Romain Grosjean, Haas, Monza, 2018

Renault broke agreement with Grosjean protest – Haas

2018 Singapore Grand Prix

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Haas team principal Guenther Steiner says Renault broke an agreement between the teams with its Italian Grand Prix protest and believes the stewards were “wrong” to disqualify his car.

Romain Grosjean was stripped of his sixth-place finish in the race after the stewards upheld a protest by Renault against the design of its floor.

Teams had previously agreed to address questions of legality before the race begins to prevent cars being disqualified afterwards, said Steiner.

“They can say if this is not fixed, we are going to protest you,” he said, pointing out no team had protested a rival post-race for several years. “It was before my time the last time this was done.

“I don’t know how they did it, but it’s one of these things. Renault did what it need to do, but I think a lot of people have questioned it internally and they are right to.”

Steiner said he wouldn’t have protested against Renault if their car had appeared to violate the same rule. “I would have done what other people have done before.

“But Renault is in a decision that they need to make sure they are not overtaken for fourth position. And I think they thought that they need to do something otherwise they finish fifth.”

Haas’s appeal against the disqualification will be heard in November. “We are getting prepared for that based on what we think was not correct in disqualifying us,” said Steiner.

“I don’t want to go into technicalities here because it will have less effect in the court of appeal if play it out here – it isn’t correct for the court of appeal and it’s not my best chance then to go there and bring our case over of how it developed and how we think the stewards came to the wrong conclusion.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 46 comments on “Renault broke agreement with Grosjean protest – Haas”

    1. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      13th September 2018, 13:27

      Haas’s appeal against the disqualification will be heard in November

      How does that work? So on the 28th of November we discover Grossjean is not disqualified and not Force Point Force India is 4th after an amazing few races but Haas jumps ahead due a disqualification 3 months earlier got reversed ?!?!?

      Again ridiculous FIA not being able to resolve this is a normal timeframe of 2-4 weeks.

      1. Agree, it would be interesting to know the reason why it takes so long.

        1. It takes so long because inquests & appeals work by virtue of both sides of the argument collecting all the facts and presenting their views & evidence in a legal setting, before the presiding body retires to assess the evidence and come to a decision. If due diligence isn’t done, you get a miscarriage of justice…

          Why do you think government-level pubic enquiries don’t come out for years after they’re heard?

          If Haas are due their points because something was done incorrectly by the FIA, then so be it. Given the physical evidence is against them and they’re arguing on the basis of a gentlemen’s agreement, they’re going to lose. Steiner has been around a lot longer than 3 years – he should know this…

          1. “government-level pubic enquiries”


          2. I wonder whether when appealing HaasF1 might simply ask how a component of a car that has not changed can be legal in one race and illegal in the next. The FIA never changed or amended the regulation. The FIA changed the way they enforced a regulation which could be said to be inconsistency on the part of the FIA. Couple that with the fact that Steiner had no reason to suspect that Renault would protest due to a mutual agreement among teams not to protest a car AFTER the race and also the FIA’s desire to punish HaasF1 for raising questions about the Force India change (which is entirely unrelated to the configuration of the car), and an independent tribunal or court could conceivably reverse the decision. It depend on whether it’s a genuinely independent and unbiased court.

            1. @gwbridge Haas can certainly ask.

              The FIA would most likely answer, “Haas, you and the other team got an exemption to the regulation until the previous race. This is already more leeway than the FIA would usually grant a team. The other team managed to get their supply sorted out and we have no idea why you failed to do so. We did not grant anyone an extension to the exemption because if we had done so, you would have had a response to that request. The International Sporting Code does not allow restrictions to the right to make a good faith protest against anything that fails to comply with the regulations.”

              The FIA would probably also consider remarks implying the judgment was an act of revenge – with any motive – as an aggravating factor… …and it has been known (albeit 25 years ago) for the FIA to increase penalties if conduct within an appeal is sufficiently aggravating (in the sense of alleging misconduct of FIA officials without sufficient evidence – something which I believe last happened in Eddie Irvine’s appeal of his one-race ban for a crash in Brazil 1994. He messed up the appeal badly enough to get the ban extended for another two races).

