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FIA summons Alonso to appear before the World Council
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FIA summons Alonso to appear before the World Council
Posted By: James Allen  |  20 Sep 2009   |  12:11 am GMT  |  115 comments

Fernando Alonso, the driver who benefitted most from Nelson Piquet’s deliberate accident in Singapore last year, has been summoned by the FIA to give evidence to the World Council on Monday.

Alono autog
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, former team principal Flavio Briatore has also been summoned, but not Pat Symonds, whom the FIA investigators found to be centrally involved in the conspiracy. Symonds is believed to be on holiday in Spain.

Both men have left the team and Briatore is thus under no compulsion to attend and is unlikely to do so. Whether he does or he doesn’t there is a feeling that he is likely to be banned from attending the pits and paddock at motor races in the future, which would make his life difficult in terms of the driver management company he runs and with GP2, of which he is one of the main architects.

A ban from the FIA might also disqualify him from holding on to the chairmanship of Queens Park Rangers under Football League rules.

As it seeks to get to the bottom of how this situation was allowed to develop, it’s likely that the FIA will look into whether a team principal should be allowed also to be a driver manager, especially of drivers in his team. They may find that the compromising position this put his driver Nelson Piquet Jr in was a contributing factor to the accident plot happening.

Although he delegates much of the responsibility for looking after Mark Webber, Heikki Kovalainen and others, Briatore has a big hand in advising his drivers and a very good eye for a move.

Alonso has no choice but to attend the hearing as the holder of an FIA superlicence. Although the FIA investigators drew the conclusion that he had no knowledge of the plot, the World Council will ask him about it, but Gazzetta suggests that the risk for him is that he will be under pressure to answer questions relating to this and possibly other incidents in the past with the aim of condemning Briatore.

Ferrari has a seat on the World Council and has apparently decided not to attend. It’s a delicate situation for the team, as Luca di Montezemolo would not want to be put in the position of being part of the firing squad against his staunch FOTA ally Briatore.

Meanwhile Spanish motorsport figurehead Carlos Gracia has said that the FIA was wrong to offer Piquet immunity from prosecution, something which the majority of readers of this blog seem to believe,

“This kid, if it was up to me, wouldn’t be allowed to walk blind people on the sidewalk,” Gracia said on Spanish radio. “It’s such yobbish behaviour from which he has also benefited, because, like he says in his sworn statement, he did it so he would get a contract renewal for 2009, and he will be paid until the end of the year. In that case this is a person should not only be sanctioned by the Council and the FIA, but he should also be prosecuted in an ordinary court.

“I found out through the press that Mr Nelsinho was going to get immunity. It would be a total shamelessness if this happened in the FIA.”

Gracia is part of Jean Todt’s ticket for FIA president, he was announced recently as a Vice president for sport.

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115 Comments
  1. Shahzad says:

    the decision of the FIA investigators that Alonso had no knowledge of the plot is quiet a shock in it self……..i mean what do u expect the whole of the team drawing blue prints to be executed and the guy for whom all is done in simply unaware of the developments going on within his team……………all FIA needed to do was just to apply a bit of brain……

    1. MrExasperated says:

      The bit I don’t understand in any of this is how people like Briatore and Symonds would ever put themselves in such a situation of having the Piquets have one over on them/having something to blackmail them with, and also with them knowing that sooner or later they would have to fire Piquet junior.

      Were they so naive as to believe that the Piquets wouldnt use this information sooner or later to dig the knife in?

      1. I think this is a very good point as I don’t understand why Briatore took the risk of sacking Piquet Jwhen he could have waited until the end of the season and justifiably not renewed his contract. See also http://f1banter.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/so-why-did-briatore-risk-getting-rid-of-piquet/

    2. There is only suspicion at this stage that people other than Briatore, Symonds and NP Jr knew about what was going on and I think this is quite feasible. I don’t think it is fair to say they were doing for it Alonso as they were doing it for Renault and wanted to win and Alonso is the driver who could deliver that for them. Just because he benefited from the cheating doesn’t necessarily mean he was involved.

      1. " for sure " says:

        So no else in the team saw the telemtry of Piquets crash? How improbable is that?

      2. Piquet Jr said that one of his engineers came up to him to ask if he had crashed on purpose and he said no he hadn’t.

    3. Peter Freeman says:

      Let us not forget Spygate.

      Alonso ACTIVELY took part, had been emailing the McLaren spy PERSONALLY! He then took HIS OWN emails to Ron Dennis and tried to BLACKMAIL him with HIS OWN WRONG DOING!

      Alonso now says he never get involved in planning his race strategy he always leaves it to his engineer. Is this even likely?

      What we KNOW from Spygate is what KIND of character Alonso is. The question here not if he was involved, he won the race, he WAS INVOLVED! The question is about evidence…

      And it looks like there is none…

  2. AmandaG says:

    Hi James

    Is this related to the driver management issue?

    I know they are looking to review that as the influence of team boss and manager is being looked into as possibly a conflict of interest which makes total sense. Or could it be that they are trying to get into the driver management style of Flav from Alonso?

    Interesting Ferrari wont be there, mind you they often dont attend if its something like this. Maybe they see it as a conflict of interest.

    You are brilliant.

    Can I say I miss you from the commentary.

    Good call for timing.

