Alonso given reprieve as Renault ban is overturned

RENAULT and former world champion Fernando Alonso will race at this week&rsquo;s European Grand Prix after being handed a late reprieve yesterday.<br /><br />The team were hit with a one-race ban after a wheel came loose from Alonso&rsquo;s car during the Hungarian Grand Prix last month.<br /><br />But governing body the FIA yesterday agreed to lift the ban and instead impose a $50,000 (&pound;30,600) fine after accepting Renault did not know Alonso&rsquo;s wheel was loose when they let him leave the pit lane.<br /><br />The U-turn means Spaniard Alonso, who won the title in 2005 and 2006, will be able to race in front of his home crowd in Valencia on Sunday. The original, stricter punishment came at a time of heightened concern for driver safety, following Felipe Massa&rsquo;s horror crash during qualifying at the Hungaroring and the death days earlier of teenage F2 driver Henry Surtees. The FIA said at the time that Renault&rsquo;s pit crew &ldquo;knowingly released&rdquo; Alonso from the pits &ldquo;without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position.&rdquo;<br /><br />Renault argued at yesterday&rsquo;s appeal hearing in Paris that their mechanics had been unable to warn colleagues the wheel was loose before it became dislodged. The team&rsquo;s lawyer Ali Malek said: &ldquo;There was a series of unfortunate events but no conscious wrongdoing.&rdquo;