              Finally, an independent court could certainly reverse the decision if it felt that, despite the forgoing, there was merit in doing so. The trouble is that said court is the Swiss Court of Arbitration and the backlogs of non-urgent cases there are sometimes measured in years.

        2. Because legal processes take a long time. Getting this through a court/arbitration by November would actually be a pretty quick.

    2. Was that an agreement, or a gentleman’s agreement?

      Steiner ought to know that this is the Piranha Club, and not everyone is Martin Whitmarsh.

      1. @phylyp It would have to be a “gentleman’s agreement” because there is no way that anything restricting the ability of entrants to protest one another would pass muster with the FIA.

      2. @phylyp

        Yeah.. I thought a gentleman’s agreement in F1 is effectively null and void.. as Ferrari showed everyone when they hired key FIA personnel.

        I don’t think Steiner got the memo on how it’s a dog eat dog world in F1. Maybe Steiner should pay attention to what his boss has been doing behind the scenes – Making sure Force India doesn’t get paid column 1 money for two years. You can’t expect your closest competition to play nice.

        Maybe Haas should hire a supplier who can make quicker changes to the floor. Heck, if you’re an outsourcing unit.. might as well have an efficient supply chain.

    3. At the end of the day, Haas’ floor was illegal, and they used it in the race, so Renault protested it because it’s not allowed. No one cares about these ‘agreements’ (which seem very unofficial). The money difference between 4th and 5th is worth more than Haas liking them to Renault.

      1. But only RG’s car was flagged- so it wasn’t a “Haas floor” issue as Mag didn’t get DQ’d… Or maybe I just don’t understand what the issue was.

        Anyway- I’m sad to see the days of the Gentleman are gone. Not only in F1 but everywhere. Backstabbing and lies seem to becoming the new normal… Sad state.

        1. It costs $2000 to protest a car, so protesting both Haases would have cost $4000.

          The checking of the component followed the direct protest. However, if scruitineering is completed for a given car (no car ever gets every possible test done on it due to time, and it’s the entrant’s responsibility rather than the FIA’s for a car to be eligible to compete in all respects and all times), only a direct protest can result in the car being re-checked. Renault didn’t see the point of checking if the last finisher’s car was valid, so only bothered to pay for Grosjean’s car to be protested.

          As such, it is theoretically possible (if improbable at best given Haas’ declared version of events) that Magnussen’s car might have had a different floor to Grosjean and therefore been configured legally. There is no rule requiring both cars to be identical to each other, after all. It’s a slim doubt, but the FIA is required to give the benefit of that doubt because they themselves have no official direct evidence of that particular infraction. It would be wise of Haas to avoid mentioning the state of Magnussen’s car in the appeal to the maximum extent possible, since the FIA is empowered to increase, as well as decrease, penalties. If the FIA thinks it hears an admission from Haas that they entered an illegal car for Magnussen during the appeal, they are entitled to disqualify it at that point… …and since I believe the appeal fee for Haas of Grosjean’s original DSQ is $15,000, that would be a pretty expensive way to make it happen.

      2. They didn’t protest Magnussen as they had nothing to gain from it given where he finished.

        1. Keith, it does seem to me that legal/illegal should be determined by the configuration of the car, not whether or not another team has protested. Here we have two identical cars, and the FIA has effectively ruled that on conforms with the regulations and may race while the other does not. Also, if the FIA considered Grosjean’s car to be illegal, how did it pass pre-race scrutineering, and why was it allowed to compete? We can look at thus and say that this is how it’s always done in F1, but I doubt that you can truly argue that there is any sort of logical consistency in it.

          1. Sure @gwbridge. And the non-confirmation (illegality if you want) of Grosjean’s car was confirmed beyond doubt when the FIA inspected it closely following the protest from Renault.

            Magnussens’s car was not protested, probably because it costs money to protest, so his car was not inspected close enough to say beyond doubt that his car was also illegal.

