ain't much of an alternative...


I think this decision will reflect badly on the sport as it shows, yet again, that the FIA are more interested in getting their pound of flesh - in this case Flav - as opposed to considering the good of the sport. Although with Flav the FIA could probably get a lot more than a pound.


Alonso let of with blatantly cheating again.

Let some Journalists ask him direct questions about why he did not question the totally abnormal fuel loads and strategy and watch him wriggle.

Alonso is guilty as hell, as he was before at McLaren, a cheat is always a cheat, fitting humiliation that his countrymen have to resort to buying him a seat with Ferrari.


Well James I think that is pretty conclusive, all of the comments I have just read believe that the sanctions imposed upon Renault are inconsistent with previous sanctions. As someone rightly pointed, shouldn't they at least have had their constructors points cancelled thus demoting them to the end of the pit lane for next year and removing some of their bonus money. You could see this one coming when Bernie popped up in the press this morning.

There is a saying, justice needs to be done and seen to be done, the FIA has failed that particular standard.


Hm just a small question on the wording, is the team ban forever and suspended for the next two years, or is the ban for two years and suspended forever?

Regardless, I think the punishment fits the crime, the three people responsible already lost their jobs and as far as we know they only did it once.

The McLaren fine always seemed harsh to me and the situation was very different, you cant really compare the two.


Banned, but ban is suspended for two years


Renault got off very lightly, but The FIA were in tough position and i feel that this is the best decision that they could have made as Renault is important to the sport as a constructor and engine supplier.


It is now the responsibility of the F1 community to deal out some further justice and ostracise the Renault F1 team for the remainder of the season.

I would like to see FOTA take a tough stance and publicly condemn the behaviour of the Renault F1 team and consider suspending them for the rest of the season.

The press and fans should avoid indulging in renault hospitality and corporate events. Fans should refrain from purchasing renault F1 merchandise.

Next season we can have a fresh start with a new FIA president and move on.


Well i think people are going to go on and on about this one, but just take another look at it. Think if they had given this penalty to Mclaren for the spygate they would have been banned from F1 for the liegate saga at the start of the year (which envolved the team and hamilton) as it would of been inside that 2 year period. So i think that their $100 million fine is probably not as bad as it could of been. This 2 year suspension is an issue for Renault because the bottom line is that it was not Renault who committed this crime but 2 top members and a driver. For all the effort Renault can put in to stop something bad happening again they cannot stop other people within the team doing something they shouldn't. Again Look at Mclaren, they stated after spygate that they would be honest and above board from then on and just 18 months later a long standing team member and a driver got involved again with the liegate saga. I think the reality of this whole saga is that it was a political move with the main objective to get ride of Flavio and thats been completed. Max has got rid of the 2 men from F1 this year he wanted to (the other being Ron Dennis of course).


You clearly have no concept of Corporate Accountability. Based on your model, anyone can do anything, and if caught, throw one or two to the wolves and carry on as before.


Mclaren got a huge fine because they exist to race, and would therefore take the hit and still be around. As we can all see, the fine didn't really have much of an effect on them ... they got off pretty lightly when you consider that at the time most people assumed they would quite rightly get thrown out of the championship that year.

Renault's reputation is the key to their worldwide sales - they have taken a massive hit in this area due to this latest scandal already - a scandal caused by three of their employees - all this is while they are on the lookout for a title sponsor. A massive fine on top of that would have only caused them to leave F1, surely, which would ultimately be F1's loss.

Tabloid readers will shout words like "absurd", "madness", "bias" and "farce" etc. but it doesn't take much to understand what is going on here and why.

As for Piquet ... why he gets away with nothing is surely the biggest scandal of all.


The WMSC don't go out of their way to make themselves appear fair and impartial. On the same day that they let Renault off with a "voluntary donation" to the safety fund and a slap on the wrist, they also manage to find Mercedes guilty of having a better engine than everyone else and propose that the teams should fight it out between themselves as to how to hobble them.

