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Patrick Head the voice of reason on Renault crash investigation
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Patrick Head the voice of reason on Renault crash investigation
Posted By: James Allen  |  14 Sep 2009   |  11:16 am GMT  |  105 comments

Veteran Williams engineer Patrick Head has seen it all in his 30 plus years at the sharp end of Formula 1.

Picture 10
This weekend he spoke out about the FIA investigation into Nelson Piquet’s allegation that Renault F1 management got him to deliberately crash his car at a specific time and place in Singapore last season in order to bring out the safety car and help Fernando Alonso win the race.

Head has seen plenty of young drivers, under pressure for their futures, do some desperate things, but the notion that a driver would go along with something like this is extraordinary even to a seasoned F1 pro like him.

He said that he became aware that Piquet may have crashed on purpose when a journalist friend of his told him that Piquet had let him in on the plot, not long after the race.

Many in the sport had their suspicions at the time and I was one of them, privately, because it was just such a huge co-incidence. But knowing the Renault engineers pretty well I dismissed the notion from my mind because to do that would simply be nuts and I don’t see the guys I know as capable of that kind of thing.

Being a bit clever with electronics or dampers is one thing, but doing something like this would cross the line.

Patrick said that the case is a real acid test for the sport and for showing the public that the FIA’s disciplinary processes have integrity after a few cases recently where the public have come away thinking that it was more about personalities than justice,

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

As for his analysis of the Piquet incident, he firmly believes that no driver, however much pressure he is under, should do things like this. Piquet says that he sees that now, but it’s hard to believe that – if all of this actually did take place – he didn’t have enough of a support network that he had no-one he could turn to for advice about what to do. Where was his father?

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

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

Head articulates a fear that F1 should take seriously, that the public could easily lose interest in F1 if it felt that it was watching something that was being manipulated,

“If that proved to be happening in a consistent way I think rightly nobody would have any interest in Formula 1 racing because you couldn’t believe what you were looking at, ” he said.

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

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

This is dangerous ground for F1 and it is vital that next Monday the FIA gets to the bottom of what happened in Singapore and reaches the right conclusions. It’s probably the most important disciplinary matter ever to come before the World Council.

On the face of it, the case may come down to two men’s word against one, but the supporting evidence, like telemetry and radio will be decisive.

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105 Comments
  1. RichHull says:

    From the, admittedly limited, info we’ve had so far, my gut reaction is that Renault are in heaps of trouble.

    But then I though Heikki was going to walk the race yesterday, so what does my gut know?

  2. I find this whole situation incredible whether true or not, and if true then those INDIVIDUALS involved should be thrown out of F1 forever no matter who they are.

    F1 (for me) is becoming more and more about what happens off the track rather than on the track.

  3. James Bray says:

    I don’t know about everyone else, but whenever F1 is involved in some kind of controversy, I think it makes it more interesting, not less.

    Otherwise you are left with media-controlled statements and bland driver quotes – what fun is that?

    For example, I can remember leaping out of my chair in pure rage at events in F1. But if it provokes strong feelings you’ll come back for more. Boredom is the real killer.

    I would say in this case the cheating is not so much the issue, it’s the crashing that’s the serious crime – endangering drivers and spectators. That leaves a bad taste, but I’m confident if proved true the punishment will be severe.

    1. artorwar says:

      In most cases I would agree, I love the whole merri-go-round of politics and in-fighting. It adds quite a lot for the fanatical fans out there. In this case I just don’t see this one flying though. I mean it is such a serious and fundamentally stupid thing to do that I doubt Flav or PS would have run the risk of being sent into the wilderness, never to return. At least I hope not haha. But then again I would hate to think that the Piquet camp would do something like this out of malice….

  4. Tom says:

    I wondered about Piquet’s support network too.

    I guess a driver’s manager should deal with the pressure Piquet says he was under to sign a Renault option – but had Piquet signed up to be managed by…Briatore?

    An uncomfortable situation for sure, but other drivers have dealt with it – and with much greater pressure too, as Martin Brundle said in the paper yesterday.

  5. Kirk says:

    James,

    With regards to “he had no-one he could turn to for advice about what to do. Where was his father?”

    His father was in Brazil, as he wanted Nelson Jr to walk with his own legs in his F1 career, having assisted him the best he could in F3 and GP2. He didn’t want to be seen as one interfering and disrupting things at Renault.

    Nelson Snr. was safe (or so he thought) in the knowledge that Jr. was being well looked after by someone always close to him… his MANAGER… the person that should be looking after Jr’s best interests and career… yes, you guessed it… Flavio Briatore!

    In hindsight Nelson Snr must regret that now. If he had been around in 2008 many of the unsavory things Flavio got up to – like threatening Jr’s seat with the team 15 minutes before GP starts and so on – could have been avoided and this farce may never have happened.

    No wonder Nelson Snr decided to attend as many GP as possible in 2009 then!

    1. Mario says:

      I also lean towards thinking that Piquet was simply used and abused by Briatore who himself was only worried about his stakes going down.

      Regarding F1 getting deeper and deeper into the mud of politics, I would say it will attract many spectators who just like that sort of thing, and those who like sport will gradually lose interest. In any case F1 will survive.

    2. Pay The Piper says:

      I agree with what Kirk says.

      … and reading Briatore’s latest homophobic response confirms all that we already know about the man and his lack of character.

      Let us hope the FIA in concert with the Renault board can surgically excise this thuggish boor from the sport, and at least allow the team and the innocent employees to survive. Prost back to Renault?

      On a tangent … vaguely depressing to hear Anthony on the post-Monza 5Live Podcast still in denial, talking about how tricky F1 cars are to drive out of corners — that’s only the first stage of grief, poor lad’s got a ways to go.
      I reckon everyone else is up at ‘Anger and Bargaining’, especially in Paris.

      … Although once the heavy political-machinery starts turning, you tend to find the whistle-blowers get caught-up in the mechanism, and the skilled operators sliding past, so let’s all hold-on and hope there’s a good dose of Stage4, ‘Depression, Reflection and Loneliness’ in the prime instigator’s immediate future.

    3. John says:

      I have wondered whether Piquet Sr was in Singapore or not. I may be selling Jr short, but I find it unlikely that he, on his own, could have come up with a scheme to crash intentionally.

      If, however, Sr was at the race it might be a little more believable, given Sr’s experience. It does seem incredibly unlikely, though, that Sr would have recommended or approved of an intentional crash especially as a “rogue” action. If Piquet was involved, you have to think there was a quid pro quo.

    4. Rick Hayes says:

      Hang on, if Piquet snr wanted jnr to stand on his own two feet why did he go to the FIA about all this? And he was often at the races and commenting in the press. Briatore may be no saint but he has managed several drivers who have gone on to be world champions and all seem happy with him(and teams). The fact is Piquet jnr just plain underperformed and couldn’t hack the pressure. He was quick in practice often but as soon as it came to the qualify and race sessions he would just lose it and often spin off. I don’t buy into this rubbish about been threatened with the sack 15 minutes before each session. If he did confess about the crash and was unsure what to do then why sign on with renault again and why not go to the FIA or even his dad. I’m sure as a driver, nigh a person he knows right from wrong and when to seek help when he’s in trouble. This is a act of revenge and its timing speaks volumes of this whole mess.

