Some unfinished business
Suzuka 2014
Japanese Grand Prix
Briatore and Symonds quit to save Renault F1 team
News
Briatore and Symonds quit to save Renault F1 team
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Sep 2009   |  1:17 pm GMT  |  128 comments

Both Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have resigned their positions at the Renault F1 team over the scandal of Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash in Singapore last year.

Briatore: Long and controversial F1 career is over

Briatore: Long and controversial F1 career is over

A brief statement from the team at midday today said, “The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.”

With the main architects of the ‘plot’ no longer in position and Piquet granted immunity from prosecution, the way is clear for the FIA World Council to deal with the team relatively gently on Monday.

There is no evidence that anyone else was involved. There is little reason for the hearing to take place if the team will not contest the charges and the two principals have already fallen on their swords. There is only the question of punishment. There is no question of throwing the team out of the world championship or hitting them witha $100 million fine, as McLaren was in 2007. There may be a fine to be paid or some sort of minor sentence, but as the management has changed it seems irrelevant to punish the team and other employees who were not in on the plot.

Renault itself has suffered a great deal of bad publicity over this and having now effectively pleaded guilty to the charges, the actions of Symonds and Briatore have put a stain on the company’s reputation. They were responsible for looking after Renault’s brand and reputation through competing in F1 and they did this.

Briatore has thought about stepping down in recent years anyway, but was persuaded by Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn to stay on in the job. As he said at the weekend, at 59 years of age and with so many other business interests, he hardly needs the salary.

However it will be interesting to see whether the FIA decides to ban him and Symonds from involvement in motorsport. Briatore’s company manages the careers of some significant F1 drivers including Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen. If he is banned from F1, he will have to hive off his interest in the management company. Briatore will be able to satisfy his sporting instincts with the Queens Park Rangers’ football, of which he is part owner with Bernie Ecclestone, although relations between the two have suffered over the Singapore situation. Briatore is also set to become a father soon with his wife Elizabeth Gregoracci expecting their first child.

Symonds was offered immunity from prosecution in return for evidence which would convict Briatore, but chose not to take that route, instead falling on his sword and staying loyal to his long time colleague.

For Alonso, whom the stewards have absolved of any involvement in this plot, his name is again stuck to another major F1 scandal, albeit unwittingly this time, coming two years after the McLaren/Ferrari data theft case.

As for the result of the Singapore Grand Prix, at the weekend FIA president Max Mosley said that its too late to change the results of the race.

With Briatore and McLaren’s Ron Dennis having now departed the scene in similar circumstances, there is only Sir Frank Williams of F1′s original big beasts, left in the sport. He has played a different game from his peers in recent years, sided with the FIA over the breakaway and not been a leading rebel in the FOTA breakaway.

Featured News
MORE FROM JA ON F1...
Share This:
Posted by:
Category:
Tags:
128 Comments
  1. Toga says:

    Weren’t legal proceedings issued against the Piquets and a complaint made to the police? You can get into trouble if you do that sort of thing without foundation …

  2. F1Artwork says:

    PitPass are saying that Dave Richards was at Enstone today and that an announcement may be imminent

  3. Nick says:

    James are you sure Pat didn’t take the immunity?
    Could he have not triggered today’s developments by agreeing to testify and resigning, leaving Renault and Flavio with no further options?

  4. Kirk says:

    Sorry James but in my humble opinion you got the title wrong on this one.

    “Briatore and Symonds quit to save Renault F1 team”?!?

    That makes them sound like heroes – and they are both far from it in this case. They should have thought about the team, aand the honest people working for it, when (A) they took part on the plot or (B) when they knew about it and did nothing other than celebrate Alonso’s win.

    And they left now, quietly through the back door, because chances are they would have been found guilty of something on Monday, would have left the FIA building humiliated and surrounded by the press, and would have been sacked by Renault F1 on Tuesday.

    1. Clinton says:

      I agree with Kirks comments above.

      James, while I hardly ever disagree with your opinions, I cant help feel that you have got it absolutely wrong in this instance. The true state of affairs is not known as of yet.

      It may be possible that Briatore fell on his sword to save the team, trying to follow in the footsteps of Ron, but unlike Ron, Briatore does not own the team, he is an employee, and history shows that in times of crisis employees don’t jump but are pushed by the people trying to save their reputation, Renault F1 in this instance.

      No company would want this type of publicity and Renault would want out of the press. The easiest way, don’t contest the charges and throw yourself at the mercy of the FIA.

      I think that once Renault took the decision not to contest they fired the “rogue employees” in an attempt to get a lighter sentance.

      Renault has been called in front of the Counsel, not Briatore if I read the documents correctly. The hearing has not been called to determine the guilt of Briatore, but that of Renault.

      Renault have in effect consigned themselves to being found guilty. While I hate to use criminal law analogies it always seems appropriate as that is what the FIA always makes these hearing seem like.

      The actions of the managers and directors are imputed onto the company. Briatores actions are those of Renault F1. The sacking of the director does not wash the companies hands of the crime.

      The fact that they are no longer there does not change their Renaults guilt (which they have consigned themselves to).

      The guilt and punishment of Briatore would have to be established at a later meeting, after Briatore has been given an opportunity to provide details of his defense. If Briatore truly is innocent he would contest any hearing to have him banned from the sport.

  5. todd says:

    no doubt massa and piquet wont be friends anytime soon, his deliberate crash cost him the WDC.

  6. Dave says:

    I’m interested in the fact that a lot of people have said that Flavio and Pat going will help soften the punishment imposed on Renault. Autosport seems to think it will have no effect.

    I doubt many people at McLaren knew about the whole Spygate thing… I really don’t know how this one will pan out. Can F1 afford another manufacturer to leave?

    1. James Allen says:

      Spygate ended with such a heavy fine because McLaren went in front of the World Council and lied about it. They then had to go back there once the emails came to light and were hammered for deceiving the council. Here Renault has admitted the offence and the offenders are dismissed. It’s a very different situation, although I agree that the offence is much greater in this case.

      1. Dave says:

        Agreed, but it is strange that Flavio threatened legal action against the Piquets if they proceeded with the allegations… and then it turns out that Nelson wasn’t lying.

  7. Graeme Brown says:

    Renault’s offence is far greater than that committed by McLaren – all McLaren did was industrial espionage, they didn’t actually fix a race, nor did they put anyone’s life in danger – and the penalty should reflect that for justice to be served. However, given the number of teams leaving or threatening to do however the reality of it is that in all probability Renault will escape lightly.

    Regardless of the penalties surely the motorsport careers of all three involved are now over – surely no-one would employ them again, and no sponsor will want to be associated with them. I’m most disappointed in Pat Symonds, who has a distinguished history in the sport and always seemed to play it straight, however it seems he was a willing participant rather than Briatore’s puppet in this affair.

  8. Sean says:

    I’m sorry to hear this for the Renault team and its employees who are victims as well of this fiasco. I hope Piquet Jr. never find a place in F1 any more. F1 does not need this kind of people willing to do anything to keep their job.
    Lets close this sad chapter and move on the next race.

  9. Alastair says:

    Surely Alonso knew. It’s not the first time he’s been close to controvosy as you mentioned in the blog post, and there’s no smoke without fire.

    Remember, he was the main benefactor in all of this, and yet again he gets off scott free, as he did with the MacLaren saga after trying to blackmail Ron Dennis.

    He must have known, and the FIA should investigate this thoroughly, and not let the departure of Flav and Pat end this. At the very least, renault should face a fine to the same magnitude that MacLaren did.

