Renault fined but will race in Valencia

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The Independent Online

Fernando Alonso will race after all in Valencia this weekend after the FIA Court of Appeal judges reversed a one-race suspension and substituted a $50,000 (£30,600) fine on his Renault team.

After the Hungarian Grand Prix on 26 July Renault were suspended after the stewards deemed that they knowingly released Alonso's car from a pit stop without one of the wheelnut retaining devices having been secured. The previous week 18-year-old Henry Surtees had been killed at Brands Hatch by an errant wheel; now Alonso's right front wheel fell off his car on the lap that he left the pits.

Renault's lawyer Ali Malek told the four appeal judges at the hearing in Paris that the punishment handed down by the FIA, was unnecessarily harsh. "This case does not deserve more than a reprimand," he said, arguing that suspension from races should only be used where rules had deliberately been broken.

"Was there a conscious wrongdoing from Renault? There was none whatsoever. The only persons who knew were the two mechanics. Nobody on the pit wall knew there was a problem and the driver did not know either. There was a series of unfortunate events but no conscious wrongdoing."

The Renault team manager Steve Nielsen said yesterday: "I've been optimistic ever since we got the penalty."

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