It got lost in the wake of Renault’s announcement today, but according to further leaked material from the prosecution’s dossier into the events surrounding Nelson Piquet’s accident in Singapore last year, the FIA believes that Fernando Alonso knew nothing of the alleged conspiracy.
Alonso won the race thanks to a safety car triggered by Nelson Piquet’s accident, which he alleges was a conspiracy involving senior Renault management.
In summing up a lengthy document detailing the interview and investigations carried out by stewards at the recent Belgian Grand Prix, assisted by the FIA’s Herbie Blash, Lars Osterlind says,
“As regards Mr Alonso and the other engineers, the Stewards have found no evidence to suggest that they knew anything about the plans to cause a deliberate crash on lap 14. Renault’s strategy was aggressive and somewhat unusual but the Stewards do not conclude that individuals at Renault other than NPJ (Piquet), Mr Symonds and possibly Mr Briatore were aware of any crash plan. This position appears to be supported by the documentairy and radio communications evidence provided by Renault.”
Earlier in the document, details of the stewards’ meeting with Alonso are given.
“Mr Alonso was interviewed first. He stated that he knew nothing of any meetings in the lead-up to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix attended by Mr Briatore, Mr Symonds and NPJ and knew nothing of the alleged plan to cause a deliberate crash.”
Alonso also said that he left strategy decisions to his engineers and that running a short first stint from outside the top ten was merely an attempt to do something different from the cars around him, which is consistent with Pat Symonds’ attitude to race strategy as he’s articulated it to me in the past.
Interestingly, the Stewards’ seemed to come to the conclusion that Pat Symonds was the key to all of this and central to any notion of a plan to crash delberately.
They felt that the combination of his acceptance that a meeting took place at which a crash was discussed, together with his refusal to answer questions, “have led the Stewards to consider it reasonable to conclude that the allegations made by NPJ are in large part, true.”
However, interestingly, they concluded that it is not possible to determine whether Flavio Briatore knew about the plan. He flatly denied it.
Osterlind says, “The Stewards do not consider that they are in a position to draw any definitive conclusion regarding Mr Briatore’s knowledge of involvement.”
It’s all academic now; Both Briatore and Symonds left the Renault team today. On Monday the team will find out what sanction it faces. In my view had they fought this and been found guilty they would have been thrown out of F1.