We often rave about the brass cojones that racecar drivers have, particularly rally drivers. Formula drivers, on the other hand, get very little recognition, as they drive on paved surfaces and most people think they just drive fast. In reality, these guys and gals behind these open-wheel machines have some guts themselves.
Enter in Jeroen Slaghekke, a driver of a Renault 2.0, and you have a guy that not only has the set required to race, but also to make split second decisions that could result in tragedy to avoid having to pit and lose position. The back story is that he had an electrical issue with his steering wheel that required repair, but pitting would have forced him to give up precious places in the race. So, instead of pitting, this guy removes the wheel himself at full speed, repairs the obviously simple issue, and slaps the wheel back on in time for a left turn.
We understand that these wheels are quick release and it’s just a matter of pulling a two tabs to release them, but to do this at speeds in excess of 100 mph and continue accelerating as he does it is simply incredible. We all know people that can barely drive in a straight line at 20 mph with both hands on the wheel. We bet that Mr. Slaghekke has no issue with keeping his daily driver straight.
To see this gutsy gamble, check out the above video and pay close attention to the 11-second mark.
The verdict is out and as can be expected, the World Motor Sport Council wasted little time in banishing deposed Renault Managing Director, Flavio Briatore.
For masterminding the ‘Crash-gate of 2008’, the WMSC banned Briatore indefinitely from the sport, meaning that we probably have seen the last of the stout Italian in any racing league of any format in the world.
In addition to his indefinite ban, the WMSC also noted that anyone who does business with Briatore from now on will not be issued a superlicense, which if you’re curious to know is the license needed to participate in Formula One
Meanwhile, the other implicated individual in ‘Crash-gate’, Pat Symonds – the ex-Renault executive director of engineering – received a ‘shorter’ 5-year ban, thanks in large part to his admittance that he did play a part in the race-fix of Singapore.
In a world where sketchy characters seem to be the rule rather than the exception, we still find it unfathomable how Flavio Briatore can stoop to that level of indignity just so his team can win a race – even at the expense of the safety of all the drivers who raced in Singapore last year.
That being said, a lifetime ban seems reasonably justified.
Ex-Renault bosses, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds could end up in bigger trouble than they had anticipated in light of their involvement in staging a deliberate crash at the Singapore GP last year.
The meeting to determine what kind of punishment the pair will receive from the World Motor Sports Council will take place on Monday, September 21, and speculation is wild that the two could be meted lifetime bans from Formula One.
But apparently, that should be the least of their problems.
In the event that the two are found guilty, they could end up being extradited to Singapore where they will be charged with a criminal act of ordering a dangerous stunt to benefit their own fortunes.
Not only that, the Daily Telegraph also said that Briatore and Symonds could be facing lawsuits left and right from a host of other groups affected by their actions, including their former team Renault.
And to add any more salt to this growing wound, Briatore’s other tie-ups outside Formula One, including the football club Queen Park Rangers where he is a co-owner, could also impose some sanctions on the beleaguered ex F1 chief.
According to a source from the league, “The Football League did not comment specifically, but the competition does not allow the involvement of "anyone subject to a ban from the involvement in the administration of a sport by a sport’s governing body".
We’re reserving our judgments here until the WMSC decides on the fate of both Briatore and Symonds but if we’re to base it on how everything has transpired since this news broke out, then we’re not liking the two’s chances of being acquitted of their misdeeds.
Managing Director Flavio Briatore and Executive Director of Engineering Pat Symonds have officially left the Renault F1 team.
While the news doesn’t come as a surprise to us anymore, it is curious to note that the decision to leave Renault comes a few days before the team is set to stand before the World Motor Sports Council to answer allegations that they attempted to manipulate the 2008 Sin gapore Grand Prix by telling former driver Nelson Picquet Jr. to deliberately crash his car to give teammate Fernando Alonso better track position.
Even more curious is the statement the team released regarding the accusations laid out by Picquet Jr. The team said: "The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix."
This sounds like Renault is either trying to pre-empt the inevitable or they know something we don’t, but it does raise eyebrows as to how this whole situation has played out.
Briatore and Symond’s decision to leave the team casts a cloud on Renault’s future in F1. Should the team be found guilty, they could face sanctions ranging from a fine to a possible exclusion from the world championships down the road.