      1. Kirk says:

        @Rick Hayes
        James can clarify this but as far as I know in 2008 Nelson Snr stayed away for vast majority of races – and I don’t think he was in Singapore. In 2009 things weren’t good for Jr and he decided to be close, see what was going on, and attended most races.
        The 15 minute threat did happen at least once – it was witnessed and covered by a Brazilian journalist just before the start of the German GP this year. Ironically the only time Jr qualified ahead of Alonso.

      2. Rick Hayes says:

        I not sure you could trust a Brazilian journalist on that one lol!

  6. Finn says:

    Don’t most people think F1 is an orchestrated circus at the best of times?

    We know team orders come into play.

    We know the FIA has handed out some pretty inconsistent penalties …. often to drivers or teams who are romping away with championships. (Renault’s mass dampers were banned after how many races? Ferrari’s flexi floor? etc)

    We know the points system was changed to stop Schumi winning every WDC by mid season.

    We even fix it in races so that drivers passing back markers have the back markers flagged out of the way. I’d be happy for that rule to exist if driver Z is being lapped for the second time by driver X, but on the first lapping, driver X should show their skill in passing driver Z. If they can’t get past, they can’t get past … the cars all close up and the best driver wins.

    I, for one, am suspicious about the way this season appears to have been managed … Brawn were romping away with the WDC and WCC but then suddenly had a largely inexplicable dip in form. Pure coincidence of course?

    F1 is never going to be entirely clean. If Renault/Piquet crashed deliberately to help the team, then so what? It is a team sport and they played to the stupid safety car rules. Is it their fault that the SC rules are written in such a way that they promote crazy race-leading changes? If F1 is a game of chess, then they played a dirty but very clever move. Was it any different to Schumi shunting Hill or JV? Prost or Senna taking each other out?

    If the FIA had stamped on those acts, then it would have a leg to stand on with Piquet and Renault … but as it is the FIA has more or less let these things happen with fairly minimal punishments … the inference being that teams and drivers should try to get away with everything they can. Fault for this is down to the FIA.

    We SHOULD have a clean sport. Teams and drivers SHOULD act with a sense of decency and sportsmanship. But if the regulators over many years give erratic punishments, erratic rule changes, and meagre punishments for major offences (Schumi to the back of the grid for parking his car in Monaco!?!?!?) then we have to accept that the rot is starting at the top and trickling down to the teams and drivers.

    Head is right: young drivers are under pressure. But the teams are also under pressure from sponsors. Bernie is under pressure to deliver an interesting season to the watching audience, etc.

    I am not happy with the gamesmanship we have in F1, but you have to have a governing body that acts honestly and transparently at all times … without that, the teams and drivers are always going to push the rules because if they don’t, then other people will.

    1. Stevie P says:

      I’m with you Finn on the blue flags… the back markers are in a race too and many’s the time that their own race has been spoilt by moving over. However these days with radio comms, you could just tell your driver he’s being caught and to avoid any aggro with stewards, officials and other teams with whom you may have a “relationship” with etc, etc… “move over! x is coming”.

      Besides too many times the marshalls flag the wrong guy!!! ;-)

      I would not be surprised to find that any F1 team has considered the possibility of one car crashing and the other winning as a consequence. It’s big business there is so much MONEY (that flamin’ word again – grrr!) at stake, that every option MUST be considered.

      The likes of Head and Williams wouldn’t do it, as they, on the face of it, seem to have too much integrity… they were in F1 when it was boys in the garage, the drivers smoked and drove other cars in other races on the same day as the F1 race, etc, etc… i.e. they are old skool (no disrespect to Patrick or Frank!)

      Other teams might not do it, due to their policy of equality for both drivers… but please don’t tell me there was equality at Renault.

      But “thinking about it” and “actually doing it” are 2 entirely different areas.

      I know plenty of people who have been “bullied” into doing something they didn’t wish to do for the company they work for, in the hope that some good would come their way in the end or because they were young and inexperienced. It’s not uncommon at all!

      The fact that Alonso was on such a short fuel load is indisputable!!!! I don’t think Alonso knew anything about it… he was saying “safety car, safety car… it was the safety car” after the race to Flavio. Flav looked rather sheepishly at the camera… go check it out, it’ll be somewhere ;-)

      1. Silverstoned says:

        “The fact that Alonso was on such a short fuel load is indisputable!!!! I don’t think Alonso knew anything about it…”

        It may have taken NP several attempts to finally do it. Not hard to imagine Flav tearing his hair out meanwhile [and Symond's].

    2. Andy Fov says:

      I too wonder whether Brawn succumbed to any pressure to be less dominant. A few too many races like Turkey and even I’d have stopped watching.

      With regards to Crashgate, if Piquet crashed on purpose he’d have been doing it either for his team or his manager. Either way Flav’s in a pickle. For Renault to initiate legal procedings against NP is worrying… If I was Carlos Ghosn I’d have suspended Flav and Pat pending the outcome of the FIA’s investigation.

    3. F1 Kitteh says:

      If its orchestrated they are not doing a good job as most the races are boring as hell .. the off track stuff is more interesting..unfortunately. If I recall correctly RBR was on same strategy as Alonso? ..Oh Wait..maybe that DOES make it a renault conspiracy….

    4. Martin Collyer says:

      “If the FIA had stamped on those acts, then it would have a leg to stand on with Piquet and Renault … but as it is the FIA has more or less let these things happen with fairly minimal punishments … the inference being that teams and drivers should try to get away with everything they can. Fault for this is down to the FIA.”

      Finn, the last sentence is the key to all this, “Fault for this is down to the FIA.”

      However, just because Senna and Schumacher, maybe others too, got away with all sorts of questionable tactics it’s got to be the right thing to put a stop to it.

      It’s a bit late isn’t it, but surely it’s better to tackle the problem late than not tackle it at all.

  7. Ted the Mechanic says:

    I don’t know what to think about this. I don’t want Renault to quit under a cloud (or be ejected by the FIA) if they are found guilty, it would be a travesty to Renault if 2 or 3 of their own people brought such horrendous consequences onto both the team and the parent company.

    I find it hard to believe that Pat Symonds would be capable of this, however “1 for the money, 2 for the show” Flavio – you just never do know.

    As to “piqued” Junior and Senior – perhaps they should have just kept their mouths shut…

  8. Dan says:

    Hi James, like the rest of us you have probably read Flavio’s allegations (on autosport.com) about Nelsinho’s private life.

    I find quite interesting that Flavio made these comment before the result of the FIA’s investigation and after having had a private meeting with Carlos Ghosn.

    You can hardly call this Flavio’s finest hour and I can understand Rubens’ reaction to this.

    In my view there is simply no way Mr Ghosn would have approved of Flavio’s public comments about Nelson Jr’s life.

    The very fact Flavio made these comments at least as damaging for his own and Renault’s image as they might be for Nelsinho in my view indicates that Flavio has nothing more to lose and already knows he has lost his job at Renault F1 no matter the result of the FIA enquiry.

    Would you agree with my analysis?