Renault surely must have had some contact with the FIA to come up with the donation idea - smacks of behind the scenes dealing and does not do Max or Renault any credit. The alternative is that it suggests that Renault believed it could influence the punishment with substantial donations to the FIA, so which ever way you look at it, it brings the FIA into disrepute (hmm, there's a rule about that somewhere I heard).

So, business as usual for the FIA.


What happens to all that homosexual allegations that Flav leveled against Piquet Jr? Surely he can claim damages amounting in millions! its a serious allegation after all. Its character assassination if you'd ask me.


Im Flavio must be devastated, as he bobs around the Med on his huge yacht, drinking the finest wines, eating the finest food, or perhaps he will consol himself in his fabulous place in South Africa. With his supermodel wife. With his millions in his various bank accounts. Ill gotten gains - and he will keep the lot. Yes, he must be devastated.

What a total joke - it seems to me that no one has really been served any punishment here.


Just noticed how many times the phrase 'scot free' has been used by people leaving comments! 🙂


The FIA as true to form as they have ever been. Why was any one of us was stupid enough to think it might be different.

The FIA should book a slot at the Edinburgh Fringe next year, it'll be a sell out.

Opposite Lock (Ken)

I don't have a problem with the results, except:

"Nelson Piquet walks away with nothing, despite having been one of the three conspirators, because he was granted immunity at the outset, in exchange for the information..."

While the FIA was bound to stand by its offer of immunity, they could at the very least issue a statement condemning Piquet's actions. They should also state what his punishment would have been if he had not been granted immunity to send a clear message to other drivers in all FIA-sanctioned series. Do something like this and you are out for life.

Unfortunately, the message the FIA has given drivers so far is that you can participate in cheating, no matter how egregious, all you must do to escape punishment is to rat out your team at the first sign the cheating has been found out.


Just because Piquet wasn't punished, it doesn't mean he will be given a super licence in the future.

James, do you know the line of questioning involved with Alonso?

Love the way he had the cohones to turn up in casual clothes rather than a suit.

Good man.



It will be published soon by the FIA. No insights as of tonight, I'm afraid


James, the FIA's full ruling is out and apparently Renault has also supplied a whistleblower - Witness X. Very conveniently this witness has come forward to implicate Pat's version of events but has denied anyone else knew. Is it just too convenient for Renault or could something this really happen in an F1 team with just 4 people knowing?


Hi James,

Have seen the FIA view on the crash gate. Tell us your views on what should have been the punishment ? Do you feel there could be more people involved other than the 3 mentioned ?



I wonder if the fact that the FIA headquarters and Renault are both based in France wouldn't have anything to do with the suspended sentence.



who are the Michel brothers????



So the conspiracy was successful then, they cheated, gained points and get to keep them, along with any financial implications of that.

Great message FIA !!


I appreciate the FIA spinners are pumping the "Renault admitted it" line as frantically as they can, but no-one with an above room-temperature IQ is buying it, and no-one should be seriously trying to sell it.

It is weak. It's an insult.

Talking to us as if we don't all know *exactly* what transpired here.

Will the motorpsort press strap on a pair and finally (finally) take the FIA apart over this, or is it business as usual; intimate dinners on Max's tab, jokes, laughs, and going away presents.

The antique mainstream media needs to wake-up to its reponsibilities here. All too incestuous, too-cosy-by-half, they are supposed to represent a fourth estate, instead they serve-up indolent regurgitation of press release and Q&A, all the while a toxic totalitarian maladministration lies to our faces.

Disintermediation, it's put-up or shut-up time. It's the new-school.

If newspapers, magazines, radio or television are too frightened to risk their credentials, to meek to upset, then they all deserve their imminent and inevitable bankruptcies.

Their actions and response will describe how relevant any of them are going forward.

We require nothing less than independent commentary and investigation. Persitent, ethical, intelligent journalism to take this debased and corrupted administartion to the cleaners.

Motorsport Reporting 2point0


Brilliant. I wish I could have articulated it that well.


