Renault to race at Valencia after winning appeal 17 Aug 2009
Renault have had their suspension from this weekends European Grand Prix overturned after an FIA International Court of Appeal hearing in Paris on Monday. The team were handed the punishment at the last round in Hungary, where they were found at fault for allowing driver Fernando Alonso to leave the pits with a wheel that hadnt been properly secured.
Though Renault admitted unsafe conduct, the Court decided that the penalty was too severe and replaced it with a reprimand and a US$50,000 fine. Alonso, whose front-right wheel eventually worked its way loose when he returned to the track, faced missing his home race in Valencia had the appeal failed.
Budapest stewards said they believed Renault had knowingly released Alonso without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position; that being aware of this, the team had failed to take any action to prevent the car from leaving the pit lane; and that they had then failed to inform the driver of this problem or to advise him to take appropriate action given the circumstances.
Renaults lawyer argued that there had been no conscious wrongdoing on the teams part and insisted that the misdemeanor warranted no more than a reprimand. According to Renault, the two mechanics who dealt with the errant wheel were unable to inform the pit wall or the driver prior to him leaving the pits.
The team welcomed the Court's decision and described the revised penalty as "fair and balanced", adding that they "now look forward to concentrating on preparations for racing this weekend in Valencia".
Having won their appeal, Renault are now expected to announce a new driver to replace Nelson Piquet. Piquet revealed over the summer break that he is being dropped midway through his second race season with the French team. Renault tester and GP2 star Roman Grosjean has been widely tipped as his successor.
The International Court of Appeals decision in full:
Renault admitted to the Court that it breached the Sporting Regulations, in that it failed to ensure that car no. 7 complied with the conditions for safety throughout practice and the race, and that it released the car after a pit stop when it was unsafe to do so. However, it requested the Court to reconsider the severity of the sanction imposed by the Stewards.
Having heard the arguments of the parties, the Court has decided as follows:
1. to allow the appeal and overturn the sanction imposed by the Stewards in the Contested Decision;
2. to issue a reprimand and impose a fine of $50,000 upon Renault.
To read detailed reasons for the Court of Appeals decision, click here.