    I don’t think Mr Ghosn would have been amused by Flavio below the belt comments about Nelsinho.

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      Can’t find this currently on Autosport. Could you give me a link ?

      1. Werewolf says:

        Thanks, Dan, for your kind comments below. Oddly enough, I do have some legal training but I’m not a lawyer, just your everyday working werewolf. The great thing about this site is the quality of so many of the comments – hats off to James for its creation.

      2. The Artist says:

        The comments are here:

        http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/78532

        From the text, the key parts are this:

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

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

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

      3. Grabyrdy says:

        Thanks everyone for the links. I must say that if someone had told me this just a little while ago, I’d be asking what they’d been on : Flav playing nursemaid to Nelsinho because his father asked him to ? Dad’s jibes against Senna coming back to haunt him ? Who’s got the film rights to this stuff ?

    2. Knuckles says:

      While I never liked Flavio, I do think that people are barking up the wrong tree here. If (if) Flavios statements are correct, then it was Nelshinho who publically accused him of wrecking his friendship. In this case, I’d think that Flavio has every right to publically point out that Piquet Sr asked him to do what he did.

      1. Werewolf says:

        I agree entirely with Knuckles. Whilst the implications of Briatore’s statement are fairly obvious, there is no element of judgement and, if Briatore was acting on behalf of Piquet Sr, then it is not unreasonable to say so. Mind you, if he wasn’t, it’s a useful piece of gamesmanship to destabilise the other side.

        Do you think Piquet Sr appreciates the irony of this, given his own implicitly homophobic comments about Senna? I wonder if this 50-year old gentleman is ugly, too!

      2. Dan says:

        More I think about this and more I agree with Knuckles and Werewolf too. Flavio’s response was in reaction to Jr’s attack here but having said that I am still not convinced that Carlos Ghosn was that pleased to see Flavio do that so publicly as it was very bad PR for Renault; so Flavio might pay the price regarless of the result of the FIA investigation.

        Martin Brundle’s interview on the BBC web site today seems to indicate that many people in the paddock expect Flavio to lose his job before the Fia gives its verdict on the whole affair.

        Flavio was indeed trying to drive a wedge between Sr qnd Jr by revealing informations about Nelsinho’s private life.

        To James and all contributors of the JAblog and of this stream in particular: Congratulation to all, I am amazed by the quality of the debate here. Question to Werewolf: Are you a lawyer? Your posts are brillant.

        I wonder if Max and other F1 important folks read this blog? I think they should, they would find here lots of sound advise to improve the sport that we all love.

        Somebody asked yesterday what was the most important think to retain from the 2009 F1 Season so far… Easy, the creation of this brillant blog!

  9. Maverick says:

    It is good to hear comments like these and in a similar vein, those from Rubens Barrichello.

    My concern is this question of a support network. Yes, Nelsinho could have turned to his father but I keep coming back to this issue of Flavio Briatore being both his personal manager and team boss. Regardless of the outcome of the hearing, should anyone be allowed to hold such conflicting roles?

    1. Grabyrdy says:

      Some people, perhaps. Flavio ? I’m surprised that Renault accepted it.

  10. George Caplin says:

    It’s a shame Briatore chose to defend himself and Renault by seeking to smear Piquet via his private life (Autosport 12/9 8:40 GMT): surely Max Mosley would have an opinion on such an invasion of privacy?

    1. Racing not politics says:

      Insinuating that NPJ is gay is not a smear on NPJ, it is an indication that Flabio lives in the dark ages when homosexuality was unacceptable.

      As a team principal Flabio would be better off keeping quiet that demonstrating another unsavoury side of his already unpalatable character.

      Innocent until proven guilty but I am starting to hope that they are proven guilty and that he leaves the sport. QPR are welcome to him.

  11. Harveyeight says:

    I fail to see how the telemetry can be in any way decisive. The question is not whether Piquet deliberately crashed but whether he was instructed to do so by Flav and Pat.

    If he did indeed deliberately put his car into the wall in Singapore (didn’t he also spin on the parade lap?) it in no way proves a conspiracy, which is what he, or at least his father, has accused Flav and Pat of.

    The radio transmissions might well show something but, unless there is some overt order or confirmation then it can only implicate Piquet.

    There is no smoking gun as such. That is, of course, other than the one which, it seems, has been held against F1 and fired.

    The most likely scenario is that it will come down to one man’s word against two others, at least one of whom is one of the most respected in the pit lane. Without any previous history of corrupt or improper practice the WMSC cannot disbelieve Pat.

    It was one thing for the WMSC to believe PdlRosa’s evidence when it suited them and to disbelieve it when that was felt quite handy. This, as you state, is much more serious. The WMSC will have to watch everything it does as it is likely to be picked over by lawyers for some time to come. Their decision will have to be watertight and unevidenced beliefs like, ‘It seems highly unlikely . . . ‘, words used in the FIA’s report on Stepneygate (para 3.10) are unlikely to be enough.

    1. Stevie P says:

      Why does it need to be an overt communication? The teams tell the drivers who’s pitted and when, they tell them (as we saw \ heard at Monza) how fast they need to drive to remain within other drivers parameters. The message “Alonso has pitted” could be a trigger… or any other combination of words.

      There are many and subtle ways to pass this info across. Take the Honda\Brawn “x is faster than y” type messages we’ve heard in the past… code for “let him by!”.

      The telemetry will back up what Nelson Jnr said about his crash… ie, he kept his foot flat. To avoid the accident, he would have eased off the gas pedal… but he says he didn’t (allegedly) and to prove this the telemetry will be examined.

      The point still remains… why fuel Alonso with so little gas? To hope that there might be a safety car? Perhaps… but if there is no safety car, then he’ll right at the back.

      I know that some teams factor in a safety car into their strategy, but usually it’s fuelling the car more heavily (which means if there’s no safety car, you still have a reasonable race strategy); going much, much lighter only leaves one real option.

      James (or anyone else for that matter) do you know of anyone else short-fuelling their car with the hope of catching a safety car at exactly the right time?

      Flav’s normally the first to refute an implication, if it’s been made against him or the team. I’ve heard no such thing… only that they will wait for the council. However, now that Piquets statement has been leaked, Flav’s accusing them of blackmail!

      I’m sorry, it just didn’t and doesn’t feel “right”…

      1. James Allen says:

        Yes Renault did is this year with Alonso as well, can’t recall where off the top of my head. He likes to try the aggressive route, where possible and Renault always think that if you qualify outside the top ten and everyone does the same thing, you’ll finish where you start. So try something different.

      2. Stevie P says:

        Ok…

        Now that you’ve mentioned this I recall Symonds saying something along the lines of “try something different” during this year.

        So… “something different” would (err, sorry… could!) be to get your 2nd driver to crash and promote your No 1 to first spot!?!?

        Aaaah the joys of playing Devils Advocate ;-)

      3. Joel Heaton says:

        I remember Renault fuelling Alonso very light in China and Hungary, though they were both for high grid spots. In Turkey he qualified eighth with a very light fuel load, maybe that’s where you’re thinking of? :)

      4. Ironman_Ironman says:

        Yes, Hamilton short filled in Australia 2009, when he was 18th on the grid. Pitted on lap 11 and ended up 3rd before “liegate” stripped it away.