Herewith a CLEAR message from the FIA to all drivers: "A driver is allowed to participate in any sort of crime IF he's to approach and confess later [a year would be ideal] to the FIA as he was immune to all sorts of prosecution."

Piquet is now with no doubt not a welcome name in MOTORSPORT


Can the FIA enforce the bans against Symonds and Flavio? Aren't there competition rules/prohibitions on restraint of trade (which is arguably what this is for Symonds, as working in F1 is what he's done for donkey's years, and this ban prevents him from doing so)?


Regarding the comments about how harsh McLaren's "Spygate" fine was - don't forget, the original punishment was not that harsh (no monetary fine). The $100 million fine was imposed after it was discovered that McLaren didn’t come clean the first time. In this case, Renault cleaned up before the initial judgment by asking Symonds and Briatore to leave, and unlike Spygate there's no indication that anyone else in the organization was involved. That said, I expected at least a loss of points.


That is my point, it's about how honestly the team presents itself


Statement from french ministry of Industry about Renaultgate:



The whole concept of justice 'FIA style' is a mystery to me - I could just be ill-informed! I just wonder would they fare in an actual Court of Law - would love to see a team seek a Judical Review of an FIA Decision in a Court of Law. How do they get away with it - do the FIA know that if they 'throw enough mud' that the big car companies will comply just to limit damage to their brands? I'm thinking in terms of penalites rather than guilt.

Also James - you are becoming a victim of your sucess! Perhaps it's time to invest in greater website capacity?


It starting to appear this case was instigated by Max from the outset, looks like some unfinished business to me, the main actor at the center of the allegation walks away Scott free, one just has to read the FIA sentencing against Flavio, Max is trying to bury the man, I mean this is personal. Nelson should have had at least some sort of reprimand. Yet Flavio takes all the blame, while Renault, and Nelson walk away, this is a joke. A serious fraud, and a crime where committed here let us never forget that.


Just shows the FIA shouldn't be at the top of these proceedings, politics had far to much influence on what should be lawful dealings.

McLaren cheated on paper and were punished hard.

Renault cheated with lives and get nothing, it is no good saying that the people involved have left the company so no penalty is applied, there is a responsibility here that must be met, sporting ethics? fans? other competitors? safety?

I would not like to see Renault leave the sport, for the sake of there employee's however they race as Renault and have cheated as Renault. They should at least loose all standings from last season and pay back the prize funds allocated to those positions.

This ruling just paves the way for future scape goats of bad deeds.


Does anybody really believe that Alonso knew nothing about this? Highly unlikely. It would be nice if Ferrari were to walk away from him now.


Renault hired these people they have to be responsible for them also.


At the end of the day, I think banning the people responsible rather than punishing the other seven hundred or so people who were not involved, nor even had any knowledge, is fair.

Excepting, of course, the fact that Piquet was given immunity.

The precedent had already been set by the lying incident involving Lewis Hamilton and Dave Ryan at the beginning of the season (although I still believe that, like Piquet, Hamilton deserved to be punished for his role). McLaren removed the key conspirator and got off lightly with a suspended ban. Renault did the same, and thus received a suspended ban.

I don't really agree with a lot of things the FIA have done throughout this case, but I do agree with punishing the people responsible for a crime. It's not fair on the other team members if they are effectively found guilty by association and also punished.


Even if Ferrari lose the 2008 champiomship by themselves, how Felipe Massa can feel kowing that the accident was a plot, that should never ocurred and he should have won that race.

I think he won`t talk too much to the Piquet`s


I think the punishment was appropriate and I am happy the team was not driven out of the sport. It was wise of the FIA not to make the same mistake as they did with McLaren's outrageous fine. The three culprits have been dealt with and we can go on with the championship. The racing world hopefully will give the Piquet's what they deserve.


Lets face it, where there is money, there is corruption, all sport is the same without exception, how much of what we watch is not rigged?