  10. Ahsan says:

    David Richards to take over? – Benetton Connection : )

  11. Dicko says:

    No one seems to have considered pressure from sponsors in the mix here. Was it coincidence that ING Asia’s head office is based out of Singapore and with a threatening sponsorship deal looming over Renaults head, was Briatore told he needed to pull something special out the bag for this particular GP.

    Just how far is a team willing to go to keep the funds flowing?

    I can’t imagine a team which at that time were way down the rankings taking such a huge risk, unless something really major was at stake.

    You can guarantee one thing though, Max will be sipping a nice glass of Riesling with a big smile on his face tonight.

  12. LynnD says:

    James, I find it odd that you are representing this as Flav and Pat “taking one for the team”. Surely, if they did fix this race, Renault could have fired them for cause? It’s not comparable to the situation after Melbourne when Ron Dennis stood down, since neither Flav nor Pat are team owners! My take on these departures is that they probably came from board-level, and they’ve jumped before they were pushed, for the sake of appearances, and to reduce the risk of Flav washing more dirty linen (Bernie’s, for instance) in public.

    Good riddance, that’s my feeling. Pushing the boundaries is not the same as crashing into them.

  13. Rich says:

    Mosley will take the whole filthy lot down with him. Di Montezemelo will be looking over his shoulder i’m sure.

    I see you mentioned the A-word James. Better get your head down mate!

  14. Mercy says:

    Dark, dark times. Maybe the FIA thought Renault are going to leave one way or another to make room for Lotus Team F1. Bernie does want Malaysian supporters.

  15. Alan TT says:

    James, did they quit for the good of the team[HA HA] or were they told to GO, lots of stories on the subject, but not one that says whether they were they pushed, or if they had gone to the FIA hearing they would have been found guilty.. the only question NOW is, will Renault get a “lighter” sentence now that the main TWO have gone????

  16. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    James,

    You forgot to mention one other key driver for whom Briatore is manager:

    Fernando Alonso.

    If Briatore is able to stay in F1, he’ll surely have plenty of power as Alonso’s manager.

  17. Peter Jones says:

    James,
    I find it hard to believe that Alonso wasn’t at least “in the loop” about what was going on in Singapore last year. Maybe he wasn’t involved in the original plan hatched by Flav & Pat, but with his fuel load and qualifying position, surely he had to have been aware of what was happening. He’s too experienced to not have know something was up, right?

  18. Ken says:

    This cannot go without punishment! To allow either of these two to have anything more to do with motor racing in any way,shape of form would be totally wrong. These two represented Renault and as such are it is ultimately them who are left with egg on their face but should still have to live with the consequences of their actions. The FIA should be looking at HUGE fines similar to those of which Mclaren faced.

  19. kristian says:

    Good to see the website has returned!

    Mosley wins in the end, Briatore is filthy rich and F1 continues as it was. I look forward to Webber’s first interview post-Briatore management. Hopefully it is on par with his explanation of how to deal with the start at Spa. “Action at La Source then tuck my balls up my arse for Eau Rouge and see what else we can do from there”.

  20. Brace says:

    I personally think Frank Williams changed his attitude not because he really changed as a person, but because, without firm manufacturer behind him, he felt he wasn’t strong enough to stand against FIA with other teams.

  21. Chris Cole says:

    Surely, at the very least and in the spirit of fairness, Renault should be stripped of any sponsorship and advertising revenue as well as any prize money received last year. In addition there must be a fine or, perhaps preferably IF they stay as a manufacturer in F1, there should be a fine of any points during 2009 being withheld.

  22. Ceri Jones says:

    Good enough for them – their actions were decidedly dishonest even for F1 – a real shame for Symonds who has always appeared to be a straightforward bloke and I thought had some integrity.

  23. Lee Gilbert says:

    What a massive 24 hrs! The improbable becoming not only possible but fact

    I have to be honest and say I won’t miss Flav but I will miss Pat Symonds. Not only did he always give insightful views when interviewed he is also part of a dying breed of true old school engineers in F1

    There are only a handful of “behind the scenes” personalities in F1 and Pat was one of them – and for that reason I find it a shame. We are becoming increasingly left with faceless engineering teams instead of the leading lights of old.

    Although, I have to add it’s interesting how the FIA offered Pat Symonds immunity – and made it all about Flav. Moreover, it’s even more interesting that Pat chose to reject the immunity offer and walk away into certain retirement with his reputation tarnished.

  24. James says:

    I’m glad that this now looks to be over. I didn’t like the idea of a long, drawn-out scandal. Hopefully, any punishment dished out by the FIA will be fair to all concerned. I wasn’t comfortable with the idea though of 100+ innocent team workers being punished for ther bosses actions. That always feels like hostages are involved, “Ban us and the workers will suffer” etc.
    I have mixed feelings for Alonso now. I can’t help but feel that his stock is slightly tainted through association with these scandals. I’ve already had friends say “He must have known something, to go along with his strategy” etc. The casual F1 fan will remember stuff like this, and if championships turn on crashes anyway, this (hopefully) one-off incident will make these fans question the sport.

  25. John says:

    One possibility this suggests to me is that Renault are not looking to exit F1. They have essentially taken the rogue employees tack, even if those rogues are very high ups. They appear to be asking the FIA for mercy here, which in my opinion, would be wise for the FIA to exercise. Punishing Renault financially wouldn’t accomplish anything other than driving them from F1, in my opinion. Renault has already suffered huge prestige damage from this whole thing. And, reading the evidence, I really don’t think anyone beyond Briatore, Symonds, Piquet knew about it.

    Also, I do hope that Renault and Briatore/Symonds parting company does not exclude Briatore and Symonds from FIA action. In my opinion, they deserve everything they get at this point.

  26. Ronnie Mirza says:

    James isnt it funny that not too long ago Briatore was throwing a fit about Schumacher being unsportsmanlike in Monaco 06.
    James another aspect i find hard to digest is that Alonso pretending that he was not in the loop hole about the entire affair. A driver who demands no 1 status having absolute no knowledge about such a decesion i find it hard to buy. PERIOD!!

  27. Ben G says:

    Sorry James, I think you’re nuts to say that Renault deserve less punishment than McLaren.
    Love the blog tho.

  28. Pay The Piper says:

    Generous to a fault as always, James.
    Y’know, if you squint and read your first couple of paragraphs from just the right angle, it does actually look as if Pat and Flavio had any say whatsoever in their decision to “leave the team”.

    Thing is, depsite walking, if the WMSC drops any kind of censure on Flav, then he can forget all about pottering around Queens Park Rangers firing managers.
    The league has a “Fit and Proper Persons” test for club directors, and being banned by any another sports administration is enough to have you fail that test, and be prevented from any kind of ownership.

    Wonder what the team punishment will be … I got the feeling Renault were ready to shut-up shop when the ING contract expired, but I’m not sure they can afford to leave in the current circumstance, so they might have to double-down and plough on for a few more years before effecting their escape.
    Although they might not have much say in that, Max is on-record as saying Fixing is worse than Spying, and we know what the going rate for that is.
    12-month ban, no title sponsor … The inclusion of a “14th” team on the FIA entry list makes a bit more sense now.

    Anyhooo, I know Flav has been getting-it-tight in the comments, but I hope he hasn’t unleashed a Putin-esque cyber-attack on you James.
    Looks like the website has been taking a sore pounding all afternoon. Hope it’s feeling better soon.

  29. Hugo says:

    F1 is a circus,a reality show.
    FIA,FOTA and Mr E have to deal with this seriously otherwise how are you going to bring sponsors to the sport?
    It is disgusting what these 2 guys did just to win a race,I could expect that from Minardi,Arrows or team like that,one that have not won ever after been part of the sports for thousand of years,but Renault?
    I can’t believe it.

