Renault Receive A Two Year Suspended Disqualification

Renault Receive A Two Year Suspended Disqualification

The Renault Formula One team has received a two year suspended disqualification following the revelation that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds asked Nelson Piquet Jr to deliberately crash his car during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in order to better his team mate’s chances of victory. The sentence comes after the World Motor Sport Council deliberated over the evidence and statements from those involved, and also took note of the recent resignations of both Briatore and Symonds. All things considered, the punishment could have been a lot worse.

The latest controversy to engulf the sport has perhaps been one of the worse when you consider that Briatore and Symonds essentially fixed the race by convincing Piquet Jr to crash his car at a point that would virtually guarantee a safety car period. With this knowledge, the team were able to run a very aggressive strategy with Fernando Alonso and thus, the Spaniard took the race victory.

For his part, the FIA are happy that Alonso played no involvement in the agreement between the three men implicated and was unaware of what Piquet was going to do. Although it has been noted that an intelligent and experienced driver would normally have questioned the reasoning behind such an aggressive strategy, Alonso it seems is in the clear.

And all things considered, Renault are fortunate to have come out of this debacle relatively unscathed. To deliberately plan to cause an accident which could have harmful consequences to those in and around the car at the time is quite simply wrong, and to do this in order to gain advantage is unsporting at its most.

The World Motor Sport Council finds that Renault F1 team members Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr. conspired to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. The World Motor Sport Council therefore finds Renault F1, which, under article 123 of the International Sporting Code, is responsible for the actions of its employees, in breach of Articles 151(c) and point 2(c) of Chapter IV of Appendix L of the Code, and Articles 3.2, 30.3 and/or 39.1 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations.

The World Motor Sport Council considers Renault F1’s breaches relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity. Renault F1’s breaches not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself. 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. The World Motor Sport Council will only activate this disqualification if Renault F1 is found guilty of a comparable breach during that time. FIA Press Release.

A suspended sentence essentially means that if Renault break any comparable rule in the next 24 months, the FIA will come down on them like a ton of bricks – they would be disqualified from taking part in Formula One. For now though, while the team remain within the rules, they are permitted to continue fighting in the Formula One World Championship in 2009, 2010 and 2011. After this point and assuming Renault do not do anything of similar nature, the suspension will presumably be lifted.

Further to the suspended disqualification, Renault have also agreed to pay the costs involved with the investigations and to also make a significant contribution to the FIA’s safety work and campaigns.

This will undoubtedly come as a relief to all who work at Renault who played no part and had no knowledge of what Briatore, Symonds and Piquet Jr did, and I’m sure Alonso (who attended the hearing this morning) is happy knowing he can continue driving for the remainder of the season alongside Piquet’s previously-implemented replacement, Romain Grosjean.

Piquet, who brought the matter to the attention of the FIA in the first place, received immunity from any consequences resulting from the hearing today, something the Brazilian is awarded for being honest and informing the governing body. Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have both left the Renault team and they may face further investigation. However, for now the team must continue without two of its (previous to recent times) most respected managers.

Of course, the sport has once again found itself splashed across the newspapers for all the wrong reasons, and once again I utter the words of comfort in the hope for a clean and exciting end to the 2009 season.

Oliver White


  • How did you do this so fast? I would suspect witchcraft but I think it must just be a regular dose of OllieAwesomenesss

    I just happened to refresh the FIA website at the right time. OllieAwesomenesss!

    According to the feeds, I beat Autosport by three minutes. But if anything has been learned today, it isn’t necessarily all about the winning and the taking part counts as well.

  • WOW

    What a dissapointing judgement. This opens the door to continued bending of the rules for personal advantage. If caught nothing will really happen to you, you will get off so that the big show will continue on. There was an oppuritunity to reshape the F1 image and become responsible to itself for all lower levels of motorsport to witness. This does nothing more than raise the level of doing whatever is needed to win and make money.

    Formula One has lost a golden oppuritunity. It lost its respect.

  • The difficulty here is that of the three people who did the actual cheating, two of them were immune (though strangely one of the two got a penalty anyway) and all three had received worse punishment from Renault and F1 prior to the WMSC hearing than the FIA was realistically in a position to impose. I’m not sure if a right and just penalty was even possible in this case, but this may well have been the best possible under the circumstances.