I am not surprised at all with the outcome:

1. Jr walks away a free man; no morale fibre; a bitter and twisted little man; a disguntled former employee who was happy 'play the game', then he sold his soul to the devil when Renault decided to sack him!

2. Renault receive a suspended ban when other teams for much lesser offences (not involving danger to human life) have been punished far more severely!

3. 2 Scape goats walk away still rich and having the last laugh!

4. The biggest joke and I do mean the biggest joke, is that Alonso denies any involvement in this incident and those F1 idiots actually sit there and believe him!

I believe that if we Really knew the truth behind F1; those clandestine meetings with super rich greedy people deciding the destiny of the sport (this includes the pigmy with the silver hair and tall ex-wife), then we would never watch another race. I agree with Irvine, who merely shrugged his shoulders when the news of this incident was revealed - that's how dirty F1 has become, illustrated when an honourable young man like Hamiliton actually felt compelled to lie to effectively serve his corporate masters.

Rant over!


I agree with Red Andy, the statement on formula1.com reads as a permanent ban to be suspended until the end of 2011. IE, Renault will be out of Forumla One forever at the end of the current concord agreement?

A permanent ban from the sport seems like a an appropriate punishment for putting people's safety in danger, whatever one might think about the suspension.

Has everyone (other than Red Andy (-: ) missed this? Or is the statement badly worded?



I see, thanks James! The statement on the F1 website could have been a bit clearer I think.


I heard Mosley say that the right penalty was a ban, but that this had been suspended for two years, provided that they don't do anything like this again


The record of Mosley on BBC: Mosley says 'complete exclusion'.


I've had enough of the governance of this sport.

It is a sad, sad, day for Formula 1. It is not a sport after today. It is a marketing show for the sponsors.

Nothing more.


Whilst its good to see all those hard workers on the Renault factory floor keep their jobs despite the follies of their superiors, why on Earth is it that when McLaren were convicted of Spygate that they lost their constructors' points for the season, and thus the prize money (on top of the fine), yet Renault made direct proceeds from winning the Singapore GP and do not have to pay a penny back? Not to mention that McLaren's crime did not drag the sport through the mud like this case.

Also how is it that Renault's previous suspended bans are not invoked (e.g. for the wheel tethers, and did they get a suspended ban for their spygate or is my memory failing?)


I understand all the negative comments towards Nelson but its easy to see how it happened. Flav being his manager and team boss must have put extreme pressure on him. Losing his drive with Renault would surely have meant an end to his F1 career anyway. In that extremely competetive enviroment I am sure most of the drivers would do the same if ordered.

At the end of the day it was Pat and Flav's responsability to stop this from ever happening and they failed.


Why does everyone seem so surprised at the "punishment"? I would be very surprised if Renault are on the grid next year anyway! They appear to be looking for a way out, this punishment does not cost them too much so the FIA are probably hoping that will mean that Renault will stay, if a large fine had been imnposed that would have given them the excuse to walk away. That is why the punishment is so lenient. I do think that McLaren would have a damn good reason to ask for some of their fine back though the two offences are not even slightly comparable!



Do you have any inside information on how the other teams have reacted to the verdict on Renault?

Of course, Mclaren aren't going to make any kind of forceful comments, lest they face the wrath of the FIA for some further minor transgressions at a later date, but I wonder how Messers Ferrari, Red Bull and co. are going to perceive the lenient verdict.


What happened to Pat's immunity deal? 5 yrs is an eternity. Pat's knowledge will no longer be contemporary enough to be of any value in 5 yrs.

Why no points adjustment? It seems the result would have been the same WCC order if Renault was stripped of the 10 points from Singapore anyway so the other teams haven't been robbed of the WCC money. The FIA should have at least stripped the illicitly gained points just for the principle of it. Renault had 80 points in 2008, 24 clear of Toyota's 56. If nothing else it should have done it on principle lest this set a precedent for future cases where it would have altered the WCC outcome and FOM money distribution.