    1. Theothercoldone says:

      This I would most definitely not expect from the likes of Arrows or Minardi, or the other also rans at the back. I think those teams sense of honour, and pride at being there at all would forbade this kind of thing.

      1. Hugo says:

        I agree,what I meant was that Renault have won many races,it was not the case that they fixed the race because they knew they were never again going to have a chance to win a GP.

  30. Foobar says:

    Hmm…I wonder what will happen to Alonso?

    In general, don’t ask-don’t tell approach to honesty can lead to serious disaster(s) if someone eventually decides to tell the truth, or parts of it. Even though the universally accepted status quo is to never tell (eg. letting the team mate win in case he’s better positioned in WDC) in the end it’s more often than not better to tell soon rather than shut up (effectively: to lie), because the later you do it the harder the implications can get: Piquet Jr has absolutely kissed his F1 career good bye, Renault perhaps also.

    In case of Alonso…

    If it can be shown that he knew then that will certainly negatively impact his value in the driver’s market due to sponsors being, hmm, afraid of the negative connotations.

    Also, if the involment cannot be absolutely denied then there will be some impact but mainly in the eyes of public already disposed against him.

    Furthermore, the key issue is not about finding out the truth but whether Alonso manages to maintain the proper facade: It’s better to appear as an idiot of the ‘I don’t know anything’-kind than appear as complicit in a mad fixing scheme.

    Regardless, in the end, I have my doubts whether FIA has the cojones – or even the capability – to do the ‘right thing’ in case it is conclusively found out that the race was rigged: Annul the results of the entire race and ban the team (and drivers?) from F1 for an extended period of time.

  31. DAN says:

    Hi James, was the crash of your blog just after Renault announcement today as deliberate as Nelsinho’s one during lap 17 at Singapore ?

    I found this highly suspicious… I suspect you were trying to gain artificial fame for the blog by crashing it on your own, admit it and will give you amnesty !

    I want to see you blog’s telemetry and Blogger to Webmaster conversation transcript to forge an opinion on the mater :-)

    Ok Ok only joking. This crash today just proved how important your blog has become for so many of us as we all tried to access it and killed it for the best part of the day.

    Will we ever know for sure if the crash in Singapore was Nelson Jr or Pat’s or Flav’s idea ? It does not matter and
    I really feel sorry for Pat as he was such a respected figure in the sport but if it was Nelson’s idea the minute Pat and Flav failed to act and to report him to the FIA prior, during or immediatelly after the race they got shafted and put themselves in the position they ended up in today. Conversely if Pat and/or Flav came up with the crash (crass) idea, Nelson was guilty too of not reporting them immediately and became their accomplice. If none of that had been reported to the FIA it would not matter one bit but as soon as it was they were all bound to exit F1 asap with their tail between their legs.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m really sorry about the crash of the blog. It was due to exceptionally high peak traffic and took a while to sort out. I’m taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again – ie enlarging the database capability.

      1. Ian Curtis says:

        Hi James,

        Dunno how you’re fixed for web hosting etc.. but if you need any gratis, just contact me my email address.
        And no, i won’t stalk you or try and get invited to F1 events.. i’m too bloody busy to get to a race these days!
        Just thought if you were paying for hosting.. you needn’t.

        Regards,
        Steve

  32. artorwar says:

    Well, I still have my doubts about this one, but it looks like Renault have proved me wrong and thrown their hands up. I really did not believe this story until today. Seems utterly insane. Sad for PS, wouldnt have though he would have done something like this.

  33. Sy says:

    Pat always seemed a straight-up kind of chap to me. I think he’s demonstrated that again with his responses to the stewards and with not taking the deal offered to him.
    Whilst I’m an Alonso fan I can’t understand why he’d have gone along with being so low-fuelled at a street circuit having qualified in 15th.
    He’s not the kind of driver who’s dictated to and if things didn’t stack up surely he’d not accept.
    Anyway.. awaiting next weeks hearing to see whether or not Sauber will be on the grid.

    Fantastic site James! Miss your commentary.

  34. Boltonjon says:

    What a turn around, but fair play to Flav and Pat for taking the hit.

    I do remember reading somewhere a few months ago that Nelson Snr had some big skeletons in the closet – Christ did he!

    James – can you comment on the rumours about Mr Richards visiting Enstone earlier today?

    Its a shame as we’re loosing the most colourful team principal and one of the most complete engineers on the pitlane though….

    Good luck to the pair of them as i’ll miss them

    Could anyone have imagined back in Melbourne that we’d see such a dramatic “changing of the guard” by September……??

    I bet old Ron had a wry grin on his face when he heard the news

  35. Leon Allen says:

    The only people on my mind now are the Renault F1 people at Enstone. Whatever happens next monday Carlos Ghosn has a perfect opportunity to cut the team’s throat and pull out of F1 asap. So 600 or so first class people and their families will join the dole queue because of the arrogant duplicity and criminal conspiracy of three or four powerful individuals who clearly believed that what they did was acceptable and that they would get away with it.

    Human beings don’t come any lower than that.

  36. Dave P says:

    So what does this tell us about the state of Formula 1.

    First, the pressures of getting to the top are huge. When large corporations, and international sponsors take the limelight… they demand results. This is very difficult to achieve, especially as 3 or 4 similarly placed teams and sponsors want exactly the same thing… someone ends up the looser.

    To achieve success, you need the best of everything… and that means sometimes getting it from the other teams at a high price… and then you have to keep them. In the end the pressures are so great, the inevitable happens.

    Looking at Mike Caughlan, Nigel Stepney, Dave Ryan, Pat Symonds, Flavio Briatore… they are all big names – people under tremendous pressure. Amazingly none of them seem to have made any special effort to cover up their tracks… and thus easily caught out.

    The problem is that the actions of the few leave hundreds of innocent people in a dangerous place.

    The FIA does not have a ‘whistleblower’ policy where anyone in any team can easily and anonymously report things they are not happy with even when it involves themselves. Thus it is not easy when suspicions are held. Take McLaren trying to highlight Ferrari as an example… Ferrari was so bitter over it.

    In my opinion the FIA handled the McLaren spygate case completely incorrectly, and as a consequence handling a much more serious case is going to be a problem. In McLarens case, they should have demanded the removal of the main culprits, warned all other and docked points and a reasonable fine. The team should not have felt they had to pay a $100 million to save the workers. Now Renault face the same risk.

    Perhaps the biggest irony, is when McLaren where in the dock, their biggest critics where Renault….

    Live by the sword, die by the sword….

  37. Erik Cramer says:

    I,m not so sure Alonso isn´t in any kind of trouble, I think the big bomb still has to go off.

    1. Cort says:

      Not a shred of evidence to even suggest Alonso had anything to do with this. Even Piquet Snr has only been able to say he “must” have known. Note the pure speculation in “must” as opposed to he “did” know; he has no evidence at all Fernando was involved – if he did, we’d know it by now.

      It was a cowardly statement from a very bitter and twisted man. Doesn’t he realise he’s just ended his son’s career to settle his dispute?

  38. George says:

    Well I hope Alonso has a new team sorted for next year, I cant see Renault finding form now.

  39. Olivier says:

    This year and especially today we are living the transition from the old to the new F1! It’s a change for the better with transparency and fair on track battles at its core!

    I am shocked and excited at the same time!

    1. Mario says:

      great comment Olivier, I have got similar thoughts.

    2. Neil Barr says:

      Keep the champagne on ice until Ari Vatanen wins. If not, same old, same old.

    3. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Gotta agree with you on this. We live in interesting times.