            As @alianora-la-canta calculated it would take an insane amount of time to check every detail of every car pre race weekend – and you would have to repeat for every part the team change or forbid changes outright, if you wanted the FIA to guarantee this. That is why in every competitional sport, it is the entrant/competitor who is responsible for bringing legal equipment. The FIA checks serval aspects to keep them honest.

            1. Bogus argument. The FIA had already identified the part that they said did not conform. They only needed to check one part, and they knew which part it was. They let Haas run that car in the race and pocketed the cash for letting the show go on, and then took away what they had earned. How ironic and tragic it would have been if Grosjean suffered a fatal injury during a race where the FIA had let him race in a car they knew full well they would judge illegal. Any way you want to spin (or twist) it, the two cars were identical, and the FIA judged one car to be legal and one to be illegal. There’s no logic or truth in that. In how many other cases does the FIA allow cars to race that they have determined by their criteria to be illegal without informing the other competitors? Does the FIA know that the Mercedes run in five races is illegal but are sitting on that information until it is leaked to a competitor who can optionally file a protest? In the absence of a protest, does the FIA allow non-conforming cars to race? He they just did so in Monza allowing two identically non-conforming cars to race and only disqualifying one of them. That is really f’d up and unprofessional.

    4. The Haas talking heads sound surprisingly naïve in this situation, as if they were living inside their own bubble.
      At the end of the day, they entered the race with a car that was in breach of the regulations. And not only that: It was a breach that they had been explicitly told to fix weeks before. And then they send an e-mail, essentially saying “Too much work, we’ll get to it later, kthxbye?”, and they think they have it covered?
      They can play the victim card as much as they like, likening F1 to a shark tank and whatnot. But with an attitude like that, they couldn’t even last in a goldfish tank.

    5. No, they didn’t. You broke the rules, so, therefore, you got to pay the price for it. Like I have pointed out a few times already: Nothing but a total waste of time of everyone involved this appeal as the results can’t be altered anymore anyway due to the fact they’ve been finalized, i.e., aren’t provisional anymore.

      1. @jerejj, how many times do you have to be told that you don’t understand the rules and that you are wrong? Did you even bother looking at the official classification – because that very document says “results are subject to Haas’s appeal”.

        The FIA can, and indeed has, amended the “final” results of multiple races – the 2001 US Grand Prix or the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix were both retrospectively amended, and in 2001 the FIA retrospectively changed the finishing order of the WCC because they amended the results of the 2001 US Grand Prix.

        Frankly, the only time being wasted here is by those who are trying to correct your continued ignorance…

        1. Indeed, honestly I don’t think it’s likely they will reinstate haas, but they have done similar stuff before, so can’t exclude it, I think renault doesn’t deserve to be 4th in the constructors, they’re exploiting whatever happens and still struggling, force india would be ahead had they access to all the points they scored this year, haas would be there if not for the dsq; for a team that aims to fight the top teams next year this is frankly pathetic.

          1. @esploratore, exactly – whilst I agree that it is unlikely that Haas will be able to get the result overturned, they probably think that it is worth trying as they might be able to find an angle.

            In the case of Jordan, they were able to overturn their disqualification on procedural grounds because the stewards made an error in the way that they handed their penalty to Jordan. Even though the plank was worn beyond the limits, because of that procedural error, Jordan were able to get the penalty automatically rescinded – that is the sort of avenue that could allow Haas to escape being penalised even if they have violated the rules.

            @jerejj, the rules were not different “back in the day”, as that particular sections of the regulations has remained the same for several decades now.

            As for you assertion that “the general tendency/rule is that the results of a race are amendable only until they get ‘finalized’ a few hours after the relevant race”, the sporting regulations explicitly state that the final classification is “subject to any amendments which may be made under the Code and these Sporting Regulations” (Section 45.3).

            However, contrary to what you claim, there is no time limit on when those amendments may occur – there is nothing that says that the rules are only amendable within a few hours of a particular race, and there is no rule that says what you claim it says.

