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Explosive new information on Renault pre-crash meeting
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Explosive new information on Renault pre-crash meeting
Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Sep 2009   |  7:37 pm GMT  |  209 comments

Autosport is carrying a story this evening with some amazing revelations about a meeting which took place between Renault’s Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr at Singapore last year.

Piquet at centre of huge storm (Photo: Darren Heath)

Piquet at centre of huge storm (Photo: Darren Heath)


Renault stand accused of deliberately causing Piquet to crash, just after Alonso’s early first pit stop, in order to give Alonso the chance to win the race, as the rest of the field would pit under the ensuing safety car.

The first ever night race, the Singapore Grand Prix was sponsored by Renault’s title sponsor, ING, making it a perfect day for them.

Autosport’s Jon Noble quotes ‘sources’, in his report as follows:

“Sources claim that in evidence submitted to the FIA by Nelson Piquet, the Brazilian driver says he was asked by Briatore and Symonds to crash deliberately early in the race so as to help Alonso win.

“Piquet says that he agreed to do so because he felt uncomfortable about his situation at the team, with Renault having not renewed his contract for 2009 at that time – and Briatore was stalling on making a firm commitment. Piquet suggests that he only went ahead and caused the accident because he felt he would be rewarded for his actions.

“In his evidence, Piquet claims that he was taken aside by Symonds after the first meeting and instructured that he should crash on lap 13 or 14, shortly after Alonso’s scheduled first stop, at Turn 17.

“The reason this part of the track was singled out was because there were no cranes present there to lift the car away, so any accident would virtually guarantee a safety car.”

The story has echoes of the blood scandal in rugby last season, when a Harlequins player was instructed by the team manager to fake a blood injury using stage blood, in order to get a specialist kicker onto the pitch.

Autosport goes on on say that the information was given to FIA president Max Mosley by Nelson Piquet Sr on July 26th. This was the day of the Hungarian Grand Prix. That same day Renault were charged for releasing Alonso’s unsafe car back into the race after a pit stop. That infringement initially got them a one race ban, which was lifted on appeal, but it germinated the notion that the team was not acting safely.

Since then the Singapore issue has been extensively investigated by an FIA team, assisted by representatives of Quest, a leading independent investigative firm, run by former Metropolitan police chief Lord Stevens, which Mosley hired last year to look into who set up the sting on him in the News of the World.

This is an extremely serious allegation and if proven, is far more serious than the McLaren spy case of 2007 because it concerns putting the lives of the driver, the marshals and potentially the public at risk. If proven the race fixing aspect of it would have a very negative impact on the image of the sport, just as it is emerging from the instability of the teams’ breakaway threat.

According to the story, both Symonds and Briatore deny Piquet’s account. They accept that the meeting took place, but say that the idea of crashing was not theirs – two men’s word against one.

Interestingly in the evidence which has come to light thus far, there is no suggestion that Fernando Alonso, who was the main beneficiary of Piquet’s accident and who is hoping to be unveiled as a Ferrari driver shortly, had any part in the planning of it.

The hearing before the World Council, will take place on Monday September 21st.

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209 Comments
  1. Erik Cramer says:

    I don´t understand why an aspiring driver would kill any chance of a future drive by making these allegations. Surely he must realize that nobody will ever hire him again, I bet he would be hard pushed to get a drive in a Brazilian go kart race now. Throwing your toys out of the pram is one thing but this is proffesional suicide.

    1. tEQUILLA sLAMMER says:

      couldnt have put it better myself!!! #:) what an idiot to let his old man go to the FIA and stir up yet another F1 hornets nest!!!..And at Hugaroring too!!! #:) That circuit will soon get a name for fun!! #:)

  2. Jon says:

    If true, this will only serve to reinforce the public’s growing perception that F1 is stage managed, if not manipulated, at all levels.
    There seems to be a natural limit to how big any sport can become before greed and the weight of expectation causes unacceptable behaviour to derail the very success that is the catalyst for this failure.

  3. artorwar says:

    I just don’t believe it really. I think Piquet is fabricating to try and damage a sport he knows he will probably never return to. Maybe I dont want to believe it. This needs to be sorted. Would PS get involved in something like this? Would Piquet fabricate such a hard crash? Would Fernando really be in the dark? I find all of these issues a bit too suspicious.

  4. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion says:

    James. I need to ask it to you. Do you believe all this stuff? Do you think it can be true, now we know the source of that info, Piquet Sr? What more info can you reveal?

  5. The Artist says:

    It’s interesting that in the Autosport article there is the suggestion that Briatore flatly denies that any discussion was ever made about Piquet crashing, whilst Pat Symonds admits that the discussion occurred, but that it was Piquet’s idea. So, three people at the meeting, three different stories.

  6. Red Kimi says:

    James this is great insight. However, there is no way on earth a great driver like Alonso had no idea what was going on. Alonso was fueled so light he would have had to quesitoned this crazy strategy… the fact that the Renualt was a dog for most of the year and for him to pit on lap 13 made ZERO sense. I also find it conveinant that Ferrari will swoop in to resuce him in the coming days as the Renault team burns off in the distance.

    1. William McCone says:

      “I also find it conveinant that Ferrari will swoop in to resuce”

      Get real! – How/Why do some people want to drag Ferrari into everything.

      1. Red Kimi says:

        I don’t want to drag Ferrari into it… In fatc I am a huge Kimi fan and I want him to stay…. However, I think Renault will get crushed over this but Alonso will walk freely

  7. The Kitchen Cynic says:

    “They accept that the meeting took place, but say that the idea of crashing was not theirs ”

    Can you clarify: does that mean they admit the idea was out there, but that they didn’t come up with it?

  8. LMW says:

    Goodbye Renault.

  9. Ian W. says:

    F1 really does need to clean up its act…unbelievable if true

  10. Rich says:

    It does not make sense to me that it could be PK’s idea alone, since the team made the decision of a ridiculously early fuel stop for Fernando. Since there was little or no opportunity for overtaking a light fuel will only work if a safety car got deployed within a very narrow window of opportunity. Given that Fernado did not get into Q3 the more obvious strategy would have been to have fuelled Fernando more heavily so he could gain and jump places at the first and second pitstop. This of course would have improved his position but not to the point of being able to win the race. So if found guilty what punishment should Renault F1 get (suspended, fined or race bans)?

    1. Snail says:

      I think that is a total (whole) season ban. Anything else is a joke.

  11. LynnD says:

    James: I’ve been told that there is suspicious radio traffic (NPJ repeatly asking what lap he is on, in particular) and possibly SMS message evidence also. It’s inconceivable that the FIA would be bringing Renault up on charges on the basis of one man’s word isn’t it?

    You’re very well-connected – surely you must have more information on what the FIA has than what we can all read in Autosport? Come on, dish! :)

    1. Snail says:

      There were some comments on GrandPrix.com some time ago that were very opaque that indicated that someone on their staff knew something wasn’t right with that result. I didn’t understand the comments until the racing fixing story broke.

      So clearly some people know more than they are letting on – interestingly Joe Saward’d blog doesn’t have the details, so perhaps it isn’t him?

  12. Pay The Piper says:

    It’s not two against one, the Symonds and Briatore accounts conflict. Nice pre-Belgium swoop had everyone maing it up as they go along.
    The “bombshell” is them all now admitting that a pre-race meeting occurred where someone suggested a crash, doesn’t matter who, and that crash occurring.

    And then after the race, no-one saying anything, and Nelson getting his contract renewed (despite according to Flav, initiating a scheme, getting Alonso’s engineers to change fuel-strategy, and carrying it out against the supposed express wishes of his bosses)

    That is all brand new, and means you can all wave ta-ta to ING Renault. They’re history, no Option 13 or a junior-engineer get-outs here.

  13. Stephen Pattenden says:

    Another great “scoop” thanks James.

  14. Opposite Lock (Ken) says:

    IF this proves to be true, I hope Piquet is punished just as severely as Renault. There is absolutely no excuse for him to agree to crashing his car and putting others at risk. No matter how tenuous his position at Renault was. Being afraid of losing your job is not a justification for agreeing to such an outrageous action. Indefensible. Inexcusable. intolerable.

    1. monktonnik says:

      I whole heartedly agree.

      If Piquet was asked to do this, it put him in an untenable position, but what kind of man is he if he would sink to this. If it is true he should at least lose his superlicence, and I would like to see a lifetime ban imposed on any form of FIA approved motorsport.

      If Flavio and Pat Symonds are involved then they should suffer the same fate as Ron Dennis. Removal from the F1 team. I always liked Flavio, and I have/had huge respect for PS.

      What they are accused of goes against the whole principle of motor sport, and actually makes a mockery of the work the FIA have done on safety since Senna’s death. You have to say that without the accident at Imola the cars wouldn’t have been as safe as they are now. It is a poor way for a fellow Brazilian to repay his memory.

  15. The Mink says:

    If this evidence is true can they be their contract with the FIA/FOM be annulled? Either way, they’re in big trouble.

  16. Steve JR says:

    What a mess. One can easily imagine Renault leaving over this and maybe other teams will take their final bow since F1 has shown that it knows no boundaries when it comes to descending into the bottomless pit

  17. Stu says:

    If this information is true, then this is huge and has the opportunity to destroy the sport’s image in the public eye more than anything else that has happened in the last year or two put together.

    My gut feeling is that this is true TBH – Piquet Jr always seemed like a bit of a puppet there, and now he has left what has he got to loose?

    I wouldn’t trust Briatore as far as I could throw him for some reason (I have never warmed to him), so it wouldn’t surprise me…

  18. martin_tf says:

    IF this is true then Renault are going to be in serious trouble. I wonder if they may even be kicked out of the championship? Certainly a very large fine would be imposed.

  19. Barny says:

    Briatore: “I confirm the meeting with Piquet on Sunday morning, but nothing like that was ever talked about.”

    Symonds: “It’s true, during the Sunday meeting with Piquet the issue of deliberately causing a SC deployment came up, but it was proposed by Piquet himself. It was just a conversation.”

    Umm, contradictory?

  20. luciano says:

    If there is only Piquet’s word then there is no case.

  21. Luke Potter says:

    Hi James,

    I was looking for a video of Piquet’s crash on YouTube but found his spin on the warm-up lap instead (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feXvqfttAuw). Do you think this could have been a ‘dry run’ for his allegedly deliberate crash in the race?