      5. Stevie P says:

        Nice one Ironman!

        And Knuckles, yep, JA refers to this above with the trying something different comment, derived from Pat Symonds… cheers for the feedback.

      6. Colster says:

        I wonder how the FIA’s handling of this will mirror ‘Liargate’?

        In essence both Hamilton and Piquet were ‘allegedly’ asked to do something by the ‘team’ that they knew was perhaps not entirely legitimate.

        Although Nelsons actions carried far more risk including possible injury to himself and others the end result was the same – to manipulate the results of a grand prix.

        Now what happened at Mclaren – bye bye Ron, bye bye Dave Ryan.

        Anyone know what Dave Ryan is doing now?

      7. Knuckles says:

        “but if there is no safety car, then he’ll right at the back.”

        To which Renault would say (and in fact did at the time) that this is where they were and would have stayed, anyway, so why not try for an SC (which, frankly, was not *that* improbable to appear in Singapore early in the race)

      8. Amritraj says:

        Alonso’s first light-fuel load qualifying was in Barcelona in 2008, when he qualified 2nd. As it appears, Renault have gambled with aggresive fuel strategies, prior to Singapore as well.

      9. Kirk says:

        Yes, but it would only work for Alonso if the SC came out immediately after he pitted, and before any other car ahead of him did their stops.

        If another 6 or 7 cars ahead of Alonso pitted (by the time the SC came out) then Alonso would have at best been in the points. The “spot on” nature of accident, that gave him a shot of winning the race, is what raised the suspicions.

    2. BrettW says:

      Pat’s credibility in this can only be as good as his answers–which were evasive non-answers. Had he actually said something substantial instead of responding that he could/would not answer the questions, it might be possible to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    3. Harveyeight says:

      Stevie,

      It needs to be an overt communication because anything else could be, as they say, anything else. Such a code can be as subtle as repeating a communication: ‘check rear balance. I say again, check rear balance.’ It proves nothing, absolutely nothing, if Piquet suggests post crash that that was the trigger as long as two people, not to mention one of them being Pat Symonds, says it was just a normal communication. It would not even be suggestive let alone persuasive.

      And as I said, it matters not in the case of the conspiracy whether or not Piquet did crash deliberately. All that means is that he crashed deliberately.

      What the WMSC must establish if they are going to make this stick is that there was a conspiracy. This is the one essential. In fact the conspiracy would have been complete even if Piquet did not crash. The fact he drove into the wall is of absolutely no interest. And therein lies the prosecution’s biggest problem.

      The defence can suggest, must in point of fact, that Piquet crashed of his own volition. We have some Italian journo say that Pat said Piquet suggested a crash but that can, if anything, help Flav’s case. Don’t you see?

      The suggestion will be that Piquet felt so under pressure about his tenure that he made the suggestion of the grand sacrifice. Pat told him no way but Piquet, in his, as he said, dodgy mental state, crashed anyway in the hope that it would get the team on his side.

      Flav might even suggest – and this is just a suggestion, I am in no way suggesting that this is what occurred nor that Flav might make this up, I’m just, and only just, giving the options – that Piquet did it in order to have some hold over Flav. And when the prosecution asks why Flav didn’t got to Mosley and say he was being blackmailed? Well, we can all answer that one.

      As covered by others, including James, the light fueling is a reasonable option that has paid off for some other drivers. The odds were that on a street circuit a safety car might well have been deployed at some stage. All Flav has to point out is that they were going for a place: anything in the top ten would have done them it being hom GP and ING sponsored race. They had nothing to lose. First place was a pleasant shock to everyone.

      And as for no rejection of the allegation, I think you must have missed one or two of Flav’s press releases. And in any case, in such a serious matter the team will speak only after the statement has been passed by umpteen lawyers.

      The normal choice of tactic here is say nothing. The more innocent you are, and there are degrees, the more you want to keep quiet.

      As for ‘feeling “right”’, that is not a requirement.

      I’ve worked with prosecution files and cases. I’ve seen one or two jobs that we thought were stone cold bonkers for a finding of guilt collapse. So if we thought a case was 100% we’d say 80%. Dishonest I know but hey! What are you going to do?

      This case wouldn’t even reach 40% on what we’ve heard so far. There are so many defences, totally and utterly irrefutable defences, that can be put up by Flav. Mind you, we haven’t seen the full prosecution case yet, or at least that is the assumption, but then we’ve not seen any of the defence.

      If Renault are guilty, and again this is just flying a kite, if there was a conspiracy then the FIA might hope for a weakspot developing.

      My thought, oddly enough, would be one of Renault’s greatest strengths: Pat Symonds. Here’s a bloke who has the respect of the pit lane as well as, he’ll be overwhelmed to read, mine. Now anyone who earns the respect of so many is often respectable.

      It might come as a surprise to some, but most people find telling lies difficult. In fact almost everyone does. If it was me setting prosecution tactics I’d put a big red target on Pat. But only if I was sure, and that means really 100% sure, he was telling lies as it is an extremely dangerous ploy. If Pat answers strongly and surely then the prosecution case is over.

      I don’t know if there was a conspiracy. None of us lot do. We can only guess. But I assume FIA lawyers have passed this case as suitable for prosecution, given the harm that will befall Renault, Flav and Pat.

      I think we can all safely assume therefore that we have not yet seen the prosecution case in full. If we have then I think we can all safely assume Renault will be taking a big stick to the FIA.

      There must be something other than the unsupported – and it must be unsupported as Piquet said there was just the three of them – allegation of a lowly driver, a few radio transmissions and a print out. Especially the print out as it has no evidential value whatsoever. What can it be? Certainly not the meanderings of someone who, I have no doubt the defence will suggest, was under a great deal of emotional pressure at the time, m’lud. Not being able to live up to the dreams of his father, in danger of losing his position as team mate to FA who, after his experience with a competitive driver, demanded only a dolt could occupy the spare slot (we have the contract here, m’lud if you wish to view it). And Piquet could not even live up to that (we have the results here m’lud if you wish to view them). We are not sure what turned Piquet junior’s mind from just helping his team to actively threatening them (although we have one name here, m’lud, if you wish to view it) . . . I could write it myself as the defence is pretty simple. So what else is there?

      A big thing was made of the radio communication for Piquet asking what lap he was on. (All this supposition of course. The trila hasn’t yet taken place.)

      Prosecution QC to Flav: Was that unusual?

      Flav: Yes.

      PQC: What did you think.

      Flav: We are used to him asking stupid questions. I thought this was something new.

      PQC: What did you do about it?

      Flav: He was in a car racing, or at least racing as much as he could. What do you suggest I could have done about it?

      There must be something else, and something very persuasive. It has to be something more than just supporting the truthfulness and accuracy of Piquet’s statement. It has got to be something that Pat or Flav said or did, not so much concrete as RSJ. And from an impeccable source, which lets out so many.

      This will not be over post hearing. This will run and run. This will drag the spirit of F1 into the mud. There will be allegations and counter allegations. This will be unedifying.

      This will be disgusting. I’m not sure I’ve got the stomach for it all.

