Renault handed suspended ban

French teams former boss Briatore barred for life, Symonds gets five-year ban

Renault handed suspended ban


Renault F1 team president Bernard Rey speaks to the media after the hearing at the World Motor Sport Council in Paris, Monday. AP

The former world champions' suspended ban will last until the end of the 2011 season, after which they will be in the clear. The governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) also banished the team's former engineering head Pat Symonds for five years for fixing last year's Singapore Grand Prix by ordering Brazilian Nelson Piquet to crash.

Piquet, the 24-year-old driver at the eye of the storm, walked away from the FIA's World Motor Sport Council hearing unpunished after being given immunity from prosecution in return for testifying.
He said he bitterly regretted his actions, slammed Briatore and hoped another team would give him a second chance.

Spanish team mate and double world champion Fernando Alonso, who won the Singapore race after Piquet's accident forced the deployment of the safety car, was cleared of any involvement. “I think that we've cut out the bad part and things will now go on exactly as they should,” FIA president Max Mosley told reporters after the verdict. “I think we've demonstrated that we've dealt with it.”

Renault, who could have been kicked out completely or fined a sum similar to the record $100 million paid by McLaren in 2007 after a spying controversy, did not contest the accusations against them. They apologised unreservedly and committed to paying the costs of the FIA investigation as well as making a significant contribution to FIA safety-related projects. “I think it's the right decision. I think the blame has been placed where the blame should be placed,” said Mosley, denying that the team had escaped lightly.
“The penalty for Renault is disqualification but suspended for two years, so what that means is that provided they don't do something silly in the next two years, they don't have any problems,” he added.

“The penalty that we have imposed is the harshest one we can inflict, which is disqualification and it is complete expulsion from the sport. However, because Renault have demonstrated that they had absolutely no moral responsibility for what took place... it would be wrong in the circumstances to impose an immediate penalty.”

Mosley said Renault, champions in 2005 and 2006 with Alonso, had said they would stay in Formula One. However the team's chairman Bernard Rey did not answer the question when asked repeatedly by reporters.

“We fully support the decision made by the Council. We apologise for such failure in front of the Formula One community, and we hope we can put this behind us,” said Rey.
The FIA reserved its harshest sentence for Briatore, a business partner of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and leading figure in the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA). “The penalty for Briatore is that he can no longer be associated with the team, he can no longer be associated with the series, he can no longer come to the paddock at any FIA championship event and he can no longer manage drivers in Formula One,” said Mosley.

The 59-year-old Italian, who did not attend the hearing, is manager of Piquet and Alonso as well as Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber, Renault's Romain Grosjean and McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen. “It's sad to see a career end like that, but what else could we do?” added Mosley.

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