The furore surround Renault’s admission that it had a hand in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, involving Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash, which subsequently advantaged his team-mate Fernando Alonso, will undoubtedly blight the French car company’s reputation for a long time to come.
The hearing in Paris on Monday before the FIA took just 90 minutes, which is distinctly on the brief side for such affairs. But with Renault not contesting the basic report and coming out with its hands up, some insiders felt this was probably on the long side nevertheless.
At the end of the day Renault got away lightly. It was banned from the sport, but that ban was suspended until the end of 2011, only to be activated if a similar maleficent occurs. Which is not likely.
Flavio Briatore, on the other hand, received a draconian lifetime ban from being involved with any FIA sanctioned event or series, effectively wiping out his involvement in the GP2 series, as well as his driver management business.
Pat Symonds, the Renault’s team’s executive director of engineering up until his resignation last week, received a five-year ban from all FIA sanctioned motorsport.
Last week, Niki Lauda, the triple champion, branded this episode as possibly the worst scandal to have ever taken place in F1. Accordingly, he felt the penalty imposed on Renault should really be strong and send a worthwhile deterrent message to other competitors. I look forward to seeing Lauda this weekend to ask whether he considers the governing body went far enough with its punishment.
As for Nelson Piquet Jr, the whistle-blower in this sorry state of affairs, it looks as though he has got away without any penalty at all. Perhaps. On reflection, that is not the case. I fear the young Brazilian is now damaged goods in the Formula One pitlane and is unlikely to be chosen by another team - even if its team principal should be wearing asbestos gloves at the time.