It seems that the FIA can get away with leaking things with impunity. Go Ari go. Clean up the sewer.


Dear James,

I was interested in MAFIA history both in Sicily and New York and such organisations were so powerfull, the only way for justice departments to fight them was to grant whistle blowers immunity, new identity and financial help. I am speaking here of people who killed 10ths of people or ordered their killings. An example is the underboss of John Gotti in New York or key people in the Corleonese family in Sicily.

What I mean here is that without PIQUET testimony nothing would have come out. And PIQUET wouldn't have signed his testimony without a promise of immunity. The FIA acted as any justice department would act in order to obtain the truth, they had to give him something and they obtained Briatore and SYMONDS scalp. As for PIQUET JnR, he signed the end of his career the day he gave his testimony for 3 reasons : 1st, he isn't that quick. 2nd, he isn't worth trust by his bosses as he gives them up. 3rd, he is willing to cheat and put his life & others at risk. What else ?! So the FIA, doesn't need to ban him or charge him, he's finished.

I think SYMONDS and mainly BRIATORE thinking was based on the logic exposed above. PIQUET JnR can't expose the conspiracy because he would harm himself as much as them. He proved them wrong...

As for the difference between McLaren penalty and Renault's penalty. I agree with you that Renault should have had a financial fine. But I disagree that they should have had a bigger one than McLaren. McLaren cheated using FERRARI confidential data and lied and kept lying at least 3 times in succession and kept using FERRARI data with developments carried out by senior engineers within the team while lying to the FIA. The penalty was more about the lies than the cheating. And the FIA made a point that no matter what you did you end much better by telling the truth as the beginning of the season showed with the Trulli penalty and the new attitude brought to the team by Martin WHITMARCH.

The other and main reason of such a little penalty for RENAULT is the fact that they would have left the championship and that would have resulted in more than 500 jobs at risk and surely they considered that.

As for ALONSO, there is not even the tiniest evidence that he was aware. There wasn't a need for him to be aware. May be he was aware, maybe he guessed and may be not.

I need to put a point here because I am from TUNISIA and I consider myself neutral here and I see both in comments and ALLEN's article some sympathy toward McLaren (at least).

For example if you doubt that ALONSO might be aware of the consiparcy, how could you doubt that RON DENNIS and MARTIN WHITMARCH weren't aware of the extensive use of FERRARI data and based on that they should have been banned. There is 1000 times more suspicion that they were aware than ALONSO in this case.

Secondly, ALONSO and DE LA ROSA were aware of FERRARI weight distribution figures and HAMILTON didn't know and gave a testimony under oath in that regard. Do you really believe that McLaren informed ALONSO to favour him and kept HAMILTON uninformed ?! Don't you suspect that he knew ?! And if he lied to the FIA what should he have been given as a penalty. the FIA didn't care about HAMILTON at that time and doesn't care about ALONSO today and PIQUET as well. It rather looks for decision makers and senior members and that's the way it should be because without these people, no cheating is possible, no machievellic scenarios are possible, no cheating can be planned.

Final point, hat off to Max MOSLEY, he ended with DENNIS and BRIATORE heads. His only mistake was to have had FERRARI against him lately but what a politician ?!


Thanks Jamil. I was going to mention the Gotti/Gravano situation. Infamous situation, and I'll try to post a link for those not familiar with it.

Well, let's see here. A Big Time team boss, one long at odds with Max Mosely. A Long-Serving, highly respected senior member of the team. A 20-something driver, giving in to pressure and doing something he says he would not have done otherwise; whining, basically, "I'm just a kid, I'm embarrassed, how would you feel if your reputation was ruined in something like this?"

NPJ, or Lewis? Pat Symonds, or Dave Ryan? Flavio Briatore, or Ron Dennis? Only the names change. The difference is the general unpopularity of Flavio compared to RD. And of Alonso, post-his McLaren involvement/refusal to play McLaren Company Man.