    Renault did everything in its power to prevent a recurrence once it knew what had happened, so penalising it would be unfair. What, however, are the chances of the manufacturers demanding closer input into the day-to-day affairs of their teams after this?

  • I can’t decide whether I agree with it or not. Certainly compared with other FIA decisions of recent years, it seems very soft. But, the main protagonists have already been dealt with, with varying degrees of penalty. Or in the case of Jnr, no penalty at all. Professional penalty, that is, as his reputation has certainly taken a beating and his attractiveness on the driver market in any country would be on par with a leper.

    Actually, I think that is what grinds most, the fact that Jnr escaped punishment.

  • Piquets punishment is for a racer perhaps the most devastating one that a racer can or could ever face, rejection.

    Spend your entire life trying to get to a point in your profession where your among some 100 or so individuals who are good enough to do what they do, compete in the top levels of motorsport. Then be good enough to get a Formula One race seat and compete with the very best. In a moment of bad judgement put yourself into a situation where your decision to tell the truth will certainly cost you any chance of racing again must be a heart breaking moment for a driver.

    The imunity given to Piquet by the FIA is worthless and has done nothing. I bet you he is glad that he took them up on their offer of imunity.

    To be a racing driver and have experienced what Piquet now has, is a pretty severe punishment. Ruin your own career and then have somebody tell you that didn’t get punished enough.

    Give me a break.

  • clearly the renault team did a dastardly thing, but in terms of the competition rules, what is the wording of the one(s) they actually broke?

  • To be a racing driver and have experienced what Piquet now has, is a pretty severe punishment. Ruin your own career and then have somebody tell you that didn’t get punished enough.

    He did wrong, just as Briatore and Symonds did. And if Symonds is to be believed, it was Piquet’s idea in the first place. My view is that Piquet should have been punished along similar lines to the other two. I also feel that giving immunity to people is wrong. Yes, it got the FIA the statement from Piquet, but it shouldn’t have taken such a large bribe incentive to get there.

  • Ah, but Ted Bell, no one ruined Jnr’s career, other than himself. Own silly fault. And don’t give me any of the he was forced into it BS. In the end, the buck stopped with Jnr. Do you think he did out of any great desire to see Alonso win? Cos they are such great buddies? Cos he loved the team so much? Nope, his reasons were purely selfish – to use it as a leverage point to extend a contract he didn’t deserve in the first place.

    So by your logic, if I commit armed robbery tomorrow & lose my job over it but escape criminal convictions, I’ll have been punished enough? Sorry bud, but I don’t think the majority of the population would agree with you on that one.

  • Logic tells me that when you have spent your life in pursuit of becoming a driver of a Formula One car and then have made a pretty dumb driving decision that resulted in you losing your job, ruined your reputation and have made you into damaged goods and for all intents and purposes have put an end to your career is indeed a fairly severe punishment.

    Loss of job, loss of income, loss of reputation, loss of future, loss of oppuritunity, it all adds up doesn’t it?

    To a driver this kind of punishment is just about as bad as it can get.

  • Loss of job, loss of income

    But he lost his job because he wasn’t fast enough and didn’t score enough points, again, if you’ll have Renault believed because obviously none of us have seen his contract or were there when Piquet was let go. So going by that, although not nice for the guy, losing his job is not punishment for crashing on purpose, but punishment for not performing well enough, which is what happens in the real world.

    As for loss of income, I read some where that Piquet earned $1.5m in 2008 and took a pay-cut to $1m in 2009, but probably only received ~$6-700k of that. I’m sure Piquet isn’t quite poverty-stricken just yet. 🙂

  • Would any of us feel differently about Piquet if he had somehow had some success in the less than great Renault? I suggest that this whole affair is the result of just how bad the car was when raced.

    Some will point to Alonso and say look at what he did with the car and the truth of the matter is he is a very good driver who is expected to get results and didn’t and now seems to be looking for a racing seat elswhere. Why? because the car isn’t any good. A world championship driver barely getting results from a desperate team.

    Bad race cars ruin drivers careers. Scott Speed, Seb Bourdais come to mind. Algeswari (spelling?)and Grosjean have had basically little effect in thier cars.

