Has Justice Been Done?

September 22, 2009

Mechanics working on a Renault F1 car, Barcelona 2008

Mechanics working on Nelsinho Piquet Jrs car, Barcelona 2008

So did Renault get off lightly? Well most people appear to believe that they did. Damon Hill has been quoted in the Times as saying that ‘it’s a crying shame for the sport’. It is certainly odd that Renault were allowed to keep the championship points and their position in the constructor’s championship for 2008 which was achieved by illegally influencing the outcome of a race. This means not only will they stay in the record books, but they will also continue to enjoy the revenue stream that they receive in 2009 from Formula One Group based on their performance in the constructors championship for the previous year, it seems hard to justify that this was allowed to remain in place.
Of course it has been mooted that a deal was done with Renault prior to the meeting and that on the basis that they removed the senior management responsible and stated that they would not attest the charges, they would be offered a more lenient punishment. This does seem to be the case, with Renault F1 receiving a disqualification which is suspended for two years and will only be activitated if they do a similar thing again. Pat Symonds received a five year ban by the FIA and Flavio Briatore a lifetime ban, which includes his driver management activities.

If there’s one person I feel sorry for in all of this, it’s Pat Symonds, he clearly regrets his involvement in this sorry tale, and unlike the other protagonists he probably has more to loose than most in a ban from involvement in F1. It should also be noted that had Pat chosen to lie to the investigators and claim that no fixing took place, then it’s possible that the outcome would have been far less conclusive than it actually was.

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