Renault accused of race-fixing in latest controversy

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, 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.

17 thoughts to “Renault accused of race-fixing in latest controversy”

  1. Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has warned that there could be ‘serious’ consequences for both Nelson Piquet and Renault if an investigation into race-fixing at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix uncovers anything suspicious.

    The FIA is currently looking into claims, which emerged during the race weekend in Belgium (August 30th), that Piquet may have been asked to crash deliberately in Singapore last year to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win.

    The nature of the claims, or who has provided them, has not been revealed, and the FIA has only confirmed that it is looking into ‘events’ at a previous world championship race.

    However, Ecclestone has confirmed that the incident being looked at is Singapore – and says he and the governing body is taking the matter seriously.

    “The FIA has launched a thorough investigation into the allegations about Nelson,” Ecclestone said. “I do not know if they are true or not.

    “But if they are true then I would have thought Nelson was in just as much trouble. If I tell you to go and rob a bank and you get caught you can’t say, ‘Well Bernie told me to.’

    “It all seems very strange to me and I do not know the truth.”

    Should the FIA find any evidence of foul play then it would most likely call a meeting of its World Motor Sport Council to discuss the matter. If the WMSC finds Renault guilty, then punishments range from a reprimand through to fines, race bans and even exclusion from the world championship.

    On the back of the recent ‘Bloodgate’ controversy that has dogged rugby, Ecclestone said that FIA would come down hard on any guilty party.

    “If the investigation finds out that that is what happened then I think there is going to be a lot of trouble,” he said. “You hear of these things happening with jockeys and in football and it has led to all sorts of trouble, hasn’t it?

    “If it is true then it is a very serious situation. But it could just be a rumour and Nelson is just annoyed that he has been fired.

    “But it is not good for the sport. People seem to be spending money betting on F1, which is good, but they will not want to do that if they think something is wrong with the result.”

    Ecclestone also fears that Renault could pull out of F1 on the back of the investigation – joining Honda and BMW in exiting the sport in the space of less than 12 months.

    He told The Times: “This is not the sort of thing we need at the moment. I think it will p*** off Renault for a start. Them leaving the sport is a danger, obviously. I mean, I hope that it isn’t like that, but it’s the sort of thing that might happen.”

    The departure of Renault from F1 would not only hit the Enstone-based team, but would also hurt Williams, which is close to signing a customer-engine deal with the French car manufacturer.


  2. Fernando Alonso knew nothing of the alleged plan for Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix in a bid to help him win the race, AUTOSPORT has learned.

    While the focus of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council hearing later this month now appears to revolve around what took place in a pre-race meeting between Piquet, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, it has emerged that Alonso was not involved in any of the tactics.

    AUTOSPORT understands that Alonso was interviewed at the Belgian Grand Prix as part of the FIA investigation into exactly what took place in Singapore last year.

    Sources have revealed that he told the stewards, plus representatives of the Quest agency and lawyers Sidley Austin LLP, that he was unaware that Piquet planned to crash deliberately early in the race.

    It is understood that Alonso told the investigators that he had accepted his strategy to stop so early in the race simply because he wanted an ‘aggressive’ approach to the event.

    A report submitted ahead of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council hearing into the matter, which takes place in Paris on September 21, confirms that Alonso “knew nothing of the alleged plan to cause a deliberate crash.”

    Sources have also revealed that race engineers at Renault were also unaware of any plan for Piquet to crash – with some of them having also been interviewed in Belgium.

    It is understood that one engineer even questioned Piquet after the Singapore race about exactly what happened when he spun into the wall on lap 14 of the race. The Brazilian replied that he had simply lost control of the car.

    There was also some debate on the pit wall during the race when Alonso was brought into the pits on lap 12 of the race – which was earlier than his fuel load would have allowed him to go.

    Radio transcripts of the race, which have been obtained by the FIA, show that director of engineering Symonds did not share the concerns of fellow team members about making such an early stop – telling the team: “No, no, it’s going to be alright.”

    Piquet claims that in the pre-race meeting in Singapore he was asked to crash deliberately in the race to help Alonso win, while Symonds and Briatore are both adamant that the idea came from the Brazilian driver himself.

    Renault has said it will issue no comment about the matter prior to the FIA hearing later this month.

    Fernando Alonso says he has been surprised by the events surrounding his Renault team over the last days, but the Spaniard insisted he is only focusing on doing a good job this weekend at Monza.

    Alonso’s Renault team will have to face the FIA later this month amid accusations of race-fixing strategies at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, won by Alonso himself.

    The two-time champion, who is still to reveal his plans for next year, admitted he was taken by surprise by the controversy.

    “Yeah, of course,” he told reporters at Monza. “I’m very surprised. I cannot imagine this situation, so as I said, I’m surprised, and it’s time to think in another job, in Monza and the next grand prix because I’m not spending any more time on this.”

    He added: “I will not comment too much about this, as the team said we will not comment. For me it’s not even the time to think or to pay attention to this, because it’s difficult to understand for me all this situation and this investigation.

    “It’s just another day, and I’m trying to prepare the Monza race and trying to get a good result here, so I’m fully concentrated on the job.

    “As I said, I will not spend the whole press conference commenting on Singapore, because there is not much to say from me. As I said, I was surprised, but the next step is to think of the next grand prix at Monza and after the hearing everything will be clarified and it will be the time to say something, but now it makes no sense.”

    When asked if he was aware of the alleged plans by Renault to ask team-mate Nelson Piquet to crash during the Singapore race, Alonso said: “No.”

    He also insisted the current controversy would not affect he plans for the 2010 season.

    “No. No change,” he said.

    The two-time world champion made it clear he was giving team boss Flavio Briatore his full support.

    “Of course, Flavio has been always a nice boss with me. He’s a friend, he’s a boss. He has supported my career since the times when I was in Minardi. I think Flavio is one of the good people here and he has all my support always.”


  3. Renault boss Flavio Briatore says that the race-fix claims being aimed at him and his outfit are ‘outrageous lies’, after warning Nelson Piquet Sr. that he may take legal action against him over the matter.