        2. @anon Maybe back in the day, the rules concerning this were different, and BTW, yes, I’ve noticed the ”results are subject to Haas’s appeal” section in here:
          Although only properly now. I indeed had seen it already when I first looked at the ‘final’ classification the day after but didn’t really notify the precise wording too much. Anyway, the general tendency/rule is that the results of a race are amendable only until they get ‘finalized’ a few hours after the relevant race.

      2. @jerejj There is a point at which results cannot be changed… …it is at the final FIA WMSC meeting in mid-December, when all the international results since the last meeting (barring, I think, some December events that might be too close to the meeting to have exhausted their appeal options) are frozen in place. This was why the discovery of the Nelsinho Defence did not result in any changes to the results of Singapore 2008 – the December 2008 WMSC meeting had frozen the race results months before the full context of the race emerged.

        What “final results” means in the context of a typical race results sheet is that the expected objections to the provisional race result (timing computer check completed, team protest window closed, scrutineering complete etc) have been cleared or formally declared, and that the FIA does not expect further changes to the result. The FIA would not have bothered to disqualify Haas if it thought it would lose the impending appeal.

        1. @alianora-la-canta The final WMSC meeting takes place in early-December (or sometimes late-November), though, not in mid-December to be precise.

    6. Firstly, I have not been keeping up with this I don’t know if this has been raised before or not..

      What I don’t understand is where scrutineering comes into this. I would have thought that the FIA scrutineers should have been all over the HAAS (and every other entrants for that matter) car many times during the weekend. Why wasn’t the illegality of the floor picked up earlier (eg. before quali or the race) ????

      1. @potsie159
        That’s because there are simply too many parametres to be checked. Cars get picked at random, but even then, there is no way to make all the necessary measurements within reasonable time, and withholding a car for several hours to perform comprehensive checks would case a massive disadvantage for the affected competitor.
        That’s why the FIA relies heavily on other competitors logging protests. They have a keen interest in watching their rivals’ cars, and checking whether a protest was justified is a comparatively simple task.

        1. @nase Ridiculous. The FIA was fully aware that HaasF1 had not changed the floor and that the car would be out of compliance. The FIA knowingly and intentionally allowed a car they knew would be judged non-conforming compete. HaasF1 had informed them explicitly in an email that the car’s floor would be unchanged. What good is a sanctioning body when they allow what they judge to be an illegal car to compete in a race? From the FIA’s viewpoint, if Renault had not protested, the FIA would have knowingly allowed an “illegal” car to score championship points.

      2. @potsie159 The recent change to the floor regulations meant I was surprised this wasn’t specifically checked in Thursday scrutineering. However, there is no requirement for them to do that check or any other in any specific scrutineering opportunity (these would be pre-event, post-qualifying, post-race and, if cause is suspected, any time a scrutineer wishes to do a spot check). The Technical Regulations are not short, some of the regulations can only be tested destructively with special equipment (the crash regulations would have to be tested in the FIA’s facility in Paris, for example, for the FIA considers no other venue to be valid for that purpose) and many other regulations require the car to be still, in the FIA garage, for long enough to do the relevant measurement.

        If each page of regulations took 2 minutes to assess on a car (note there can be a dozen regulatory items on a single page of the Regulations, so no page would be shorter than this and some would take a lot longer), then it would take over 2 hours to check each car. There are 20 cars to check. There is only one garage to check them in, which can take one car at a time. The 40 hours that would be taken to assess capability before the weekend, would require all cars to be ready for scrutineering before 5 pm on the Tuesday before the race. This would make back-to-back races impossible in nearly every instance, because the cars need until Wednesday to arrive at the track. It would also require finding scrutineers willing to work through the night on a voluntary basis (this would almost certainly require shifts, making the task considerably more difficult).

        The FIA did not knowingly allow any car to breach the regulations, as that would require proof that it tested the Haas and ignored the results. No such event occurred. It might have suspected Haas, but probably thought it would not be foolish enough to try something so blatant and so likely to get caught.