    Lol

    Amanda

  3. Kirk says:

    Ah, Mr. Carlos Gracia… I wonder if he also thinks Fernando Alonso should be stripped of his win in Singapore 2008? I wonder if he also thinks that Renault should be excluded/banned from F1 for their “shameless” role in this with immediate effect? No mention on any of this.

    Piquet Jnr is an easy target at the moment so no wonder Mr. Gracia, as a good politician he must be, took that route. It’s always the difficult questions that go unanswered!

    PS.: Vatanen for the FIA!

  4. Chris says:

    Gracia, allied with that paragon of virtue, Jean Todt. What a joke.
    Piquet Sr. is more of a hero to me each day for exposing this whole affair.

    Good luck on Monday, Alonso!

    1. Nik says:

      if piquet was a real hero he would have spoken up 2 days after the singapore grand prix. he only has self-interest at heart.

  5. Patrickl says:

    I’d say it makes sense to hear Alonso. It will give him a chance to officially clear his name.

    Can they really ban Briatore?

    What’s with all these leaks anyway? I have to say, they should always be this open about such hearings and interviews, but it would be better if they did so AFTER the verdict was given.

    1. Peter Freeman says:

      The leaks are coming from the FIA. They of course, like Alonso, say they know nothing about them.

  6. Michael Prestia says:

    James, your incite is very much appreciated.

    This blog is my first source of information because it comes from a trust worthy source.

    Just wanted to let you know that I’ve read your book On the Edge of Greatness. Couldn’t put it down. Could I send you my copy to get autographed?

  7. David says:

    Completely agree with Gracia, Piquet knew what he was doing and wasn’t under so much duress that his decision-making ability was affected. He just wanted to have his cake and eat it and is just as guilty as Briatore and Symonds. He could have walked away, just like Barrichello could have walked away from Ferrari when he was being asked to throw races. He, just like Barrichello, would have been able to hold his head high whilst retaining the moral highground but chose not to purely because of greed. Piquet is a bitter man who can’t accept that he is one of the worst drivers in Formula One history.

    1. Andy Fov says:

      Rubens has done nothing that comes close. I don’t see why he deserves to be associated with Piquet’s actions.

      Rubens was simply the number 2 driver in a team which openly channeled the majority of its resources behind one driver. Even then he could still occasionally beat MS on his day.

      F1 is a team sport, the number 2 should be allowed to hinder his team-mate’s rivals. It just crosses the line when life is endangered when the safety car’s ability to muddle the running order is deliberately exploited.

    2. mp4-dado says:

      Sorry to bump in like this, i’m a regular reader but not a regular writer.
      Alonso had immunity in Stephneygate, why is that different from Nelsinho’s situation? Alonso used Ferrari’s documents and he had no pressure from Dennis regarding he’s contract to do so. Gracia is being hypocritical on this subject.

      1. Brace says:

        You must be real Alonso hater. First of all, Alonso was just one of many inside the team who knew about secret Ferrari data, and wasn’t one of the main conspirators.
        That’s a big difference, because Piquet was one the main conspirators and the executioner of the plan.
        Second of all Alonso didn’t really blow the whistle Piquet style. He tried to bargain with Dennis but he didn’t have a real intention of going to FIA. Only when Dennis himself reported to Max, and FIA sent that letter to all the drivers, was he obliged to come forward.
        To make matters worse for this situation, FIA apparently knew about this last November and they showed no intention in getting to the bottom of this.

      2. mp4-dado says:

        Alonso USED that data. Piquet was not one of the main conspirators, he was just a silly boy tryin to make another year in Formula 1. Alonso had no need to use Ferrari data because he had the best car on the grid.
        How is Alonso’s case different from Piquet’s? Alonso blow a whistle after he realized that he will not get No. 1 status; on the other side Piquet blow a whistle after being kicked from the team. It looks the same to me; both of them tryed to blackmail the team and when that didn’t work out they went cryin to FIA.

      3. rpaco says:

        No Ron HAD to go to the FIA immediately otherwise he would have allowed himself to be blackmailed by Alonso. THEN he would have been be in the position that the Renault kingpins are in.

        If it were another driver and not Alonso (whom we rate at about 85% Schumacher) Then maybe he wouldn’t be savvy enough to question the low fuel load, but Alonso is clued up sufficiently to know that something was odd.

        If Piquet is prosecuted for blackmailing Renault then why not Alonso for McLaren?
        Alonso along with De La Rosa was actively using the Ferrari data.

    3. Jano says:

      How’s that fair?!

      Did I miss Senor Gracia expressing a similar position against Alonso and Pedro de la Rosa being offered immunity in the Spygate where they both did use Ferrari confidential data?!

      Gracia is a big hypocrite, that’s all.

  8. Has Alonso been given immunity like Piquet Jr?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not sure it’s necessary if he hasn’t done anything wrong..why would he ask for it if his line is that he knows nothing?

      1. Absolutely, I doubt he would have asked for immunity unless he was admitting he did know something about it all. However, the FIA may have offered it to him if they felt he had information that helped their case against Renault overall but also implicated him in some way. Can we read from the fact that he hasn’t been offered immunity, as you’ve suggested in your article, that the questions they will ask him will not largely be accusatory to his involvement (although some will be) but will be more evidence gathering against Briatore and Renault?

