Friday, 25 September 2009

Boss relieved at Renault verdict


Renault's acting team chief Bob Bell has admitted everyone at the team was relieved not to lose their jobs in the wake of the race-fixing scandal.

The team escaped with a suspended ban as bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds were given lengthy bans for their roles in the controversy.

"I was relieved as every team member was - we all thought this could be the end of our jobs," Bell told BBC Sport.

"So it was genuine relief from top to the bottom."

Former team chief Briatore was banned for life from events sanctioned by governing body the FIA and engineering director Symonds received a five-year suspension after the team chose not to fight a charge of ordering Nelson Piquet Jr to crash during last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

Piquet's crash meant the safety car was deployed, which helped his team-mate Fernando Alonso to victory after he had started from 15th place on the grid.

As a result, the team received a ban from the sport, suspended for two years, and have had two of their major sponsors withdraw their backing.

Speaking at this year's race in Singapore on Friday, Bell said his first week in the job had been extremely demanding, and he wanted to shift the focus back onto racing.

We will demonstrate to everybody again that we can fall back and be on top as we used to

Renault acting team chief Bob Bell
"It can't get worse can it?" he said.

"I can only look good in this situation whatever I do so we'll deal with it.

"We've gone through a very difficult period but I think that everyone realises that fundamentally Renault is a very strong team and we've dealt with a lot of ups and downs in the past but we are fundamentally strong and committed.

"Our parent Renault are right behind us and we're going to get through this and we will demonstrate to everybody again that we can fall back and be on top as we used to."

Bell refused to be drawn on whether he thought the punishment was excessive, or to comment on Piquet.

"Nelson is not a member of this team any more and what he does is up to him, it's none of my business," he said.

And he said he was confident the team was sufficiently robust to ride out the storm.

"We always had in our mind the thought that people do drop out of the organisation for many reasons for ill-health or whatever, and we do try to think about how we will recover," he said.

"So I think that we have a reasonably strong structure that allows us to deal with this. What you are seeing now is witness to this."

Bell has been promoted from the role of technical director, a which oversees the design of the team's cars.

But he said that the change would not detract from work on Renault's 2010 car.

"I would have done two of these four races anyway," he said, "including this one, so it's not too much of a distraction for me."

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