    Ahead of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris on September 21, where Renault must answer claims that it deliberately caused a crash to help Fernando Alonso win, details of the case have been emerging.

    AUTOSPORT understands that part of the evidence that has been submitted to the FIA ahead of the hearing is a letter that Briatore sent to Piquet Sr. on July 28 – two days after Max Mosley had been informed of the Singapore events but two days prior to Piquet Jr. making his official testimony to the governing body.

    In the letter, a copy of which has been seen by AUTOSPORT, Briatore rigorously denies any suggestion that Piquet was asked to crash on purpose – and suggests that the matter has been brought to light purely to ‘blackmail’ him into renewing the Brazilian’s driver’s contract.

    Briatore says he was ‘extremely shocked’ to learn from Bernie Ecclestone and other Renault representatives that Piquet Sr. was going to reveal that his son had been asked to cause a crash.

    “I was also extremely shocked to learn that you were threatening to make this contention before the FIA as a mean of pressure to obtain from Renault, against your silence, a continuation of the Driving Agreement relating to Nelsinho after the last Hungarian Grand Prix notwithstanding the option of termination set forth in favor [sic] of the team that was agreed upon between us at the outset of the Nurburgring Race.”

    Briatore added: “You can easily imagine that I can certainly not accept your contention that the Renault Team, myself, and your son entered into some sort of conspiracy that would not only have an impact on the result of the competition, but actually, that may put at risk the safety of all the contenders in the Grand Prix just to have Fernando Alonso obtaining a racing advantage.

    “I am outraged that you could think that I myself, not mentioning your son and the other people in the Renault’s Team, could have any part in such a strategy that may constitute a criminal offense.

    “Secondly, I am forced to consider that your threat constitutes without doubt a blatant attempt of exerting blackmail against Renault F1 and myself to extort an illegitimate advantage by way of threats and outrageous lies on the basis of an alleged hear-say.”

    Briatore makes it clear that he reserves the right to take legal action over the matter if Piquet went public with his claims.

    “I would not wish this to escalate and I will put your current attitude on the ground of the disappointment and grief caused by the results obtained so far by Nelsinho in Formula 1.

    “Please be advised, however that, should you take any step in relation with your blackmail, or make any declaration in connection thereof, I shall have no choice but to introduce against you, and against Nelsinho as the case may be, any action that way be appropriate before any criminal and civil court having jurisdiction on the ground of defamation, false accusation extortion.”

    Renault has so far declined to comment about the matter and said it will not make any statement about the situation ahead of the WMSC hearing on September 21.

    Renault boss Flavio Briatore has insisted that his team has done nothing wrong amid the Singapore Grand Prix race-fix controversy – after boldly predicting the truth of the matter will come out in public soon.

    The flamboyant Italian broke his silence about the accusations made against him at Monza on Friday, as he told a select group of media that his decision to take criminal action against the Piquets was proof about how sure he was his team is innocent of the claims made by Nelson Piquet.

    “The fact that we put a plan for blackmail [action] against the two Piquets, means I think we are very confident that the truth will come out,” said Briatore.

    Renault is to face the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in Paris on September 21 to answer charges that it deliberately caused a crash in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix to help Fernando Alonso win.

    Speaking about the looming WMSC action, Briatore said: “You know what? Whatever happens, if someone goes against the rules, they go against the rules. If I tell you to go rob a bank – afterwards, you decide whether to rob the bank or not.

    “I don’t feel I have any responsibility, and we don’t feel we have done absolutely anything [wrong]. In the case of Piquet we go to the World Council. But the fact already that we have put a criminal plan to Piquet is because we have enough confidence to be successful – the team and myself.”

    The matter appears to revolve around an alleged pre-race meeting that took place in Briatore’s office hours before that race – where Piquet claims that he was asked to crash early in the race to bring out a safety car.

    Briatore declined to comment on the specifics of the events that took place that day, but said he had never known of any occasion where a driver had been asked to crash on purpose to help a team.

    “No. Never. Fernando only won the race because Massa had a problem, Kubica had a problem,” he said. “There were six or seven problems.

    “I think Barrichello stopped in the same place as Piquet. What is possible on lap 14, with 40 laps to go, to determine somebody winning the race? There was another pitstop, another safety car. On lap 14, how is it possible to know what is going to happen?”

    Briatore also hit out at the way that details of the evidence against Renault had been leaked to the media – something which he thinks has been damaging for his team and the sport. The FIA has already begun an investigation into identifying who distributed the confidential information.

    “The bad press I think was completely unfair – some leaks in the press to accuse somebody before they had the possibility to defend themselves,” he said.

    “I think this is really not honest, this is really damaging and this really takes the sport in dispute [sic]. We probably don’t know where it’s coming from, but this takes the sport in dispute [sic] because at the moment it is the accusation about Renault with no possibility for us to defend ourselves, because we respect our word to the FIA.

    “We don’t want to do any comment and all the comment is around you guys, seeing what is leaked in the press. I don’t want to put any comment. I just put, this is making damage for Renault and puts the image of Formula 1 and the sport in dispute.

    “All these things, if there is an allegation then you go to the World Council and you discuss in the World Council. You don’t need to discuss in front of the public opinion and put 500 people working for the team in this kind of danger.”

    Briatore also offered some words on how he felt about Piquet, as he said that all he had wanted was for the Brazilian to deliver performance when he raced for the team.

    “I feel Nelsinho is a very spoiled guy,” he said. “Every time he is racing it is because he owns the team as well. He is very fragile. We tried everything. What you want is only performance.”


  4. The Renault team and its boss Flavio Briatore have begun criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet Junior and Nelson Piquet Senior following an alleged attempt “to blackmail” the French squad.

    Renault is facing allegations of race-fixing after Piquet Jr told the FIA saying he had been asked to crash during the Singapore Grand Prix in order to benefit team-mate Fernando Alonso.

    Briatore denied the accusations as “outrageous lies” and threatened with legal action, a threat that materialised on Friday, when Renault announced it had begun criminal proceedings against Piquet and his father.

    “The FIA has announced that it is to hold an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (‘WMSC’) on 21 September 2009,” said Renault in a statement.