        Many people have been commenting on your blog that they strongly suspect Alonso is guilty of some involvement and his late calling to the hearing may suggest they have some evidence that implicates Alonso? If it was just general evidence he was giving, surely he would have been called to testify some time ago?

  9. adam forrester says:

    So,the FIA have called in the driver who says he knows nothing and Mrs Creasote the Regie cleaning lady but not the man who knows everything Mr Symonds.FIArce

  10. Relativity says:

    Like Carlos Garcia, I too believe that Nelson Piquet Jr. should not be given immunity. In a murder investigation, the man who physically holds and fires the gun would never be given immunity. Briatore and Symonds may have spawned and encouraged the idea (accessories/instigators to crime) but NP Jr. perpetrated the crime, i.e. NPJr fired the proverbial gun.

    NPJr has not acted morally in this sorry saga at all. He profited by making millions and getting his contract extended for 2009. Now that they have to settle scores (for being fired because of under-performance) this father/son team wants to do the “right” thing. Abominable behavior.

    James, can the FIA revoke this immunity or once given, it cannot be recanted?

    1. James Allen says:

      Well it’s up to them and their statutes. I would imagine that legally once given in this case, then it stands. But were there to be other cases, who knows?

      1. PaulL says:

        I felt as if the FIA was giving him immunity if he told the truth. I wonder if say, Pat Symonds was right in that Nelson broached the idea of crashing and that Pat only said “ok do that”, then Nelson has not told the truth by saying that Symonds and Briatore “instructed” him to do so?

        Either way, I agree with Brundle who said that Piquet was now effectively unemployable.

    2. philipb says:

      Although I would like to see the guilty punished, NP included, not offering some kind of immunity would have ensured a lack of whistle blowers should a situation arise again.

  11. Juan Luis says:

    This is absolutely incredible.
    I don’t believe anything anymore.
    I don’t believe F1.
    F1 is not sport, It’s a show, a bad one.

    1. Cliff says:

      It might be a bad show, but I suspect you’ll keep tuned in untill the WDC & WCC are settled.

    2. artorwar says:

      I find this attitude crazy. It was one team that cheated, I dont think the whole championship is stage managed. This isn’t the fault of F1, its the fault of a couple of people. The crash didnt affect the result of the WDC. F1 has always been like this, its just the vogue to be shocked and disapointed at the moment. I love this sport and all of its flaws and failures, and if the last few years is a bad show I cannot wait to see what happens when they pull out all the stops.

  12. David says:

    Why not invite Symonds?

    My guess is that the FIA know Symonds would tell the truth, and at this point, the truth is not being very kind to the FIA.

    First we learn that the FIA has known of this for over 10 months. What other bombshells would drop were Symonds to testify under immunity? The problem is that I doubt anyone knows what the hell he would reveal, and reveal he would!

    Immunity deals are always conditioned on the immunized telling the whole and complete truth. Lies typically being the only thing that can invalidate such agreements. Symonds has not lied about any of this yet. When questioned without immunity, he simply refused to answer. WITH immunity, I’ve no doubt that he’d tell the complete truth.

    For instance, if Symonds knows that Alonso had knowledge of the affair, Symonds would almost certainly reveal this under immunized testimony.

    As for the FIA’s request to see Alonso, that’s a head scratcher. Their actions regarding Symonds suggest the FIA wants to close down this entire line of inquiry. By calling Alonso, the FIA risks increasing the scandal.

    If Alonso DID know, the FIA have just put him in a VERY bad spot. Assuming Alonso knew, were he to deny it on Monday (lie to the WMSC), he would risk being exposed any time in the future. Once exposed, Alsono would be in HUGE trouble. For lying to the WMSC over something as serious as this? That’s race ban trouble, maybe even season ban trouble.

    As I’ve posted previously, I think the one man who is crazy NOT to show up and testify is Symonds. Symonds has been offered immunity, but he’ll only be able to receive that immunity in exchange for his testimony.

    Without that immunity, he will probably be unable to work in the sport again. Sure, the WMSC can’t touch him now, but the moment he takes a job with another team he’ll once again be under WMSC jurisdiction.

    Symonds needs to take that immunity and run. With immunity in hand, he could be working for one of the new start up teams in weeks. There have never been so many new F1 teams forming at the same time. The demand for his services will be immense. But I fear that without immunity, the WMSC will pounce the moment he tries to take another job in the sport.

    If Symonds is smart, he’ll show up in Paris, demand to testify, and raise all hell about a cover-up if they refuse to let him speak.

    1. Dicko says:

      With or without immunity Symonds hasn’t got a hope of getting another job in F1 again. I can’t see anyone hiring him now. I imagine as Briatore’s sidekick he’s probably made a few quid, and this is probably early retirement. I would be very suprised if we see or hear from Pat again.

      1. David says:

        Memories are short. Symonds was not the top man here. The ultimate responsibility lies with Flavio. The stain of this affair will travel mostly with Flavio, not his underling.

        For instance, when Mad Max goes, who -won’t- Ron Dennis to be back on the pit wall. Give it six months, and Symonds could be too.

        There are an unprecedented number of new teams starting right now. Each and every one need someone like Symonds.