No one now dancing on Flavio's grave should be any less certain that Ron Dennis HAD TO KNOW that his protegee -- the (young) man he had groomed from age 10, the (young) man he built the team around, the (young) defending world champion -- deliberately lied and cheated, whether Ryan "induced" him to or not. The idea that the legendarily meticulous Ron Dennis could be misled by subordinates twice within 2 years is... interesting.

No one now (and I am one of them) condemning Piquet for being too weak to resist the pressure can logically avoid reaching the same conclusion about Lewis (and I do reach that conclusion). And, unlike Alonso here, there can be no question that Lewis knew all there was to know about the Liegate plot beginning, middle and end.

Of course, with both Lewis and Fernando, their pre$ence i$ vital to the F1 circu$.

So, let' be clear: The McLaren fine is not the applicable precedent here. Liegate is.

Recognizing that, what happened today was entirely predictable: Max gets RD and Flav out of the sport. Symonds and Ryan (induced in his misconduct by RD? We'll never know for sure. Apparently, everyone has concluded that that Flavio induced Symonds. We'll never know for sure) leave with their reputations ruined.

The entire FIA disciplinary structure is so much fertilizer, from track side all the way to Paris. Maybe there's a Fall sale on hip boots to help everyone wade through it.

Let me add in all seriousness that I hope no one involved in any of this succumbs to depression and the suicidal thoughts that go with it. It's a hideous illness that I wouldn't wish on anyone.



do u know if Briatore would be allowed to be a consultant to FOTA?



Excellent insight - as ever.

I'm curious about one aspect of all this that i haven't seen discussed elsewhere, namely the sponsorship/financial situation.

Has ING commented about any of this? Surely there'd be some clause in the agreement that allowed them to terminate or recover money paid for sponsorship if their image was harmed instead of 'improved'

I understand that most title sponsors have performance based contracts and that Renault had budget difficulties because of their dissapointing performance.

Have you heard anything about Renault's sponsors terminating their agreements or trying to get their money back?


Hi James,

A bit new to your blog but find it excellent reading and very informative.

You mentioned in an earlier post that you had heard Max say the Renault suspension was a 2 year suspended ban from the sport.

If that is the case, do you think this is a case of the left hand failing to communicate with the right?

The statement from the FIA specifically states this is permanent disqualification suspended until 2011 and pending any further similar breaches by Renault F1:

"The World Motor Sport Council considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship. However, having regard to the points in mitigation mentioned above and in particular the steps taken by Renault F1 to identify and address the failings within its team and condemn the actions of the individuals involved, the WMSC has decided to suspend Renault F1's disqualification until the end of the 2011 season."

On a side note, What is your view on the ruling that any driver or 'entity' associated with Briatore will not have their Superlicense renewed?

Personally, I find that the potential for Mark Webber or the like being refused a superlicense over this is utterly scandalous and smacks of very narrow-minded thinking on the part of the WMSC.

And as FOTA is 'associated' with Briatore, where does that leave them in respect of having any clout with the FIA?



Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Hamilton had points deducted for liegate. Renault get away with a victory set in stone in exchange for letting two liars slip away from Formula One.

No points deduction and no penalty for Renault stinks. Renault kept Briatore on and even backed him in his farcical blackmail case against the Piquets. It also has to carry the can. The message is that you can cheat, but just make sure to get rid of the offenders afterwards...then you are OK.

Renault receiving the victory, points and prize money is no different to receiving stolen goods.


Have to say in a sort of twisted way this saga reinforces max's original idea : big manufacturers are bad for F1. After all why did Flav and Pat (people tend to forget his involvement a little too quickly, I believe) did what they did in order to obtain a single 2008 victory for Renault and therefore keep the 'winning image" of the team (and secure their own jobs for the following year). The way out of this mess really is with small teams, less ( a lot less) money, and be rid of the big guns (makes) who are only in it for the image/pr returns. With perhaps one exception.

I know many people dislike Fiat/Ferrari, but they should remember that these guys stayed in the sport for two-plus decades during which they won zero/nada/nothing. Can you see renault/mercedes/bmw/toyota/honda/ford doing the same? So i think they proved their commitment over the years. But the others...blah.