    Regards,

    Luke

  22. Snail says:

    If I wasn’t reading it on your blog James, I’d say you had the making of an interesting movie.

    Now, here is Jack Bauer when you need him? Er, sorry, wrong genre…

  23. Raelene says:

    if proven that he did crash on purpose, surely the main culprit in all this is Nelson Piquet Jnr himself……

  24. Oliver Drew says:

    For me, IF it is shown that Piquet deliberately crashed, then who came up with the idea (Briatore, Piquet or Symonds) is irrelevant because for this to happen they will all have to have known about it.

    For me if it is shown then they all have to be banned for a long period of time, if not life, from F1 (or perhaps racing in general) because placing lives of drivers, marshalls et al at risk in this manner is beyond belief, beyond the normal punishment.

    But again it is still a big IF…we won’t know until the case is heard whether or not it actually happened or not. But either way, Piquet is either a liar or gutless for going along with it, and therefore comes out of it badly either way…and certainly Briatore and Symonds will come out of it very badly if Renault are found guilty…

    And what will happen to Renaults participation in F1 if they are found guilty? Or their sponsorship for that matter…worrying times for Renault.

  25. Adron Gardner says:

    How does one prosecute a case involving words behind closed door between three people? Its a classic bitter divorce case. These things always end in settlements…

    On the lighter side, if they hung people out to dry in NASCAR for purposely crashing a car to get a yellow, most of the field would be red flagged.

    1. Snail says:

      On the lighter side, if they hung people out to dry in NASCAR for purposely crashing a car to get a yellow, most of the field would be red flagged.

      Thanks for that useful information.

      I’ve never had much respect for NASCAR, but thanks to you I now know not NOT to watch NASCAR for any reason whatsoever.

      Which begs the question “if it is fixed as you clearly think it, why bother watching – its just like wrestling in the UK?”

      1. Adron Gardner says:

        Oh I don’t watch NASCAR for that very reason. Pure hysterics. There is real racing but in the states NASCAR has long drawn comparisons with WWE pro wrestling. Most people go to a NASCAR race HOPING to see a crash. Its all part of the “show” you see.

      2. Rich C says:

        Yes, and there have to be crashes to relieve the tedium of watching “racing billboards.” Its not called ‘white trash racing’ for nothing!

  26. Hatty says:

    This affected the championship, and as a Massa fan, that is even more annoying after all of his misfortunes.

    1. Criscles says:

      …. and so opens Pandora’s box of litigation ….

    2. Adrian says:

      It would only have meant that Hamilton wouldn’t have had to pass Glock to win the WDC. It would not have meant that Massa would have won the championship…

      And even if it not happening would had given him more points (due to him not having that pit-stop) who is to say that he would have won the WDC? With the points different, both Massa and Hamilton would have approached the final races differently…

  27. Leah says:

    It sounds believeable but also sounds completely nonsensical. Why would Renault sack Piquet Jr if they knew he’d blab about something so huge?! That would be a huge error from Renault not to mention a stupid one.

    If it is true why on Earth would NPJ agree? That also makes no sense.

    I sincerly hope this isn’t true, the repercussions would be huge. Worse than the Spy scandal, I’m sure.

    I also hope Fernando was not involved at all. I really really do.

    1. Paul Grinnall says:

      Maybe NPJ wanted to hold on to the drive forever based on this knowledge and was going to carry on using it as a bribing tool and Flav et al decided to take a risk on booting him out and his claims being ridiculed rather than being saddled with a useless, crashtastic, slow, numpty of a driver for a decade…

  28. Dave P says:

    Shocking…. you would think if Piquet had suggested this, Briatore and Symonds would have definitely not renewed his contract for this year. Equally, you would think that Flavio would also have not made statement to the effect that he new nothing about it when the story first emerged…

    Sadly it looks like they are quilty and Renault will quit….

    I am most dissapointed in Pat Symonds..

    1. Jojo says:

      yeah, and then sell it..haha

      So teams can now cheat and if caught, just rebrand the team by quitting and selling it.

  29. adrian says:

    Extraordinary indeed.

    Assuming Autosport’s source is reasonably accurate (which is probably quite a safe assumption), Renault’s version of events is that (i) Nelsinho came up with the idea of crashing at a specific turn on a specific lap of his own volition (ii) Pat Symonds treated this as idle chit-chat (iii) Nelsinho, sure enough, did crash at a specific turn on a specific lap, the specifics being chosen only to benefit Alonso; (iv) Pat Symonds presumably thinks nothing of it – more specifically, he does not think fit to tell the FIA that the crash might have been deliberate, with the intention of altering the race result? I assume he will also say that he didn’t see fit to inform Briatore of this? Nor did he trouble himself to check whether it was deliberate by reference to the telemetry, despite all the press speculation that it was?

    This all looks as if Symonds is going to attempt to fall on his sword in the same way as Dave Ryan did. And similarly looks as if, the story that will come from Renault will be one which secures deniability to Briatore and Alonso.

  30. Paul Mc says:

    I dont know how they will prove it to be honest. As you say James its 2 v 1 here. I doubt there will be any radio communication to back it up as i presume Nelson was told on what lap to go off.

    Amazing stuff really, cant wait to see what the outcome of it all is.

    Guilty or not it raises serious questions about Renault

  31. Boston F1 Fan says:

    - When we watch the onboard laps, they sometimes display a graphic that shows how much gas and brake is being applied, what revs/speed the car is doing, etc. Couldn’t they examine this from Piquet’s car to see if it appears to be an accident or if he suddenly slammed on the throttle? It would be interesting to see.

    1. Phil says:

      It’s called telemetry data, and it’s all logged. McLaren used it to prove Lewis lifted to allow Raikonen past at Spa last year. They capture much more than we get shown on the TV too.

      I’ve read that, allegedly, there was an anomoly (piquet accelerated early when he would have had no traction and therefore spun) but without any of us having access there’s no way to verify.

      I’ve never much liked the Renault team due to the shenannigans (both proved and suspected) that went on when it was Benneton. They removed the fuel filter to increase the rate it went into the car and there were the allegations that schumacher had a secret menu which enabled traction control during the period it was banned.

  32. Spenny says:

    Well, according to AutoSport Symonds and Briatore haven’t got their story straight – as Symonds admitted it was discussed and Briatore denied it was discussed.

    For it even to be a possibility, the uniquely unusual pitstop strategy had already been determined in which Alonso and the technicians would have been closely involved – and it would not be the first time he had been found wanting in the ethics department.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’m not sure about those quotes, which is why I don’t repeat them or refer to them.

      1. Spenny says:

        I entirely understand ;)

    2. tEQUILLA sLAMMER says:

      absolutely NOT!!!!! There is no reason Alonso would need to be told!!! If he was told he was being fuelled light in stint 1, as part of his strategy, and he suddenly finds himself in a favourable position after a SC period, then he would have done what he usually does and drive hard hoping for the possibility of a win! In the crafty world of race planning, the left hand doesnt always have to know what the right hand is doing, and in most cases, it doesnt!!! After all, Hamilton had no idea that his team were in possesion of “Ferrari Intellectual Property” during the whole of his rookie season!!!! #:)

      1. James Allen says:

        He’s done it before and since. He likes to run aggressive fuel strategies.

  33. Antoine says:

    “Since then the Singapore issue has been extensively investigated by an FIA team, assisted by representatives of…”

    I personally think the FIA shouldn’t be allowed to punish further if the matter is more than 2 months old as it leaves plenty of rooms for blackmails…

    The FIA is a huge institution capable of reacting fast when it comes to matters like this, but instead its chooses to wait until the time is “right”. i.e the rules clearly say if there’s a incident with 5 laps remaining before the end of the race, that’ll be investigated after the race but now sadly it happen even at the start of a race :-(. This sounds to me more like a revenge than a disciplinary hearing :-(

  34. There must be more than just the testimonies from Briatore, Symonds and Piquet. It wouldn’t be enough to summon the World Council if that was the case. Autosport also says that the telemetry suggests Piquet kept accelerating when he would have lifted in a normal lap. This is getting really weird. If Symonds and Briatore are saying the truth then Piquet went ahead on its own. Otherwise Piquet is saying the truth.
    Perhaps I’m a bit naive but I find it all quite hard to believe.

  35. Tom P says:

    Only after the story broke did I look at the footage and it was strange how Piquet appeared to stay on the throttle when he should have been hard on the brakes…

    I found this amateur footage, at 22s you can hear the engine bouncing off the limiter before crashing:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAKAdY80ZeA&feature=related

  36. Williams4ever says:

    Now who can call Hungaroring a boring race.It is becoming a traditional venue where unhappy drivers contact FIA threating to expose the “wrong doings” of their teams :D. Thats another NEW for F1. Man F1 just getting interesting and interesting.. though the race necessarily don’t :P

    1. Rusty0256 says:

      Based on the fact that they are about to hand the Singapore GP win to Nico Rosberg then yes, it is fair to assume that the 2008 F-1 World Championship would be taken off Massa and retrospectivly awarded to Hamilton.

      Thank God, for any number of reasons that didn’t have to happen.

      1. Antoine says:

        Very funny…

  37. Steve JR says:

    I’d like to play an imaginary game for a moment…imagine that Massa had won the 2008 championship by 1 point in Brazil from Hamilton. And now imagine that it turns out that Hamilton should be promoted to second place due to Renault ‘cheating’ in the Singapore GP thus earning him an additional two points at that race. What would the FIA do in such a situation? Would they take the 2008 championship crown away from Massa and hand it to Hamilton? Or would they simply keep the result the same?

    1. rfs says:

      It’s much too late to change last year’s championship standings. All the prize money has been distributed already, and anyway it would just cause yet another s**tstorm.

    2. Hutch says:

      Ugh, the mind boggles! Hopefully the FIA have enough foresight to write in regulations that deal with such a contingency. Surely there’s a statute of limitations on this: it’s not like new evidence on Hill vs Schumacher at Adelaide could retrospectively make Hill the 1994 champion!

  38. kalofer_bg says:

    Jammes,
    You are right as always. Interestingly Alonso was not awere of that plot of all that is true.
    What will be consecuences for him if WMSC find Renault guilty of fixing the Singapure race?

  39. Srini says:

    Ban Nelson Piquet Jr. for life because he put(doesn’t matter if its under duress or deliberately) human lives at risk to secure his career….

    Flavio and Symonds should also be banned for life for either asking Piquet to put human lives at risk or not stopping/warning Piquet(if their argument that it was Piquet’s idea) from putting lives at risk….