    “The ING Renault F1 Team is to attend that meeting and answer allegations that members of the team conspired with Nelson Piquet Jnr to cause a deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore GP, so that Fernando Alonso might benefit from the resulting safety car.

    “The ING Renault F1 Team had not commented publicly during the FIA’s initial investigation into this matter.

    “However, today the ING Renault F1 Team and its Managing Director Flavio Briatore personally, wish to state that they have commenced criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet Junior and Nelson Piquet Senior in France 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.

    “The matter will also be referred to the Police in the UK.”

    FIA president Max Mosley says that race fix claims surrounding Renault are being viewed as more serious than outright cheating by the governing body, after revealing on Friday that Nelson Piquet has been granted immunity.

    Renault has been called to appear before the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council on September 21 to answer charges that it deliberately told Nelson Piquet to crash in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix to help Fernando Alonso win the race.

    Those claims have been denied by the team, which has begun criminal action against Piquet and his father Nelson for alleged blackmail over the suggestions.

    Mosley said the FIA had no choice but to launch a proper investigation into the matter after Piquet had informed the governing body of the events, and he made it clear on Friday about how grave he deemed race-fixing to be.

    “If you look at any other sport, if somebody fixes the result then it’s usually taken seriously,” said Mosley, speaking to selected media including AUTOSPORT in his office at the Monza circuit. “Fixing is one degree worse than cheating.

    “If you’re a cyclist and you take dope, that’s cheating. If you bribe the other cyclists, or you get somebody to have a crash in the peloton so the yellow jersey guy crashes, that’s more serious.

    “Then if it puts human life at risk, whether it’s the spectators, the marshals or the drivers, then it’s more serious again. The moment we talk about that, we sort of imply they (Renault) are guilty, but we don’t know. Until they put their defence in, we’ve got to assume they’re innocent.”

    Mosley said it was too early to make a judgement, as the governing body was still waiting for Renault to provide its defence submissions.

    “We originally gave them until [last] Monday to put in all the documents, and then they have asked for more time, which they have been given until the middle of next week. And, we have got no idea what they will produce. But in the nature of things, there are always two sides to a story.”

    He added: “Well, if, and it is a very big if, they are guilty, obviously it is very serious indeed. But we are in a situation at the moment where we have heard one side of the story and have investigated to the best of our ability.

    “Now we are waiting for Renault’s side of the story, and it is only when we have got both sides, and both of them have been heard, that one can actually reach a conclusion. So, in most places, you assume someone is innocent until they are proven guilty. And that is the situation we are in at the moment.”

    Mosley has confirmed that Piquet himself has been promised immunity from being punished over the matter, as part of the deal for him providing evidence.

    “We have said to him that, and I don’t know exactly how it was phrased, but he has been told that if he tells us the truth then he will not be proceeded against individually,” he said. “It is exactly the same as it was for Alonso [in the McLaren case in 2007].”

    Mosley has also expressed regret that documents relating to the Renault trial were leaked this week – and says that action will be taken in the future to ensure that it does not happen again.

    “That is actually very unfortunate because it is just one side of the story,” he said. “We are quite genuinely curious at to how that happened. Next time, when we send out to 20 or 30 people, we will probably arrange it in such a way that we can tell who is leaking stuff.

    “We don’t know how it happened. But none of that means anything. What means something is when we get their defence, which will not be until next week.”

    Mosley confirmed that the most severe penalty of total exclusion from the world championship was a possibility if Renault was found guilty, and he clarified that it was now too late for the result of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix or world championship to be changed.


  5. The Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) has criticised the leaking of information relating to the Singapore race fix case, which has overshadowed the build-up to the Italian Grand Prix.

    Ahead of Renault’s appearance in front of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council to answer charges that it asked Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately during last year’s Singapore race to help Fernando Alonso win, details of the evidence against the team emerged over the course of the week.

    As well as documents included in the WMSC’s dossier on Renault, the full version of one of the Nelson Piquet’s statements to the FIA was published on the internet.

    The identity of the leaks has not been disclosed, or even whether they have come from within the governing body or the Renault team, and the FIA has promised an investigation to find out exactly where the information has come from.

    FOTA is disappointed about the matter, and claimed that a ‘competent’ governing body would have ensured that confidential documents remained under control.

    In a statement issued on Friday, it said: “FOTA today express concern at the leakage of information, which may or may not be relevant to the FIA current enquiry into the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

    “All parties to the dispute should have the right to a fair hearing carried out in private and not in the public arena, which is producing adverse publicity damaging to the corporate image and credibility of Formula 1.

    “FOTA believes that differences within the sport should be handled in professional manner and condemns the habit of intentionally releasing confidential documents to influence public opinion. Confidential documents should remain under the control of the competent authority.”

    FIA president Max Mosley said on Friday that lessons would be learned from the way that information relating to the case was put into the public domain.

    “That is actually very unfortunate because it is just one side of the story,” he said. “We are quite genuinely curious as to how that happened.

    “Next time, when we send out to 20 or 30 people, we will probably arrange it in such a way that we can tell who is leaking stuff. We don’t know how it happened.”


  6. Nelson Piquet says he will not be “bullied again into making a decision I regret” after claiming he has nothing to fear following his accusations against the Renault team.

    The French squad announced on Friday that it was launching criminal action against Piquet and his father, accusing the duo of attempting to blackmail the team with accusations of race-fixing at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

    On Friday afternoon, Piquet Jr issued a statement saying he has nothing to fear despite Renault’s legal action, the Brazilian claiming he had told the FIA the truth.

    “Regarding the current FIA investigation, I confirm that I have co-operated fully and honestly with the sport’s governing body,” said Piquet in the statement.

    “Because I am telling the truth I have nothing to fear, whether from the ING Renault Team or Mr Briatore and whilst I am well aware of the power and influence of those being investigated, and the vast resources at their disposal, I will not be bullied again into making a decision I regret.

    “I have every confidence in the FIA investigation and World Motor Sport Council and I will be making no further comment until the conclusion of the hearing of 21 September 2009.”