Renault F1 basically got away with murder. A mere penalty that doesn't fit the crime. For crying out loud, the team endangered the life of their ex-driver, along with track workers and civilians so they can play their dirty little game.

A threat of a 2-year suspended ban will not quell any future cheaters from fixing a another race. This penalty is equivalent to "PAROLE" or a "GET OUT OF JAIL PASS".

This proves once again that the FIA is a joke. A kangaroo court full of pathetic buffoons and clueless men way past their expiry date.


McLaren’s penalty was so harsh because they lied to the FIA. Their first punishment was a slap on the wrist, why do people, including James, seem to forget that?


I didn't - read the recent posts explaining that very point


The FIA gave Mclaren a huge fine because they knew Mclaren would pay it and still come back and race the following year. Mclaren only exists to race.

It says much for how little confidence the FIA has in Renault's continuing involvement that they couldn't risk punishing Renault any heavier for fear they'd quit F1.


Well F1 again the most unlevel playing field in the sporting world.

It is now a joke, one rule for one, another for a red car, another for a silver car etc.


Well I am glad its all resolved, I must say I am sad to see Symmonds go, but on the face of what he did perhaps I am more sad of what he got himself involved in.

I can't help but see the disparity in the punishment between Renault and McLaren tho...


Even BAR was given a stiffer penalty for their illegal fuel tank.


So there was another written submission of Pat Symonds, this might explain why he was not summoned, but apparently he did not take the route of immunity, but of early retirement

Somehow I feel he could tell a lot more, but I am glad that it ended this way, enough dirty laundry washed in public for me.

I always felt that the Spygate sentence was way to harsh, expecially in this context he current verdict appears rather lenient.

But to crash a car you only need two or maybe three people, a driver, someone responsible for strategy and someone with power, to use illegal data you have to involve almost all of the engineering staff to make use of it.

If you look back at this season, there have been times where Fota and F1 profited from the, well, skills of a Flavio Briatore.

Or to put it differently, I would rather let Flavio negotiate with Max Mosley than, lets say, a Mario Theissen.

In a way I am glad he is gone, but in a way this may change the power balance in direction of the Fia, which might not turn out to be a good thing...


Shameful verdict.


this is good news for the Queens Park Rangers.....


As much as I hate to say it, Flavio will be missed. He's an outspoken crumudgeon. What he did is unforgivable but his flamboyant, colorful personality (and sunglasses) will be missed by this fan. I've never really been a fan of Flav's but it was nice to know that he was there. He gave the sport a personality that the likes of Whitmarsh, Todt, and Fry could not.

Given his acerbic, unabashed criticism of just about everyone involved in Formula 1, I wouldn't be surprised if he were offered a job as an F1 analyst by Italian TV.


Hi James,

Obviously the Mclaren spygate punishment and Renault's punishment don't seem proportional. Which do you think was the fairer decision? Was the Mclaren fine over the top or todays sentance to lenient?

Personally I can't help feel that the FIAs hand were tied by the threat that Renault would walk away if they were fined to heavily, but you can't have one rule for one, and another rule for the rest.


With respect to Max having an agenda. First remember there needs to be a wrong-doing to chase down.

As far as Pat Symonds not taking a deal. Well who is going to hire him anyone? Best to close the book and call it a day and move on.


Although I share the majority view that the FIA ruling was far from just punishment, I can't say I'm surprised by it. Yesterday’s ruling clearly demonstrates that there is no hope for young Ari Vatanen, Mosley’s boy Todt will be duly elected because the last thing these people want is change. For all the disrepute MM has brought about, he should be put in a dungeon and whipped repeatedly by harsh women dressed as prison camp guards. That'll show him.