  40. Lady Snowcat says:

    I am sorry but if Fernando is the “complete driver” then the idea that he would accept a ridiculous strategy that relied on this crash without having some understanding seems rather far fetched…

    Unless he is less than… complete…

    Hmmmm…

    And in the excitement of the Flav and Pat departures the Singaporean legal reaction to race fixing on Renault F1 and generally, as well as “the evil two”, and even Junior and Alonso, has not been mentioned….

    Perhaps Renault should steer clear of the next race….

    Finally is Dave Richards about to buy the team? and Renault about to retrench to making engines?….

    1. tango81 says:

      So Alonso is either a cheater or as incomplete diver… I´m not buying that…

    2. Cort says:

      Um….if he had no “understanding” (i.e. knowledge) of the deliberate crash plan, why would he have “accepted a ridiculous strategy that *relied* on it”? He couldn’t have known his strategy was relying on something he didn’t know was going to happen!!

      And anyway, it was not a ridiculous strategy. Many F1 races have started with drivers in the back of the field gambling on a short first stint with the hope of a safety car deployment. Think Monaco and Montreal.

    3. Nikki says:

      People really seem to be latching onto the whole ‘strategy = Alonso must have known’ thing, but Renault had employed a couple of crazy strategies in 2008 to try and anticipate the way the race was going to play out, and with nothing to lose, why not? Plus, didn’t Piquet Jr (?) say that the conversation about the crash came on Sunday before the race? Surely that would mean fuel weights and therefore strategies had already been decided, on Saturday after Qualifying?

      1. Tom says:

        I noticed earlier today how sentiments had turned to Alonso and the assumption that he is implicit. He was starting way back in 15th i believe, so the options were to

        a)Long fill and hope for a safety car, as overtaking would be impossible on full fuel.

        Or b)Short fuel on the softs and hope to make up places plus, being a new street track at night, the chance of a saftey car was high anyway.

        It was a racy strategy on the face of it and I believe he was due to go to lap 14 but Pat pulled him in 2 laps before because he was catching Nakajima and the softs were going off.

        If Alonso had been presented with these scenarios pre race, there would be no reason for him to know of any conspiracy. Plus, IF Flav was guilty as seems to be, why would he risk the future of his star driver when he didn’t have to?

      2. Clinton says:

        Piquet did, but Pat did tell the race stewards that Piquet had suggested it the previous day.

        I guess we will never know.

  41. Grabyrdy says:

    Renault will no doubt now try to appear whiter than white, but they must have known what they were getting with Flavio. After all, as we all know, he has considerable previous.

    Pat Symonds seems to me to have made an honourable decision not to turn “scab” to save his own skin. I don’t know enough about him to say more, and I hope you return to his situation James at some stage.

    As for the old streetfighter Piquet, I rather hope he crawls back under the rock from which he emerged. Junior should perhaps now try for a career in snowmobiles, where he will be a long way away.

    1. Dave P says:

      How can ‘not turning scab’ be honounrable? The honourable thing to do is turn down immunity and tell the truth. If he dissapears from sight, and then never says a word again on the mater, leaving us all wondering what was that about? then he has no honour.

  42. Race1 says:

    I’m obviously very surprised. But I hav to say well done to Symonds for remaining loyal. I wonder (and ask James for his input) if by leaving, they cannot be found guilty in their absence and therefore PS can return to motorsport in due course. Others have had far worse charges against them and have returned in one shape or another. Walkinshaw and Stepney spring to mind.

  43. simon castle says:

    What goes around comes around! Who will be the next to go, Montezelo, Bernie ? Why should Bernie and Ferrari sit in on the FIA hearing with Renault. Surely this proves Formula 1 is still manipulated from within? If Renault are found guilty, as Moseley has been quoted as saying this is a far worse crime than Mclaren comitted, then will he fine and ban Renault accordingly? Roll on monday and let see how fair the FIA really are.

    1. Richy F says:

      The FIA will absolutely need to make an example. If Flavio and Pat had stayed the FIA could have made examples of them, removing them from F1 permanently and giving Renault a smaller fine and a slap on the wrist.
      Flav and Pat leaving before Monday (Without standing up and explaining their actions) surely heaps the full responsability and a huge fine on to Renault?

      With the huge fine given to Mclaren I cannot see how the FIA could consider applying a lesser punishment to Renault.

      Will a £50m fine on Renault remove them from the sport? As an F1 fan I want to see the FIA punish those responsible not the staff and families of the people who work extremely hard for F1.

  44. adrian says:

    I can certainly understand the pragmatism of not coming down to heavily on the Renault team given the position which it has taken and has jettisoned Symonds and Briatore and doubtless this counts as some mitigation, but as a matter of principle the offence still merits a fairly swingeing punishment for the team.
    The actions of the directing minds of a race team are, to a large extent at least, inseparable from that of the team itself. If it were otherwise, teams would freely cheat safe in the assumption that the worst that could happen would be that those in the know would have to move on. Teams would be structured in such a way as to facilitate cheating but limiting knowledge to a few individuals (cf. the general thrust of the allegations against McLaren). Renault chose to have their team run by these two errant idiots, and they cannot fully dissociate themselves from the consequences.
    To put it another way, would it have been right to have exonerated McLaren from any fine for Spygate if Ron Dennis had said, “OK it was all me and I’m happy to go”? Surely not.
    This scandal was of a far greater order than the McLaren one, given the danger to life (despite how ‘safe’ F1 cars are said to be now, every crash endangers the lives of both the driver involved and all the others on the circuit – one can easily imagine e.g. debris from Piquet’s car causing a Massa type injury or fatality) and the possible criminal ramifications.
    I would suggest exclusion from both this year’s and last year’s World Championship as a minimum punishment and can see the case for a hefty fine. It would be regrettable to see Renault exit from the sport, but the point of principle is of greater importance given the extreme nature of this offence. One also has an enormous amount of sympathy for the Renault race team employees, but the reality of the situation is that if you work for a company which commits an egregious fraud, your job is hardly secure despite your own innocence.
    I think Renault will probably leave the sport anyway: they’re definitely losing Alonso either this year or next, the works team are doing worse than Red Bull with Renault’s engines, their engines are clearly down on the Mercedes at least, morale will be abysmal and losing Pat Symonds will no doubt take its toll on the organisation (I say nothing of Briatore…!).
    I also feel that Alonso has a case to answer. It seemed to me to be pretty blase the readiness with which the stewards concluded that he had no idea of the race fix. This stretches credibility in respect of the ‘most complete driver on the grid’; would Symonds, Briatore and Piquet cook up this conspiracy and keep Alonso in the dark? Would Piquet really refrain from telling Alonso after the race what had happened if they had?
    On a lighter note, I noted Symonds’ nickname for Alonso “Freddie” from the radio transcripts. I hadn’t heard that before/

    1. Andy Fov says:

      I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it…

      McLaren made the mistake of letting Alonso know which cupboard they hid their skeletons in, and it cost them $100million. Renault wouldn’t be that stupid.

      Also, FA had already won two WDC’s, what would KNOWING he’d won such means do for his self-esteem? Alonso wouldn’t not have known because there was no need for him to know.

      What I think happened was…

      Pat: (Jokingly) “You’ll be doing us a favour if you crash after Alonso’s first stop”

      … The rest is history. ;)

  45. Dave P says:

    James, I dissagree on your view that there is no need for a hearing.

    Unless we no why it happened how can the FIA put steps in to prevent it happening again. What was the reason the pair did this? was it at Fernandos request?, because of sponsor pressure?, How do we know that Renault were not the key players and have paid off the two to fall on their swords?

    It does the sport no credibility to not get answers.

    It also does not put them on the spot of putting peoples lives at risk. They both are so rich and at the stage in their career that to walk away is not as drastic as it will be for Piquet. Be reminded of Patrick Heads comments of how vunerable young drivers are.

