Renault F1 appeals over European Grand Prix ban

PARIS: Renault's appeal against its suspension from the European Grand Prix began Monday, 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 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 GP.

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 F1 race director Charlie Whiting was representing the FIA.

The FIA reprimanded Renault for allowing Alonso to leave 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 No. 9 after 13 laps of racing, and bounced wildly down the track.

The incident came the day after Brazilian driver Felipe Massa was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after being struck by an object dislodged from another car during qualifying. Massa had surgery on his skull and is 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.

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.