        A new employer might keep him back at the factory for the first 6 months. I strongly suspect that in this environment, someone of Symonds caliber would have absolutely NO problems getting a top job with one o f the new teams.

        In order to get that job, Symonds will almost certainly have to receive the offered immunity. Without that, I fear the WMSC will pounce on him the moment he returns to the sport. He needs to testify.

    2. Martin Collyer says:

      Since Symonds is no longer under FIA jurisdiction, having left/been told to leave, Renault, can he ask/demand to be present at the hearing and testify or submit a staement perhaps?

  13. jed says:

    Interesting!

    Last time a superstar driver cheated, he was virtually unpunished despite conclusive proof that he cheated.

    There is conclusive proof that Nelson Jr. cheated and the FIA has given him immunity.

    Thus, Fernando most probably can say anything under the sun to the FIA and even claim that he is the mastermind of everything and still get away with it.

    Maybe if there is no evidence against him, he might get convicted.

    The FIA justice system is difficult to understand.

  14. Phil77 says:

    As nasty as this saga is, I still don’t know what rule has been broken. If there isn’t a rule specifically saying “you can’t crash your car on purpose” (bearing in mind NP didn’t hit another competitor) then the Renault team has just been very clever to manipulate the regulations.
    It’s immoral but is it illegal?
    This may be why the FIA hasn’t acted until now.
    Lets hope the FIA outlaw deliberate crashes.

    1. hunnylander says:

      International Sporting Code 151(c)

      1. Brace says:

        And what would that be mister smart…

      2. rpaco says:

        If you cant be bothered to look it up yourself, it’s:
        151. Breach of rules
        Any of the following offences in addition to any offences specifically referred to previously, shall be deemed to be a breach
        of these rules :
        a) All bribery or attempt, directly or ndirectly, to bribe any person having official duties in relation to a competition or
        being employed in any manner in connection with a competition and the acceptance of, or offer to accept, any bribe by such an official or employee.
        b) Any action having as its object the entry or participation in a competition of an automobile known to be ineligible therefor.
        c) Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor
        sport generally.

    2. Martin Collyer says:

      Phil. I think the rule that is alleged to have been broken is the one commonly (mistakenly) referred to as, “No Team Orders”.

      If I have got this right, big IF, the “No Team Orders” rule says a team cannot/must not manipulate a race result or words to that effect. Arranging a crash to the benefit of the other team driver is surely “manipulating a result”.

      I suspect the “Bringing the sport into disrepute” rule is also involved here.

      As you say, “A nasty saga”.

    3. F1Artwork says:

      I think it’ll be something along the lines of bringing the sport into disrepute. And it was rather unsportsmanlike.

    4. International Sporting Code 151(c) states ‘Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally’

  15. Vitruvio says:

    You say Fernando Alonso was who benefitted most from Nelson Piquet’s deliberate accident in Singapore last year. Are you sure, James?. I miss a risk/benefit analisys for every individual involved (FB, PS, NP, FA…). It would be interesting.

    1. James Allen says:

      OK you do one and let me know the results..

    2. Wingers says:

      As hungry a driver may be for wins and championships. I don’t think Alonso would have been upset to not have won that race after the fuel pump issue left him in 15th place.

      He wasn’t going to win the championship, the only thing he cares about as we know. So one more win on his resume, under these circumstances?! I dunno.

      As a fan I was watching the race, saying, I can’t believe this, and I was quite excited about him winning on this amazing new track, it was all just incredible. PK’s accident was convenient I thought, but he had crashed so often… I feel sorry for the Singapore event organisers, their hard worked for showpiece… what a mess.

      Alonso has a lot to lose I reckon. He isn’t involved, so we have heard, but maybe come tomorrow afternoon there will be another picture painted.

      In terms of winning vs losing, gains vs no gains.

      Everyone is a loser in this story. Fans included.

      Flavio, could lose his management business, and a career he fought to get into, to go out like this.. not nice. He doesn’t appear to be the most liked, but I admire his business sense to turn Benetton fashion around, and then takeover the wayward F1 team, as an admitted absolute rookie in a sport he had previously had little interest in.

      Pat, 30 odd years in the toilet, over an overated young driver, who should never ever got the drive in the first place!

      Alonso, probably will and hopefully will lose the least, but if there is more to the story, we could be robbed of the best driver in the sport, I suppose rightfully so if he has been lying, but he really shouldn’t have been put in this awkard position (doesn’t help having your team principal as your mentor and manager too!)

      Then the PKs. They remind me of cockroaches, they could and will survive anything. They have nothing to lose and nothing to gain. Pk Jnr is avg at best behind the wheel, scandal or not, why would he be hired by any, he could easily move along to a management role for old daddyhos business??

      All this points to WAY too much to lose. With Piquet Snr’s history, surely Flav and Pat knew what they had in their lap, and what the repercussions may be? I am sure they are not that ignorant?!

      I think there is more to this story, tomorrow should be interesting. Very Interesting!