  40. James,

    Could the mere whiff of this revelation prompt Renault to jump from F1?

  41. Roz says:

    Must admit I was quite dismissive of this story initially, but those are some incredible revelations by Autosport.

    The bit that made my jaw drop was the fact Pat Symonds says it WAS discussed in the meeting, and that the only thing that’s unclear is whose idea it was.

    To be honest, I can’t see how Piquet could have benefitted out of crashing out of his own race. He’s never really been that much of a company man to suggest the idea of crashing out, it just doesn’t make sense.

    I have to say, if the crash was deliberate, it’s an absolutey incredible stunt, and the FIA needs to come down on this like a tonne of bricks for the sake of the sport.

    I think ultimately the Lewis Hamilton Lie-Gate affair was a good thing because it showed that F1 takes the suggestion of being mislead seriously – even though there wasn’t severe punishment, it did seem to be taken more seriously than a fake dive in football for example.

    But like James says, if deliberate, this was a dangerous and reckless move. I would be dissapointed if Renault weren’t seriously punished for it.

  42. Janet says:

    Wow- if this is in fact the case, wouldn’t Alonso’s Ferrari future be put into jeopardy?
    Wow- this is trully schocking!

    1. Neil Barr says:

      No, if this is in fact the case, and even if Alonso was in the room during these meetings and his knowledge of it was irrefutable he will be the invisible man. I would bet on it. Because he pulls in a giant previously-untapped Spanish-speaking audience to begin with. If he actually is contracted to Ferrari he is doubly untouchable.

  43. Neil Barr says:

    “According to (Jon Noble’s sources) both Briatore and Symonds deny Piquet’s account. They accept that the meeting took place but that the idea of crashing was not theirs…”
    So who do you believe?

    Piquet Jr.’s version as told by Piquet Sr. to President Mosley:
    Briatore: We’ll talk contract later. We’re talking this race now. The team needs you to crash to bring out a safety car to help Fernando. It’s a great opportunity to help the team, Nelsinho. And yourself.
    Symonds (later): Do it on lap 13 or 14 at turn 17.

    Briatore’s version:
    Piquet: Here’s a thought. If you short-filled Nando and I were to accidently crash and bring out a safety car right after his stop he could win. What do you think?
    Briatore: I like you, Nelsinho. You’re a good conversationalist. Maybe we’ll keep you around.
    Symonds: What a kidder! See me after this, kid.

    Symonds’ version:
    Piquet and Briatore spoke so fast in Italian, I think, that I didn’t understand them well enough to quote them but I got the impression that Piquet had proposed that he could crash to bring out a safety car. But without knowing exactly what each said I couldn’t swear to it.

    Alonso’s version:
    Pit on lap 12? That’s crazy! But, hmm … it just might be crazy enough to work. You guys know best, anyway.

    1. Snail says:

      Briatore: I like you, Nelsinho. You’re a good conversationalist. Maybe we’ll keep you around.
      Symonds: What a kidder! See me after this, kid.

      Thats sounds like Mafia speak.

      Off topic… Go on holiday in Sicilly. Book into a decent hotel in a decent town. You’ll find a really nicely dressed gent complete with “the hat” you expect sitting near reception. So polite. Not interested in you as a tourist, but as a person. Interesting and visually wonderful… very elegant.

      …and seriously, the above happened to me on the south west side of the island a few years ago. Great hotel, too :-)

    2. Red Kimi says:

      Ha… This is classic stuff very good. I agree with you also about Alonso.. I love how everyone act sliek Alonso had no idea. He is starting 15th and fueled to stop earlier than anyone else and yet he had no idea about any of this?! The guy is a 2X Champ…. of course he knew what was going on… if not he was foolish to take no fuel for the first stint… they are all guilty

  44. John says:

    At this point, at least on the outside, the case seems to be circumstantial and he-said vs. he-and-he-said. I’m not a Piquet Jr. fan, but, big but, it does look very strongly like the “accident” was no accident at all.

    It will be very interesting to see how this unfolds. The potential ramifications could be huge, and rightly so.

  45. Harveyeight says:

    The damage has been done just by these leaked revelations. Whether Renault are found to be culpable or that Piquet has lied is immaterial. F1 credibility has suffered yet again.

    It is the FIA’s responsibility to deal with such matters in a manner that limits the damage to the sport. This they have failed to do. And time and time again.

    I feel so frustrated. Discipline is one thing, self flagellation is another.

    James, you defended the press against Badoer’s suggestion that its reporting damaged his chances. How about such speculation and rumour damaging the sport as a whole? And this isn’t Fleet Street but the specialist press.

    “Sources claim . . . Piquet says . . . Piquet suggests . . . Piquet claims . . .” And what are the chances that the ‘sources’ is also known as Piquet? Perhaps the headline to the article should have been: Piquetfest. He’s the complainant in this case and he’s given a spread in the weekly F1 leader. And don’t claim that Renault have refused to comment as an excuse.

    Would you invest in our sport when it is so obviously tainted, that’s if you believe what Piquet says? Scandals have hurt many other sports and unless some sort of grip is taken on F1 we will be crucified in the press.

    My other sport is rugby union and there is already talk about sponsors withdrawing from the fully professional level. It seems clear they won’t be coming to F1.

    I despair.

  46. John says:

    From Autosport – Symonds is also reported as saying: “It’s true, during the Sunday meeting with Piquet the issue of deliberately causing a SC deployment came up, but it was proposed by Piquet himself. It was just a conversation.”

    Uh oh. Does it matter who proposed it if the team ended up carrying it out?

    I doubt the FIA will think so.

    1. KNF says:

      If the team management knew about it, I’m even more amazed that Symonds didn’t give Piquet a good bollocking and replaced him in the race with Grosjean just to make sure that everything was in the clear…

    2. Raelene says:

      [quote]Uh oh. Does it matter who proposed it if the team ended up carrying it out?

      [/quote]

      actually the only person that “carried it out” was Piquet himself…..(of course if true)

    3. Raelene says:

      if true, the only person that carried it out was Piquet himself…does he not know the word no, or even the word ethical…

      1. Cliff says:

        Ethics and F1 in the same sentence? A bit of a contradiction i’d say.

        For some unknown reason,F1 allways has a story on Monza weekends (Mass Dampers, Hamilton-Spa or Alonso impeding Massa when he is 100 metres in front) and we’ll get some in years to come. It would just to hae a good story every now & then.

      2. KNF says:

        There’s a difference between “creative intepretation” of the rules (such as the cases mentioned above, and oversized barge boards, double diffusers, fiddle brakes, huge vertical cooling fans, etc. etc. etc.) and deliberately driving the car into the barriers to bring out a safety car and give your teammate an advantage.

        This could only have been possible recently (thanks to safety improvements) because 20 years ago doing something like this would have been stupidly suicidal…

  47. Kirk says:

    Seems it was true after all then – shockingly bad news for F1. Yet another scandal – but hey, they say any publicity is good publicity, so let’s see if that is really true.

    Next, how can the FIA prove who had the idea, who is responsible for this farce? It would seem Piquet Jr was the one under severe pressure here, the accident alone was bad for his already fragile confidence and image in the paddock, so if anyone had the power to do anything about it Briatore and Symonds would be the two men I’d pick.

    In the end it actually doesnt matter if the idea came from Piquet Jr. or from Symonds/Briatore! The fact is that these 2 men are in charge of one of a big team, a team with tradition in F1, and that carries a lot of responsibility. They knew about the chances of this plot happening before the race started, they did nothing or little to stop it happening, they eventually saw it happen, took advantage of it, celebrated the win by Alonso (just check the photos – any hint of guilt on Flavio’s face?) and then kept very quiet about it for almost a year. And if the story by Autosport is true they then rewarded Piquet Jr for his “services” by giving him a 2009 contract.

    To claim they are the innocent victims of Piquet’s “diabolical plan” will not wash with the FIA – and I fear both Symonds and Briatore will be history. Flavio I doubt many people will miss, he’s probably had it coming for a while. But Pat Symonds… very disappointed to see him involved in all this mess.

  48. Laurence H says:

    Yet again it seems that Briatore has had a chance to deny that any plan existed, but instead implies that the ‘idea’ was there, just nothing to do with him. Knowing about it and not stopping it is equally as bad. It would seem his F1 days will be numbered. Shame about Pat Symonds though. I always thought he was alright.

    As for Alonso, I cannot believe he wouldn’t have known. I lost all respect for him after seeing him interviewed after the pitlane blocking incident with Hamilton, where he looked like a naughty schoolboy who thought what he’d done was hilarious.

  49. Ross Etti says:

    If Pat Symonds does turn out to be involved in this – and it appears he has acknowledged that he was at least open to the suggestion – I will hang my head in reflected shame and disappointment. Entertaining the possibility of crashing to fix a race manages to combine cheating and endangering life; this is so far beyond the pale I can’t put it into words and not something I associate with down-to-earth ‘multi-strat Pat’ at all. What is happening to British sporting values? Spygate, Liegate, now Crashgate – F1 doesn’t look like a sport right now. I can only hope if Jenson does take the championship and Ari the FIA they become the unimpeachable figureheads of a new F1 based on fair play, because the alternative is falling into the abyss.

    1. Phil says:

      This kind of thing always goes on (either visibly or invisibly) in lots of different sports – the desire to win often clouds judgement and is stronger than the desire to play fair (look also at online gaming and the amount of cheating that goes on there).

      You have doping scandals in athletics and cycling, bloodgate in rugby, that hoo-haa about ball tampering in the cricket a while back too.

  50. tomo says:

    Goodbye Renault and goodbye Piquet family.

    Both are finished in F1.

    1. Jojo says:

      I agree, Renault must be penlised and Piquet should be banned. Only in his first year in F1 and took part in a serious cheating..

  51. Grabyrdy says:

    Hard to see how Renault get out of this one. Who thought it up is neither here nor there, fact remains that Renault constructed Fernando’s race around it happening when it did. Also hard to see how Nelson père thinks he’s helping his son, but then he always was a bit, well, weird.

  52. omar kamal says:

    Then it will be like what I said in a previous comment ” Alonso is clear”

  53. raffamuffin says:

    RIP Renault F1

  54. Jason C says:

    On Autosport’s website, Briatore is quoted as saying “nothing like that was ever talked about”, but Symmonds says “deliberately causing a SC deployment … was proposed by Piquet himself”.

