Vatanen: Renault should not be banned

FIA presidential candidate Ari Vatanen says that Renault should not be thrown out of Formula One for their involvement in the race-fixing scandal.

Renault’s future will be decided by the FIA on Monday at a World Motorsport Council hearing in Paris. The French team will not challenge the allegations made by Nelson Piquet Jnr. that they ordered him to crash his car deliberately in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix to help Fernando Alonso win.

It is not yet confirmed who from the Renault team will be attending the hearing as reports in the Italian press claim that Fernando Alonso has been sent a late summons.

Team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds are not expected to attend after resigning last week.

The FIA have a range of punishments at their disposal should Renault be found guilty. These range from a permanent exclusion from the sport to a fine. A combined race ban and fine is expected to be the most likely outcome.

Former World Rally Champion Vatanen believes that punishing Renault by excluding them from the sport would be “disproportionate.”

He told BBC Five Live’s Sportsweek programme: “Renault has got more or less their punishment in terms of image and having lost their top brass and we have to see the bigger context here. Don’t just focus on this incident and look at what we can do about FIA and about the sport.

“If Renault is thrown out it wouldn’t have been a result of an independent justice. That’s what we must get right – an absolutely independent justice otherwise people will always have a question. What was behind it?”

Vatanen also called into question the decision to grant Nelson Piquet Jnr. immunity from prosecution.

“The immunity system is very dangerous. I think all people should face results of their actions. The final decision was for him to do it or not to do it and he can’t escape that responsibility.”

“We have to remember he revealed it after he was sacked. So what goes into that is more than meets the eye. There have been many similar things over the last 10 years where drivers have deliberately done something and their verdicts and their condemnation has not been on an equal footing.

“There have been a lot of personal power games and vendettas and very much selective justice and that cannot create an atmosphere of trust. The Renault incident is another sad story of self destruction.”

Vatanen, who will stand against Jean Todt in the FIA presidential elections in October, hinted that preventing further scandals will be on the top of his agenda if elected.

“This (the Renault affair) is a very big tip of the iceberg. We seem to go from one to another – from Spygate to Crashgate and lots of other things. The image of FIA and the sport has been tarnished.

“We cannot continue down this road with this way of governance. We have millions and millions of fans all over the world and big players in Formula One and in order to keep them in Formula One we need governance which inspires trust and that’s not the case today.”