    The governing body’s president Max Mosley said earlier today that Piquet had been granted immunity from being punished over the affair.

    Renault boss Flavio Briatore says it has been tough for his team to cope with the accusations levelled at them by former driver Nelson Piquet and his father – but he is not totally surprised at the way things have turned out.

    Briatore believes that the race-fix claims levelled at him and his team, which he has denied and is taking legal action against the Piquets over, follows a pattern of besmirching that Piquet Sr carried throughout his F1 career.

    One of his most famous outbursts came in a magazine interview when he was still driving, when the three-time champion accused Ayrton Senna of being gay and said that Nigel Mansell’s wife was ‘ugly’. Those remarks caused outrage at the time.

    “We know Nelson’s story, he’s always run down everyone,” explained Briatore at Monza. “Nelson drove for me and… Nelson is blackmailing, and that’s what we have brought.

    “It’s very tough for Renault to have had these put downs from Nelsinho and from Piquet Sr, but then we know Piquet Sr. He has always denigrated everyone – starting from [Ayrton] Senna, to Mansell’s wife, to everyone. That’s what Piquet Sr has always done. I know him well because he raced for us, I know Sr better than Jr.”

    Briatore has also said that the complaints from Piquet Jr extended beyond pure racing terms – as he revealed he was also accused by the Brazilian of wrecking friendships he had.

    “He [Nelsinho] has also heavily accused me of breaking his relationship with a friend of his. I don’t want to be accused unfairly, so I want to say that I did it because Nelsinho’s father asked me to,” explained Briatore.

    “Nelsinho used to live with this gentleman: the nature of their relationship is unknown. His father was very worried about the relationship Nelsinho used to have with this 50-year-old man. They used to live together, and his father asked me to intervene.

    “I made this gentleman not come to races anymore, and I made Nelsinho move from Oxford to London in a building where I live, in order to keep him under control.

    “I was asked to by his father, and now Nelsinho accuses me of having even taken his friends away from him – I don’t know what kind of friends these are, but he accuses me of that.”

    Briatore’s claims about Piquet come amid the surfacing of fresh details about the events of the day at Singapore and how he crashed his car on purpose.

    In a second statement that Piquet supplied to the FIA at the office of investigative agency Quest in London on August 15, Piquet reveals that he was summoned into Briatore’s office for the alleged meeting where the crash plan was discussed between 4pm and 5pm on race day.

    He says the meeting did not last very long – and he was asked not to speak about what was discussed.

    “In the course of the meeting, Briatore said very little,” claimed Piquet in his FIA statement, a copy of which has been seen by AUTOSPORT. “As the meeting drew to a close, Mr. Symonds told me that I should not speak about the plan with anyone else and said that he would give me further instructions shortly. I believe the meeting in Mr Briatore’s office lasted no more than ten minutes.”

    After claiming that Symonds later told him where to crash on the track, Piquet provided further evidence about how he deliberately caused the accident.

    “After ensuring I was on the designated lap of the race, I deliberately lost control of my car on the exit to turn 17. I did this by pressing hard and early on the throttle.

    “As I felt the back end of the car drifting out, I continued to press hard on the throttle, in the knowledge that this would lead to my car making heavy contact with the concrete wall on the far side of the track and thereby cause a crash necessitating the deployment of the safety car.”

    He added: “Once the back end of the car had begun to drift out, the only way of recovering control of the car and avoiding a contact with the concrete wall would have been to back off on the throttle.

    “However, I did not back off the throttle to any material extent. Rather, I pressed hard on the throttle beyond the moment at which the back end started to drift out and, indeed, right up to and beyond the point of impact with the concrete wall.”

    Piquet’s claims about how he caused the crash have been backed up by telemetry data of the incident, which forms part of the evidence against the Renault team at the World Motor Sport Council hearing that takes place in Paris on September 21.


  7. The FIA believes it will be impossible to trace the source of the leaked documents that this week exposed details of the case surrounding the Renault race-fix allegations at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

    Just days after the FIA’s dossier of evidence relating to the matter was distributed to members of the World Motor Sport Council ahead of its meeting in Paris on September 21 to discuss the matter, documents were published in various media.

    The fact that the confidential documents were put into the public domain has been criticised by both Renault and the Formula One Teams’ Association, and the FIA has promised a full investigation – as well as vowing to change the way documents are distributed in the future to prevent a possible repeat.

    However, despite expressing his irritation at what has happened, FIA president Max Mosley believes the governing body will never discover the true source of the leaks.

    “It is very annoying when confidential documents get leaked,” Mosley said at the Italian Grand Prix. “They were given to everybody on the basis that they were confidential, but in the end without taking precautions to match which document against which person.

    “We should have done that and changed each one so we knew who leaked them. But they have been leaked and it is very annoying.”

    When asked about finding out the source of the leak, whether from within the governing body itself or from someone at Renault, Mosley said: “An awful lot of different people have had them for one reason or another, so it will be impossible and you will never get proof.

    “The same thing happens in governments all the time, they keep leaking documents, you try and find out who does it but you cannot. It is just annoying.”


  8. Yet more controversy hits F1 again then. Never a year goes by does it, where by there isn’t a big story blown up in front of the world.

    Sigh, OK so did Nelson crash on purpose? Is he blackmailing Renault? Did Flav ask that most incredible favour?

    Well just about on cue with the anniversary of 9/11, the hype, evidence and controversy is hanging in the air like a bad smell again. I’m getting sick and tired of the crap spewing from some “expert” about how the Twin Towers were blown up, rather than fell down. The excuses are largely stabs in the dark.

    Piquet Jnr is also saying his moment it was more than meets the eye. Saying he was TOLD to crash. It was planned before hand and it was no accident. Now for me in both cases, I’d like to think the reasons behind them are complete rubbish and that Nelson has a serious case of sour grapes. He was rather vocally attacked by just about everyone inc Flav, so this I’m sure utter crap.

    However, do I trust Flav? No. Did I trust G.Bush Jnr? Hell no. Is there an out side chance that these two outcomes ( though obviously 9/11 was ever so slightly horrific and heart breaking ) were not all that they seemed. Could it be possible that Renault asked their driver to crash on purpose? That the US government arranged the events off that fateful day?