    A great chassis makes you become a household name and fills your pockets with money. Button and Brawn come to mind. Because of the car Button will no longer be regarded as a good driver who barely got it done. His success is because of the coming together of all the parts of the puzzle in F1 at the same time.

    Piquet will forever be associated with “Crashgate” while racing for a midfield team that was desperate to win and allowed its own infrastructure to fail itself in pursuit of victory.

    Renaults failure to build a competitive car capable of winning without the need of others to have misfortune is the real culprit.

  • I just can’t help thinking that wherever Pat Symonds is, there’s controversy too.

    Although Ferrari aren’t promising anything about Raikkonen, i doubt they will hire Alonso. I know he didn’t do anything, but it seems that wherever Alonso goes, controversy and scandel are not far behind. Remember ‘Spygate’?

    This will be the talk of double DT at school (When we’ve finished Food tech) because now Piquet Jnr’s career is ruined. If he had just kept the info too himself (Not that I’m saying race-fixing is alright) then he might have been able to get on aboard with another team (i.e Toro Rosso, who need good drivers, but no, he couldn’t just leave it.

    Now he’s saying he’s going to America (As if the USA haven’t heard of ‘Crashgate’?) but I doubt the Americans will want someone with a damaged career.

    If he wants ideas, here’s one: get yourself down to McDonald’s, you could be working with Leon Jackosn and Andy Abrahams (That went a bit off track)

    BTW (By the way) please don’t be cruel about my comments, I’m only in Year 8 at school.

  • clearly the renault team did a dastardly thing, but in terms of the competition rules, what is the wording of the one(s) they actually broke?

    Firstly, sorry to Tim, I missed your comment in the moderation queue.

    Secondly, the Renault team probably broke numerous rules, but the oft-cited one is bringing the sport into disrepute. This is what McLaren were charged with when Mike Coughlin was found with the Ferrari information.

    The FIA’s International Sporting Code can be found here on the FIA site with the Formula One regulations. It’s only available in PDF format I’m afraid, so you’ll have to download it.

    The FIA stated on Monday:

    The World Motor Sport Council therefore finds Renault F1, which, under article 123 of the International Sporting Code, is responsible for the actions of its employees, in breach of Articles 151(c) and point 2(c) of Chapter IV of Appendix L of the Code, and Articles 3.2, 30.3 and/or 39.1 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations.

    Article 123:

    The entrant (see Articles 68 and 69) shall be responsible for all acts or omissions on the part of their driver, mechanic, or passengers, but each of these shall be equally responsible for any breach of this Code or of the national rules of the ASN concerned.

    Article 151(c):

    Any of the following offences in addition to any offences specifically referred to previously, shall be deemed to be a breach of these rules:


    Part (c): Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.

    Article 2(c):

    Overtaking, according to the circumstances, may be done carried out either on the right or on the left. However, manoeuvres liable to hinder other drivers, such as premature changes of direction, more than one change of direction to defend a position, deliberate crowding of a cars towards beyond the inside or the outside of the curve edge of the track or any other abnormal change of direction, are strictly prohibited…

    I’m guessing the abnormal change in direction rule came into effect here. Alia, can you confirm this one? Have I got it wrong?

    Article 3.2 (F1 Regs):

    Competitors must ensure that their cars comply with the conditions of eligibility and safety throughout practice and the race.

    Article 30.3 (F1 Regs):

    Point (a): During practice and the race, drivers may use only the track and must at all times observe the provisions of the Code relating to driving behaviour on circuits.

    Article 39.1 (F1 Regs):

    Team orders which interfere with a race result are prohibited.

    It was also a very naughty thing to do. 🙂

  • I’m guessing the abnormal change in direction rule came into effect here. Alia, can you confirm this one? Have I got it wrong? {Ollie – previous comment}

    I believe you are correct, Ollie. Usually, an abnormal change of direction is done in relation to impeding an overtaking move of some description, in which case Article 16 of the Sporting Regulations is normally invoked, but the underlying reason for that also covers this situation and probably a number of others.

  • Ollie, have you given up on the caption contests?

    C’mon pleeeeeeeeeeeeazzzzzzzzzzzzzze bring them back, apart from the fact that I love them, I think we could all use a little light releif atm.

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