      1. John says:

        Disagree he is an average driver:

        2001 F3 South America 5th in championship 1 win and 1 pole
        2002 F3 South America 16 Poles! 13 Wins! Won championship
        2003 British F3 Six Wins! 3rd place in championship
        2004 British F3 champion youngest ever to win
        2005 A1 Grand Prix 2 wins, GP2 Win at Spa
        2006 2nd Place overall GP2 season behind LH
        2006 Lemans GT1 4th

        That is not an average driver, that is a good driver in my opinion. I think if he had started with a smaller team without a WDC beside him he wouldnt have been so bad in F1. The pressure got to him. I bet if he was to, say, return to GP2 he would be a good driver again

      2. John says:

        Oh and he won three karting championships

  16. Martin Collyer says:

    James, surely if Briatore wishes to retain his involvement/investment in GP2, he needs to turn up on Monday and defend himself.

    So far, if I remember correctly, the official line is that he left ‘for the good of the team’, or words to that effect, but admits he feels responsible.

    However, he hasn’t admitted to involvement in, or knowledge of the crash plan and the only testimony against him is likely to be Piquet jnr.

    Harveyeight, I think it was, told us in a previous post that if you can’t trust a witness unless you offer him something (immunity) then you can’t trust him. The WMSC might also take this view and not accept Piquet’s testimony unless backed up by other testimony or evidence.

    That means it’s Piquet’s word against Briatore’s, unless Symonds or A.N. Other from Renault, who would have had to have knowledge of the conspiracy and is, therefore, liable to disciplinary action by the FIA, testifies against Briatore.

  17. Keith says:

    Great blog and fascinating story. This has a little of the ‘hand in the cookie jar’ feel to it – a cookie jar I’ll warrant that is regularly emptied by all teams to some degree or other. When you consider that each team has hundreds of millions of pounds to spend and are separated by tenths if not hundredths of a second over a two hour race it is no wonder that the edges are blurred a little. We ought not to get too high and mighty about this; after all whilst this action is no doubt a cookie too far for the greater part F1 is not staged – I think…..

  18. Jason says:

    Piquet has only been offered immunity from the FIA if he tells the truth. If they find a lie in whatever he’s said then the immunity can maybe be dropped.

    But he won’t be immune from the various criminal prosecutions that all parties involved seem to be shouting about.

  19. Penfold says:

    James it may well be that Alonso is innocent. However it seems the FIA have been very quick to clear him, given that the transcripts were not enough to condemn Briatore and Symonds how can it be that they are enough to clear Fernando? How far do you think they’ll dig with Alonso at this meeting? Do you think they’ll turn a blind eye even if they suspect he’s complicit.

  20. Harveyeight says:

    Wow! I didn’t see that one coming.

    As the FIA had put Alonso forward for beatification, autrefois aquit seems a likely plea. If it is a snow job then people who have their doubts about his claim of no prior knowledge are unlikely to be convinced by a trial by people who have already made a decision.

    The motivation for this move passes me by. James, I don’t buy your suggestion that the FIA wants to get to the bottom of all this. Indeed, in many ways I hope the prime motivation is limiting the horrendous damage the sport has suffered already.

    The point about conflict of interest for joint personal managers/team managers is a good one. It’s been brought up often enough in the past. Horses and stable doors spring to mind.

    A good decision by Ferrari I think to stay away. I don’t think I would want to be associated with whatever conclusion the World Council arrives at on Monday.

    David, above, asks about Symonds not taking immunity. I wonder if loyalty played a part. He’s worked with Flav for some time.

    I would suggest that if the Football Association tries to ban Flav from QPR they would have a hard job. He has not been found guilty of anything so far and, on the assumption that he has been summoned, there are many reasons he can pull out of the hat for not attending. And I wouldn’t call Mosley undamaged goods.

    A difficult time for Alonso. If he agrees that the low-fuel tactic bewildered him he must either plea moronic status or admit to having suspicions about the oh so convenient crash. Did Piquet jnr say anything to him? Let’s face it, he seems to have told anyone who would stand within earshot for long enough.

    But what if they ask Alonso about previous incidents with Briatore. On the questionable premise that there have been some then does FA say he was unaware of any such things and paint Crashgate as a one-off, or does he admit to being a party to other underhand dealings? Either way, there might well be a bite in the bum for him.

    As for Vitruvio’s very relevant comments about a risk/benefit analysis: where were you when Briatore needed you?

    1. James Allen says:

      Alonso has had his run-ins with the FIA over the years, don’t forget

      1. Patrickl says:

        So, you are assuming they are calling him in for bad news? Not just to end the “Alonso must have known something” rumours?

      2. Tigerdad says:

        Hi James! Sorry I’m new to your forum so I don’t know where and how to post this question. Anyway, what’s your take on Alonso’s involvement? I’d truly like to know your view on the matter as I’ve completely lost faith in the objectivity of the editors of the site I used to frequent. Again, sorry for putting you on the spot. Respectfully, Tigerdad

      3. James Allen says:

        My take is in the recent posts I’ve written. Come back later when the judgement has been made to see if there is any further detail

    2. Tigerdad says:

      I immensely enjoyed your likening the FIA’s handling of Alonso’s repeated involvement in controversies to a beatification, Harveyeight.(could i borrow that? ;D) I’m astounded with the great lengths the FIA goes to protect their 2 time WC’s image. You can count me in as one of the cynics expecting a snow job at the WMSC. It’s really sad isn’t it?

  21. Cliff says:

    James,
    Are the FIA Rulings legally binding? I only ask this question because I would expect FB to appeal a total ban claiming ‘Restriction of Trade’. EU Law may be on his side. How would he run/mangage his GP2 and Driver interests? Any Barristers out ther, other than Max?