    Am I sure this is all a load of nonsense?

    Nah, not at all. But is it enough to get off the fence and side with Nelson Piquet? I dont think i can say for sure. The prize for some is just too great. I mean, it’s not like Nelson to be strangers with the letters DNF. Who would question him crashing. Alonso was quick anyway. To do this and not be guarantee a victory is not very clever anyway.

    Nelson said he “lost control”. Well wouldn’t the team keep all the telemetry for just a year ago? Depending on what he did to loose control, I think you could formulate a reasonably accurate opinion as to it was done on purpose. If Nelsons entry and exit speeds were fairly constant, a bit of “lift off” or “juice on” to start the crash, I think, would stand out, even by his varying stds.

    Plus it was for just a race win. No drivers championship, no constructor title, an arranged crash for just a single win? Just don’t see it myself.

    BUT, if it was proven that it was a purposeful crash of both cars and planes, would I be suprised? I’m afraid it would be of no suprise at all.

  9. Oh and at the end of the day, renault tried to “fix the race and and gain an advantage.” Hmmmmm, we’ve heard something similar at a race in some far away, upside down country that favours BBQ’s didn’t we?

    No doubt Janus will claim this was just as bad, and IF Renault were kicked out then why wasn’t Mclaren? TBF it’s not all that far off, though given the fact that this time round we are talking about crashing a speeding F1 car, and that anything could have happened, I can justify that if proven, Renault should face stronger punishment.

    One thing that does bother though is this. As sure as sure Alonso is off to Ferrari what has Renault got to look forward to? I fear this could really be the last straw that broke the camels back.

  10. I have to say I did think that crash was convenient and I don’t normally go for conspiracy theories.

    Its all a mess! I think piquet has ruined his own career by behaving in the manner he has. He should know that he hasn’t performed, even if he was put under pressure. I have no respect for a driver who crashes his car on purpose either off his own back or because the team told them to, its pathetic.

    The whole relationship with a 50 year old man story sounds even more absurd! If it is true I suppose it shows how backwards the F1 society still is with its attitude towards certain ‘groups’.

    I’m not sure if Renault are guilty or not, but remember that this is essentially the 1994 Benneton team who are still strongly suspected of cheating that year.

  11. Agree with Craig.

    Nelson’s career is screwed whatever happens. If he’s lying, then his rep is gone for good. He wouldn’t get a drive in a lawnmower race!

    Even if he was told to crash he’s screwed for being so stupid to crash on purpose. I know Lewis lied because he was told to, but teams to that all time ( albeit not quite so stupidly ). But crashing a car and risk your life, another drivers life and possibly spectators aswell.

    But hey, unless the telemetry shows proof, or the find proof some other way, this is going to be nigh on impossible to prove because no-one is going to back out of this. renault wont to stay in F1 for as long as possible and Nelson wont to try and save his rep.

  12. Thanks for the comments guys. I appreciate everyone’s views on this subject matter. The integrity of this sport is being dragged through murky waters again and this latest controversy is the most serious considering what happened back in March this season (that liegate involving Lewis Hamilton and his McLaren team in Melbourne). Who knows what the outcome will be so we just have to see what happens on September 21st.

    I was reading this interesting article off (posted below in full) featuring Patrick Head, that this World Motor Sport Council hearing will be the most important in terms of the future of the sport. Is Renault guilty? Does Nelson Piquet Jr have an agenda against his former team? Let’s wait and see.

    Williams co-owner Patrick Head thinks it vital for Formula 1 that Renault is dealt with ‘pretty firmly’ by the FIA if found guilty of fixing last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

    Ahead of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris on September 21, where Renault will answer charges that it asked Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately in Singapore to help Fernando Alonso win, Head thinks the case is a test for the integrity of the sport.

    “Firstly I have to say that I don’t know any of the details and I don’t know [if what is alleged] actually did happen or not,” said Head. “All of my comments are made without really knowing the detail or the real circumstances, but it will all be investigated on September 21 and dealt with appropriately.

    “There were all sorts of rumours at the time, but to me it’s a pretty extraordinary situation.

    “Young drivers, before they have established their name in F1, are in quite a difficult position, but if young Nelson was asked to deliberately crash or spin his car, regardless of his contractual position, in my view he should have said no at the time.

    “If that did happen, then the people responsible should be dealt with pretty firmly.”

    Head believes that if the FIA does not act in a strict manner over the matter then it could damage the credibility of F1 for years to come.

    “There are all sorts of ways if you are professionally going to pull the wool over the FIA that you could probably gain advantage and get away with it,” he said. “If that proved to be happening in a consistent way I think rightly nobody would have any interest in Formula 1 racing because you couldn’t believe what you were looking at.

    “Equally, if someone has used operational procedures to gain an advantage as has been suggested, then it needs to be dealt with quite firmly because you wouldn’t believe anything that you were looking at – and you couldn’t write an article saying that whoever wins the race did a fantastically good job because you’d think how were they cheating.

    “It’s a complex sport. Some people say it isn’t a sport. But if all the cars are designed to the same rules and the engines are to the same rules, for all the shenanigans that go on beforehand and all of the commercial deals and everything, when the lights go out at the start one would like to think that was a straightforward race.”

    Head also backed FIA president Max Mosley’s assertion that race-fixing is a more serious offence than straight cheating – and therefore could carry a harsher penalty than the Toyota ban from world rallying or the $100 million (USD) fine that McLaren had.

    “First of all, if the thing comes down to the word of one man against another, it might be quite difficult to provide sufficient proof to impose those sorts of penalties,” he said.

    “I’ve got no knowledge of what information is available and how well the various parties will stand up under questioning. The thing that’s emotive about it is actually a car crashing.

    “It has in the past been that one car has deliberately held up another car in order to give favour to the team-mate and that isn’t very sporting. But it’s hardly something on which one would impose a $100 million fine.

    “When you start going as far as requesting that one car does something that brings out the safety car, it goes to another level.”

