The Renault Formula One team have been suspended from taking part in the next race at Valencia at the end of August. The suspension comes after Fernando Alonso’s wheel came off during the race following the wheel-bin working loose and unraveling the wheel nut. This means Fernando Alonso will not take part in his home race around the streets of Valencia, puts the squad at a disadvantage in the championships and will not help the negotiations between the team and Alonso for 2010.
The suspension seems like a harsh penalty for the FIA to dish out, as in the past wheels have come off other cars and the teams and drivers have not been suspended. However, given the recent incidents involving car parts coming off and striking other drivers, it is understandable why the FIA would want to be seen to be taking this matter seriously. Seven days ago, Henry Surtees was tragically killed by a tyre-and-wheel hitting him after it detached itself from a fellow competitor’s car. And yesterday, Felipe Massa was rushed to hospital after a spring from Barrichello’s car struck him in the face. Massa is still in an induced coma in Budapest.
Renault team boss Flavio Briatore was seen trying to leave the circuit after Fernando Alonso retired his R29, despite the fact second driver Nelson Piquet Jr. was still in the race. This sends out a very strong message to myself, one that indicates the Italian has already made up his mind about his driver pairing. It is not known if Briatore actually made it out of the circuit; the FIA and FOM do not like team personnel leaving until all their media obligations have been taken care of. In fact, it is a rule for 2009 that the drivers cannot leave early.
The penalty may also seem quite harsh because it affects the second driver of the team. Currently, that man is Nelson Piquet Jr, and if he were to remain with the team, he too would be penalised by not being able to race. Given that the incident had nothing to do with the Brazilian, it seems a little unfair. Although it is rumoured that Piquet will not be racing for Renault again anyway, penalty or no penalty and as mentioned in the above paragraph.
So the 2009 European Grand Prix will feature just 18 drivers from 9 teams, and Renault will have to stay home and watch the race on the television.
- The live race notes can be viewed here: Hungary 2009: Live Race Notes
- The race result can be viewed here: Hungary 2009: Race Result
- The race report can be viewed here: Hungary 2009: Lewis Hamilton Returns McLaren To Top With Victory
- The pitstop and tyre strategies can be viewed here: Hungary 2009: Pitstop & Tyre Strategies
- The fantasy racers round-up can be viewed here: Hungary 2009: Fantasy Racers Update
- The penalty updates post can be viewed here: Hungary 2009: Penalty Updates