    The two quotes don’t exactly match completely.

    Not exactly damning, but still…

    One thing I don’t really understand is why would Piquet bring this out? OK, so he got the sack, but his career hadn’t been completely ruined. Now, though, whichever way the verdict goes, it is. If true, then he deliberately crashed his car during a race, risking lives. For that, he should be banned from racing for life. It’s worse in my view than an athelete using performance-enhancing drugs. If his allegations are false, then his career is equally ruined: what racing team would take him?

    He would have come out of it much better (if the allegations are true) if he’d refused to crash, or even blown the whistle immediately after the race.

    The parallel with “blood-gate” is pretty good, but because of the safety risks and the greater impact on the championship of each race compared to each rugby match, “crash-gate” is much more serious, and should be treated as such by the governing authorities.

    I only hope (perhaps vainly) that the truth is uncovered. Unfortunately, we’ll never know if is has been.

  55. Dank says:

    Have to say it’s Pat Symonds’ quote in the Autosport article that is the most damning.

    Contradicts Flav and sounds like they’ve been rumbled so they’re trying to deflect the blame on to Piquet.

    Very disappointing.

  56. Swayze says:

    I also read the story and found it astonishing.
    If the meeting took place as reported and crashing on purpose was discussed then regardless of who mentioned it first All involved should be excluded from F1 for life
    As you quite correctly stated this is far worse than McLaren and spygate.

  57. lynnduffy says:

    James: I posted a comment early which has still not been moderated. Even though every else’s comments have appeared. Did I do something wrong?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not sure. Will take a look

  58. Mike says:

    Alonso and his gang should be banned from the sport.

  59. Darren says:

    Remember a few weeks back, The FIA gave two slots for next year, after BMW withdrew from F1. Now why offer two places, because Renault are going to be shown the door.

    I hope Lotus get the place , can you imagine Colin Chapman cheating ??? ooh hang on a min ;-)

  60. Raj says:

    I find it amuzing that Renault had done that with intentions of winning the race. Two major facts have been overlooked. 1) If Ferrari had not self-destructed their dream in the pits, Massa would have still won the race. 2) Renault had to know the exact level of fuel in the cars of Kubica and Rosberg. That is something very unlikely in my eyees. We need to remember that the transparency on fuel loads have been introduced in this season. Had Renault miscalculated the fuel load of the BMW and the Williams car, either Rosberg or Kubica would have won the race. Only the penalty stopped at least Rosberg from doing so. If this is an orchestration, it has to be hugely planned one. Or else it is an orchestration with multiple teams involved in it.

    1. Snail says:

      If what you write is correct, that points more to Junior trying to cause trouble for an innocent Renault, knowing that his career is finished. This story gets weirder and weirder.

    2. Grabyrdy says:

      I would guess that the strategy, if is was that, was to give Fernando at least a good chance of a podium. That other things came together allowing him to win was the icing on the cake. One can even imagine that it went so much better than planned they might have been a bit worried – no-one really notices a podium, but a win ? Well, we’ll take it.

    3. Neil says:

      I think it was an orchestration with a hoped for outcome rather than if we do this, this and this we will surely win. Starting from 15th a safety car at the right moment after Alonso’s stop would move him nearer to the front. It’s much easier to ‘steal’ the win from 3rd or 4th on the road than 10th backwards.

      Piquet jr is now history as a driver and I agree with the comment re: Piquet Snr – always seemed to have a weird sense of humour/personality during his driving career which appears not to have mellowed with age. Again, he would have known of this from that weekend and to take 12 months to bring it to the FIA’s attention makes him equally as culpable.

  61. Tim Lamkin says:

    This issue will reverberate in F1 for years……what happens if Renault does pull out…what happens to the teams they are supposed to supply engines for…..this will end Briatore’s career…and a few others!

    …and if it is true maybe they needed to go bye-bye

  62. Frank says:

    FB: [mod] This GP is sponsored by ING and our car sucks big time. ING won’t like it a bit.

    PS: Perhaps we could fuel one of the drivers light so that he can show off for a few laps and set a fast lap?

    FB: Not NP, he’s worthless, it wouldn’t even help him; right Junior? It’s got to be Fernando, right Junior? Right Fernando?

    FA: I’m the greatest.

    NP: I guess it’s OK with me…about next year, Flavio?

    FB: Shut up, Junior..We’re in a serious talk here. Sit, sit – good dog.

    PS: This is a city track, right? It’s likely someone will hit the walls early on, bringing a safety car, and guess what? Fernando will already be fuelled up! See my drift?

    FA I’m the greatest.

    FB: Yeah, maybe, but what if noone crashes. We’d still look like idiots. I know Fernando thinks he can still beat them all but..mmh, wait…

    All eyes turn to NP, looking like a deer caught in the headlights.

  63. knoxploration says:

    Oh dear. It seems perhaps I was wrong in not believing there to have been much truth in this story. Symonds is quoted as saying: “the issue of deliberately causing a SC deployment came up, but it was proposed by Piquet himself”. There’s no two ways around this – if the quote is accurate, Symonds has admitted that the accident was pre-planned, and that both he and Briatore were aware of this beforehand.

    Once that’s established, it really matters not in the least who first suggested it. If Piquet really came up with it, it was both men’s duty to make it crystal clear to him that cheating was intolerable, and that any attempt to do so would mean his immediate dismissal. Once the crash had happened, there should have been a question in their minds that it was perhaps deliberate – at which point Briatore and Symonds should immediately have pulled Piquet from his race seat and reported the matter to the stewards for investigation.

    Knowing as they must have that Piquet likely crashed deliberately, Briatore and Symonds’ lack of action to come clean afterwards implicates them – even if they didn’t initially come up with the idea. This is of special import, given that their team profited from Piquet’s actions. Instead though, it would seem that far from showing concern for the behaviour, they directly rewarded the actions with a renewed contract for Piquet.

    While I will wait for information attributed to cited sources (and preferably, provided by the FIA themselves) before I make my mind up, this accident now looks very suspect to me. If it turns out that Symonds’ quote is accurate, then frankly I don’t think I’d believe either man’s claim that Piquet came up with the whole thing – because I can’t believe he’d go through with the crash had they told him not to do so.

    If it turns out that Briatore and Symonds were aware of and / or formed the plan, and have kept quiet for this long, I think there can only be one acceptable outcome for F1 given the fact knowledge stretched to the top two men in the team. If guilty, then Renault should be excluded from last year’s championship, they should return and forfeit all prizes / TV / travel etc. money earned during the year, and both Briatore and Symonds should be barred from taking part in F1 for at least a few years. As whistleblower but also culpable, Piquet should only be allowed to race in F1 again on the condition that any repeat occurrence or failure to immediately report cheating will result in his permanent disbarment from the sport.

    It seems cheating is rampant among many of the current top F1 teams, and we have got to get it through these folks’ heads that it cannot and will not be tolerated.

    1. " for sure " says:

      Nice summary. You make no mention of potential sanction for Alonso. If this is true, and I now have few doubts, I find it impossible to believe Alonso was unaware. If he did not know before, he certainly would have become aware subsequently. At the least he will be guilty of failing to act on that knowledge.

      1. knoxploration says:

        If Alonso was aware then yes, action should be taken against him, unquestionably. I’ve seen nothing to state that he was aware though, and although I’m personally not a fan (I find him rather arrogant), I wouldn’t rush to assume he was involved.

        If it turns out he knew at any point before the FIA investigation was launched and didn’t say so though, that action would have to be permanent disbarment from taking part in ANY FIA-sanctioned event. He’s already been found guilty of having knowingly participated in F1 cheating once before, and escaped completely unpunished. That was somewhat acceptable because he was a whistleblower – much like Piquet in this situation. If he hasn’t learned from his mistakes and continues to cheat, though, then he simply shouldn’t be allowed any further place in the sport.

        Like I said though, we don’t have any evidence to suggest he knew – just idle speculation, so far.

  64. Werewolf says:

    What a mess. The only thing that is certain is that there can be no winners.

    Piquet’s F1 career is over and his integrity destroyed. Assuming the quotes attributed to him by Autosport are correct, he is not even saying he was forced but that he did it because he thought it would help his Renault career. Whatever, by his own admission, he has fixed a race or lied about doing so.

    Renault seem to be admitting to conversations. If these did indeed take place, which will be hard to prove or disprove (the only method is to check for consistency and corroboration in the 3 men’s statements), then either Renault is guilty as charged or, if Piquet is judged to have raised the idea and even if Briatore and Symonds instructed otherwise, the team had to have serious doubts about Piquet’s actions and should therefore have conducted their own internal investigation.

    As a personal observation, fuelling Alonso light and gambling on a safety car early on at a street circuit with close barriers is not altogether unreasonable for a team suffering a degree of desperation, so that the concept of someone possibly crashing to be discussed in meetings is only logical. To arrange it is, of course, despicable and worthy of the highest sanction.

    F1 will suffer (more) bad press for a while but just as rugby will ultimately survive largely unscathed after the blood scandal passes so will it, providing the investigation’s results are either convincingly ‘not guilty’ or that serious measures are taken should guilt be established. This one is too serious, I think, for punishment to be waived should Briatore and/or Symonds do a Dennis.

    1. Snail says:

      As a personal observation, fuelling Alonso light and gambling on a safety car early on at a street circuit with close barriers is not altogether unreasonable for a team suffering a degree of desperation, so that the concept of someone possibly crashing to be discussed in meetings is only logical.

      OK, so another possibility that I haven’t seen mooted by anyone is that Junior did actually drop it on that corner by accident (*) and it was fortunate that it was at about the best time in the race for Renault.

      Well, good look with convincing anyone of that series of events, if it were true.

      Any more permutations folks can think of?

      (*) In if this were the case, it doesn’t say much about his driving. Either way, he loses out.

  65. Rudy Pyatt says:

    Impressive. Most impressive. F1 has managed to have an even more lurid scandal than those that have gone before. Growing up, we had an acronym for crazy situations like this: FUBAR. I’ll let y’all figure that one out.

    If this information is accurate, Symmonds has admitted that a deliberate crash was at least mentioned by Piquet pre-race. If he has not informed the FIA of this until now (and, logically, he hasn’t, or all of this sound and fury would have happened last year), then he and Piquet, if no one else, are certainly in jeopardy of punishment far beyond FIA jurisdiction. Criminal investigations and lawsuits are certainly foreseeable.

