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Monday Afternoon Crew Chief: Renault Slap

Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore

The judgement came down today from the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council over Renault’s decision to ask driver Nelson Piquet, Jr. to deliberately crash in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, thus enabling the team’s other shoe, Fernando Alonso, to win the race.

And so it came to pass that Renault was given a ban from the World Championship, suspended for two years. If they don’t do anything else that’s naughty in that time, they’re out of jail. At the same meeting in Paris, team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds, who had been fired last week by Renault, were given more draconian penalties: in Briatore’s case, a ban from FIA-sanctioned events for an unlimited period, including management of drivers; and Symonds can’t show up at an FIA race for five years.

Cynic that I am, I can’t help but feel that Renault’s relatively lenient treatment happened because the FIA didn’t want another manufacturer, especially an engine supplier, to leave the F1 series. Somehow, McLaren got hauled over the coals because their designer, Mike Coughlan - in cahoots with one-time Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney - stole the plans to Ferrari’s 2007 F1 car. The price of that? A $100 million fine and the loss of the team’s constructor’s points that year.

Now, you might have thought that instructing your driver to do something as hazardous to himself as throwing a car at 100-plus mph into a concrete wall might be more heinous than a little industrial espionage, but I suppose a Ferrari wasn’t involved in this particular scandal. And now that Max Mosley of the FIA has got Flavor Flav out of the way, along with Ron Dennis of McLaren, he’s probably a happy munchkin.

The funniest thing about the Singapore GP last year was that many an F1 journalist thought the timing of the crash was fortuitous, but no one could quite believe a driver would do it intentionally. Well, now we know drivers will do pretty much anything to keep a ride…

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Monday Afternoon Crew Chief: Renault Slap
Monday Afternoon Crew Chief: Renault Slap

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Ferrari Ins Quotes on Auto Machine-47
Ferrari Ins Quotes on Auto Machine

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