PARIS // Renault's appeal against their suspension from the European Grand Prix began today, with the French team hoping to overturn the decision so that two-time world champion Fernando Alonso can take part in Sunday's Formula One race. Motorsport's governing body, the International Automobile Federation(FIA), suspended Renault from the European GP in Valencia after the team allowed Alonso to leave pit lane with a loose wheel during last month's Hungarian Grand Prix.
The case, lodged by the French Motorsport Federation, is being heard by the FIA's International Court of Appeal at its Paris headquarters, with a decision expected Tuesday afternoon. None of the F1 racers were present at Monday's hearing. Representing Renault were engineering director Pat Symonds and technical director Bob Bell, while the F1 race director Charlie Whiting was representing the FIA.
The FIA reprimanded Renault for allowing Alonso to leave the pit lane with his wheel not securely fastened to his car during the Hungarian GP on July 26. The wheel dislodged from Alonso's car as he rounded turn nine after 13 laps of racing, and bounced wildly down the track. The incident came the day after the Brazilian driver Felipe Massa was hospitalised with life-threatening injuries after being struck by an object dislodged from another car during qualifying.
Massa had surgery on his skull and is now back in his homeland recovering. FIA stewards said Renault knowingly released Alonso's car from the pit stop position "without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position", adding that Renault failed to inform Alonso of the problem. The decision to suspend Renault was made after the FIA reviewed film and radio recordings from the race at the Hungaroring circuit on the outskirts of Budapest.
The incident prompted further concerns over the safety of the sport. The previous week, F2 driver Henry Surtees - the son of former F1 champion John Surtees- was killed after losing consciousness and crashing into the barrier after a stray tire hit him. * AP