The big question following today’s shock announcement that Renault F1 team principal Flavio Briatore and engineer Pat Symonds “have left the team” is whether the French manufacturer will remain in Formula One.
Despite the scandal and embarrassment of this whole mess, Renault had been rumoured to be considering leaving the sport at the end of this year because of the recession. Like Honda and BMW before it, Renault has been feeling the pinch and one way to save $300 million or $400 million a year is to stop spending it.
My guess is that Renault will tough it out, which will be good for F1 which needs all the help it can get at the moment. Renault will go before the World Motorsport Council on Sept. 21 and say:
– we delegated responsibility to the running of the racing team to Briatore. We have relieved Briatore of his responsibility, as we have engineer Symonds, and we have installed new management.
– having said that, we accept full responsibility for what happened. We are sorry.
– we wish to assure the World Motorsport Council that what happened is inexcusable. We remain fully committed to the sport, however, and will fight to restore our good name and credibility.
I hope the council will accept that apology. Of course there will be a hefty fine and condemnation in the form of a written decision, but that should end the matter.
If – and it’s a big if – the council suspends Renault and strips the team and drivers (particularly Fernando Alonso) of all points earned this season, then all bets are off.
It would be much better to ban Briatore and Symonds from the sport for life – and Nelson Piquet Jr., for that matter – than to alienate a manufacturer (and a country, for that matter).
I don’t know about Pat Symonds (although if you want a study in evasiveness, read the transcript of his FIA interview that was posted on this site a few days ago by a reader), but the sport will be much better off without Briatore.
I don’t know of any other industry where someone with the conflicts of interests of Briatore would be allowed to operate. He’s immoral (in one published interview he questioned Piquet Jr.’s sexuality) and he’s a liar. And Renault’s actions today in firing him prove he’s a crook.