Paris, Monday: F1’s chief steward Alan Donnelly has been formally reprimanded by the FIA for attempting to unfairly influence the outcome of the Court of Appeal’s decision on Renault’s Valencia penalty, being heard today in Paris.

Accused: F1 steward Alan Donnelly
Accused: F1 steward Alan Donnelly

Renault were given a one race ban for releasing Fernando Alonso from the pits without having properly attached one of his wheels. They have appealed the decision and a final judgement from the FIA’s Court of Appeal is expected to be announced later today or tomorrow.

However Donnelly, who as a member of the stewarding team is participating as an interested party in the hearing, has been accused of trying to interfere with the processes of the court in order to see his original decision vindicated.

Since 2006, cases in the FIA Court of Appeal have been decided by coin toss, instead of through the more thorough but also more tedious process of hearing evidence, weighing up the arguments of both sides and coming to a reasoned conclusion based on the regulations.

Donnelly apparently attempted to replace the Court of Appeal’s ceremonial coin with an almost identical replica, which featured two “head” sides instead of the more usual pattern of one head and one tail. Since heads traditionally means that the original decision will be upheld, Donnelly hoped that this coin would mean for certain that the court would be bound to agree with him.

“This is not so much a miscarriage of justice as it is an abortion of justice,” FIA President Max Mosley said in unnecessarily graphic terms. “And while administering random decisions with little or no attention paid to actual justice is a hallmark of the Court of Appeal, it is a fundamental aim of the FIA that such decisions are indeed random, not influenced by any outside party. Except Ferrari, of course.”