    A full enquiry is needed more than ever

    1. James Allen says:

      The people involved will not appear at the hearing, so how would you learn those things? The investigation is over. The three people involved no longer work for the team. It’s just about sanctions now

      1. Dave P says:

        I accept what you say as maybe true (or a least the facts) you cannot make them attend. But we all know that the public and media perception of this case is all important. It just looks like ‘sweeping it under the carpet’ The reason F1 and the FIA has so many own goals is because the public is left with a sour taste of cover ups.

        It was in Renaults interests to sack them if it meant they don’t have to attend and have dirty washing laundered in public – but it means we will never no the truth.

        It should not be about sanctions but finding the truth

      2. " for sure " says:

        And Max was never interested in the truth, only hurting Briatore. I wonder if Max established that Flav was behind Spankgate?

  46. Max Blake says:

    James,

    1st love the the Blog but have never commented before because I’m a lazy git(!)

    I cant believe this!! Renault are admitting that they fixed the result of race ( and endangered the lives of Piquet, Fans, Marshalls in the process) arn’t they?
    I am reminded of Fernando Alonso at Monza in 05 or 06, when he was penalised for getting in Massa’s (?) way despite being way up the road. Do you remember what he said to Martin on the grid? “F1 is no longer a sport”. I am obsessed with 5 and have been for 15 yrs but tonight I think he may have been right!

    Am I over reacting?

    Max Blake

  47. jed says:

    Flav and Pat now lose their jobs for their alleged participation in the cheating in last years singapore grand prix. This is punishment imposed on them by the renault team in order to save face. Not being part of the F1 team, the FIA now cannot coerce Flav and Pat to appear before the WMSC. The most that the FIA can do is to ban them from all FIA events.

    As for Nelson the FIA should punish him. He does not deserve any racing license, not even for karting races. He is a dangerous cheater as he is willing to do anything when he gets desperate as shown in singapore. I hope i never see him in a racetrack ever again.

    Now that this chapter of the 2009 season is closing, i wonder what the next chapter will be come singapore?

  48. Max Blake says:

    Obviously I meant “Obsessed with F1″ not “5″! Ooops!

  49. Adrian says:

    James,

    Pitpass has a rumour connecting David Richards with a return to Enfield. What do you make of this?

    Could you see DR taking over as Team Principal, or even Renault selling the team to Prodrive?

  50. classjazz says:

    I keep thinking back to my suggestion that the use of the Safety Car in any race is a distortion to the results. We have just been given the ideal situation for the use of the SC to be reviewed. Had it not existed in Singapore then the current fiasco would not have happened.
    Why don’t the officials of F1 use the technology available and stop all the cars on the grid following an accident and re start them using the time intervals existing at the time of the crash. The idea needs refinement but has anyone come up with a better idea yet? Please tell me.

  51. Rocky says:

    Goodbye Briatore. Even though he has played a vital role in marketing the game, his lack of technical and strategic acumen of anything concerned with an F1 race is appaling for him to be a team manager.

    People who claimed the English are beyond reproach and derogate the Italians as cheats in general, are eating their entire foot, with Symonds here and the Liegate of Lewis in Australia.

    I’m however, pleased the ridiculousness of ‘immunity’ has not been played yet again. FIA only makes a mockery of itself with such shenanigans.

  52. Ed Knowles says:

    It appears to me that this incident is more serious that the McLaren spygate affair. The imposition of a minor penalty would once again bring into question the integrity of the FIA.

  53. Chris Crawford says:

    Flavio was due to retire anyway, and while he is a character within F1, I feel he was due to retire or pass on responsibility. It’s Pat im disappointed with, wether or not he is to blame, or take responsibility I always enjoyed listening to his interviews, and his ‘workings out’ within the race. Im very sad to see him go, he seemed a really genuine man and made so much sense

    I can see the predicament he was in, he was stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    James, will he survive this and appear in another team?

  54. Soroush says:

    James, any idea on possible temp/perm replacement for Flavio? I’ve read rumours that Prost or David Richards are potential candidates

  55. Howard Hughes says:

    I’m disgusted by this. Briatore and Symonds have given far far more to the sport than they took by ordering this crash, and I’m sick of seeing everyone who dares cross Max Mosley’s path being variously ousted from F1. As the poorly executed but wryly astute picture on Pitpass today shows, Michelin, Stoddard, Dennis, Symonds and Briatore have all been ejected or finessed out, each a case of Mosley’s slithery manipulations.

    It didn’t bother me in the slightest that Renault may have engineered a unilateral crash to vault their other driver up the rankings – not one damn bit. But whether any of the rest of you agree with me or not, ask yourselves this: Had it come to light that Di Montezemolo or Mateshitz had conpsired with Domenicali or Horner respectively to do the same, would we be seeing their forced resignations today?

    Hell no.

    This is a personality struggle pure and simple, and anyone who thinks different is mad. What I want to know now is how on Earth does Mosley manage every single time to win? Even when his buttocks are global headlines he manages to recoup the situation and emerge ahead.

    James – that’s a feature in itself, if you can risk truly analysing it in print.

    1. Alex Von Falkenhausen says:

      I find the comments above by Mr. Hughes to be the most astute of all the comments made about this matter. Frankly, the rest of the comments are made by people who are apparently unable to see the full picture for what it is, which is a twisted tale of revenge and political BS.[mod]

      I look forward to the day when Mosley and Ecclestone are
      no longer involved in F1, and even more so to the day when
      I read their obituaries.

    2. " for sure " says:

      Good post. I can´t agree with the , it’s OK to stage a crash views, but the rest is spot on.

    3. rpaco says:

      “Had it come to light that Di Montezemolo or Mateshitz had conpsired with Domenicali or Horner respectively to do the same, would we be seeing their forced resignations today?”
      I should hope so, as I said above or below (I’ve lost track of the thread now) in my response:
      “Well James if the “Characters and Leaders” in F1 turn out to be cheats, they have to go, no matter who they are, or how glorious and stain free their past.”

      The fact that they have coughed does not mean they didn’t do it and that no punishment is deserved. Part of the punishment is knowing and living with the fact that they have screwed up the lives of all the blokes (and blokesses) in the team, Hopefully that will mean something painful to them, well at least Pat, there is little hope of Flav thinking of others.

  56. tony doyle says:

    At the time I thought it a little strange but to think Pat and Flav could come up with a plan like this was hard to beleave.But it looks like thats exactly what happened.I feel for Pat Symonds ,he will now only be remembered for this ,his career and good name gone.
    Lesson to us all,what goes around comes around.
    Waste of a great career,and for what.
    I do find it funny that Alonso again is in the middle,and he says again he new nothing what so ever of the plan….
    Tony .Knutsford

    1. rpaco says:

      “I do find it funny that Alonso again is in the middle,and he says again he new nothing what so ever of the plan….”

      Yeah so does every one else. The strategy was useless without the crash. Alonso is not stupid, he would have licked off at a stupid strategy if it had not been explained to him.

  57. rpaco says:

    Well James if the “Characters and Leaders” in F1 turn out to be cheats, they have to go, no matter who they are, or how glorious and stain free their past.

    One must wonder why after all these years of competition, they decide to cheat now; was there pressure from the owner to produce results or else? Did “Le Reggie” threaten to pull the plug if no wins were forthcoming? Or have they got away with it before, been doing it for years?

    As James pointed out this was not the FIA finding out by their own investigation, it was an informer, so more may come to light later.

    I strongly disagree that the FIA should go soft on Renault now, they deserve a far more severe penalty than McLaren got. This is not about a bad pass and cutting corners, this is a deliberate crash, it could have killed others running into Piquet’s wreckage.