    1. James Allen says:

      I would think a court might find it hard to overturn a ban from a sporting federation after a transgression like this.

  22. ChrisS says:

    Team principals and technical directors should be compelled to have licences, rather like racehorse trainers – so they are subject to FIA disciplinary procedures in their own right, not just as employees of teams.

    James – many thanks for an excellent site which has become one of my main sources of F1 news.

  23. Cabby says:

    Maybe Pat Symonds has not been summoned because he decided to take immunity and gave a written testimony of all he knew/did before?

    Maybe Alonso is summoned because Symonds said that he knew all about it? Would that in itself be a punishable offense for the Fia, or just the lying about it afterwards?

    1. Martin says:

      first, i think all is an invention from Piquet ( Sr & Jr)
      Don’t see nothing in telemetry and dont see other piquet telemetry from similar accidents to compare
      nor telemetry form other pilots crashes.
      why not compare with accidents on monaco?

      second, why FIA dont investigate it on Brasil 08?
      A race can be investigated untill november these year..
      If singapour race where declared nule last year, pilot champion must be Massa, no?

      FIA must change. Act like sport mens, not like politicians.
      F1 must change.
      All must be clear. Rules too.
      International Sporting Code 151(c) is a rule all but clear.

    2. Tinkerbell says:

      Where did Symonds say anything about Fernando please? Source?

      I’m also wondering why there is no report on autosport about this (Alonso summoned to the WMSC meeting). Maybe they don’t update on sundays.

  24. Paul Hampton says:

    James, Flavio isn’t the chairman of QPR – the chairman is Gianni Paladini.

  25. C Lin says:

    Alonso is summoned ‘cos the FIA wants to clear him once & for all so that he can proceed to join Ferrari in 2010 & annoucement can be made asap.

  26. James D says:

    Crikey, remind me to never cross the Piquets!!

  27. hamilton fan says:

    I agree Alonso will not be punished even if he was the mastermind of the whole thing. Ferrari will surely pull some strings to keep their future star driver unharmed from the scandal.

  28. Or FA is only to take part to provide witness evidence of how the team operates in terms of strategy and other procedures. No need to be conspiratory about this. At the end of the day I would imagine FA has little say in the team strategy in the same way LH has little say in McLaren’s monte carlo simulations.

  29. Olivier says:

    Briatore … his staunch FOTA ally?! What the hell? Briatore & Renault DID rob Ferrari & Massa from a drivers world championship! I admire Ferrari’s serenity about this.

    I strongly disagree that Nelsinho should be punished as well. He was emotionally & mentally drained by his manager. He was Briatore’s & Pat’s puppet.

    By punishing Nelsinho, you are giving the wrong signal to future whistleblowers!

    1. Tigerdad says:

      Finally, someone said it. Amen brother!

  30. YuppieScum says:

    Cabby, surely Symonds has not been summoned as he no longer works in FIA-sanctioned motorsport and therefore the FIA have no compulsion over his attendance.

    On the other hand, Briatore is still subject to the FIAs beck and call through his involvement in GP2.

  31. Chris says:

    I am already getting the feeling that this hearing is going to be a complete sham and a waste of everybody’s time.

    The vested interests of those sitting on the board are going to ensure that Renault don’t receive an appropriate punishment. A significant conspirator is not in attendance, and the other is also likely not to attend.

    On Monday, we are going to be presented with the results of a behind-closed-doors attempt to please 1) Renault 2) The viewing public *in that order*.

    This will likely translate into a fine that will shock the public, but not hurt Renault, and probably some sort of suspended race ban, or at worst – a ban for the remaining few races of the season.

    On the other hand, if Renault are already planning to leave F1 as is widely mooted, the FIA might throw the book at them, which should miss Renault as they close the door behind them.

    There needs to be serious reorganisation of the WMC and the FIA if us fans are to accept and enjoy the results at the end of a race. It brings to mind the intensely frustrating liberal application of fines and penalties to Mclaren last year – and the lack of elation fans felt when they won a race, only to lose it in the Stewards’ Office weeks later.

    I’d just like to quickly echo AmandaG’s comments – you are sorely missed in commentary, James. Particularly… how can I say this delicately… “your insight, observation and enthusiasm”?

    ;-)

  32. quikeh says:

    Who was the most benefitted driver? I think it was LH, of course unintentionally.
    FIA says now is to late to change the results, but what would have happened if they had changed Singapure results at Brazil GP? Massa must feel very uncomfortable.
    Piquet Sr. says he told C. Withing at Brazil.
    I think the FIA didn’t want to do anything then, it could have had really bad consequences for F1. Much better to wait till now. I think this is liegate. Everybody is lying, even FIA. Of course Alonso did suspect, but what would you have done in his position?
    F1 is loosing its credibility. :(

  33. Dave Cameron says:

    This is a complete farce. From the evidence I’ve read (official evidence that is), Symonds is far more central to this thank Briatore who came across as more of a deluded fanboy during the race.

    If they ban Briatore and leave Symonds scot-free this will definitely be labelled one of Mosley’s witch-hunts!

    Yes the issue of driver management and team management is one that needs to be addressed, but this race fix went beyond that overlap of responsibility.