      1. Rudy Pyatt says:

        Harveyeight, it would be an honor to go up against you in court.

        Getting an indictment is one thing; it’s a matter of sufficient evidence to believe a crime has been committed. Getting a conviction is, as it should be, a much higher burden. But, as a prosecutor, you can’t always choose your witnesses; more to the point, you can’t control whether or not they are perps themselves.

        (We had a cynical, if at times depressingly accurate, description saying on this “Today’s complainant is tomorrow’s perp.”)

        Based on the statements in the public domain, corroboration is thin on the ground in this case. But in a one witness case, that single witness, IF sufficiently credible, can support a conviction. Is Nelson, Jr. sufficiently credible to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt? I have MY doubts. For these purposes, he’s a perp, having admitted to deliberately crashing.

        As I used to tell my trainees, you must always try to break your witnesses BEFORE going forward with a case. There are three basic questions:

        “What happened?” If you can’t get a clear understanding of that from the witness, red flag number one;

        “Do I believe the witness?” If the answer to that is “no”, do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars, and dismiss the case. If you do believe the witness, then you ask,

        “What can I prove beyond a reasonable doubt?” If the answer is, “nothing”, do not pass go, do not collect $200 dollars, dismiss the case. If the answer is, “something less than the top count,” try the case or try to plea bargain — or dismiss the case. We’ll know shortly if the FIA has done the necessary work to answer these questions. But I agree with you. This will go on well beyond this hearing, or even this season.

        To clean up this mess on Main Street needs… Well, as Raymond Chandler wrote (best as I can recall),

        “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid… He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor — by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it… If there were enough like him, it would be a very safe world to live in without being too dull to be worth living in.”

        I fear there’s too much tarnish all over the FIA to find anyone fitting that description. Ari Vatenen? We’ll see.

      2. Harveyeight says:

        Rdy,

        Thanks for taking the time to reply to my post.

        Without wishing to appear patronising, I’ve got to agree with your suggestion of ‘breaking’ your own witnesses. And I love your “Today’s complainant . . . ” quote. But let’s not be too cycnical. But then you weren’t.

        As for going up against me in court, I had, and earned, the reputation of being a ‘difficult’ witness according to the head of our local Crown Prosecution unit, and that was amongst the CPS as well as defence lawyers. Being only human I was rather proud of the description and viewd it as an accolade. I lived up to it. You can’t help it really.

        And I’ve got to say that at this stage, given the info available to us, I’d feel a lot safer on the defence side than the prosecution.

        When first in CID I had the advantage of a DS whose idea of preparing a case file was to look at it from the defence point of view. I’ve seen him make dozens of pages of notes. He used to get excited and would often drag me over to point out some fault in the evidence then send me out to take a statement to rectify it. The odd thing is that I never found that the defence took so much trouble.

        If he was the senior investigating officer for this one, I’d have so much overtime I’d be able to afford that loft conversion I’ve been desiring for years.

        I’d suggest that a lot depends on Pat though. He strikes me an honest man. That could be the strongest bit of the defence or its weak point.

        Depending on what he actually had done.

        If the prosecution attack him and he stands firm then Mosley/FIA might well suffer a lot of damage at a time when Todt, Mosley’s annointed one, needs to be seen as Mr Clean.

        Difficult call for them. I feel really sorry for them. No, really really sorry.

      3. James Allen says:

        What do you and Rudy think of the idea of offering immunity in return for the truth?

      4. Werewolf says:

        Great stuff, Rudy. Aside from the excellent quality of the comment, F1 and Chandler, what a combination!

  12. rpaco says:

    Yes as Patrick says it is important that this is seen to be properly and fairly investigated. Though some may well say that it’s now impossible to have a fair trial, with the evidence being leaked before hand and if you have read that and if it really is a true transcript summary, then it is pretty damming on it’s own even without without a word being added by the Piquets. Pat will walk in there with a big metaphorical arrow saying guilty, and I’m the fall guy for Flav.
    A pity because I really liked Pat and can’t believe that he did this without intense pressure from Flav, who must be equally guilty and responsible as Piquets manager even if he feigns no knowledge of the plot in his team principle role.

  13. Ian Curtis says:

    100% Agree.
    Patrick has a wise ‘head’ on his shoulders.
    (Pardon the pun) And he’s been around the block a fair few times.

    He knows the importance of the decision.
    I cannot see ‘Renault’ agreeing to that kind of shenanigans, but individuals within the team quite possibly/probably.

    Hope the punishment fits the crime.

  14. George says:

    I’m not sure how much use the telemetry will be, obviously Piquet did something to make himself crash but you cant prove that it was on purpose.

    I’m pretty sceptical about this whole affair, I know Flabio has been caught red handed a few times in the past, but that was concerning car design, and I certainly dont believe Mr. Bling Symonds would support a move like this.

  15. Robert Wiseman says:

    James,

    Firstly thank you for insights this season from ‘inside the ropes, an alternative perspective has been much appreciated.

    It is very concerning that so many insiders, including your former colleague Martin Brundle, believe there is a case to be answered. It is even more concerning that these views include past and present drivers who you have to think have the best knowledge on which to base their opinions.

    What will upset me the most, and I have not seen this raised particularly during the debate, is whether Felipe Massa has been indirectly denied the World Championship. People need to remember this was a race he was leading well, until the Safety Car turned the strategies upside down, no doubt contributing to the pit stop fiasco.

    What are the potential FIA sanctions ? If that race were erased from last year’s championship then that expunges Lewis Hamilton’s 3rd place and therefore Felipe is champion. Given what we know of Felipe I am guessing he would not want to inherit the title in such a fashion, however there are business / sponsorship related issues in terms of having the reigning World Champion in your team. Is it right to expect yet more litigation to follow if Renault are found guilty ?

    Another very shabby episode for Formula 1.

    1. Spenny says:

      When someone does something wrong and someone else is impeded in some way, the FIA would never repair the damage to the other person’s position, however strong the case because it is just impossible to do fairly. All teams and drivers therefore accept that once you are out you are out. It works for qualifying and the race.

      It is impossible to predict what would have happened at Singapore if the race had run its course.

      In the end, although the safety car was an indirect cause of Massa stuffing up the race, the direct cause was Ferrari incompetence on the pit stop – ultimately their fate was in their own hands. Haven’t seen the traffic lights this season and their pitstops haven’t been too shabby.

      1. Robert Wiseman says:

        Spenny, I do not disagree, I am just intrigued to know what the possible sanctions are. If the case is proven then Alonso obviously can no longer be considered the winner, therefore what happens ? Is there no winner ? Is the race expunged from the 2008 Championship ? Do Alonso / Renault lose all their 2008 points and therefore financial winnings, I am just intrigued to know.

        Reference your comment, I would contend that Felipe did not ‘stuff up the race’ unfortunately his team did that for him. I just think it’s an intriguing point. Given the dignity Massa showed all year and to have come so close, this will only add to his feelings of “what might have been”. In his shoes I would be feeling incredibly bitter over this, knowing I was leading the race comfortably, on a circuit with very limited passing opportunities, and to have been (allegedly) cheated out of it.

