NOVEMBER 9, 2007
Fernando Alonso and Renault
Fernando Alonso has reportedly gone off on holiday and this is probably a good time to do it. The Spaniard has been much-rumoured as a future Renault driver but such decisions may now be put on hold until the FIA World Council meeting in Monaco in December. This has added an element of uncertainty about the future. Renault may be cleared of all the charges and completely exonerated. On the other hand there is the possibility that there will be sanctions if the team is found to have transgressed. Given the FIA's punishment of McLaren it will be very hard to justify a lesser punishment and, if there is evidence against Renault, there would be an argument for an even stronger punishment as McLaren was penalised for little more than suspicion of doing something untoward. According to those present at the World Council meeting in September there was much talk of a two-year ban for McLaren at the time and if that was to happen to Renault there would be no drive for Fernando Alonso to step into. It makes little sense for Renault to do a deal at the moment as well because contracting drivers would create the potential for legal actions if the whole thing goes off the rails. Thus one can imagine that the Alonso question will remain unresolved for some time to come.
The timing is unfortunate.
These things happen. In the current issue of Autohebdo in France Renault F1 boss Flavio Briatore gives a forthright opinion on the subject of the McLaren punishment.
"A team was a victim of it, another clearly profited from it, no matter what it says," Briatore is quoted as saying. "If the team did not appeal the judgement it is because it must be happy with the sanctions. Me, I would have gone further in punishing the drivers."
One wonders if he feels the same way now that Renault is under the microscope.
The question of an appeal is an interesting one as McLaren has made it clear that it did not appeal the decision because it wanted to get "closure" on the question rather than drag things on and risk increased punishment and damage to the sport. McLaren's aim was to win whatever it was possible to win and basic risk management dictated that an appeal made little sense.