As to Renault's punishment, if getting rid of FB and PS absolves Renault of blame, then shouldn’t the championships and GP’s these two won be counted as won not by Renault but by rogue executives? Obviously there are clauses in contracts that forbid illegal means but how are we to know what they’ve been up to in past. After all, this isn’t supposed to be about contract law, it’s supposed to be about sporting glory and the integrity of the competition.

Implicating and punishing Alonso would clearly have been a huge PR risk for F1 as well as a financial risk re the GP’s in Spain and umpteen million viewers, but these considerations should not so plainly have affected the ruling. Again it’s about the integrity of the sport and those portrayed as role models. It’ll be very interesting to see the transcript to find out how harshly the WMSC “grilled” Alonso on this.

One can only hope that the press sees the dishonesty in all this and does its job by hounding the FIA into submission and eventual change. It may not happen in our life time though…


Re. your proposal to put Max in a dungeon. Why, exactly, would you wish to reward him in this way?


It seems to me that a suspended punishment is not really a punishment at all.

It basically says that you can cheat in F1 once every 2 years as long as the people who cheated leave the team before it gets to the WMSC!


It's also hard to imagine them doing something on a 'comparable' level of badness..

Opposite Lock (Ken)

I would like to point out that Mosley stated that the amount was so high in McLaren's case because that was the only way to get their attention. Anything smaller would not have meant much to the company. If Force India had committed the same transgressions, the amount would have been proportionate to their size and resources.

It doesn't apply here, but some of the posts do seem to forget this detail.

BTW: I've been a McLaren fan since Bruce drove his own cars. I did think $100M was excessive and that Alonso & De La Rosa should have been punished for their participation in the cheating as should Hamilton for Liargate. Schumi for crashing into Hill & Villeneuve, etc., etc., etc.


They should have taken away the Singapore 2008 "victory". At least. Like Hill put it: the verdict is a crying shame. Politics once again defeated justice.


I think the penalty is fair for Flavio Briattore and Pat symonds.

As far as Renault, they are a manufacturer and they provide to other teams that have no fault in this, F1 needs manufacturers that´s why in my opinion the penalty for them is more light.

What shock´s me is Piquet coming out of this with no penalty.He comes out of this very badly in terms of reputation but in the world we live in maybe somebody will give him a drive at F1.


Flav hasn't been banned for life but for an "unlimited" time.Under appeal this could well mean 5 years or less.


good thing piquet crashed. I am sure alonso would have some threatening emails to show the fia if he could not win a race.good luck Ferrari!


renault should stick to what they do best. supply engines and get out of the championship as a constructor. Really the only ones who should stay are Ferrari and Mercedes. Toyota, Honda, Bmw.....not really any concrete reasons to stick around.


Everybody seems to say that Piquet should be punished also. I don't understand. This event is (as we can see in the penalty) less severe as the Spygate scandal two years ago, where Alonso also got immunity while giving evidence against McLaren. And nobody disputes that. So why should they dispute the immunity of Nelson Piquet, being the only way to punish the real perpetrators.


I did enjoy the Goodwood Revival, away from all this!

There are some great comments here but, for what it's worth, my take is that the punishments are more or less reasonable. As the man in charge, it is correct that Briatore carries the can, especially given the dubious matters of the past. A lifetime ban for the seriousness of the offence seems fitting to me - and rather on him than a whole team of innocent people - not least because many fans will in any case never forgive him.

Symonds, as the next senior figure, deserves the next most severe sanction. He could and should have prevented it, even if Piquet was the author.

Something more than a suspended ban may have been appropriate for the team but with nobody left that was involved, that could be seen as pointless; and Renault (the manufacturer) has effectively fined itself by sponsoring the FIA's road safety initiatives. Where I feel most let down is that the suspended ban requires a comparable offence to be activated, which is both extremely unlikely and could be said to invite a lesser transgression for a lesser penalty (if found out).

There's no point in discussing Piquet because that was all decided before the hearing.

I just wish I could get away from the picture of Mosley celebrating another public beheading of his enemies. The penalties (more or less) fit the crime but the route to them has been an utter disgrace.

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