      2. Werewolf says:

        I understand Mosley has said it is too late to change the results of the race or championships.

      3. John Carter says:

        “In his shoes I would be feeling incredibly bitter over this, knowing I was leading the race comfortably, on a circuit with very limited passing opportunities, and to have been (allegedly) cheated out of it.”

        He didn’t mind inheriting Lewis’ points from an entirely undistinguished drive at Spa though, did he?

    2. George says:

      Everyone but Alonso was under the same conditions, if you withdrew Alonso from the points Hamilton would have won the WDC by an even larger margin.

  16. Ahmed Youssef says:

    “He said that he became aware that Piquet may have crashed on purpose when a journalist friend of his told him that Piquet had let him in on the plot, not long after the race.”

    I think Head said that the reporter found out shortly after the crash, but Head himself didn’t find out until probably around the same time as the rest of us.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, the wording doesn’t imply that Patrick knew about it back then, rather that the journalist in question did. He presumably told Patrick recently when the case came to light.

      1. Steve says:

        I think if Patrick had known soon after the race it might have been good grounds for an appeal, after all Rosberg was in 2nd position….

        Steve

  17. J.H. says:

    Did Mr. Head have anything to say about the collusion between competing teams at Jerez 1997? Or did the voice of reason become mute? Shouldn´t the FIA investigate that too, as there appers to no statue of limtations?

    Or how about the way March (Mosleys own team)cheated their way to their first pole position?

    Or the supposedly illegal fuel that Piquet snr. had in his Brabham (team owner Ecclestone)to win one of his championships?

    FIA – Selective procecution with extreme prejudice.

  18. john says:

    James,by reading your blog at the time I thought you had a suspect on this,although you didn´t say it explicitly.
    But the other big point of this weekend you haven´t talked about yet has been the big NON-announcement of Alonso as Ferrari driver!
    I will not ask what your sources are,only if you still believe there is a deal between Alonso and Ferrari.

    1. James Allen says:

      There’s a post on its way this evening.

  19. Sergio says:

    At the end of the day, I feel sorry for the 600+ families (ie Renault employees) that are getting caught in this cross fire. If this looks like the work of 2 individuals, then punish them, not everyone in Renault. On the other hand, this whole process smells, and for this I blame FIA, specifically Max, for leaking information that paints one situation which might not be the whole truth. It hardly serves justice, if it looks like Max has an axe to grind.

  20. Mon Pen says:

    If this is true why didn’t Patrick Head speak out at the time? Surely not thinking of an uncertain future for Toyota and a possible future Renault engine deal?

    1. Kirk says:

      Well, I doubt PH was thinking about a Renault deal 12 months ago – so that has nothing to do with it.

      PH probably didn’t believe the journalist 100%, and even if he did there was no proof available to him, so it would just be a rumour. People then would have probably dismissed it as something Williams would say just to have Alonso disqualified so they could win the GP with Rosberg.

    2. Grabyrdy says:

      As I understand it, it was the general opinion in the paddock after the race that PKjr could only have crashed in that particular place on purpose. Massa certainly thought so, as did everyone else, according to Nick Heidfeld. No doubt these rumours came to the ears of the stewards, but, without evidence or a direct accusation, what could they really do ? Even with the telemetry and the radio conversations, there was not really enough hard evidence. Now it’s different.

      In passing, I can’t help but be amused by PKjr talking about this to a journalist friend after the race. Is this guy completely stupid, or does it only seem that way ?

      Finally, you ask James “where was his father ?” I’d say, he was there right behind him, egging him on. It seems to me that the old streetfighter which is Nelson sr is perhaps settling a few old scores here, and that despite the deep stuff in which this is putting junior. Am I missing something ?

      1. James Allen says:

        No, I mean where was his father on that Sunday afternoon in Singapore?

      2. Mon Pen says:

        Thanks to those who clarified that Patrick Head didn’t in fact hear about it at the time.

        My understanding is that the answer as to why PKjr told the journalist and why the journalist said nothing may be related to certain other comments made today by Flavio.

  21. B.Ware says:

    Regarding Mr Head’s statement that the public would lose interest in F1 if it thought it was watching something that was being manipulated. Has he not heard of NASCAR? An organization vying neck-and-neck with the WWE at the very pinnacle of manipulated “sports”. And laughing all the way to the bank.

  22. Finn says:

    The BBC have a column by Brundle saying Flavio MIGHT leave the team BEFORE the hearing on 21 Sept.

    The BBC had a clip of Singy last year where Alonso remarks to Flavio about the safety car whilst they were waiting to go on to the podium … if Alonso knew about the plan it was either a crazy thing to come out and say or a wild double-bluff.

    Really looks like Alonso didn’t know of any pre-race discussions for Piquet to crash.

    I don’t think this damages F1 – it just makes it look like a brutal and ruthless sport. The real issue is that the rules and the enforcement of the rules have encouraged such behaviour.

    Piquet Sr comes out looking like a nasty piece of work. He doesn’t seem to be much in terms of a character witness! Unless they have a recording of the discussion or a guilty plea by Flav/Pat, I can’t see how the court can find sufficient evidence to convict Renault. Even the telemetry is inconclusive: it might show that Piquet kept his foot on the pedal but that could be (1) Piquet crashing deliberately on his own or (2) Piquet just making a genuine error but now trying to pass it off as being part of a conspiracy.

    Surely, Piquet’s best claim on a seat for 2009 was to start performing well … not to go around crashing his car all the time.

    Unless they have 100,000 percent proof, the FIA should just kick this out of court. They should then elect a new President and write some water tight rules and hand out meaningful, fair, and CONSISTENT punishments when they are broken.

    1. Brace says:

      Your last paragraph. It should be put forward as one of the statutes of the FIA. :)
      I personally think Mosley always liked this ambiguity because it was allowing him to practically do however he wanted and hand out punishments not according to crime but according to his personal agendas and vendettas he had with his F1 rivals.

  23. Jason C says:

    A good point made above regarding punishment. Personally, I think deliberately crashing is very serious and the driver and anyone else involved should face lifetime bans from motorsport.

    As mentioned above, though, other drivers have deliberately crashed before. Schumacher crashed in to Villeneuve in 97, which should maybe be viewed as even more dangerous than Piquet’s crash. He was DQ’d from the WDC that year, but faced no other punishment. After having given such a weak punishment in the past for an arguably worse offence, surely the FIA are stuck with handing out that same punishment at worst.

    Singapore does have quite draconian criminal law, doesn’t it? I wonder if they have the equivalent of the American “reckless endangerment” charge, or maybe as has been mentioned before in a previous post’s comments, anti match-fixing laws relating to gambling.

    1. Werewolf says:

      The crimes are different. Schumacher’s actions were those of an individual driver and probaby not premeditated. If Piquet crashed deliberately in the way he claims, this is a planned action by the team that goes beyond a professional foul.

      Comparisons with NASCAR, as made by some, are irrelevant simply because F1 isn’t NASCAR; nor is it FIA-regulated. The two disciplines have very different concepts, cultures and traditions.