    Renault will be gone from F1, of course. Their board will not stand for these revelations, even without an ultimate decision. No doubt they are well aware of the implications just described. It will not surprise me if they in fact pull the plug before this weekend’s fun and games. And I’m sure they’ll take their engines with them.

    Beyond this, the mess gives Toyota, and maybe MB, the excuse they need to get out. No doubt their corporate boards are weighing the embarrassment versus the value of participating in a marketing exercise continually riven by acrimony and increasingly lurid scandals. Like BMW, Honda and Renault, both are active in the full spectrum of racing, beyond F1 — all of which are orders of magnitude less expensive than F1, cost cutting or not. And all of which will provide greater marketing return on investment than F1, when set against its increasing image (and, therefore, credibility) problems.

    This may be a good thing. Gordon Murray has said (an issue of Racecar Engineering from a few months back) that F1 as we know it had outlived its usefulness and needed to be torn down and rebuilt. Perhaps we’ll see new tech regs sooner than 2012, maybe get to see (and hear!) a variety of engines again.

    Then again, we could see a repeat of 1952 and ’53 — the first time it was Ferrari and a bunch of privateers, when the series was run to the “lesser” Formula 2 rules. Since constructor teams wouldn’t want to race without building their own chassis, what other formula permits that? F3, ironically enough, allows exactly that. So, maybe 800cc (MotoGP and road bike displacement/source) supercharged v. 2.0 litre unblown to make F3 = F1?

    Bring it on. Just spare us from spec engines.

    1. James Allen says:

      Mercedes are going the opposite direction to that, Rudy, taking control of the Brawn team

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        True. I wonder if they have some kind of out clause? If not, and they stay in, they’ll obviously be the big fish in the pond, along with Ferrari.

  66. Darren says:

    And is Piquet jr bright enough to come up with this idea ???

  67. Adron Gardner says:

    Why would this stuff leak out from the FIA if only to kill them through public relations since the case is all he said – she said?

  68. Fausto Cunha says:

    I dont remember a driver out of the Q3 starting the race with fuel for 13 laps.It´s a suicidal strategy, makes no sense.

    The accident was bizarre.

    Nothing good will come out of this but at least we deserve too know the true.

  69. ati says:

    max mosley has finally found something to get rid of flavio forever :D

    must be the pill he was looking for just before he ‘retires’.

  70. Jay says:

    Anyone who thinks this isn’t true is very naive. Put aside all the diplomacy and journalistic integrity (which is to expected from James, but not us). We are talking here about Briatore and Symonds. [mod] Quite frankly, they are all looking for an edge – however they get it. I highly doubt Piquet suggested it as his idea – he would have been too afraid of Briatore and more concerned with trying to drive well each race. This was a pure strategist’s call…esp considering it was ING’s “home” race.

  71. piotr says:

    Well, one thing was already clarified. Now we know why all these off-roads trips happened to Piquet. He wasn’t struggling, he was practising!

    “Preparations, preparations, preparations. Any monkey could do it. That’s why we thought about you … “ to paraphrase the line from “Sexy Beast”.

    How do you sleep at night, Junior? Hunted by this furry beast already? Aiming with the wheel nut gun at you?

  72. Simon of Melbourne says:

    Let’s be realistic, it isn’t the first time an intentional accident has altered the course of a race. Two in particular determined a championship. Senna vs Prost at Suzuka in 1989 and the much more obvious first corner incident in 1990. Then there is Schumacher vs Hill in 1994.

    1. Werewolf says:

      Although it failed, you could add Schumacher and Villeneuve in 1997, for which the former was disqualified from the world championship.

      The difference is all these incidents are maverick actions by drivers; the allegation here is that a team acted with premeditation and planned an accident into its race strategy.

  73. Criscles says:

    Benetton Fuel Rig Fiasco
    Benetton Illegal Launch Control
    Benetton Ignore Black Flag Order
    Benetton Skid Plank Controversy

    Team Principal : Flavio Briatore

    This latest transgression is not beneath the man…

  74. Ray.C. says:

    Sources claim?…until “sources” come forward it’s nothing more than rumour.

    Symonds is also reported as saying: “It’s true, during the Sunday meeting with Piquet the issue of deliberately causing a SC deployment came up, but it was proposed by Piquet himself. It was just a conversation.”

    This is a pretty damning statement, just to admit the subject came up.

    Why did it take PiquetSnr to break it?

    I doubt anyone can prove anything, but IF it was proven beyond doubt that Renualt & Co were guilty of deliberatly crashing a car during a race to ensure the win of the sister car, then They and the entire team including Alonso should be banned from F1 for life.

  75. ciao says:

    Brazilians at the track for the event and watching Nelsinho more closely than us claim he practiced it more than once at that corner. The unedited vision from that camera should have that if true. Brazilian’s don’t hold Nelsinho as being anywhere near devious or as tough as the old fella. JA quotes on engineers saying Piquet was off the pace and discounting the car differences don’t play out … he didn’t have the car and the whole paddock knew it.

  76. AC says:

    Doesn’t the simplest explanation usually make the most sense?

    An F1 team goes into a race with a plan to deliberately crash one of its cars on a specific lap and on a specific corner counting on the fact that the team’s other car would be in the perfect position to take advantage of a safety car

    or

    Hell hath no fury as a Piquet scorned….

  77. I find it difficult to believe that Nelson Piquet Sr. would have gone to the FIA and made specific allegations about the conduct of the race in 2008 without some form of quid pro quo from the FIA. After all, in 2007 the FIA apparently immunized Fernando Alonso against any repercussions for providing evidence.
    The only way that the Piquets are not going to get a break from the FIA will be if they concluded prior to talking that there is no chance of Nelsinho ever getting a top-line racing seat, therefore they have nothing to lose by talking irrespective of the consequences. I find that difficult to buy. I think that some deal has been done between Nelson Piquet Sr. and the FIA.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      Nah, more likely a bit of gentle blackmail by PK père against Flavio. What do you think he’s been doing – mooning around the pits all year ? Flav calls his bluff (well, he has to – he can’t keep PK fils in the car for a third year), père goes off to Max.

      This sort of skulduggery is just like the “good old days” really, altho’ then you wouldn’t crash deliberately ‘cos there were no safety cars, and you would probably kill yourself. Is F1 now too safe ? Discuss.

  78. Patrick says:

    The evidence at this point seems to be circumstantial.

    However, the damage to the reputations of those involved will stick regardless of the outcome.

    Piquets behaviour is despicable regardless of the truth.

    If money is the root of all evil. This lends to support the drastic cost cutting execises which ironically I thought were not in the ‘spirit’ of F1.

  79. C Lin says:

    Surely Alonso cannot be the saint in this mess!!! lol

    Wherever he goes there’s trouble…Ferrari better think twice.

  80. Rob says:

    If this is true, I don’t believe many in the team would have known, but it seems impossible that the key figures were not involved, including Alonso given his strange fuel strategy. I feel sorry for all those in the team, especially back at the factory, who will probably have to suffer as a consequence even loose there jobs.

  81. fran says:

    So surely Piquet is in as much hot water as Renault????… I hope as a Renault and Alonso fan its not true…. but I have bad feeling that it could be……

  82. F1Rosberg says:

    Very hard to believe that such idea can come from Piguet himself, which has no japanese ancestors.

    In the other hand, if you have a look on what this fat and funny version of “Don Juan” has done in the past, what Pat has been involved in, and the tricky behaviour of Alonso in his short career, is not so complicated to conclude that Renault did it: They instructed Piquet to crash to help the spanish trash.

    The best is to have the three of them banned permanently from F1.

    Piquet is only a victim.

  83. Suzy says:

    Of course, Alonso will be whitewashed as usual (remember the spygate? De la Rosa e-mails, anyone?) but IMO there’s no way he didn’t know about it. I mean he starts from midfield from fuel enough for 12 laps. Do you really think he didn’t ask why? C’mon.

  84. Jame Bond says:

    Please don’t tell me that “the most complete driver” doesn’t know why he was pitting on lap 13.

  85. David Hodge says:

    James, thanks for the insightful and balanced posting on this. Along with Joe Saward and his blog, I suspect the pair of you will be the place to go for accurate and balanced reporting of this incident over the next few weeks. I think this will run and run…

    Do you know if Fernando will be called as a witness? I find it hard to believe he knew nothing about it. When they were deciding strategies before the race, do you think he might have said “Hang on, I qualified 15th, not 5th. Why are you short-fuelling me?” Fernando is an intelligent and experienced driver and has talent enough to drag what was a dog of a car, heavily fuelled (as would be normal strategy) around the circuit until all the early stoppers were out of his way and his car was lighter.

    One interesting vignette I am hoping to see this year. On last years gridwalk, Martin Brundle was accosted by some lady from ING saying how great the signage looked and generally plugging the company name. I hope he goes and finds her and asks how she thinks her signage looks this year, covered as it is in merde…

  86. Paul F says:

    Two things trouble me. 1) Why was Alonso short fuelled on the Saturday if no such plan had by then been hatched and 2) If Piquet Jnr was ‘fragile’ and talking wildly of deliberately crashing against the team’s wishes, and then did so, did the team not immediately suspend and discipline him?

    1. James Allen says:

      Alonso qualified outside the top ten, so was free to choose his fuel load for the race.

      1. Pay The Piper says:

        Yes, Paul is probably aware that he is “free to choose”, I think he is asking why did he freely choose such a suicidal strategy.

        It’s all very well talking game-theory, code-breakers, hedge-fund quant super-computer monte-carlo analysis, and zagging as others zig, but there was no way for that strategy ever to succeed without a SC on one of two very, very, specific laps.

        No-one would raise an eyebrow at a gamble on a SC during the first coupla hectic laps, or you can brim it and gamble on a SC appearing somewhere along the line, that’s all do-able. Betting the farm on one lap after you pit, is pushing the laws of probability more than they probably care to be pushed.

        Every other race engineer, that was quoted, called the strategy bonkers, why did Alonso’s engineers not query this call?

      2. Paul F says:

        Precisely my point, and thank you. It is true that safety cars are not uncommon on street circuits, and perhaps more so on a new circuit at night, but it is still statistically improbable that there would be a safety car on any given lap and therefore a re-fuelling strategy based on the possibility of one would normally be reckless and unwise. But not, of course, if one had prior confidence such a thing would arise. There may be another ‘aggressive’ strategy which would make such an early stop rational but it is not apparent to me. I am not suggesting Alonso was in on any plans there may have been. That is a different point, and his engineers may well have been puzzled. No doubt the Paris hearing will explore this.