    True the radio transcript shows that they were in chaos most of the time with the server that strategy program was on, continually rejecting their efforts to tell it there was a race on. BUT it was clear that Pat had something up his sleeve by what he said several times. Flav said very little perhaps because he is not confident he ever knows what is happening during a race.

    I think it was clear from the FIA actions in offering immunity to Pat that they were going to go after Flav. They may still ban him from all FIA motorsport.

    James said that leaving the team does not make them guilty, but it certainly looks as as if they are. It certainly doesn’t make them innocent either.
    Maybe they have learned now that loyalty in the motor industry (as many others) only goes one way. If they did it to appease Renault they will be disappointed now in the lack of support from Le Reggie.

    1. KK says:

      Absolutely spot on!! It doesn’t matter what they have done for the sport or what type of characters they are. It doesnt matter whether they are pals of Mosley or not. Plain and simple, they cheated and worse still, denied all about it in the media (FB) and had some dirty words for NPJ.Renault should be kicked out purely on basis of the scandal. It shouldnt matter how big a company they are or how it will affect the sport. Leaving them in will affect the sport a greater deal.

      James Allen: It is also laughable how people like you think the teams deserve no punishment when the employee concerned leaves (Dave Ryan/PS/FB)? So, does it mean teams can continue to cheat and then when scandal breaks, just ask the concerned people to leave?

      Also, the media seems more harsh on NPJ than PS/FB. Why is your reaction different to the Hamilton/Dave Ryan situation? If LH was misled, so was NPJ. Why do you keep saying NPJ is unemployable because nobody will trust him anymore? How is this different to what FA/PDLR did with McLaren? If anything, PS/FB are not to be trusted.

      1. James Allen says:

        I didn’t say no punishment, I said that I can’t see the point in a heavy one, because the perpetrators have gone and the team has fronted up honestly to the charges.

      2. rpaco says:

        Until we see who is going to be running things now we will reserve judgment on who needs punishing

  58. Roberto says:

    If Renault it`s not disputing the allegations, obviously there has been some sort of confession from both Briatore and Symonds. It is a shame that one of the key players in F1 for the last 15-20 years and one of the cleverest engineers have gone through the back door.

    After what happened today everything points towards Renault guiltyness on the issue, hopefully they will be only fined, thus hundreds of jobs will be saved (if Renault decides to stay in F1), but Briatore and Symonds most probably will be harshly penalised with a lifetima ban on motorsport…

    Either way we`ll have a race in Singapore and beyond.

    P.S. Piquet shouldn`t have been offered inmunity, he should have received a penalty, 1 year ban or so…

  59. Werewolf says:

    As distasteful as all this is, what has happened today is definitely for the best.

    In my time investigating and reporting on internal disciplinary issues, I normally looked very closely at the next level of management, especially when their stats could be affected by whatever had happened. Better management practices could often have prevented the primary problem; and disciplinary or inefficiency action sometimes followed for them, too. In this case, however, it seems to me that Briatore’s managers are so far removed from F1 – and the issue at hand – that to punish Renault greatly for the actions of two rogue (very senior) employees is probably unwarranted.

  60. Luis says:

    Wonderful blog James, keep up the nice work.

    I wonder if he also has to sell his interest in QPR due to the Fit and Proper Persons’ Test? http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/eng_prem/6923831.stm

    I can only imagine the legal troubles Briatore/renault would be in if this grand prix was somewhere in Europe…

  61. Luis says:

    Just occurred to me: What are the chances of Renault F1 becoming Nissan F1? Renault aren’t really known for high-performance, and Nissan with the GT-R would to be a better fit.

    One can dream eh? :-)

  62. I heard that James was thinking of taking on the team himself! is this true James.. because if so I know my way around an F1 car lol.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m happy with what I do in F1, thanks

  63. Harveyeight says:

    Nothing has changed with regards the allegations. No one has admitted race fixing – apart from Piquet of course – and Renault has not admitted to knowing of, nor endorsing, a conspiracy. All they have said is that they will not contest the hearing.

    Indeed, one would assume that the only thing they can say is that they knew and know nothing of the conspiracy but found the evidence of their staff’s misbehaviour overwhelming.

    Has Flav resigned because of Renault’s decision not to fight the allegations? It would be the thing that a lawyer would suggest he does. He would need to show that he disagreed with the decision not to fight the charge so much that he felt it was the only option open to him. He has much to lose.

    Some people might think that Renault have been offered a deal in the matter and they’ve accepted.

    Did the offer of immunity light Pat’s fire? If not, was it more attractive to Renault. Was it a case of a simple: if we plead no contest then they’ll go light? Renault have the corporate damage to consider. They must be ‘hoping’ that the WMSC might say that the conspiracy stopped at Flav.

    Mosley has made it very plain that Renault would be punished to a greater extent than McLaren. He was hardly equivocal on the point. McLaren, we are told, was fined £100 million, £50 million or some other figure. What flexible fine was going to be aimed at Renault? We don’t know but I bet Renault was fully aware of what the ballpark figure was.

    Is this the end? Will Flav go quietly?

    There was an allegation against Piquet of blackmail. Renault capitulation, or even Flav admitting partaking in a conspiracy (which he hasn’t done) would not be a bar to the offence. If it happened of course.

    I must admit that I can’t see any way Renault would wave the white flag without knowing full well what the WMSC decision as to penalty would be. Exclusion for the balance of the season and loss of points? M Schuey was punished just as lightly for something that in my opinion was much more dangerous – as with Piquet, deliberately causing an accident, but in his case he didn’t choose a concrete wall.

    Who would bet against Renault having seen a full transcript of the decision the WSMC will make on Monday?

    I wonder which side is the most relieved that the full facts will now not be released to the public.

    Deal or no deal? As in the television game, it’s pretty pointless asking.

    I feel drained.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      I’m with you son. Thanks as usual for your great posts.

      The no contest plea by Renault Corporate is distasteful. If you are not guilty, you should put the prosecution to its proof.

      Regardless, this does not automatically let Symonds or Briatore off the FIA hook. Corporations throw employees, ESPECIALLY senior managers, to the wolves all the time. Whether they quit on their own, or were given an offer they couldn’t refuse by the Board, B/S are now in that position. The FIA (I can’t BELIEVE I’m defending them) would be wholly justified in calling them to Monday’s hearing. Notwithstanding their now ex-employee status, they can, and should, be subject to trial in their individual capacities.

      Even though the sporting/regulatory issues are the limit of FIA jurisdiction, this episode is NOT just about race fixing. Lives were put at risk. That’s reason enough to prevent B/S (and P) from riding into the sunset unscathed except for $, embarrassment and a ban from the sport. Putting them to the further embarrassment of answering embarrassing questions at the hearing is the LEAST that can be done. As a matter of fact, it would be nice if they could be made to do so live on TV — exactly as most of the participants in the original (Water)gate. And remember, we have yet to hear whether or not Singapore authorities have or will open a criminal investigation on this business.

      In the end, that the Pirahnna Club has just about eaten itself up is a good thing anyway. Time now to restock the pond. Of the fish currently left in the pond, who now eats whom? di Montezemelo and Ferrari will survive; without them F1 = F3 in terms of prestige. My guess is that Bernie will be Max’s next meal: He’s lined up opposite Max one too many times in the last couple of years. Three-to-one he pulls something out of his hat at the 11th hour to invalidate Bernie’s 100-year lease of commercial rights.

      Up until he feels Max’s teeth, though, Bernie’s probably loving the publicity. This scandal made the national evening news here in the U.S. Better ratings than he gets for the races themselves, surely.

