In last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, there has been suggestions that Nelson Piquet Jr deliberately crashed his car in order to help Fernando Alonso win the race.
According to Brazilian Formula One journalist Reginaldo Leme, the Renault team ordered Piquet to crash at Turn 17 to benefit his team-mate to win the Grand Prix.
Brazilian TV station Globo also carried the news report. Here’s a brief extract explaining the scenario:
Alonso, who along with Rosberg had started on the less favorable super-soft tyres, made his first pit stop.
Although he fell to last it proved extraordinarily fortunate timing when his team mate crashed two laps later, Nelson Piquet Jnr backing his car into the wall in front of the grandstands by the Marina.
Sure enough, as the other drivers made their pit stops Alonso inherited the lead and won the race. This came a day after qualifying down in 15th due to a car failure.
Can this be true? Check out the video footage of the R28 crashing against the wall bringing out the Safety Car:
Piquet Jr, who has issued a statement, has also backed this allegation. Unfortunately, this statement has been leaked online ahead of the World Motor Sport Council hearing… You can read Piquet’s statement includes the following remarks below:
At the time of this conversation I was in a very fragile and emotional state of mind. This state of mind was brought about by very intense stress due to the fact that Mr Briatore had refused to inform me of whether or not my driver’s contract would be renewed for the next racing year (2009) as is customarily the case in the middle of the year (around July or August). […]
After the meeting with Mr Symonds and Mr Briatore, Mr Symonds took me aside to a quiet corner and, using a map, pointed me to the exact corner of the track where I should crash. This corner was selected because the specific location of the track did not have any cranes that would allow a damaged car to be swiftly lifted off the track, nor did it have any side entrances to the track, which would allow a Safety Marshall to quickly move the damaged car away from the track. Therefore, it was felt that a crash in this specific position would be nearly certain to cause an obstruction on the track, which would thus necessitate the deployment of a safety car in order for the track to be cleared and ensure the safe continuation of the race.
Mr Symonds also told me which exact lap to cause the incident upon, so that a strategy could be devised for my team mate Mr Fernando Alonso. […]
During these discussions, no mention was made of any concerns with respect to the security implications of this strategy, either for myself, the public or other drivers. The only comment made in this context was one by Mr Pat Symonds who warned me to ‘be careful, which I took to mean that I should not injure myself.
I intentionally caused the crash by letting go of control of the car just before the relevant corner. In order to make sure I would cause the incident during the correct lap, I asked my team several times via the radio to confirm the lap number, which I would not normally do.
The FIA will investigate whether the Renault team had fixed the race beforehand with a hearing on Monday, 21st September.
As for the team, Pat Symonds refuses to answer several questions about whether they had decided to create a crash. Managing director Flavio Briatore also wishes to state that they have commenced criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet Junior and Nelson Piquet Senior concerning the making of false allegations and a related attempt to blackmail the team into allowing Mr Piquet Jnr to drive for the remainder of the 2009 season.
What will happen to the manufacturer? According to FIA president Max Mosley, it had been suggested that Renault could be thrown out of the 2008 world championship… In an interview with Autosport.com, Mosley was quoted with the following:
Question: What could be the penalty if they guilty?
Mosley: It could be anything up to disqualification. Because that’s what’s set out in the code. Disqualification means you are out, finished.
Question. From the 2008 championship?
Mosley: Out. Total. Exclusion forever, gone, finished. That’s the worst that could happen, but don’t for a moment get the impression I’m saying that would happen or will happen. That is the worst that could happen.
Whatever the outcome, it will be damaging to the sport and the manufacturer. We will find out the whole consequences in the hearing come Monday, 21st September.