    7. Basically Haas tried to wing it and didn’t get away with it. They knew it was illegal and told the FIA that they couldn’t fix it in time for the race at Monza, but would fix it in time for the race in Singapore. If no one had protested, they would have got away with it. They gambled and lost. They should have made it VERY public before the race and got assurances from the teams that they would not protest. That way, if a team had gone back on their word, it would have shamed them more publicly, and cost them in terms of how they’re perceived. As it stands, Renault decided that the points were worth more to them than some alleged gentleman’s agreement that no one knew anything about, and that isn’t at all binding.

      1. They should have made it VERY public before the race and got assurances from the teams that they would not protest.

        No team representative in their right mind would’ve given that sort of assurance. In fact, that would’ve quickened the protest, and Haas would’ve been forced to fix the issue in order to avoid being excluded from the race before it even began.
        Whichever way you look at it, they tried to get away with running an illegal car. Trying to pin the blame for their disqualification on a ‘dishonourable’ competitor is simply laughable.

        1. Or…the FIA intentionally allowed a car they knew to be illegal to start a race. The necessity of the Renault protest to trigger the penalty and disqualification clearly implies that the FIA was going to allow a car they knew to be illegal to score championship points and then take no action. This is really upside down.

      2. That would have been spectacularly foolish, as agreeing to restrict one’s right to protest is incompatible with the International Sporting Code. The agreement worked precisely because the FIA had no idea this was the reason for the relative lack of official complaining. Remember the FIA gets $2000 every time a team protests something, so it has a financial incentive to make sure this exact sort of deal gets broken up when discovered.

    8. I believe a lot of misinterpretation to Mr. Steiner’s statement is happening. He is not saying their appeal is based on this gentlemen’s agreement between teams. This appeal is between Haas and the FIA and how communications about the fix being completed on time and what was said to whom and when. He is saying Renault went out of their way to protest this situation due to Haas’ proximity to them in the championship. It’s more of a paddock unwritten rule that was disregarded. Most sports have these, especially motorsports. They are working and competing against the same people over and over throughout the year. This would be like Mercedes sitting silent all season regarding Ferrari’s obscured camera and after Abu Dhabi protest it without saying anything to Ferrari or FIA about it until they see they are beaten. It doesn’t discount the fact it is illegal and has a competitive advantage, but its the fact one team makes it appear they are receptive to the situation of one team, and then after being beaten on track change their tune and protest it. It just opens up a precedent for more delayed results and lawyering up instead of head to head battles on track.

    9. I think Haas broke a very formal agreement by running an illegal car!

      1. @jackysteeg Don’t you think that the FIA has a “formal” responsibility to not allow a car they have rule illegal to compete in a race?

        1. @gwbridge It doesn’t. Article 3.1 of the Sporting Regulations is very specific on the matter:

          It is the competitor’s responsibility to ensure that all persons concerned by his entry observe all the requirements of the Regulations.

          The FIA is not and never could be the competitor. Haas is, in this case. It was Haas’ formal responsibility to be in compliance of the regulations.

          For that matter, the FIA did not rule the car was illegal until after it had definitively proven it to its own satisfaction (following Renault’s protest). It wrote a letter to Haas stating when its exemption would end, and assumed that Haas would have the common sense to act according to that instruction.

          1. We’ll see how it plays out, assuming the appeal goes forward. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Haas drops its objection in the Force India matter and suddenly get their points back? My impression is that the venues for appeal increase their separation from the FIA as a matter escalates. It’s easy to point out what the FIA’s argument will be, but if this becomes an issue where the FIA’s arbitrary actions cost HaasF1 $20 million, Gene Haas is not going to let this go and will seek financial compensation regardless of whether he gets his points back. Maybe Haas will have a couple of very good races and just let it be water over the dam. It won’t be very long before F1 is going to be asking HaasF1 to sign on beyond 2020, and if the team continues to be singled out, Gene Haas could simply walk. HaasF1 is at a point where they will be having to make a huge investment to bring a number of things in-house in order to progress, and Gene may feel that he is better of spending his money elsewhere in a less capricious environment.

            1. THis is ridiculous @gwbridge. Haas took a risk with the floor (probably because of real issues getting a new one ready in time). They asked the FIA to give them more time. They did not get more time.
              So instead of going back to an older floor they had available, they went ahead. All the teams were aware of the issue having been present in earlier races – because they were warned of this change and 3 teams had to change their floors, one of them being Haas – and got until Monza to change their floors.