      3. Finn says:

        It made sense for Fonzo to gamble on a safety car incident …. it is the kind of track where the SC is likely to be called out.

        Just because Piquet crashed out, it doesn’t mean Fonzo was *definitely* complicit.

        If Piquet Sr knew about this (whether planned with Renault or just Jr acting alone) BEFORE or AFTER the event but kept silent until now, then he has also brought the sport into disrepute.

        Pat’s comments are eye-watering. I hope they just stamped on the idea immediately. Winning in such a way, isn’t winning at all. But we have seen fake accidents before (Schumi on JV and Hill, for example) so I fear that this all just might be possible.

        I can’t stand cheating on any level.

        Where has the spirit of true sportsmanship gone to?

        What is wrong with decency and chivalry?

    2. Peter W says:

      1) Is an interesting point. The fuel loads would have been set after qualifying on the saturday so renault had already decied to go light with alonso and heavy with piquet before this meeting on the sunday where the piquet plan was hatched.

      Therefore even if Alonso had queried the strategy on the saturday no one could have told him anything else was going on because at that time it wasnt.

      1. Grabyrdy says:

        It’s not only interesting, it’s vital, and tends to put Fernando in the clear. It tends to mean that the strategy of fuelling him short was decided on Saturday night, and the crash scenario only came up on Sunday. Symonds and Briatore are still in it up to their necks, becasue they, at least, acquiesced. And PK’s engineer must have known too.

      2. Grabyrdy says:

        Unless, of course (and this occurred to me afterwards) they decided Fernando’s strategy knowing what they were going to ask PK jr to do, which makes them the instigators, rather than the acquiescers (if that’s a word) and thus not only in it up to their necks, but over their heads. I must say I never imagined Symonds would be in on something like this, but then I’ve never actually met him …

    3. lynnduffy says:

      People have short memories… under the 2008 rules, cars that qualified outside the top ten did NOT have to declare their fuel loads after qualifying, and could add or remove fuel on the grid before the race start.

      Hope that clarifies this point – the strategy was not fixed on Saturday.

  87. Olivier says:

    IF Piquet did deliberately crash, then he would join the likes of Schumacher & Senna. As far as I know they didn’t get banned from racing for life.

    However Schumacher & Senna were fighting/defending their championships. So their act could be seen as pure emotional and thus human.

    Piquet was not in such a privileged position. His act was masterminded by others and thus not emotional. Renault, Briatore & Pat Symonds should make their own conclusions and leave this beautiful sport …

  88. Steve Mc says:

    I’ve been reading the comments with great interest, and I’m not sure if Symonds would really be involved in something as desparate as this. Or maybe I don’t want to believe that he would. Whatever happens, though, it really does give the bean counters at Renault SA the perfect excuse to make a hasty exit from F1.

    I seem to remember an interview in F1 Racing a couple of months ago where Nelsinho was asked about the Singapore situation, and whether he deliberately crashed to let ‘Nando win. When I read it at the time I thought that his derisive denial sounded quite convincing; indeed, his response to the question certainly demonstrated that he understood the risks, to himself and others, of a deliberate crash. If they are found guilty, PK Jr should not be allowed to go near anything as powerful as a sit-on lawn mower for the rest of his life.

    Shameful.

  89. russ parkin says:

    hi guys does anyone know what will happen in regard to the results if renault are thrown out? i assume they cant adjust the world champ outcome? does anyone know with any authority what happens? answers on a postcard please

  90. Alex Yarnell says:

    If we follow Nobles story then isn’t it already fairly damming for Renault anyway? Pat and Flavio admit that the idea was discussed but that Nelson suggested it. Given that he went ahead and did it anyway seemingly without the team’s blessing surely they are already guilty of some sort of collusion by not reporting the matter to the stewards there and then?

  91. Adrian says:

    In Alonso’s defence, it is possile that if he questioned the fuel load, it was explained away as “game theory”. That is PS would have explained that if he ran the same strategy as everyone else then he would pit at the same time and likely struggle to get more than a point or two. BUT, if he ran a different strategy then he might, just MIGHT, be able to take advantage of any safety car periods to give him the chance of a podium.

    Alonso is a racer and he would, for sure, have chosen to take the risky option that offered the chance of a win, rather than the safe one that offered the chance of maybe scraping a point.

    I could actually see Alonso being squeaky clean in this. As much as anything Flavio would want to keep his star driver clean from repurcussions.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      And Flav is still his agent, isn’t he ? Better not jeopardise the merchandise.

      I agree with you about this possible scenario – Fernando is not necessarily involved, and it would seem very difficult to prove anything against him.

      1. " for sure " says:

        But IF it’s true, is it not inconceivable that Alonso subsequently did not learn the truth, therefore he will be just as guilty.

      2. Grabyrdy says:

        I don’t think that follows. It must have occurred to him, if really he knew nothing about it before, that PK’s accident was mighty handy. What would you do ? Demand to know the truth ? Check Junior’s telemetry ? And what then ? Dob in your own team and your own team-mate ? It’s not very glorious, but I reckon if any of us suspected such a thing, we would try to put it to the back of our minds and not think about it too much. He must also have wondered about Junior’s state of mind, and not wanted to heap up the s°°t on him too much. I’m not sure that any of that makes him “just as guilty”.

      3. " for sure " says:

        Grabyrdy, much as I respect your comments, I think you have all but proved the point I was making. Alonso, if it is true, must almost certainly have become aware at some point. If so he cannot claim to have clean hands.

  92. Eluthera says:

    If true, then a dark day for the sport; but not overly surprising.

    Renault have been up in front of the beak many times over the last fifteen years, with precious little punishment (Pitstop-refillinggate, hidden traction controlgate, Mclaren documents at Enstonegate). Maybe this is the final act.

    On a side note, how long before Massa pipes up and claims he has been robbed of the championship?

    I’m only half joking when I say that it’s not impossible that he would be awarded the points stripped from Alonso and declared retrospective champion. It would be Max’s final joke on Ron Dennis.

    1. Pay The Piper says:

      Massa and fuel-hose didn’t finish near the points, stripping Alonso’s result and moving everyone up (which will not happen), gives Hamilton an extra two points (so it definitely won’t happen).

      1. Neil says:

        I think the argument might be that Massa would not have had to have pitted ‘en masse’ with the rest of the field where split seconds could see you slide down the field. The extra pressure on the pitstop guys, and specifically the one with the go button in his hand, would have have been immense hence the error. Massa easily had the fastest car to win that day. But then assuming you rejuggle the points for that race what about the last where Lewis/Mclaren raced for what he needed rather than go for victory? I’m not saying he would have won but might have got the points to have still won anyway.

        Other than the possible loss of all constructors points for 2008 if punishment is applied retrospectively, the WDC will be left as it was.

      2. Tim Lamkin says:

        YUP…the fuel hose finished in the the same position as Massa.

    2. rfs says:

      It wasn’t Renault’s fault that Ferrari screwed Massa in the pits, you know.

    3. lynnduffy says:

      If, if, if… as we say in Ireland, if my aunt had balls she’d be my uncle. :)

  93. Rex Hunt says:

    This is dizzy stuff folks!

  94. jed says:

    If this is the case, then Nelson Jr. just ruined his career and reputation.

    There is a conspiracy when two or more persons come into and agreement to commit an offence and decide to commit it. The act of one of the co-conspirators become the act of all. Everyone in the conspiracy become as guilty as the other co-conspirators no matter what their participation in the conspiracy is.

    Following the allegations of Nelson Jr. that Flavio and Pat asked him to purposely crash so that Fernando could win, then clearly there is a conspiracy, and therefore Flavio, Pat and Nelson are equally guilty as the act of one is the act of all. The fact that Nelson Jr. said that he was forced to agree with Flav and Pat so as to ensure his drive for next year should not exonerate him from full punishment because he had the choice of not doing it. He was also free to report the said proposal to the FIA prior to the race. It was his own self-serving desire to secure a drive for the next season that made him agree to do it. This desire to secure that drive comes from his own free will.

    Henceforth, if Nelson Jr.’s allegations are proven then he must be punished together with Flav and Pat with the appropriate penalties.

    On the other hand if the allegations of Flav and Pat are true and proven, then there would be no conspiracy as Nelson Jr. acted alone and therefore he alone must be punished.

    In any case the only person who is clearly guilty of the charges here is Nelson Jr. And he should be punished severely and accordingly.

    But this is not the case with the FIA as we have seen previously on liargate.

    I strongly believe that Hamilton shouldn’t be allowed in any FIA event for the rest of his life for cheating at the australian grand prix earlier this year as he admitted his own guilt in front of the whole world in his own press conference.

    Cheating is cheating and should not be allowed in F1 no matter who you are.

    The only reason Hamilton got away with it is because he is a superstar.

    Now, if the FIA let Nelson Jr. get away with this, the other teams and probably the public will view the sanctioning body as weak.

    On the flip side of the coin, if the FIA will punish Nelson Jr. then the sanctioning body will be viewed as having a two fold justice system—–one for a superstar, which is lenient and one for a backmarker, which is strict.

    If Alonso is involved in this he should be punished too.

    I wonder how everything will unfold.

    1. Pintos says:

      Whilst I agree with almost everything you’ve said, Hamilton made a (stupid) mistake but ultimately he was defending a place that was rightfully his following Trulli going off track. That hardly deserves a life time ban from all FIA events. The Renault / Piquet case is pre-meditated and far more serious and (if proven) probably does deserve such an extreme punishment. Your comparison to the Liargate case is hardly a fair one.

    2. James Bray says:

      I’m curious jed. What is it that Hamilton did that warrants a lifetime ban?

      Did he deliberately crash his car in the middle of a race? Or was he involved in a plot with his team mate to steal a race win?

      It must have been mighty serious.

      1. jed says:

        Hamilton wilfully, deliberately and maliciously lied to the stewards twice, when he knew very well that he gave trulli the place and actually put trulli’s position in jeopardy. The second time he lied he had more than enough time to think about what he said the first time. It was only when the FIA had incontrovertible evidence of his deliberate lies that he told the truth in a way to try to save his face.

        This is cheating in my book. No person, no matter who you are should be allowed to cheat in such a a high profile sport and get away with it.

        Lying to the sanctioning body and getting an opponent, who was faultless, disqualified because of your lie is one of the highest forms of cheating and deception and deserves the most severe penalty. His co-conspirator david ryan lost his job. Hamilton was as guilty or even more guilty than david.