    I also agree that given the evidence, Piquet should also not have been given immunity as his Dad has made clear that his confession would not have been made otherwise, and rightly so from their perspective as Piquet Jnr consented to the race fix and indeed was the central key to it all happening!!

  34. SteveK says:

    The biggest risk in this whole event was expecting NPjr to make it past Teflonso’s stop before crashing.
    He very nearly didn’t make the start!

    1. Brace says:

      Looking retrospectively, the spin on the parade lap might have been a “general rehearsal” :)
      …but than again, as Flav said, he crashed countless times and very often he did it in that fashion of making the rear overtake the front end.

  35. Amritraj says:

    Hi James,

    For the past 3 days, I find myself unable to post comments on the blog. At first, I thought it could be a technical glitch with regard to my email address. However, I now find myself unable to post comments with my alternate email address as well.

    Is this is a “polite” way of saying I am not going display your comments as a contributor on the blog and your views are not welcome? I know it seems strange but there is no other explanation that seems to justify these events.

    Quite honestly, I am avid reader and admirer of this blog and of the intellect of the contributors but if this is really the case and is true, then it is quite sad for someone in your position to do such a thing without even explaining as to why you are doing it. But I really do hope this is not the case.

    I am looking forward to a revert from you.

    Regards.

    1. James Allen says:

      They have been coming through and have been approved, so no problem this end

  36. Steve B says:

    James,

    I seem to remember last year that Alonso had a rumoured performance clause in his contract that for Renault to keep him for 2009 he had to reach a certain number of points. Is this true?

    If so it could support the idea that Alonso is innocent in all of this, and point the finger at Renault which would be desperate to hold on to their result achieving superstar driver and all the sponsership he brings with him.

    1. James Allen says:

      All drivers have performance clauses, the thing is the timing of the deadlines by which time results need to have been achieved. Alonso had a great second half to the season generally after a slow start with a poor car. Singapore and Japan were quite late. Anyway Alonso was talking to other teams, especially Honda, so he must have been free.

      1. Harveyeight says:

        Renault were allowed to work on their engine, contrary to the original 2008 rules. The rather confusing reasoning was lost on me. The way I read it the other engine manufacturers/suppliers were also allowed to modify their engines but to a more restricted degree.

        I read on another F1 site (sorry to be disloyal James) that the Renault unit was regarded as the most powerful on the grid in the latter half of the season. It was one of the main factors in giving us such an exciting finish. It shook up the results. Brilliant!

        The assumption was that Piquet would have done very well in Singapore had it not been for his problems in qually. Would possibly have won. Indeed a friend on mine, an Alonso fan, had put money on him (but not much: he might be an Alonso fan, but he’s not totally without discretion) at pretty good odds. He wouldn’t shut up about it. He’ll suffer now, I can tell you.

      2. Brace says:

        He might have been free, but you’ll agree that Renault’s late form must have had an influence on his decisions about where to drive in 2009.

  37. Lola says:

    They should summon Charlie withing as well, since he knew that the crash was deliberate already on November.

  38. Spyros says:

    I can’t help thinking back to a post someone from Singapore made a few days ago – is it possible that local race-fixing laws can come to play in all this?

  39. Martin Collyer says:

    ” …Luca di Montezemolo would not want to be put in the position of being part of the firing squad against his staunch FOTA ally Briatore.”

    James, another way of looking at Ferrari’s absence, if that’s what happens, is, “Why are they not there to support their staunch ally Briatore?”

    Sitting on the fence or what?

  40. James H. says:

    It is important that Alonso be questioned under oath. As for Carlos Gracia, he sounds like the kind of over officious nut case that Formula One needs to avoid, although I did learn a new word, “yobbish.” Thank you, Gracia.

  41. Agent 47 says:

    So,one minute the FIA claim Alonso has no involvement and in the next they summon him to the hearing? Hate to be the prophet of doom but i think Mr Alonso could well be without a job by Monday evening.

    I doubt the FIA have summoned him just say “hello, how are you?”. As an Alonso fan since his Minardi days i for one am dreading tomorrow now :( Would be a shame if he’s been fingered as being involved in the plot, was looking forward to him being in a championship winning car again grrr.

    Nice site Mr Allen, F1 2009 sure is/has kept you busy with all the dirty deeds that’s been going on :D

    1. Jason C says:

      I woudn’t worry too much, Agent 47. Nothing that’s come out so far has implicated Alonso at all, and the FIA have a history of not punishing drivers very harshly.

      If Alonso has lied to the investigators by denying knowledge of the plan (and I don’t think he has), then the FIA cam hardly punish him more severely than they punished Hamilton ealier this year for the same offence.

  42. Lady Snowcat says:

    So Mr Gracia has said that the FIA was wrong to offer Piquet immunity from prosecution…

    Hmmm….

    Does this mean he would have preferred this to have remained hidden as this would have been the certain result…

    And one cannot help but ponder whether he would have felt this way if a certain Spanish driver’s reputation had not been implicated….

    And I would have been very surprised if Alonso hadn’t been summoned… he was, after all, one of the main beneficiaries….

    Looking at the plan and the result …it was all done to advantage him…as well as Renault…

  43. Howard Hughes says:

    Take a perfectly fresh apple, then leave it on your window sill for several months, preferably those of summer.