              There is no surprise at all that Renault then protested the Haas that finished ahead of them. Haas got cought. It is their right to try and overturn that – we will see in November – although quite unlikely they will succeed from the arguments they have presented so far.
              On what basis would Haas seel financial compensation for running illegal stuff on the car (after being warned it was illegal and would be open to protest from Monza onward) and being found out? Who would he seek it from – from his own design office? From Dallara for producing it to his designs?

              As for the investment and walking away – sure he can walk away if he feels he wants to spend his money elswhere. And I am sure the commercial side – Liberty/FOM will try to convince him to stay. But he certainly is not the only one investing, nor is he the one investing the most.

              But your claim that the team “continues to be singled out” is complete nonsense. We had this one issue.

      2. Not being a lawyer, can we notch this down from “illegal” to “non-conforming”? So what are the facts?
        – the FIA, Haas and Renault all knew that there was a potential compliance problem with Article 3.7.1 d) of the Tech Regs ;
        – the problem had been further addressed in TD/033-18 (an _advisory_ paper that has apparently not been made publicly available);
        – grinding corners off carbon composites risks de-lamination and failure (safety);
        – Haas had advised that with the summer shutdown (mandated by the FIA) they could not comply by Monza, but would do so by Singapore;
        – Haas ran two cars, assumed similar, only one was penalized;
        – and lastly, but perhaps _most_ _importantly_, the FIA, including its president, race director, technical representatives, scrutineers and stewards allowed Haas to practice, qualify and race, after which the FIA published the results.

        It has been suggested (here and other blogs, lists) that Haas “knew about it and are therefore guilty”; that the FIA somehow advised Haas that they “might be protested, but go ahead and race”; that Renault have a severe case of (financial) “sour grapes”; that “gentlemen’s agreements” (even if there was one beyond historical precedent) are neither binding nor contractual; and that we, the fans, viewers, the people who pay for this sport, should shut up and put up with FIA indecision and inconsistency.

        I say: this is yet another very sad day in the history of our sport. Bernie Ecclestone might not have been to everybody’s liking, but Liberty’s influence thought Todt and others is radically damaging. Perhaps some younger fans enjoy the socially, mediatically and financially engineered mayhem — good luck to you, but you’ll never know the true glory of F1 motor racing.

    10. Really guys…

      If the FIA knows the configuration of a component down to a 1mm tolerance and is notified by the entrant that the component has not been altered, and if the FIA then allows that car to qualify and compete, the FIA has certified that car legal. The FIA had their opportunity to disqualify the Haas car before the race and did nothing. Disqualifying the car post-race is clearly double jeopardy. To then NOT disqualify an identical car in the same race implies that the second car was NOT illegal. How many ways does the FIA get to have it? It is arbitrary and not a uniform application of the regulation. What you are left with is political bias against HaasF1 for reasons entirely unrelated to the car or the race.

      1. How would the FIA know that configuration then? The teams are responsible for bringing stuff that is according to regulations. They don’t send the fia the designs of their equipment unless the FIA requires and explicitly requests that when investigating any issues.

        It is quite normal that cars get disqualified after the race for technical issues (just look at WEC where the whole Toyota team was DSQ in a recent race on something, or look back to Sauber and their wing a few years back in Australia). They only DSQd Grosjeans car because they only examened that one closely. Had anyone protested MAG too they would have probably found the same issue with his car and DSQd him too.

    11. Don’t the teams have an agreement with the FIA to supply cars that comply with the regulations?

    12. Does anyone understand the system at Racefans where some posts can be replied to and other posts cannot? It certainly does allow seemingly random individuals to spout a bunch of hooey, drop the mike and walk away from a discussion without risk of rebuttal. I guess timing is everything when it comes to coming out on top in a back and forth.

      1. @gwbridge Yea I’m seeing what you’re seeing. Looks like on the 5th (or so) reply there’s no option to continue replying. Probably a wordpress limitation.

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