        Never in the history of F1 did a driver lie to get one point and get his opponent, who deserved his hard fought position, disqualified.

        It is the worst form of cheating. Even worst than nelson jr.

  95. Olivier says:

    … on a lighter note: I wonder if this would qualify as an aggressive strategy for Briatore? ;)

  96. Lesley Parker says:

    It’s sick.
    If a driver crashed on purpose he endangered his own life, the lives of other drivers and the race marshals.
    If the so called management of Renault told the driver to crash, threatening him with the sack, again that threatens his life and the lives of others.
    This not just sick but criminal and if there is any substance to this story and it is proved then there ought to be a police investigation. Nobody is above the law.

  97. Stan says:

    Michael Shumacher must be kicking himself thinking why didn’t I think of that one.

  98. Amritraj says:

    It is not as simple for NPJ as it seems. The FIA has not been consistent in meting out penalties, and the Piquets would not have been so monumentally inane to claim to be co-conspirators in this episode without already having secured some sort of impunity from the FIA. It will be very interesting to see how this unfolds.

  99. Alistair Blevins says:

    Surely this is no more than an (admittedly extreme) extension of team orders?

    I can understand the furore in so much as this is the first example this strategy being used bought to our attention but in truth we’ve seen this time and time again in F1.

    Teams and drivers have always colluded to achieve results not ordinarily available to them.

    While deliberately crashing a car is dangerous, is driving deliberately slow and baulking other competitors any less so? The results can still be catastrophic.

    This is more a question of sporting ethics and misplaced loyalties.

    If this is true Renault (and Piquet) should be censured for using team orders.

    You can’t legislate against this kind of thing. It shouldn’t be condoned or tolerated, but it’s team orders. Nothing more, nothing less.

    For every Piquet Jr out there, I’m sure there are many more who have kept quiet over the years… and with a clear conscience.

  100. Jos The Boss says:

    I dont see what all the fuss was about, so what, they manipulated the result of a race to suit themselves. Good on them for thinking out of the box. If Piquet was so much of a yes man he was happy to risk his own life then so be it. He crashed off the racing line and with such low speed that wheels were never going to come off and thus not risk other drivers / marshalls.

    1. Racing not politics says:

      you don’t see what the fuss is about. Really?

      I find that attitude abhorrent and believe it is people like you that are killing sport.

      The only benefit of winning is when it is done fairly. Manipulating a race is not the same as winning. It is cheating. It is deplorable and those guilty of it should face the harshest of penalties irrespective of your risk assesment.

      Dean Richards has been banned worldwide for 3 years for his part in the rugby blood scandal and those responsible at Renault should face a similar penalty

      1. Jos The Boss says:

        Would you rather have watched an absolute yawnfest or a quality race? Because without Renault’s tactics we would have been left with the former, but thanks to them we got the latter. The first dozen laps of the Inaugral Singapore GP were pathetically dull, and it was only the intervention of the safety car that turned it into a thriller, otherwise we would have been left with a Valencia-style borefest.

        Banned for 3 years? Thats ridiculous. All Renault did was try and inject a bit of life into a tepid contest, good on them for looking out for the fans. Remember, F1 is a show at the end of the day, more about entertainment than sport.

      2. Racing not Politics says:

        I feel dreadfully sorry for you.

        You have totally failed to grasp the concept of “sport” and apparently would rather win at all costs than be an honourable (sports)man and win on merit alone.

        You’re not alone of course, greed is steadily eroding honour in most sports. You’re right about footballers diving but the fact that cheating exists in one sport does not make it acceptable in F1. There are still some shining examples of fair play – in snooker players generally own up to making a foul when the referee hasn’t seen it.

        If you can not see the point in that then you have my pity.

    2. " for sure " says:

      I have absolutely no idea why you are reading and contributing to this otherwise intelligent blog.

      1. Jos The Boss says:

        Why not? It would be pretty dull if everyone shared the same opinion on here. I don’t believe what Renault did was any worse than Eduardo taking a dive in the penalty box.

    3. Werewolf says:

      Perhaps we could have a future with 13 expendable second cars bringing out safety cars at strategic times pre-planned by their teams. The lack of full speed action could be sold as green; and ITV could buy back the rights and recover the cost through 70 minutes of adverts in every event.

    4. Neil Barr says:

      I don’t see F1 as entertainment. I perceive it as a continuum of contests whose results are valid until I am persuaded otherwise. That means that a GP winner or WDC has won something of value in spite of the risk of death. I enjoy learning the sacred and profane ways of the world from the travails of its varied high-achievers. If the account of their struggle is true then they become legends of human experience one can learn from and reflect on. Not so with a fiction that makes nonsense of the best efforts of honest competitors. To think that Senna drove himself past his own capabilities to stay ahead of a car with an illegal but undetected advantage makes me nauseous. Piquet’s “wheels were never going to come off”? How about a damper? That couldn’t have bounced onto a driver’s chest?
      Maybe F1′s just not for you.

  101. scott says:

    I think this could well be the end of the Renault f1 team as we know it. Carlos Ghosn has always had a reputation as a cost cutter and the Reanult f1 team has hardly been performing lately anyway.
    Renault have always prefered being an engine supplier anyway so I don’t think they will will hesitate in shutting the (British) chassis side of the operation down when they can supply engines (French made) for a fraction of the expenditure and actually win races. The question is who will buy an f1 team with such a stain on its reputation? Flavio and Pat would have to go for a start, its a sad situation for the staff at Renault who may pay the price for a few senior members of staff’s moment of utter madness.

    1. Werewolf says:

      The outcome you suggest, Scott, is quite likely I suspect.

      The tarnishing of the team should not be a major issue. Even if guilt is proven, so long as only Briatore and Symonds are implicated the rest of the outfit would be clean. With good people, re-branding under fresh management will quickly erase any weak residues. I like the idea of a Prodrive / David Richards buyout as speculated by someone previously on this site.

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Mind you, we could also see (in an ironic twist) Tom Walkinshaw do the same… Arrows again, anyone? Or, crazier still, Max buys it and brings back March!

      2. Werewolf says:

        That’s not ironic, that’s terrifying!!

  102. Neil says:

    It would appear that Nando is claiming no knowledge of the crashgate saga – http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/78451

  103. Antoine says:

    It would be real interesting to see some onboard footage
    from Juniors car and his telemetry before the crash…

  104. Neil says:

    Firstly, if it was suggested by Piquet, but discounted by the Renault management, what did they think when he executed his plan anyway? They (the management) didn’t tell anyone “hey this came up and we said ‘don’t do it’…”. In fact, they renewed his contract! I think – by keeping quiet – they are in trouble even if Piquet suggested it and then did it off his own bat.

    Secondly, this only works if Alonso had a light fuel load, and how would Piquet (acting alone) ensure that?

    Neil.

  105. Ian Curtis says:

    Flav in deep do-do??

    i bet you couldn’t knock the smile off Max’s face!

    I would have loved to have been a fly on Max’s wall when he found out NPJ had grassed Fav up!

    Perfect Payback.

    Flav – GONE
    Pat – GONE
    NPJ – GONE
    Renault – GONE
    F1 – On the back foot again.

    i hope having found all parties guilty.. they cut a deal to save the face of F1.

    Damn Shame.

    I hink only Renault and Pat will be missed!
    :)

    1. Werewolf says:

      “I bet you couldn’t knock the smile off Max’s face!”

      Er, wouldn’t the attempt only make him smile more??

  106. Pay The Piper says:

    Scan of Piquet’s FIA statement:

    http://www.f1sa.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=17075&Itemid=219

    Nothing new, but just in case anyone wants all the gory details in glorious monochrome.

    Nelson playing it smart (at least with the cards he had available) and leaving a trail on the radio-transcript, multiple times ‘What lap am I on?’, to make sure as best he could that the spin could be connected to the pitwall.

    He probably figured there was a reasonable chance of this day coming, one way or another, and didn’t want to get hung out to dry by expensive corporate lawyers, carrying the can as a rogue employee (junior engineer), while the prime instigators walked.

    (I’m not sure what the Renault defence is supposed to be now; Yes we do admit we had a meeting, but it was Piquet who suggested a spin, we said “no, don’t do that”, he then spends the race asking us what lap he is on, and we don’t suspect or take the opportunity to remind him of our total disapproval. Yes we coincidentally had a suicide fuel-strategy, yes we had the Renault board demanding a win, and after disobeying us and crashing, we gave him the new contract that we had been holding out on for months.)

    Poor old Pat Symonds, I’ll miss him.

  107. Finn says:

    Alonso has run some unusual fuel strategies at various races this year …. was Jr supposed to crash at all of them? I expect Alonso has been taking chances in the hope of getting more out of the strategy than the car is really capable of delivering.

  108. adrian says:

    James (or anyone): in 2008 at what point in the race weekend are the cars actually fuelled for the race – I’d assumed that it was sometime on Saturday not Sunday: (it certainly is now for all the cars even those outside Q3).

    It seems to be common ground that this meeting was on race day. If Alonso’s fuel had already been decided, surely that points to the race-fix idea coming from the team rather than NP? If the idea was a frolic of NP’s own it was remarkable fortune that Alonso had been short-fuelled.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      See the exchange of emails at 88 for this. You’re right, it’s an important point.

  109. William McCone says:

    Alonso will walk away freely purely because there is no evidence (ATM) that says he had anything to do with it or had any knowledge of it. Is your reason to implicate Alonso more down to the fact he will likely replace Kimi? Flav, Pat and Junior deserve everything that is coming to them if the evidence is there. If Alonso is plicated then he too deserves to be punished and no matter what your gut feeling says about it all unless there is evidence to the contary then he is innocent!

  110. Adrian says:

    IF Falvio was to get banned from being involved in F1 for any period of time, how would that impact his driver management activities??

  111. Frank says:

    Did Alonso qualify for the third session? If he didn’t, he was free to run whatever fuel load he wanted, up to the start of the race. Weird that Alonso is involved in both “spygate” and “crashgate”, but has always managed to squirm out of it – with supermanager Flavio’s help (?). Has good a driver I think he is, he’s got little credibility left when he’s saying: “I knew nothing…” Notice that he doesn’say “Renault or Symonds would never agree to something like this. Instead, knowing he’s bound to Ferrari for next season, he protects supermanager Flavio’s integrity.