    Piquet has been guaranteed immunity for his part in the matter by the FIA, in exchange for his co-operation, and Head thinks it right that it is the team that receives punishment if it committed an offence – even though the Brazilian driver agreed to the plan.

    “Young people when they are under pressure do make mistakes,” he explained. “I would put 99 per cent of the blame on the people that asked him to do that, if that’s what happened.

    “Ultimately, if that’s what happened and that’s what he did then in my view he made a mistake to agree to do it. But young people under pressure do make mistakes and I don’t necessarily think they need to be crucified as a result.”

    Head also said that he was told by a journalist that Piquet first revealed the alleged plot privately shortly after the Singapore GP.

    “I became aware of a journalist who told me that he was told about it by Nelson Piquet 15 minutes after the race. It’s a difficult one. If a journalist was told that by a driver he should have said: ‘look, stop. If you carry on with this I will have to…’

    “As I said, we push the limits on the design of our car to as much as we can, but we don’t push the limits to the point that if something were found out we’d be thrown out.

    “What I do hope is that after September 21, the FIA have raised this, I hope that what goes on in Paris and whatever punishments are handed out can be looked at and stand up to scrutiny. If the regulators of F1, which is not just the regulators of the car but the race, if they are not thought to be proper regulators then it calls into question lots of things.”

  13. Renault director of engineering Pat Symonds has been offered immunity from punishment by the FIA if he offers full disclosure of the facts surrounding last year’s Singapore Grand Prix race-fix allegations.

    With less than one week to go before Renault faces the FIA World Motor Sport Council to answer charges that it asked Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately to help Fernando Alonso win, sources have confirmed to AUTOSPORT that Symonds has been given the chance of an amnesty.

    The development comes on the back of interviews between Symonds, FIA representatives and members from the Quest agency at the Belgian Grand Prix where it was deemed his evidence was ‘central’ to finding answers to what happened in Singapore.

    In the stewards’ report about that interview, a copy of which has been seen by AUTOSPORT, Symonds confirms that the race-day meeting between himself, Briatore and Piquet did take place.

    The stewards reports added: “Mr. Symonds accepted that he had discussed with NPJ (Piquet) the possibility of a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, although he said the suggestion was raised by NPJ.”

    However, Symonds then refused to answer questions about specific allegations about the events that took place that day.

    It is understood, however, that the reason to offer Symonds immunity has come from the fact that he indicated at the time that he may have further useful information.

    The stewards report stated: “Mr. Symonds suggested at his interview on 27 August that he might wish to revert to the Stewards with further information, including information responsive to the various questions he had declined to answer.

    “However, no such further information was provided on 27 August. On 28 August, Mr Symonds was summoned back before the Stewards to be asked if he wanted to give further information on the questions he had declined to answer. Mr Symonds again declined to answer the questions.”

    It is not clear if Symonds has accepted the immunity from punishment offer, but should he do so it means only Renault boss Flavio Briatore will face the FIA’s WMSC without any such deal in place. FIA president Max Mosley confirmed at the Italian Grand Prix that Piquet would be exempt too.

    This if the official transcript of the relevant parts of an interview between FIA representatives and Pat Symonds, at the Belgian Grand Prix, discussing the Singapore Grand Prix race-fix allegations and the race morning meeting between himself, Flavio Briatore and Nelson Piquet.

    FIA adviser: In your own words Mr. Symonds what do you recall being said to Nelson Piquet Jnr at that meeting? This is shortly before the race.

    Symonds: I don’t really remember it.

    FIA adviser: You don’t remember?

    Symonds: No.

    FIA adviser: Nelson Piquet Jnr says that he was asked by you to cause a deliberate crash. Is that true?

    Symonds: Nelson had spoken to me the day before and suggested that. That’s all I’d really like to say.


    FIA adviser: Mr Symonds were you aware that there was going to be crash at Lap 14?

    Symonds: I don’t want to answer that question.


    FIA adviser: There is just one thing that I ought to ask you and put it to you so you can think about it at least. Mr. Piquet Jnr says that having had the initial meeting with you and Flavio Briatore you then met him individually with the map of the circuit. Do you remember that?

    Symonds: I won’t answer, rather not answer that. I don’t recall it but it sounds like Nelson’s talked a lot more about it.

    FIA adviser: Mr. Piquet Jnr also says at that meeting you pointed out a specific place on the circuit where he was to have the accident and said it was because it was the furthest away from any of the safety or lifting equipment and gave the most likely chance of a safety car being deployed.

    Symonds: I don’t, I don’t want to answer that question.

    FIA adviser: [Referring to the pre-race meeting] Was it you that did the talking at that meeting Mr. Symonds?

    Symonds: I’m sure it would have been both of us but I don’t know for sure. Sorry that’s a contradiction. I would imagine it would be both of us that would be normal. Actually probably more often it’s Flavio that does the talking himself. I wouldn’t necessarily always agree with what he’s saying but the majority.

    FIA adviser: Because just to be absolutely clear here what Nelson Piquet Jnr has said is that at that meeting it was you that asked him to have a crash deliberately?

    Symonds: I can’t answer you.

    FIA adviser: Can I say that if Mr. Symonds you’d been put in the position where you were made to ask Mr. Piquet Jnr to crash it’s much better, it would be much better for you in the long term to tell these stewards to hear that today?

    Symonds: I fully understand that.

    FIA adviser: Yes.

    Symonds: I have no intention of lying to you. I have not lied to you but I have reserved my position just a little.

    FIA adviser: And you’re aware that the stewards may draw conclusions from your unwillingness to assist them in relation to what went on in that meeting?

    Symonds: I would expect them to. I would absolutely expect that.

    FIA adviser: I think I haven’t got any further questions.


  14. With all the leaks of evidence in the Renault case, it has become harder and harder to keep in mind that the French team remain innocent of the grave charges levelled against them until the matter has been considered by the FIA in Paris on Monday.

    That said, the world governing body’s transcript of the radio transmissions from the Renault pitwall team during last year’s Singapore Grand Prix makes for interesting reading, not least because it gives us an insight into what goes on in a part of Formula One that the teams like to keep close to their chests.