    The resultant sludge will serve as an adequate indication of how rotten the FIA is.

    FOTA should have pushed for the breakaway when it was in their grasp, for nothing has changed. Notwithstanding Mosley’s eventual departure, at the moment we have the same divide & conquer attitudes, personal biases, vendetta-driven crusades, and questionable logic we ever did. I say again; had Mateschitz been in Briatore’s position there is no WAY this would have turned out the same.

    Rotten to the core.

  44. Foobar says:

    Alonso summoned to hearing, eh…

    I think it will be a pointless exercise of ‘I had no idea’, ‘I didn’t know’ and ‘I don’t remember’.

    1. Lola says:

      I agree.
      Unless there is some new evidence on Alonso, he can just deny it for ever and ever.

  45. Pingback: Motorsport Links
  46. DoodyBoy says:

    I read the leaked FIA report and I just don’t get it. Who stood to gain most from the crash? Alonso? Nope, no chance of winning the championship. Renault? Nope, again no chance of any championship and no great benefit to constructors standings and hence cut for the following year. Piquet? mmmm? If Renault agreed to the deliberate crash but had no significant upside, then why bargain with Piquet and renew the contract? BUT, if Renault didn’t know then the Piquets did it on their own. Now, with a bit of blackmail, there is leverage to continue at Renault and/or force the release of Nelsinho from his management contract and we all know how much the Piquets LOVE Briatore!

    So, why the silence from Symonds and the confusion from Briatore when answering FIA questions? And why the sudden resignations of Symonds and Briatore? Well, I guess that if the blackmail is true and Briatore continues with his court case, then anything the FIA uncover would jeapordise that case. By resigning, neither Symonds nor Briatore have to attend any further FIA hearings and would minimise the risk of compromising the bigger case.

    Just a thought!

    1. Joel Heaton says:

      Renault as a company didn’t have much to gain, but the F1 team did. Renault were, if I remember correctly, considering pulling the F1 team out at the time…

  47. Dave P says:

    James,
    From reading all the hundreds of post over the last few days, I tend to think you feel Piquet Jnr was the major culprit, and should have not got immunity.

    Fair enough…. but even if this is not your view, could you comment on how you feel the comparison between him crashing and the Senna,Prost, Schumacher, crashes ( equally dangerous) compare. It seems none of them have been vilified in the same way, despite them all being world champions with experience.

    I just cannot see why he is getting so much flack?

  48. Jason says:

    The FIA have already declared Alonso as innocent. This seems another ploy to ensure Briatore never returns to the paddoc. Of course this will not go down well with the millios of English [mod] who dislike Alonso because he retired Schumacher despite driving a slower car in 2006

  49. Finn says:

    Ferrari not attending … because of Briatore or not to be seen to interfere with Alonso?

  50. Dom says:

    I can’t imagine Alonso being involved but at the same time I cant imagine Alonso not working this out for himself. He is a smart driver and if others in the paddock were talking then he would have been at least thinking too.

    Hope the FIA dont take him down HAM VS ALO in silver and red cars is what F1 really needs right now.

    PS great blog James, keep up the good work.

  51. Darren says:

    wouldn’t it be great to find Alonso “in on it”
    who would want him then???

  52. jose says:

    If they can prove alonso knew and went for it, he should be penalized. And i would stop watching the races after 30 years, and concentrate on moto gp. Hamilton would be world champ without competition.
    If briatore and simons were able to do this in singapur, it is very likely they use traccion control in the 1994 season. They do not have any credibility after this.

  53. J R says:

    What if he voluntarily decided to appear before the Council in order to defend Renault?
    (Source: El Mundo)

    I don´t see the point on cheating in order to win a race if he just wanted to leave Renault to Ferrari….. moreover, not winning could be even better for him to break his contract with Renault at the end of last year.

    Honestly, do you really see a pilot who already won it all, risking to spoil its whole career at F1 just to win a single race (And taking also into account that its move to Ferrari was a closed deal)? Just too twisty, isn´t it?

  54. David Hodge says:

    Sorry, Alonso was in on this and there is photographic proof that he knew. Look at the picture accompanying this posting and you can Fernando being shown a map of the circuit…

    1. J R says:

      That´s a good try, but that it Barcelona´s circuit map!

      I had a good laugh at your post anyhow….

    2. Joel Heaton says:

      A map of Catalunya and in this year’s team gear..? ;)

    3. David Hodge says:

      Glad you saw the joke JR. I guess I should really put a little smiley thing on there.

      For the record, I think Fernando knew nothing as Renault are known for their funky strategies on occasion when they have nothing to lose so he probably thought nothing of it before the race. I bet after the event he had his suspicions. If Felipe was charging down the pitlane afterwards, you can bet Fernando smelled a rat as well. However, he had just won the race and every driver on the grid is single-minded so of course he would keep his suspicions to himself.

      Anyway, all a moot point now after the WMSC judgement.

      1. J R says:

        100% agree. Sure he smelled something out there. I consider him as a clever guy and when you are inside he only had to add 1+1….
        Anyhow time has proven this was a really dumb move by whoever was the mastermind of all of this, and I don´t see him involved in planning such a joke ….

        Regarding strategies I can easily recall some other similar strange ones at other events in the past, and even this year.

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