    2. melonfarmer says:

      Talking of Jerez ’97, maybe Patrick Head could comment on the last few laps of that race and the McLaren/Williams race fixing allegations at the time…

  24. jed says:

    The FIA have to follow the evidence and make a fair and just ruling based on evidence on hand where all of the participants are dealt with severely.

    Nelson has already confessed to the offense. he should not be granted immunity because he is a principal figure in the commission of the offense. In fact all the FIA should think about now with respect to nelson jr. is the severity of his punishment. Granting immunity is just the same as letting a murderer go Scott-free.

    The FIA screwed up earlier this year by letting lewis hamilton go virtually Scott-free for deliberately cheating in the austrailian grandprix.

    If true that immunity will be granted to nelson jr., the FIA will have reinforced a very bad precedent, that if you are a driver and just confess to cheating you go free while the other members of your team who are as guilty as you are get punished.

    Stop protecting the drivers and let justice and truth prevail.

    Right now the evidence dictates that nelson jr. is guilty by virtue of his own confession.

    If it turns out other people are involved including the whole team then they should be dealt with severely.

    I had so much respect for the FIA in their previous rulings such as the indianapolis tire fiasco where they were right in saying that michellin should have brought a suitable tyre for the track and it is not the job of the FIA to modify the track to suit their tyre, the spygate scandal when they did not hesitate to severely punish a superstar team such as mclaren for spying on ferrari, and the recently ruled diffuser row wherein the innovations of the smaller teams were upheld.

    All of a sudden the FIA loses its balls by letting Lewis Hamilton and mclaren virtually go unpunished for a deliberate act of cheating and now letting nelson jr. go practically scott-free for cheating.

    Whatever the verdict will be as long as nelson jr. is not prosecuted and found guilty, the whole trial will be a farce.

    Right now the FIA is saying it’s all right for the drivers to cheat as long as they confess!

    1. Brace says:

      You should have known by now that Mosley isn’t interested in dealing with drivers or dealing with right and wrong at all. He is only interested in settling the score with F1 team bosses and other big figures with whom he has a personal agendas.

      1. James Allen says:

        So what was he supposed to do when a driver comes to him with allegations like these? Ignore them?

      2. Werewolf says:

        The allegation could in no way be ignored but the tragedy is that Mosley’s past behaviour has tainted an undeniably valid investigation by making observations such as Brace’s both inevitable and widespread. He has not been a man that inspires trust for some time.

    2. Peter Freeman says:

      Remember that Alonso was also granted immunity in the McLaren scandal, despite giving his own personal emails as evidence in which he was personally asking for information from NS so that he Alonso could BOTH plan his race strategy and work on weight distribution set-ups using the McLaren simulator.

      In other words Alonso presented his OWN personal involvement in the cheating as evidence AGAINST McLaren AND was granted immunity for it!

  25. CMR says:

    Whatever is decided next week, one or both parties will have the right to appeal?

    The disciplinary actions (If any) could be halved or removed entirely upon appeal…

    I doubt this will be finalised for a while at least and could possible drag on beyond the end of the season, is this why the Alonso to Ferrari deal has been postponed?

    I wonder if all the Renault squad will travel to Singapore next week?

    1. James Allen says:

      That is correct, they have the right of appeal

  26. John Bonello says:

    Hi James , firstly can I say that I much prefer you as an F1 journalist than as the ITV (as was) tv commentator. Your commentary infuriated me on many occasions and like Mr Di Montezemolo post Brazil 2008 the TV set bore the brunt.

    The issue I have with your article is this ; was it really wise for Mr Head to say that he was made aware of “the plot” shortly after the race when a journalist friend of his made him aware of what Piquet Junior has told him. I thought journalists never revealed their sources ? , why did Mr Head not come forward before ? Had he done so and the FIA did what they are doing now the outcome of many things , including the world championship , could have been very different.

    1. James Allen says:

      No, he didn’t find out then, the journalist did. He found out recently when the journo told him.

      1. John Bonello says:

        Thanks for clarifying that James although having looked at the piece in question again it does read as you have just explained.

  27. Gaz says:

    Wonder if Piquet’s F1 career is over all ready. He’s either crashed on purpose or made up the allegations. Either way, he’s disgraced himself.

  28. Alistair Blevins says:

    When Patrick Head speaks people should listen. He, along with with Frank Williams, are characters of cast iron integrity and are indeed the voice of reason, and both love this sport like few others.

    Amongst all the teams on the grid over the past 30 years I struggle to think of any team that embody the spirit of racing and sportsmanship better than Williams.

    Whilst, if rumours are to be believed, another Williams/Renault marriage is on the cards for next year and beyond – they will want no shadow of doubt hanging over a major technical partner.

    This is an important case in so many ways.

  29. Werewolf says:

    Reaching a verdict, however, crucial will take the standard form. Determination of the events of the pre-race meeting will come down to cross examination of statements made at separate times, which should allow for a reasonable view of whether Briatore and Symonds are being truthful.

    Anaysis of the telemetry will also be significant but all data relating to human actions requires explanation. So Piquet’s foot was hard down throughout the accident (as the sound to the footage would seem to confirm), was this to cause the accident or was he trying to spin-turn the car to avoid the wall? More interesting will be at what point was the power applied in relation to previous laps: just slightly earlier or considerably earlier? Again, a view will be formed on cross examination and in conjunction with radio evidence.

    As this is not a criminal investigation, the allegations will not have to be proved or disproved beyond reasonable doubt; a strong balance of probability will suffice. The strength of that balance will, however, probably impact on the severity of the sanction.

    Should matters escalate outside of the FIA into open courts, then the FIA will only need to show it has acted reasonably, with propriety and in the genuine belief it was correct. To be forced to overturn its decision, the FIA would probably have to be shown to be negligent or outwith its own procedures. The leaks may have a bearing here.

    The procedings against the Piquets are criminal and will need the standard of proof required of the country in which they are filed. In Europe, this is normally beyond reasonable doubt. As an observation, even if the Piquets are found to be quilty of blackmail, it would not necessarily mean the crash was not premeditated, unless, of course, Briatore’s false accusation claim was also successful.

    Patrick Head’s ‘evidence’ is legally hearsay. Its only impact on the case will be if he identifies the journalist and that person provides evidence of any conversation with Piquet Jr.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      Thank you, as usual, Werewolf, for the correction on the burden of proof here. I keep thinking in criminal law terms. As with Harveyeight, it would be an honor and privilege to cross swords with you in court.

      1. Werewolf says:

        Never argue with the DA!

  30. Brace says:

    If this was any other respectful court and institution the whole case could be declared void because of the leaks which could influence (and are already influencing) public opinion and thus create a climate which would encourage those who are making decisions to act in certain way.
    Make no mistake they DO need public approval to hand out a hard punishment. They didn’t have it with Hungary/Valencia ban and they had to cave in. They were wrong to give them a ban in the first place but they wouldn’t have caved in if whole paddock and half a world didn’t think the ban was right down stupid.

  31. ciao says:

    In terms of drivers and Piquet this is not nearly as bad as Hamilton running into Raikonnen in the Montreal pit lane. Piquet had more than just implied pressure on him from Briatore from the get go. Hamilton had nothing but ambition. The fact that Piquet did the hard crash to achieve the outcome also speaks of that pressure.