    On one level the transcript reads uncontroversially. The Renault team start the floodlit race with one set of strategies for their drivers, they change the plan for one of them, Fernando Alonso, bring him in for a fuelling stop and are shocked when their second driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, piles his car into a wall. If you did not know of the allegations of race-fixing and an agreement with Piquet to crash deliberately, you would be none the wiser.

    But when you know what is being alleged, the exchanges take on a different hue. Why did Pat Symonds, the director of engineering, drop the three-stop strategy for Alonso in favour of two? Isn’t it curious that Piquet has to ask, and be told, what lap he is on? Isn’t it odd that a senior engineer questions Symonds’s decision to change Alonso’s strategy? And what about the reactions of the team after Piquet had crashed? Were some of them thinking ahead, knowing that what they said at that point might one day be the subject of detailed investigations and analysis?

    Either way the radio transcripts do not convict Renault. But it is increasingly clear that the FIA’s report suggests that there is a case to answer. The impression given is that the French team go to Paris not only fighting to prove their innocence but also fighting to limit the scale of any punishment.

    The offer of immunity to Symonds leaves Flavio Briatore, the Renault team principal, in an exposed position, should Symonds accept it and provide the World Motor Sport Council with damning testimony against his principal.

    So far the Italian has denied all knowledge of a conspiracy to fix the race and has initiated legal action against Piquet and his father, Nelson Piquet Sr, claiming that they have tried to blackmail him.

    Few are coming to Briatore’s aid and the FIA is pressing on with him firmly in its sights.

    Today (September 15th) The Times can reveal extracts from the radio conversations between key Renault personnel during last year’s controversial Singapore Grand Prix leading up to, and including, the moment when Nelson Piquet Jr crashed on lap 14.

    This radio traffic between the Renault pitwall and Piquet, as well as among members of the pitwall, is a fascinating insight into the minutes leading up to the crash and the chaotic moments after it.

    The transcript will form part of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council’s deliberations on Monday when it decides whether Piquet was told to crash his car, an allegation Renault and Flavio Briatore, the team principal, deny.

    The Renault group on the wall at races includes two race engineers, plus Briatore and Pat Symonds, the director of engineering who runs the management of the race.

    Symonds has been offered immunity from prosecution by the FIA in return for full disclosure about the alleged scheme to have Piquet crash on purpose.

    The aim of the conspiracy alleged by the FIA was for Renault to cause a safety car interruption immediately after Fernando Alonso, who has said he was not party to any scheme to cheat, had made an unscheduled and early pitstop. Alonso pitted on lap 12 of the race, four laps earlier than originally intended, and Piquet’s car hit the wall two laps later.

    The safety car duly appeared and circulated for six laps. During that time almost all of Alonso’s rivals pitted, enabling the Spaniard to climb steadily through the field and win the race from fifteenth on the grid.

    In the early part of the race, there were several exchanges between Symonds and the engineers about Alonso’s race strategy, with Symonds preparing the ground to drop the original three-stop approach and change it to a two-stop strategy that would better fit with any plan for Piquet to crash.

    “I can tell you now we are not three-stopping,” Symonds is heard to say on the transcript made by the FIA as part of its evidence in the case, a copy of which has been seen by The Times.

    Later Symonds adds to an unnamed engineer: “Don’t worry about fuel because I’m going to get him [Alonso] out of this traffic earlier than that.”

    Not long afterwards comes an unusual intervention from Piquet, who was running towards the back of the field in the early stages of Formula One’s first night race. But the novelty factor for him was not the floodlights. It has now been suggested that he was worried about which lap he was on because he knew he had special instructions for lap 14.

    Piquet says: “What lap are we in, what lap are we in?”

    A few seconds later an engineer tells the others on the wall: “He just asked: ‘What lap are we in?’ ”

    Symonds intervenes: “Yeah, tell him that he’s about to complete lap 8.”

    Symonds insists Piquet is then told something he should know from his pitboard, which is shown to him at the end of every lap. “No, just tell him, he is about, he’s just completing, he’s about to complete lap eight.”

    After Piquet is given the information, the discussion returns to the timing of Alonso’s first stop and Symonds makes his decision. “Right, I’m going to . . . I think we’re going to stop him just before we catch him [a reference to the Williams driver, Kazuki Nakajima, who was ahead of Alonso] and get him out of it, the reason being we’ve still got this worry on the fuel pump. It’s only a couple of laps short. We’re going to be stopping him early and we’re going to go to lap 40.”

    This decision prompts an engineer, who wants assurance from Symonds that a tactical option that would drop Alonso to last is the right thing to do. “Pat, do you still not think that this is a bit too early?” he asks a few minutes later. “We only did six tenths that lap.”

    Symonds replies: “No, no it’s going to be all right.”

    “OK, OK, understood,” the engineer responds.

    Once Alonso has made his stop, Symonds tells everybody that it is time to “concentrate on” Piquet. After assessing the Brazilian’s position, he and Briatore decide Piquet has to quicken up as the fateful lap draws near.

    Symonds to the engineer: “OK right, you’ve got to push him really bloody hard now. If he doesn’t get past Barrichello, he’s going nowhere, he’s got to get past Barrichello this lap.”

    “Tell him, push . . .,” Briatore says.

    Piquet’s race engineer gives him the hurry-up: “Nelson, no excuses now, you’ve got to get past Barrichello. You’ve got four clicks straight-line advantage. Come on, you’ve got to push now, you must get past him.”

    Moments later Piquet crashes at turn 17, where there are no cranes to lift the wreckage, making a safety car inevitable, and at the point at which he alleges Symonds told him to do the deed during a meeting before the race.

    Multiple voices: “Nelson’s off. F***ing hell. Nelson’s had a crash. I would say that would be a red flag. It’s huge [all speaking at the same time] .

    Piquet: “Sorry guys. I had a little outing.”

    Engineer: “Is he all right, Is he all right?”

    Symonds: “Ask him if he’s all right.”

    Engineer: “Are you OK? Are you OK?”

    Engineer: “Fernando’s just gone past it.”

    Engineer: “OK, yellow flag.”

