News of the fate of Renault, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds has just broken.
Renault have a two year suspended ban from F1
Flavio Briatore has been banned from F1 and driver management indefinitely
Pat Symonds has been banned from F1 for 5 years.
To be honest, I am a McLaren supporter but ultimately a fan of Formula 1 as a whole.
I cannot believe how the FIA court of justice based in Paris has ruled so unevenly today compared with how they treated McLaren nearly 18 months ago.
Let's go over the two incidents committed by both the McLaren and the Renault team.
Mclaren looked at some drawing of the then under development Ferrari. As designers in F1 are generally on a similar wavelength and the ruling parimeters are so tight, in is unclear how much of the new McLaren racecar was copied from the Ferrari. As a result, the FIA felt it was to hand out a record sized fine of $50million. This is after the Mclaren team already fired the designer involved and 'moved' Ron Dennis away from the F1 arm of the (small F1 based) company.
Renault, on the other hand committed one of the most dangerous offences in motorsport: to make one of their drivers crash on purpose. Yes, we may get blaise about accidents in F1 as there hasn't been a life threatening crash since the death of Senna at Imola. That is if you ignore the Massa incident only months ago.
A modern carbon-fibre made racecar is capable of withstanding huge impacts and if you look at Robert Kubica's massive shunt in Canada, where he walked away uninjured, it is easy to dismiss any utterings against the FIA's ruling.
At the last race meeting, two weekend's before the FIA was due to rule over this alleged case, Flavio, in his normal loud-mouthed way stated that he'll sue Piquet Jr (the driver forced to crash) and he, Pat and the Renault F1 team will fight this nonsense out in the courts, contesting all allegations against them. Fernando Alonso, Renault's main driver said he'll not comment until after the case was concluded (when he said that about McLaren, he stabbed everyone in the back).
Then the Renault F1 team, a week before the court case was heard, shocked the F1 community by firing both Flavio and Pat. No-one, it seemed, could predict what was going on at Renault, as they then announced that they would not contest the charges against their F1 team. Although in the statement, they did not admit the intirerity of what happened at Singapore in 2008 (the race meeting where Piquet Jr. crashed into a concrete barrier), they did admit there were decisions made that were not in the spirit of the sport, laying blame directly at the doors of Pat Symonds and Flavio Britore.
When McLaren went to court in Paris, they were not as open as Renault have been, but key personnel had been, more were already in the process of moving on, just as Renault had done. As I understand it, the FIA have not officially banned Ron Dennis (of McLaren) from the sport but they wanted him out. So in theory, Dennis is able to come back. But the FIA still hold a 2 year suspended banned over the McLaren team.
It is, however a suitable punishment for Flavio Briatore. He is a Formula 1 man and has been invoved with the sport for many years. The 'unlimited' ban from motorsport and especially F1 will be hard for him to take. Pat Symonds' similarly, will find the next 5 years difficult and then the notion of employing him from the point of view of F1 teams, seems to be beyond anyone in the paddock. Time, may change this.
Bernie Ecclestone as yet, of the time of writing, to make a statement about his close friend and co-owner of Queen's Park Rangers FC, Flavio. This situation does not happen for F1 boss Ecclestone. He is normally the one controlling the in's and out's of the sport and to be put in a position where he is personally involved with one of the parties would never happen.
It is of note, that in the recent FOTA/FIA public wrangle, Flavio Briatore was a vocal member, as was BMW-Sauber team boss Mario Thiessen. BMW since have announced their withdrawal from the sport (due in part the high cost and lack of success of the team). This wrangle was due to Max Mosley, head of the FIA, creating a budget cap on testing, development and general running costs of F1 teams. So it is strange to think one of his main opponents has been disgraced and another leaving due to an ironic lack of cash.
Bernard Rey, head of Renault (the car company) has released a statement in which, Renault and the Renault F1 team except the ruling of the FIA and the subsequent punishment, with a wanting to move on from this whole affair.
This weekend, the F1 circus travels to far eastfor the 2009 Singaporean Grand Prix. Nearly 1 year after the Piquet Jr. accident and nearly 1 week on from the firing of Briatore and Symonds.
(This news has come out on what should be ex-England football manager and footballing legend, Sir Bobby Robson's day.
But then again, when has F1 and the FIA cared about anyone else outside the motorsport arena.)