SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Formula One’s fastest men expressed united dismay at the Renault race-fixing scandal on Thursday before calling for a line to be drawn under the saga.
The French team was this week given a suspended permanent ban from Formula One, with engineering head Pat Symonds barred for five years and team boss Flavio Briatore banned for life for their roles in Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash at the Singapore Grand Prix this time last year.
The Brazilian driver escaped punishment under an immunity granted in return for giving evidence.
“I don’t think it is ideal for our sport,” Red Bull’s Mark Webber told reporters in Singapore.
”We work hard to get here, and (this) is not what the sport is about.
“I am running out of patience sticking up for the sport and I am sure everybody else is too.”
Last year’s world champion Lewis Hamilton, out of contention for this year’s title, was less keen to talk about Renault or Piquet’s actions.
“It’s not our job to comment on it,” said the McLaren driver. “Our job is to concentrate and put on a great show for everyone.”
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen trod a similar line: “It is not a nice thing, but there is nothing I can change,” said the Finn.
Australian Webber warmed to the theme, however. “It is a very complex situation,” he said when asked about Piquet’s lack of punishment.
”I only see what you guys see...What he should get is not easy to comment on. Enough damage has been done. That’s what he did and that’s what he has to live with. It will be very difficult to come back.
“The stuff that goes on, goes on...what can we do? We want to be taken seriously but at the moment we are on the back of another bad example. We are not proud of that but we cannot do anything about it.”
Championship leader Jenson Button told reporters that he was relieved the issue had been dealt with.
”I‘m an individual and I can’t speak for the sport,“ said the Briton. ”It’s obviously very sad but the good thing is that it’s over and done with now. We can move on and for us, concentrate on good racing.
“We’ve had some great battles this season, last season and the season before and that’s all I care about,” added the Brawn driver.
“What happens off the circuit is down to the people involved. What goes on on the circuit has been fantastic and long may that continue.”
While the drivers were in agreement that it would be hard for Piquet to return to Formula One - Button said he had no sympathy for someone who would crash on purpose - Williams driver Nico Rosberg tried to add some perspective.
“We have this everywhere in life, there is always going to be individuals who do something illegal,” said the German, who finished second behind Piquet’s team mate Fernando Alonso in last year’s tainted Singapore race.
“We have to get them out of the way and that has been done so now we have to get on with it.”
Editing by Alan Baldwin