    Piquet: “Yeah, I hit my head in the back. I think I’m OK.”

    Engineer: “OK, understood.”

    Symonds: “Right [inaudible], stop him.”

    Engineer: “Safety car, safety car, safety car, safety car. Fernando, safety car, mixture three.”

    Symonds: “Tell him to be careful, turn 17 I think it is.”

    After several exchanges about Alonso, an engineer expresses concern, presumably after seeing the crash on the television monitor, but Briatore seems unconcerned and is angry with Piquet.

    Engineer: “F***ing hell that was a big shunt.”

    Briatore: “F***ing hell . . . my every f***ing disgrace, f***ing, he’s not a driver.”

    Then Symonds asks about Alonso’s suddenly improving prospects.

    Symonds: “What position is Fernando in?”

    Engineer: “Well, we were 20, and we’re first guy to pick the safety car up.”

    Symonds: “Yeah, we’re not . . .”

    Engineer: “He will get away past it but he’s got to wait.”

    Later Briatore and Symonds discuss Alonso’s chances. “What position we are now in all this?” asks Briatore.

    Symonds replies: “To be honest, I don’t know Flavio. It’s got to have been good for Fernando. But I honestly don’t know where he is.”

    In the final part of the transcript, several minutes after the crash, the Renault team return to the subject of Piquet and his condition and at this stage Briatore adds his own concern for the young Brazilian driver’s welfare.

    Engineer: “Where is Nelson? Have you seen him?”

    Briatore: “Is he OK, Nelson? Is he OK?”

    Alonso: “The pitlane is closed until we arrive?”

    Engineer: “He climbed out, mate, and ran across the track.”

    Engineer: “Yeah, the pitlane is still closed.”

    Taken as a whole the transcript does not provide a killer-blow against Symonds or Briatore and could be read either way.

    The FIA, the sport’s governing body, is known to be particularly concerned that the alleged conspiracy not only amounted to cheating but also involved a reckless act that could have resulted in injury or loss of life.

    The pitwall recording shows that, on this score, the Renault team were also extremely concerned about Piquet’s safety.

    Source: The Times

  15. Check out this diagram featuring the telemetry of Nelson Piquet Jr’s Renault R28 –

    The diagram is being used by the FIA’s technical department to help in the investigation into what Nelson Piquet Jr was doing in the moments before he collided with a wall on lap 14 of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

    Piquet’s telemetry at the exit to Turn 17 reveals that he applied throttle earlier than expected which caused his rear wheels to spin. He then eased off the accelerator before reapplying pressure to cause the car to lurch into a spin and hit the wall.

    Piquet’s earlier laps in the grand prix did not feature such early acceleration on the same turn.

    Source: The Guardian

  16. Renault has announced that team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering chief Pat Symonds have parted company with the team and that it will “not dispute” the allegations of race-fixing when it appears before the World Motor Sport Council next week.

    The team had been accused of asking driver Nelson Piquet to crash deliberately during last year’s Singapore Grand Prix in order to cause a safety car period that would work to his team-mate Fernando Alonso’s advantage. The Spaniard went on to win the race.

    “The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix,” said a statement from the team.

    “It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.

    “Before attending the hearing before the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009, the team will not make any further comment.”

    Shortly before losing his drive with Renault, Piquet approached the FIA with the allegation that Briatore and Symonds had asked him to cause a deliberate accident that would bring out the safety car in Singapore, and that his heavy crash on lap 14 of the race had therefore been pre-planned.

    Alonso – who had been a contender for pole until a qualifying fuel pump failure left him only 15th on the grid – had made a very early pitstop just before the caution caused by Piquet’s crash and duly vaulted to the front of the field, from where he delivered Renault’s first victory of a difficult season.

    FIA investigators quizzed Briatore, Symonds and other team members over the incident during the Belgian GP weekend, and subsequently announced that the team would face a World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris on 21 September.

    Evidence, including Piquet’s statement, telemetry details and radio transmissions, was leaked to the media during last weekend’s Monza event, which also saw Renault announce that it would take legal action against Piquet and his triple world champion father Nelson, accusing both of blackmail.

    The saga then took another twist when it emerged that the FIA had offered Symonds immunity at the hearing in exchange for full disclosure of the facts surrounding the Singapore incident.

    As the Renault team – rather than Briatore and Symonds themselves – has been charged over the allegations, today’s announcement by the team is unlikely to have any bearing on next week’s hearing.


  17. Felipe Massa thinks he was robbed of last year’s Formula 1 world championship by Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

    Speaking for the first time since it was confirmed that Piquet crashed on purpose in Singapore last year to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win, Massa has not held back in his belief that the result of last year’s title should change.

    Massa was leading the race before Piquet’s crash brought out a safety car where a botched pitstop by Ferrari cost him any chance of a points finish. In the end he lost the world title by a single point.

    “All of what happened was robbery – but regarding the race nothing has happened, the result remains the same. This is not right,” Massa said in an interview with Globo television in Brazil. “The robbery changed the outcome of a championship and I lost (the title).”

    Massa believes that F1 should have followed the example of football, where matches that have been fixed have been declared null and void.

    “I have seen in football how a referee took money to throw a game and all the suspect results were annulled,” said Massa. “In Italy, Juventus were relegated. But here they just sent Briatore home. I don’t get it and I don’t think it was right.”

    Massa believes Piquet would struggle to find his way back to F1, as he reckons it wrong for the Brazilian to have come forward about what he did only after he was dropped by the team.

    “In general it was a very ugly attitude for a team to come up to you and say that you have to crash in order to renew your contract,” he said. “A driver who knew he was going to be fired.

    “Nelsinho knew he was going to be fired. I believe that admitting a mistake is a good thing, because the guy told the truth. He shouldn’t have waited so long to tell the truth. He told [the truth] because he was fired, this is not cool.

    “He is in a very difficult position in Formula 1. You can be certain that if someone from a team says, ‘Let’s hire Nelsinho’, it won’t go down well. I don’t think I would do this. I think that I would have to think very hard about it [and] I think that I wouldn’t be able to do it.”


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