Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Following the Renault Formula One team's acceptance of a race-fixing charge, the team has been given a lifetime ban, suspended for two years. Team boss Flavio Briatore will never again be allowed to take any part in F1.
Although not a licence holder himself, the FIA, F1's governing body, has made it clear at yesterday's meeting of the World Motorsport Council that it will refuse to sanction any events Briatore is involved in or licence any F1 racers he works with. He did not attend the hearing in Paris.
Renault's ban will only be enforced if the team is found guilty of a similar offence in the next two years. Top engineer Pat Symonds was banned for five years. The decision not to kick Renault out of Formula One was largely due to mitigating factors, including the fact that Renault submitted additional evidence against itself after deciding not to contest the claims.
Retired British racing drive Damon Hill commented on the developments: "I'm not surprised they've let Renault off. It's a crying shame for the sport. Formula One has to ask itself, is it just a very expensive form of entertainment or a proper sport?"
Part of the evidence came from a team member identified only as Witness X. Witness X's identity is known only to a few within Formula One and the FIA, and testimony given by him or her included confirming that Briatore was fully aware of the race-fixing plan. Nelson Piquet Jr, the driver who deliberately crashed his car last year, was granted immunity as another whistleblower.
== Sources ==
"Renault gets easy ride" — Straits Times, September 22, 2009
"'Witness X' evidence condemned Briatore" — The Press Association, September 22, 2009