A non-penalty for Renault – in my book a two year suspended sentence does not count as a penalty, there is not even a fine – Renault saved themselves by throwing Flav and Pat to the wolves, in the one case possibly deserved but now we shall never know, in the other case a man of undoubted integrity took ” took a hit for the team ” as a well known US racer described it to me at Goodwood using American football parlance.
Relations between Max and Flav could not have got worse than they were, Flav was far too voluble in his support for FOTA and now Max has completely isolated Flav, effectively for ever, the sentence being non-involvement in FIA sanctioned events for “an unspecified time”.
Pat Symonds is possibly one of the most genuine men in F1. Whether he knew or acquiesced to the Picquet jr crash we shall never know now but banning him from F1 for 5 years probably exiles him to Indy cars.
For Renault, struggling as are all other European car makers, the verdict makes their possible decision to quit F1 less likely in the short term, exactly the result Max and Bernie wanted, they were not keen on another major desertion, but did they dispense with corporate morality with just a gallic shrug or was their prime concern to protect the jobs of over 500 Renault F1 employees.
And what of Alonso, we shall never know how much if any he knew, how much he was involved in the decision, he will simply go off to the FIA’s preferred team – the red one – with a clean license but will his conscience be as spotless?
But, if one is to believe the rumours, the bloodletting is not yet over, other very highly placed F1 personnel will yet be required to “fall on their swords” to appease Max’s desire for vengeance over the rise of FOTA, be afraid, be very afraid, no-one is safe.
Graham Benge – 21st September 2009