  64. Andy Kirkman says:

    There is some concensus that as Renault have dispensed with Mssrs Briatore and Symonds, their penalty will be alot more lenient as the sole culprits have now been dispensed with. I think the FIA need to be very careful with the punishment, assuming Renault are found guilty on Monday. There is a growing feeling that if you are caught, make a few sacrifices and the penalty will be much more lenient. Dave Ryan at McLaren is an example.
    These people represent the team and as such, should be representing the teams best interests. Team Managers and Directors are the ultimate representatives. Acting on their own initiative is part of their job but it is the team owners that employ them who must take some of the responsibility when things go wrong.
    Therefore if the allegations are found to be true, Renaults’ penalty must be significantly greater than that handed to McLaren over the Ferrari spygate affair. To expect leniancy because you have just got rid of the culprits is not on, especially when they have acted on your behalf.

    1. Hutch says:

      I agree – The penalty will be a very difficult decision, especially when everyone will be comparing it to the McLaren saga. Mclaren lying to the council was a serious offence, and here we see Renault complying with the governing body, so perhaps that works in their favour, but fixing a race by crashing on purpose is so much worse than photocopying another teams blueprints.

      Piquet, Symonds and Flav should be banned for life. Renault excluded from the 09 championship, plus a significant fine (25m?).

      Remember that in the WRC Toyota Team Europe were banned for a year when found to have cheated with a moveable restrictor.

  65. David Smith says:

    Adrian you have it completely right sir. Let’s be clear (though I can hardly believe it to be true) The most senior members of an F1 team devised a strategy with the full knowledge that death of somebody connected with the sport was possible (The driver, another driver, a marshall or a spectator). To not come down on the team responsible with the most severe punishment possible is to betray everything to do with safety that the FIA (and many others in the sport) have pushed for. The fact that the two protagonists have left the team is irrelevent. The crime was committed by the team as it is not possible to seperate out the actions of the two top people from the team. I relise a lot of good people are going to be badly affected by this, but remember this – Death could have been an outcome. Had that terrible thing occured, we would now be looking at a criminal investigation.

    This is the most serious thing I have ever witnessed in all my years watching F1 and I’ll be honest – I’m not sure right now that I wish to continue to watch. A sport that has become so debased that its competitors can seriously consider a strategy that could quite conceivably kill somebody is in dire straights – to execute that strategy beggars belief. Just what is it that we are watching?

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Bang on correct. The full tale will be told when sponsors, as many surely will, ask themselves that question in their terms, as in “just what is it that we are paying for?” and start pulling out in response to this sordidness.

    2. " for sure " says:

      Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the FIA’s failure to investigate at the time. There was ample suspicion for them to have done so, and had they looked at the telemetry and interviewed Piquet all this may have been avoided.

      Even if Piquet had lied to the FIA at that time that enquiry would have negated the subsequent uproar because Piquets denials would have then neutered any possibility of the subsequent blackmail and Daddy running to the FIA.

      It would not of couse excused what happened, but in my view FIA incompetence is to blame for the extensive damage now resulting which could and should have been adressed at the time.

  66. Steve JR says:

    One can’t help wondering how Massa must be feeling about this outcome because he might have won the race and thus the championship had the safety car not been deployed….

    1. James Allen says:

      No, the problem with Massa was the fuel hose and that was an operational issue. If anything it should have been a tad more relaxed pitting under the safety car

  67. Michael says:

    Piquet’s actions probably cost Massa the title. I wouldn’t want to be around Piquet in Brazil…

    1. Kirk says:

      Ferrari cost Massa the title last year – the blown engine a few laps from the end in Hungary, their mistake during the pitstop in Valencia (went unpunished but was a sign things weren’t right) and then in Singapore.

  68. CMR says:

    There has been other incidents with fuel hoses, traction control, boost buttons – this is the world the Piquet crash was born into… only this time it was a step too far (and they got caught!).

    Does make you wonder how many times some form of ‘illegal’ race manipulation these two people have concocted over the years, but also provides a sordid glimpse into the fierce F1 world, for sure they are not alone.

    But at what cost to win a Grand Prix? How far are you prepared to go…and how easy does it become the more times you do it?

    Personally, now they have all resigned from the Renault team or are under FIA protection I cannot see the FIA WMSC meeting being anything more than a slap on the wrist, but then again this is MM quasi-judicial swan song.

    As Murray Walker always said, anything can happen in Formula one…. and it usually does!!

  69. James Finister says:

    What I don’t understand is “the way is clear for the FIA World Council to deal with the team relatively gently on Monday.” Surely if there is any justice they should be hit a lot harder than McLaren who never endangered anybodies lives?

  70. Mark says:

    Renault should take Briatore to court.

  71. Melanie says:

    I’m not surprised at Briatore. Good riddance. I’m not surprised at Piquet, although I believe this was a massive and fatal error of judgment on his part, hoping to keep his seat. I am quite surprised at Symonds’ involvement, whether he conceived the idea, or whether it was through blind loyalty, or some other pressure. Whatever happens to them now, they will forever be remembered for their involvement in fixing a race. Even their obituaries will manage a comment on “best known for ….”. Some are known for their greatest success. Others for their worst mistake. Briatore should be banned for life … Symonds suspended for some time … Renault suspended from championship next year … Piquet should be fined. Piquet has managed to sully his own name and reputation in 1 event. However bad Sr. was/is, he managed to spread it out. Sad.

  72. Kiwi says:

    Three things:

    1. Renault should take reponsability for the actions of its emplyees.

    2. As for Symonds integrity, wasn’t he part of Benetton-gate where it was found that Schumacher’s car was equipped with hidden and illegal software designed for launch control?

    3. Alonso didn’t know anything? Nothwithsanding his PiquetJr-like behavior during Spy-gate, being given immunity if he revealed everything he knew about a team he despised, either he knew everything, guessed it, or he is a complete moron.

    1. Richy F says:

      Alonso in a recent press briefing: “I may not be the best driver in the world…”, Since when has he been so modest?

      Alonso’s butt checks must be clenched so tight he could turn a piece of coal into a diamond.

      It must be like a re-enacting of little boy over Hiroshima in the Alonso family bathroom everytime his name gets mentioned in the headlines.

  73. Gord says:

    I’m a bit surprised no fight was put up by Briatore and Symonds.

  74. Alex T says:

    If Renault was going to leave F1 I would have expected the announcement today. It would have amounted to an even bigger ‘hands up’ to the WMSC and actually would have been good for PR – i.e. we recognise our employees did wrong and so we are withdrawing to take responsibility for their actions.

    So I expect Renault to stay whatever the WMSC sanction. I would still expect a hefty fine along the lines of McLaren’s in 2007 – i.e. loss of constructors revenue for 2009 (and possibly last year as well as the Singapore result helped them earn more money last year).

    But whether Renault will stay in its current capacity I think is uncertain. Ghosn will be asking whether he needs the hassle of being a full manufacturer team – those days are over since next year the only ‘full’ works teams will be Ferrari and Toyota. The Mercedes relationships with McLaren and Brawn are probably the way forward.

    So it would not surprise me to see Reanult reduce its exposure with a joint venture with David Richards and a works engine supply with Williams. I don’t expect a Nissan engine badge.

  75. pbyrne says:

    “…there is only Sir Frank Williams of F1’s original big beasts, left in the sport. He has played a different game from his peers in recent years, sided with the FIA over the breakaway and not been a leading rebel in the FOTA breakaway.”

    Ha…Ha…nicely put!

    In other words Mad Max had the last laugh and purged his enemies. He’s a pretty dispicanle human being is Max but he’s some operator!