  112. KD says:

    Hi,
    Just to step aside from all this fixing allegations (which we know happens within a team for instance where someone is on a lighter fuel load is allowed to overtake someone on a heavier fuel load) I just think its a lesson for the FIA and Bernie to go to circuits that promote overtaking and discourage processional races (AKA Valencia, Singapore etc) If someone had tried a stunt like this in SPA for instance, It just wouldnt work as the faster cars would have overtaken and the fastest (pits stops and all) car would have probably won. So may be this is the time for F1 to reconsider some of its tracks to prevent it going the IRL/Nascar way (where Safety cars are brought in to spice up the races)

    1. Werewolf says:

      Interesting point and one that also supports, to some extent, the banning of refuelling. It is just worrying that without it so many of the modern circuits will go from dull to duller.

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        I agree. The modern circuits are actually glorified karting tracks, and lead to races with which all over the counter and prescription sleeping aids could be replaced. But I’m willing to risk that in order to get rid of refueling for such short races. Refueling, remember, was reintroduced precisely to create “spectacle” and “overtaking”. Cynical, no?

        For this reason, I totally disagree with KD’s notion of deliberate crashes on ovals, in the IRL especially, and artificial safety car deployments. Certainly, NASCAR’s “competition yellow” is dubious (and I’m being polite with that term), and I know it’s typical for F1-centric fans to demean oval racing generally. But to suggest phony yellows or staged crashes in the IRL and other American open wheel racing series like USAC? Running in cars with equal or greater power to their F1 counterparts, at average speeds well in excess of F1 maximums, wheel to wheel on every lap, where the consequences of a mistake are extreme… Well, put it this way: I don’t think anyone is suicidal out there. All you have to do is look at the footage of Greg Moore’s death or Paul Dana’s (for that matter, Dale Earnhardt, Sr.’s or Adam Petty’s) to know that racing on an oval is deadly serious.

        To a man, I don’t think ANY current F1 driver would accept the challenge of oval racing, in any form, precisely because they fear that danger. A far cry from Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jackie Stewart, Nigel Mansell, and Emerson Fitipaldi, then.

        And, FYI, pace cars, rolling starts and full course yellows are also a consequence of the nature of oval racing. You can’t have a “local yellow” on an oval: You come up on debris (and other cars) much sooner, with more immediate consequences (blow a tire and you don’t have run off room: you have a wall; rolling starts remove the possibility of cars stalling on the grid when the flag drops/lights go out; and, of course, T-bone someone at 220 mph and…) than on a typical road course, especially in F1.

        Bottom line: F1 has it’s own “competition yellow” in refueling and the resulting “fuel strategy.” If F1 hadn’t re-introduced refueling to artificially “spice up the show,” there would not have been any “fuel strategy” for Renault to (allegedly) maximize by setting up an insane, potentially deadly insane, stunt.

  113. Raj says:

    Well, does this jeoperdise the Alonso Ferrari deal by any chance? May be James will be able to answer :D.

    1. James Allen says:

      We’ll find out on Sept 21st.

      1. Tim Lamkin says:

        Not before?

      2. Racing not Politics says:

        Won’t we hear something at Monza this weekend James?

  114. Chris says:

    There does not seem to be much sympathy for Piquet here. I’m no big fan but I think people are missing the big picture. Two of the sports longest standing people and so called most respected (Simmonds I have allot of time for Briatore I think should have left the sport years ago) stand accused of actually fixing the outcome of a race. The accuations are of such a serious nature that if found guilty I beleive that both people should be chucked out of the sport.
    Piquet should be applauded for coming clean on it (whatever his reasons)not cast out even further.
    It cost £100 plus for your TV Liecence and £100 plus to go and actualy watch a GP. I for one do not want to pay knowing that this is openly going on.

    1. Raj says:

      Piquet should be applauded for what? Taking part in this [mod] activity and the hold Renault on ransom after being chucked out? Thats just wonderful. He is equal partner in the crime who has just changed his side.

      1. Chris says:

        I did not say he should be applauded for his part in it, I said he should be applauded for coming forward.
        I actually think he should still be held accountable for his actions.
        Again the big picture here is race fixing not a junior driver with a grudge.

  115. Harveyeight says:

    For nearly two years of my professional life it was my job to review prosecution files to assess evidence and consider likely defences – not only of the defendant but the CPS as well when they binned it. It wasn’t the most exciting time of my life.

    I obviously haven’t seen the FIA’s file on Piquet-gate but there are some indicators apparent even in the leaked matter.

    There were generic defences that were easy enough to spot. A note of NRB, short for Nuremberg, in the margin was a suggestion that the defendant might try and pass the buck upwards. QC was a good one as it used to confuse the CPS, the only sport left to me.

    Quentin Crisp wasn’t entirely dedicated to the heterosexual way of life and hid his leanings under rather flamboyant clothing and mannerisms. In those days the government seemed to take a great deal of interest in people’s sex lives and there were a number of offences limiting homosexual behaviour, one of which was importuning, i.e. approaching people for the purposes of homosexual acts. All that was required for a conviction was the word of two police officers, frequently aide’s to CID trying for a high arrest rate to guarantee the substantive appointment, that the suspect approached a number of men, all of whom walked away disgusted.

    Quentin’s ‘unusual’ appearance did not lend itself easily to a defence of a fit-up. He had dyed red hair, painted finger- and toenails, the latter very apparent in his open-toed shoes, a wide-brimmed hat at a jaunty angle and was frequently, he says, surrounded by sailors.

    One time, fed up with continually being falsely accused and charged, he decided to say in his defence that what the police officers had seen was not him accosting other people but them accosting him and conveying their disgust. He was found not guilty.

    Symonds quote that Piquet was the person who had mentioned crashing, and this post fill-up, would have generated a QC in red caps. Not to mention a bit of panic in the CPS bunkers.

    I was good at my job. This was an error on my part as it made my bosses reluctant to release me. But it took me back reading the quote attributed to Symonds.

    Quentin Crisp was a one-off and his biographical book, The Naked Civil Servant, is well worth a read.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      I’m with ya. Having spent a decade plus as an Assistant District Attorney here in New York (I prosecuted all manner of cases, including drug, assault, robbery, and, most relevantly here, reckless endangerment) this case is giving me flashbacks.

  116. Peter D says:

    There is no evidence to suggest that Alonso knew of this alleged conspiracy but surely he would have questioned why he only had 12 laps of fuel on board, that far back on the grid on a circuit which wasn’t going to offer much overtaking opportunities.

  117. John H says:

    According to the story, both Symonds and Briatore deny Piquet’s account. They accept that the meeting took place, but say that the idea of crashing was not theirs – two men’s word against one.

    I thought it was only Symonds that mentioned there was talk of crashing by Piquet.. Briatore denies everything.

    Two different stories… you’d have thought they would have got that sorted.

  118. Peter says:

    Let’s see…French manufacturer, Italian team principle, British team principle, forcing a Brazilian driver to crash. Sounds like Europeans are a bunch of cheaters.

  119. Racing not politics says:

    and now Renault start their defense by taking legal action against NP Jnr & Snr

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/8250436.stm

  120. adam says:

    Flav seems to be lashing out wildly in a character assassination attempt.He accuses Piquet small of being gay !

    http://jovempan.uol.com.br/formula-1/noticia/briatore+baixa+o+nivel+e+ataca+nelsinho-172750,,0

  121. John says:

    Isnt this just the same as when MS parked it at Monaco in Qualy? I think that was even worse he was on the racing line…just as dangerous….from my point of view you have to understand a drivers mentality…worked your socks off since you were 8 years old to get your dream of being in F1 and you will do anything to stay in it as its your life..it isnt like being in a normal job…in fact it isnt a job at all racing, its a passion, a love, it hurts when you cant do it, so you will do anything to stay even if it means your boss tells you to crash..which I think is what really happened…no one is as innocent as they make out. In racing you think with your heart a lot of the time not with your head and if you feel you are under threat of losing your drive you do anything it takes to keep it because it is your whole life, you live for it and if you cant have it then nothing else is worth doing or will replace it. A Driver at that level has no life at all if he cant drive, he may as well not exist if he cant drive. So if someone waves a contract in your face and says its yours if you do this, then you do it no question. Its bad and unethical I know but its human emotion at a high level in sport such as F1, it isnt going to the office for 8 hours a day, its a whole way of life. Things like this will always happen. I dont think NP has committed a crime in the true sense of the word, he has let his heart rule his head and another thing we must not forget is the mindset point of view, what we have is young people and being under 25 odd is still young being thrust into a high pressure environment, with lots of money and glamour around, your judgement isnt always going to be perfect because you are treated differently to normal people, its more surprising to me that drivers dont crack more than they do

  122. Osman says:

    What stinks even more is that Symonds and Briatore admit that the meeting took place and that a deliberate crash was discussed – but claim it was Piquet’s idea.

    So they were happy to take the win anyway? Why did they not immune themselves from any accusations by informing the FIA immediately after the crash? Why did they not fire Piquet on the spot if they were so opposed to this.

    Bernie must be fuming with Flavio at the moment. Flavio has played best mates with Bernie over the last couple of years. He is damaging Bernie with his antics and his flat denials of what took place.

  123. Snail says:

    Why did they not fire Piquet on the spot if they were so opposed to this.

    That would be the ethical proposition.

    I haven’t met any of the protagonists.

    I get the impression Pat Symonds is a bright, straight guy. I find it really hard to believe an engineer that prides themselves on good solutions would stoop so low. Better to lose fair and square than cheat and win.

    Briatore is clearly a good business man, if flamboyant and possibly not terribly nice to do business with. That fits quite well with the fact that he is best buddies with Bernie – hard business guys will like each other.

    As for Junior, I’ve no idea, but if any part of this is true and he did do this crash, his idea or someone else’s idea, he is a weak character and someone not deserving of a drive in any category, ever.

    Based on all of that I find it really hard to believe Symonds would do this. It would be the end of his career if found out.

    Briatore? I’ve no idea. Possibly he could survive it. People in his position (much like Max) seem capable of surviving anything.

    Piquet? – well he is history. If any of this is true he is toast. If its not true, but he started this he is burnt ash. If its not true and he didn’t start this, who will believe him?

  124. Rich C says:

    Doesn’t actually matter if Piquet did it or only claims he did it in order to embarass Renault: he’s toast in either case.

    Nobody in their right mind will ever hire him again, and fia should pull his superlicense forever if its true.

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