Sunday, September 20, 2009

Renault face Formula 1 fix fate

The future of the Renault Formula 1 team will be decided by the sport's governing body at a hearing on Monday.
The FIA could permanently exclude the team, who will not contest charges that they ordered Brazilian Nelson Piquet to crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. online sports
However, it is thought more likely that Renault will be issued with a heavy fine or suspended ban.
Piquet has immunity from prosecution and former team-mate Fernando Alonso is unlikely to face punishment.
The FIA agreed not to pursue action against the Brazilian for his role in uncovering the details of the scandal, while the organisation has said it has no reason to suspect Alonso knew anything of the plot apparently agreed between the team's two bosses and Piquet.
However, Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper reports that twice world champion Alonso has been sent a late summons to attend the hearing.
Neither a Renault team spokeswoman nor the governing body would confirm who would be present. tennis sports
Alonso, who is widely expected to join Ferrari next year, has already given evidence to investigators who questioned him at last month's Belgian Grand Prix.
Having already pitted in the race, the timing of the safety car - necessary while Piquet's wrecked car was removed from the track - was critical to Alonso's victory in Singapore.
BBC Sport commentator Martin Brundle, writing in the Sunday Times, urged Renault to "go in with their hands up, admitting guilt" having rid themselves of former team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering head Pat Symonds, neither of whom will attend the hearing.
"They must also demonstrate that they will install a new team principal of perceived integrity," added Brundle.
"I foresee a sizeable fine for the FIA coffers and a points penalty that will pain the team into next year in regard to revenue and pit lane position."
Former world rally champion Ari Vatanen, who is battling to succeed Max Mosley as the next FIA president, told BBC Radio 5 live's Sportsweek programme Renault should not be thrown out of the sport.
Vatanen believes there are too many vested interests in the world council and that punishing Renault by expulsion would be "disproportionate."
He said: "Renault has got more or less their punishment in terms of image and having lost their top brass and we have to see the bigger context here.
"Don't just focus on this incident and look at what we can do about the FIA and about the sport.
"If Renault is thrown out it wouldn't have been a result of an independent justice. That's what we must get right - an absolutely independent justice otherwise people will always have a question. What was behind it?"
Vatanen added that Piquet ought to take the blame for the crash itself, and should not have been allowed to "escape that responsibility" with the immunity handed to him by the governing body.
If the FIA chooses to simply fine Renault, it will have difficulty in deciding the size of the sanction.
In 2007, a record $100m (then £49.2m) fine was handed out to McLaren for their illegal possession of Ferrari documents.
But the engineering of a crash in Singapore, endangering the safety of others to manipulate the outcome of a race, marks an entirely different form of infringement.
"The McLaren spying scandal two years ago was extremely serious but mechanics have always discussed technical data among themselves," said retired triple champion Niki Lauda last week.
"This, though, is new. The biggest damage ever. Now the FIA must punish Renault heavily to restore credibility in the sport."
The FIA's decision will be reached in the same week that Formula 1 returns to Singapore for this season's race, with first practice due to begin at 1100 BST on Friday, 25 September.


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