The FIA has announced its decision on crashgate:
- Renault has a 2 year ban, but suspended
- Renault to pay costs of FIA investigation
- Briatore banned for an unlimited timefrom all FIA involvements and drivers signed to his management will not have their superlicences renewed
- Symonds banned for 5 years
The FIA have not quite made a strong enough decision here regarding Renault. The team must be extremely relieved that they have only got a 2 year suspended ban plus having to pay the costs of the investigation. However, this weak punishment does not send the right signals out to the other teams as is inconsistent with other decisions (e.g. McLaren in spygate) and will create doubt in audiences minds as to whether other cheating is going on. I think this will encourage other teams to push the envelope and bend rules and if they get caught, they only need to quickly get rid of a couple of ‘rogue’ employees and make a full apology.
The punishment I think should have been stronger. I can understand giving them a suspended ban, but I am shocked that a far more severe financial punishment was not given. McLaren were fined $100 million for a crime deemed by everyone as less damaging to the sport than crashgate and Renault get away with paying just investigation costs! They should have had a fine at least as large as McLaren and also possibly be stripped of their 2008 constructors points and so have to pay back their prize money. This would be a strong enough punishment for a terrible act of cheating that would hit Renault hard, but not cripple them but will also deter other teams from cheating.
I know Renault will say that it was only 3 employees of several hundred, but it was the boss, the technical head honcho and one of the drivers at fault. Renault, as employers, must take responsibility for this, as the rules state, and so should have got a stronger financial punishment.
The FIA have singled out Briatore more than Symonds as he continued to deny his role in the affair and their punishments reflect this and I think seem strict enough to deter others. Piquet Jr is a very lucky boy to have his immunity and most think it is unfair he has it. Briatore, I believe, will have to step down as Chairman of QPR as the English Football Association rules state that he can’t hold this position if disqualified by another sporting regulatory body. He will not be happy about that, but I’m sure he can comfort himself with his millions in the bank. However, as I wrote recently, why did he take the risk of sacking Piquet Jr?!
Alonso has been cleared of any involvement. People will still be suspicious of course, but no evidence was raised or found so his reputation will not be damaged. However, if he is involved or linked to anything else, everyone will bring this and the McLaren incident up very quickly.