Monday, 17 August 2009

So much for the safety of Formula One

Renault have won their appeal against their one race ban for allowing Fernando Alonso to leave the pits with a loose wheel nut. The team knew the wheel nut was not properly attached and failed even to tell Alonso when he thought he had a puncture.

About the most dangerous thing that can happen in motor racing is when bits fly off a car. Just ask Felipe Massa.

But wheels are arguably more dangerous than springs or bits of the engine. Why? Because they bounce along until they hit something, and they retain much of their impetus along the way. There have been many incidents of tyres going over the wall and killing spectators. And recently Henry Surtees, son of John, died when a fellow competitors wheel detached and hit him on the head.

So it is patent nonsence for the FIA to decide to reduce the one race ban to a mere £30,000 fine - a pittance for Renault and a disgrace in a case where someone could so easily have been killed. I don't care that the ban would have meant Alonso would have missed his home Grand Prix - although he was the least to blame of the entire team. For safety rules to mean anything, Renault needed siginificant punishment. They have been let off.

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