  32. Rich C says:

    I wonder why this “other journalist” didn’t say anything at the time?
    It would have been the story of the year and would have made him famous.
    Sounds odd to me.

  33. Harveyeight says:

    All becomes clear now. Mosley is offering Pat immunity. As in Stepneygate, there is just the one target. There would appear to be only the one person in the crosshairs. Who would have thought it, eh?

    This is primarily an attack on Pat. The FIA/Mosley has gone for their biggest hurdle, the respect Pat has in the pit lane. In this straightforward move they have suggested to the world that Pat would not tell the truth.

    There was no need to spread this all over the news media. It could have been a simple offer to Pat, or rather his legal rep, in a room with closed doors, although I’d have suggested a tape recorder. But no, it is across The Times.

    I was once called to the sound of ‘a machine’ a neighbour of an old biddy could hear. A quick raise of the letterbox revealed thousands upon thousands of bluebottles. I had to go in that flat so I know smells. Believe me, there are few who know smells like I do.

    This smells.

    1. James T says:

      I agree. After reading the Times article, I’m still not convinced there is any actual evidence; certainly not on the basis of what has been released up to now.

      Firstly, the radio transcripts released so far are pretty meaningless, and only show concern from the team for Nelson, and disdain from Briatore; no change there.

      Also, Symonds’ interview transcript sounds much worse than it is – he is being careful not to incriminate himself; remember Melbourne this year and Hamilton’s thoughtless lie that proved so costly?

      The pre-race ‘meeting’ is also odd, if one reads between the lines. Was it simply an informal briefing that has been made to sound like “The Singapore GP Symonds/Briatore/Piquet race-fixing conspiracy committee”; reading the coverage, one would think so. Also, Symonds briefing Piquet with a map of the circuit? That in itself indicates nothing out of the ordinary.

      My theory is this whole business is little more than a hit on Briatore’s position at Renault. He’s the target.

  34. Josh says:

    As Jason briefly mentioned earlier, for people like me who gamble on the sport, this is a major issue.

  35. Peter Freeman says:

    James lets look at Alonso for a second.

    Do you remember that he himself gave evidence to the FIA that he personally had requested information from the McLaren mole? I bring this up as evidence of his willingness in the past to personally be involved in underhanded activity.

    Now I ask the question: Did Alonso really have NO involvement in planning his race strategy? He just happened to have qualified light and come in early? What was to ‘no safety car involvement’ strategy behind this plan?

    And IF Renault had planned this, did Alonso not question why he was being put onto a qualify-light-come-in-early strategy?

    And IF Jnr planned this all on his own, why were Renault running Alonso so light in the first place? Clearly for the plan to work Alonso HAD to stop before ANYONE else!

    So Renault would have us believe that for no reason at all Alonso was on a qualify-light-come-in-early strategy and Jnr all on his own opportunistically planed this crash JUST to help Alonso win out of the goodness of his heart?

    No I don’t believe it.

    And Alonso would have us believe that he had no idea of any crash plan and did not ask the question ‘hey, why am I so light and coming in so early?’ The double world champion who knows this team inside and out…

    No I don’t believe this either.

    Alonso was given immunity at the McLaren hearings for his testimony. What about this time? He was the direct beneficiary from all this but yet The FIA is not asking if he was directly involved…?

    I point out again that Alonso was directly involved in the McLaren scandal.

    1. Olivier says:

      … and what about Piquet’s car?! How much fuel did he have? I hope not too much if they were planning the crash?!

      Is it possible to retrieve the fuel load data?

  36. garyp says:

    Personaly I think Jnr practiced a spin on the parade lap and screwed it up when he was meant to deliver it during the race, spin and stall it not crash, same as his normal performance really.
    I can believe it being premeditated by Flav but not Pat.
    Possibly it was mentioned before the race: “What would be perfect is a SC coming out just after FA pits” as part of a strategy meeting and Jnr thought if I spin it Flav might love me again.
    A bit like the mistreated puppy bringing back the ball and rolling on his back?
    Just some thoughts…

  37. Racing not politics says:

    and now Symonds has been given immunity by the FIA – looks like Flavio is beeing singled out here. Taht should suit Max nicely

    http://f1.gpupdate.net/en/news/2009/09/15/symonds-exempt-from-fia-punishment/

  38. Michael says:

    The biggest loser in all of this? Felipe Massa. That caution brought in the flurry of activity in the pits and the botched pit-stop by Ferrari, causing Felipe to go from 1st place at the time, to out of contention. If Felipe even just garners one point in that race, he is world champion in 2008. Shame on Briatore. May karma haunt him for eons for this classless move.

  39. Harveyeight says:

    James,

    I tried to post this under your question by I kept getting the message that Java was void.

    You ask what I feel about granting immunity:

    A difficult question. I’ve now got to stop moaning and be constructive. I’m not sure I know how.

    My instinct is to say that if you can’t trust anyone to tell the truth without inducements you can’t trust them to tell the truth.

    The FIA do not have to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, as explained by Werewolf. So we have the threshold of the balance of probabilities. It you can’t reach that without some kind of prepayment then your case must be pretty weak.

    Further, the FIA has protection against a duff decision built-in to the law. To go into pope mode and grant forgiveness of sins without repentance seems an abuse of the protection.

    The penalty for Flav, the sponsors, Renault itself and, as you pointed out, the Renault workers, is severe. The decision must be 100% certain. Anything else is a betrayal of the FIA’s responsibility. The innocent victims in all of this cannot be seen as collateral damage.

    Further, and this is a personal moral stance I know, ignoring all the political implications which the FIA must have cognisance of, if three people have conspired then they should all be punished.

    I had a hero, a detective sergeant who criticised me for my long interviews in order to obtain confessions. He said: If you can’t prove it without a cough, you shouldn’t try and prove it with. It was easy for him because he was a real thieftaker. But the premise is a good one.

    Many people have suffered in this matter already. Heaven knows what is going through the minds of the team workers and their families. How will they feel after, perhaps, losing their houses, their kids education, their holidays and their security to see Piquet walk free and back to his life of indulgent luxury? SBS CEO anyone?

    I know life is not fair but the FIA have treated Piquet as some kind of hero for, if he is to be believed, keeping stum about the incident for 12 months and then, when galvanised into action by his sacking, eventually got daddy to go to the FIA. Some hero. But some reward, eh?

    My personal experience of those offered some kind of deal – never immunity at my level – is that they remain selective in their memory. Informants are one thing, co-conspirators are another. My belief always was that they started lying for their mates and ended up lying against them. Either way, not to be trusted.

    You suggest in your question that they are being given immunity for the truth. That’s not quite correct. They are being given immunity for saying what the prosecution wants to hear. A difference, and not a subtle one. Piquet is not an insider, giving evidence against those for whom he worked. This is against, if he is to be believed, those who conspired with him.

    So to be rather Micawberish, in short I don’t trust evidence gained by absolution. But, as importantly, if Piquet and Pat have conspired, they should be punished. And severely.

    I hope, but rather doubt, that I’ve made my feelings clear on the matter.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks, I’ll post that, It’s really interesting.

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