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Hungary 2009: Renault Have Been Suspended From The European Grand Prix

Hungary 2009: Renault Have Been Suspended From The European Grand Prix

The Renault Formula One team have been suspended from taking part in the next race at Valencia at the end of August. The suspension comes after Fernando Alonso’s wheel came off during the race following the wheel-bin working loose and unraveling the wheel nut. This means Fernando Alonso will not take part in his home race around the streets of Valencia, puts the squad at a disadvantage in the championships and will not help the negotiations between the team and Alonso for 2010.

The suspension seems like a harsh penalty for the FIA to dish out, as in the past wheels have come off other cars and the teams and drivers have not been suspended. However, given the recent incidents involving car parts coming off and striking other drivers, it is understandable why the FIA would want to be seen to be taking this matter seriously. Seven days ago, Henry Surtees was tragically killed by a tyre-and-wheel hitting him after it detached itself from a fellow competitor’s car. And yesterday, Felipe Massa was rushed to hospital after a spring from Barrichello’s car struck him in the face. Massa is still in an induced coma in Budapest.

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore was seen trying to leave the circuit after Fernando Alonso retired his R29, despite the fact second driver Nelson Piquet Jr. was still in the race. This sends out a very strong message to myself, one that indicates the Italian has already made up his mind about his driver pairing. It is not known if Briatore actually made it out of the circuit; the FIA and FOM do not like team personnel leaving until all their media obligations have been taken care of. In fact, it is a rule for 2009 that the drivers cannot leave early.

The penalty may also seem quite harsh because it affects the second driver of the team. Currently, that man is Nelson Piquet Jr, and if he were to remain with the team, he too would be penalised by not being able to race. Given that the incident had nothing to do with the Brazilian, it seems a little unfair. Although it is rumoured that Piquet will not be racing for Renault again anyway, penalty or no penalty and as mentioned in the above paragraph.

So the 2009 European Grand Prix will feature just 18 drivers from 9 teams, and Renault will have to stay home and watch the race on the television.

Oliver White

6 comments

  • […] However, Renault have been given a very harsh penalty following the incident that saw Fernando Alonso’s wheel come off mid-lap. The team, Piquet inclusive, will not race in Valencia in a months time. Although it is rumoured that Piquet will not be racing for Renault again anyway, penalty or no penalty. Further information on the Renault suspension can be read in this post. […]

  • Harsh but fair, it was obvious that the wheel was going to come off by turn 3, it then went bouncing across the overtaking racing line, but would of Alonso parked it at turn 4 if ordered to by the team, we all know it would of been no. So I think the team copped it for not ordering Alonso to park it (I presume He wasn`t ordered) and Alonso for not parking it knowing that the wheel was holding on by willpower alone.

  • I think this penalty is a bit harsh. We saw a far more dangerous incident at Valencia last year which went unpunished (back when the FIA still stood for Ferrari International Assistance, although given Kimi’s lack of penalty yesterday you’d have to wonder). And then why aren’t Brawn being punished when it was their car that put Flippy in the coma? *note, I don’t think Brawn should be as it was just one of those freak things, but again – some consistency please !

    I think a fine or reprimand would have been sufficient. Its not like they were cheating like BAR when they got suspended.

    And as we know, Valencia only got a race to cash in on the Alonso-mania. How shafted are all those fans going to feel now, especially since he didn’t get to race there last year either.

  • Renault team boss Flavio Briatore was seen trying to leave the circuit after Fernando Alonso retired his R29, despite the fact second driver Nelson Piquet Jr. was still in the race. This sends out a very strong message to myself

    Me too. Martin Brundle said back in 2002 that “Flavio doesn’t really do twelfth, does he?” and this was the position Nelson Piquet Jr. was occupying at the time. He just wanted to get away from a horrible weekened – and yes, I think we’ve seen Piquet Jr. do his final F1 race.

    It is technically permissible for anyone other than a driver to leave the circuit early. However, Bernie must have known by then that an investigation into Renault’s pit-stop/tyre incident was likely. If a team is being investigated after the race, a representative of the team (usually the team manager rather than the team principal) has to be there. Other team members are allowed to help out (frequently including the team principal). While Flavio could probably have delegated the task of defence completely to the Renault team manager and left the circuit, he might not have wanted to do so, given that it was Fernando and the team as a whole that was being investigated.

    Besides, it would have given him time to confer with the very analytical Pat Symonds and come up with a logical plan of defence before being formally summoned by the stewards.

  • From what I gather off the BBC Red Button, although the rule being used to penalise Renault is technical, the reason it’s getting a different penalty to other teams in a similar situation is that the FIA believes it knowingly released Alonso with a loose wheel and then didn’t inform him. In other words, if Renault can prove Fernando was released with a loose wheel accidentally then no penalty would have accrued, but if Renault had told Fernando the situation no penalty would have been issued either.

    The fact that Fernando kept going at high speed even after it must have been obvious his wheel/tyre had problems tells me Fernando should have been penalised anyway. If it didn’t work for Gilles Villnueve in 1979, it won’t work for Fernando Alonso in 2009 either…

  • As for Brawn, they won’t get a penalty unless and until the ongoing investigation indicates they should receive one. It’s not as if the team thought the spring was going to fall off when they let Rubens out of the pits…

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