    I’m sad for Symonds and Briatore. Ok, they weren’t sqeaky clean but Flav in particular was such a character.

  76. Bloke says:

    James

    I wouldnt be so sure that the outcome on Monday will be light. Mclaren were well and truly beaten up by the WMSC for their behaviour in front of them – quite rightly so. But in this case, there are far more serious issues at play.

    Renault are, by todays action, accepting that their management colluded with or ordered a driver to deliberately crash. That in my view would be classified as reckless endangerment under UK law. Other drivers, marshalls and spectators – let alone Junior himself – were put at risk. If, God forbid, someone had been injured or even killed, the repercussions dont even bear thinking about.

    Even though Flavio and Pat have been permitted to step aside, Im not sure that is punishment enough. Renault are, afterall, liable for the actions of their senior management. Its why they insure themselves for professional indemnity. Flavio is a bit of a wild card – always has been, and Im a big supporter of the ‘no smoke without fire’ brigade. He came with a degree of shadiness (1994 launch and traction control; the fuel filter issue; the many and varied reports of bullying number 2 drivers etc) – Renault accepted that risk when they hired him, and put him in such a responsible position.

    I would expect to see race bans and a considerable financial fine.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes but McLaren lied at the WMSC first time, Renault have learned from that and taken the opposite approach.

      1. Clinton says:

        James, are you honestly implying that Mclaren were not punished over the spying allegations but for lying?

      2. James Allen says:

        No, they were punished for being found guilty of the charge which was an anti sporting and disrepute charge. The first hearing let them off, the second one hammered them, because they had lied the first time

  77. Derek says:

    Perhaps Formula One should be reclassified as “Sports Entertainment” as per the USA Wrestling where match fixing is the norm.

  78. Webster says:

    I feel really bad for a guy like Pat who has done his job all his life with honesty and dignity. I am still not able to believe that Pat Symonds can be a ppart of something like this!

  79. Darren says:

    Im for one glad to see the back of Briatore. You can drive for Renault if i can be your manager *wink wink*, his behavior to NPJ was disgusting, i feel for the young man, hopefully the bully will not be back.

  80. Neil Barr says:

    September 2008′s crime will be judged in September 2009. After Henry Surtees, after Felipe Massa, after Renault released an unsafe car on the track. That’s bad timing for Renault because safety trumps everything at the moment. The allegations are undisputed so Renault allows the WMSC to accept that the crash was planned in a conspiracy and was deliberate. Given that Renault was nearly suspended for one race for the aforementioned violation, by what factor does Turn 17 multiply the danger and, proportionately, the censure?
    Alonso’s massive accident in Brazil (2003?) demonstrates that a subsequent accident can occur long after the initial one and still be potentially fatal when the debris field is confusing.

  81. alex says:

    Light sentence? Are you kidding james?
    This quite incredible action (by the way, can you or someone remember deliberate crashing in F1 ever before?) cost Felipe Massa the World Championship. It has a direct, measurable effect on the championship. Much, much worse than spygate in my opinion. And very sad for Lewis too.
    As for Alonso… they put in a tiny bit of fuel when he starts 15th and he is supposed to “know nothing…”? Yeah, “nothing” just like Manuel in the fab Fawlty Towers episode of the horse bet…” i know nothing, no-thing! I am from Barcellona!” LOL

    1. Kiwi says:

      Deliberate crashing yes, team-instructed crashing, not too sure:

      Prost-Senna
      Senna-Prost
      Schumacher-Hill (Flavio-Pat at the helm!)
      Schumacher-Villeneuve (Flavio-Pat at the helm!)
      Schumacher alone, rascasse
      and probably many others

  82. Spyros says:

    Hmm… I wonder how Piquets Jr and Sr feel right now…

    1. James Allen says:

      Looking over their shoulder, I imagine

      1. Spyros says:

        With hindsight, Renault could do little else, as their situation was indefensible.

        Can you imagine them going to court with the evidence seen so far? Let’s assume that the events ACTUALLY happened the way Symonds’ leaked statement indicated: the meeting DID happen but it was Piquet’s idea, the idea wasn’t embraced by the team, who only happened to put Alonso in a suitable strategy…

        Then, when Piquet shunted the car, Symonds would have known why he did it (unless he and Flav argued that they… forgot about the discussion, and then they also forgot to check the telemetry of the accident!). An honest and… righteous team manager and technical director would have then had a quick discussion, after which they would have told Alonso to retire his car, they would have fired the audacious Piquet before he had a chance to walk back to the pits and told everything to the FIA and the race director.

        Everyone would have applauded, FIA would only give the team a caution and/or a suspended 1-race ban or something, while Flavio and Pat would walk up and down the pitlane with their heads held high [cut to them walking into the sunset, cue the music and credits].

        I’m sure that would have been the FIA’s position of what SHOULD have happened, assuming Flav and Symonds told the truth. Instead, the Renault team got a win, and partied wildly into the night (Piquet mysteriously being excluded from the celebrations).

        So, by firing those involved that were still left in the team, Renault did the only thing they could do.

        If they really mean it, they should soon announce that they’re taking legal action against Briatore, Symonds AND Piquet, for tarnishing their company’s name, although I suppose they’d rather forget about it all, as soon as possible…

  83. knoxploration says:

    James: Care to comment on the assertion by Planet-F1 that the WMSC currently have no power to take any kind of formal action against either Symonds or Briatore:

    http://www.planet-f1.com/story/0,18954,3213_5566622,00.html

    If the WMSC really can’t punish either man in any way because they’d preemptively resigned from the team (and their resignations hence allow them to jump straight into other jobs in F1, presuming they can find somebody willing to employ them) – well, then the rules very definitely need changing.

    Seems to me that perhaps their resignations were nothing more than an attempt to save their own skins once they realized they’d been well and truly cornered.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, this looks like preparing the ground for the licence system I was talking about in a recent post. If they quit they would still be liable to lse their licences under a separate disciplinary hearing. It’s got to be the way to go.

  84. jim williams says:

    It is not just naive neglectful of the sport to say that ‘there is no reason for the hearing to take place now’. What James is completely missing – no doubt because he has been an ‘insider’ for many years and has lost perspective on how the sport looks to the outside – is the way that this looks to the outside world. F1 appears irretrievably mired in corruption now – we have had, in the past few years, Spygate, and much more minor things like Hamilton lying to officials, and now this race-fixing disaster. To suggest, with the statement that ‘the hearing doesn’t need to take place now’, because of Briatore/Symonds resigning is – sorry, but hugely un-self-aware about what has happened. The actual consequences against renault – which I suspect will be very major, if not on the ‘excluding renault from F1′ scale – will show this. You don’t get major consequences at a hearing if ‘the hearing does not need to take place’!

    Also, the statement from James here is, sadly, naive in respect of the question marks over Alonso’s involvement or otherwise. Nearly all commentators are wondering if it is possible for Alonso not to have know about the plot – and the key point here is that even if he didn’t know directly about it, but, understandably, got suspicious about the way thigns turned out and didn’t act, that is very damning about him as individual. It may not be palatable for some in the media, who have spent years creating icons out of drivers like Alonso or Shumacher, to have to consider that the people they have built up may not be worthy of that level of respect, but when information suggests this is a possibility, they have to be looked at in a level-headed way. Simply to ignore the fact, as James does here, that there are serious questions hanging around Alonso now, is unfortunately a neglectful representation of the scenario. Again, Alonso has been called to appear before the hearing I understand – a reflection of the fact that suspicions and a certain amount of incredulity are hanging around him and ‘not knowing’.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Top Tags
SEARCH News
JA ON F1 In association with...
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Download the chequered flag podcast today
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer