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Piquet had a seat lined up at Toro Rosso before crash scandal
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Piquet had a seat lined up at Toro Rosso before crash scandal
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Oct 2009   |  9:59 am GMT  |  107 comments

There is a postscript today to the story of Nelson Piquet and the Singapore crash fixing scandal.

Picture 4
Nelson’s father has spoken to Gazzetta dello Sport’s Pino Allievi about the background to the story and it makes very interesting reading. He has no sympathy for Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who has been banned from motorsport for life,
“He deserved it,” says Piquet. “Admittedly it wasn’t his idea, but to convince a young driver to do something like that is huge. He should stay far away from racing.”

Piquet reveals that he was keen to move his son on from Renault at the end of 2008 and says that he had lined him up a good alternative,

“It was (Flavio) Briatore who wanted an extension (for 2009). I wanted Nelsinho to leave Renault and had found him a seat at Toro Rosso with Gerhard Berger. But Nelsinsho wanted to stay with Renault because there was the chance that Alonso would go to Ferrari.”

Piquet reveals that he spoke to Briatore at the Hungarian Grand Prix about Nelson’s likely sacking and Briatore told him to take him to court if he had a problem “He spoke with the air of superiority which is typical of someone who thinks he cannot be touched,” he said. Piquet became angry and went to see FIA president Max Mosley, who told him to get his son to make a sworn statement.

Mosley would have already known about the Singapore crash because Piquet Sr had told the FIA’s Charlie Whiting about it last November. The FIA was clearly biding its time on this one. Mosley offered Piquet immunity and, according to his father, “I told him it was up to him to decide whether to go ahead with it or not, with the risk that he may never drive in F1 again. He took four days to decide then went to Mosley.”

Piquet again implicated Fernando Alonso in the scandal, “They all knew about it, ” he says. “Do you think Alonso would conceive a race where he starts 15th and makes a pit stop almost straight away? It was a perfect plan.”

After Massa raising it yesterday, you get the feeling that this is not going to go away for Alonso, despite being cleared by the FIA world council of involvement and despite the fact that none of the protagonists in the case has mentioned him in their evidence.

Incidentally, Alonso said that he intends to speak to Massa today in the Interlagos paddock, “Not about this story, but about his health. The most important piece of news this week is that he drove an F1 car at Fiorano and has recovered 100%. I want to ask him how he found Ferrari when he first went there and get some advice from him, to make it easier for me to fit in. He’s been there three or four years and I have to learn everything.”

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107 Comments
  1. Antoine says:

    So far, Alonso’s winning the mind game battle, my vote goes for u Fernando.

    1. rpaco says:

      How on earth did you work that out? No Massa is ahead in the psycho game.

  2. Matthew says:

    Alonso’s comments seem very well-tempered and reasonable. If I had been unjustly accused of being complicit with race fixing, I think I would find it difficult to be so magnanimous in my response.

    1. Declan says:

      In this case, I think Alonso is playing the wolf in sheep’s clothing. I think he is happy to lose this little battle to win the war.

      1. Matthew says:

        The point I was rather too subtle in making was that, if Alonso was ‘innocent’, he would have been full of righteous indignation. I suspect his ‘sheepish’ response is due to the fact that any ‘insider’ (which I’m not) would know that his claim to have been ignorant of the plan is not credible.

      2. GP says:

        Or he’s doing the smart thing instead of shooting his mouth off like Massa did…

  3. Roger Carballo AKA Architrion says:

    This piece of info shows some valuable things, IMHO. First one, Nelsinho is a shame of a guy and as guilty as the Flav or the Pat. He could choose to leave the team that put him in danger and made him to comite a crime, and he chose to stay. No tell me beatiful tales about candiness and honesty….. bla bla

    Second. The whole affair is more complicated that it was shown. If the Toro Rosso agreement was after the Singapur incident, then it shows that Piquet hadn’t anything to worry about his F1 career, because there were teams that would hire him. And if this agreement was before the crashgate, then this guy is even worse than we thought because then it would be demonstrated that he did what he did fully awareness and in cooperative mode.

    Third. All this stuff shows that there is so much under the Piquets father and son’s skins. So it’s your turn, journalists, James Allen and co, to go after those two and make them sing…..

    Anyway, congrats for this piece of journalism.

  4. abulafia says:

    Hi James, my first post here but I have been reading your (excellent and insightful) site since its first day.

    Alonso, so far, has been involved in several scandals. The 2006 mass damper system, the McLaren fiasco (with his alleged whistblowing / blackmailing role) and, of course, the Singapore fix. Although he participated in these scandals in different degrees of (perceived) involvement, a commont pattern that emerges is that he always stood to gain from them.

    What is surprising, to he honest, is the kind of press coverage he is getting with regards to his involvement to these scandals, in comparison to what Schumacher was receiving for similar and, in most cases, much more benign infringements. The journalists, in Alonso’s case, seem to adopt the same attitude that they had demonstrated towards Senna (especially post-mortem), according to which anything he did was justifiable simply because he was a religously driven, immensely talented driver.

    I am not arguing that the scandals that MS was involved in were to be overlooked (i.e. the TC software found embedded in the car’s software, the fuel rig tampering, the on road incidents, etc), but surely they pale in comparison to the biggest industrial espionage and whistleblowing scandal the sport has ever since (which led to the biggest fine the sport has ever seen) and the biggest race fixing scandal that, again, F1 has ever seen.

    Not the mention the stick that MS got because his team-mates appeared to have a “lap dog” status inside Ferrari (in particular). Almost every win, pole position and championship that MS won was challenged on the basis that his team-mates were “prevented” from racing against him (which could be absolute bull, or could not). MS received tons of negative press regarding this. But in Alonso’s case, the press is staggeringly silent. Even though it has been PROVEN, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that Alonso demands his team-mates to be subordinates, to the point of ratting his own team to the FIA. Piquet’s story is a stunning insight on the kind of treatment that Renault were giving to their No2 driver – yet no one is saying much about it. Trulli was fast when he was Alonso’s team-mate in 2004, and he was duly given the boot. Next, they got Fisico to partner Alonso, who was painfully inadequate – Alonso was happy. Then we had the Hamilton-McLaren situation. And then Piquet… Still, some people rave only about Alonso’s talent, even though Trulli (a Toyota has-been) and Hamilton (a rookie in 07) were more often than not faster than him.

    Still, Alonso is treated by the (English) media as a talented driver and nothing else but.

    Is it because he hasn’t ram an English man off the road on his course to winning a world title?

    Is it because he was pitted against Michael during MS’s twilight years, so he must be present as the good and noble force that de-throned the evil German?

    I am not suggesting that Alonso should be villified on the basis of assumptions, guesses and hypothetical scenarios – that would be WRONG.

    I am simply pointing out the hypocricy of the media, the double standards and their seriously biased attitude in that respect.

    I would really like to hear your honest and (as always) un-biased opinion on this matter. You are one of the few voices in F1 that command my complete respect, still.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for your comment. I hope you will do it more. The mass damper business wasn’t a scandal.. but you raise an interesting point about comparisons with Schumacher and Senna.

      1. Harry C. says:

        It’s a really interesting point regarding Senna, Schumacher and Alonso. Having started watching Formula 1 just before the Piquet/Mansell/Senna/Prost era, I’ve been intrigued by those later drivers who cite Senna as an inspiration/influence. Certainly, none of those drivers were angels, but my perception is that Senna was the most extreme when it came to mindgames, bullying and intimidation. Have those drivers who talk about Senna as an inspiration ever commented on this side to him, or is it PURELY based on his driving and his achievements?

        In addition, were the facts that Senna never teamed with Mansell and drove for British teams a factor in the British attitude towards him?

    2. mingojo says:

      The mass damper was not a scandal.
      The spy-saga was between MM and Ferrari where Ron Dennis tried to use Alonso as scapegoat. The British press was really harsh on Fernando during his time in Mclaren. Week after week, he was critized by demanding N.1 status over Lewis. However, I haven’t seen any prove of that. In fact, it was Lewis who was getting the best strategies and the last flying lap in Q3.
      The crash scandal? Well, I think FIA was clear that Fernando wasn’t involved even Nelsinho Pat or Briatore haven’t mentioned Fernando’s name.

      1. rpaco says:

        Sorry it was Alonso trying to blackmail Ron that kicked it all off.

      2. Rik says:

        “The spy-saga was between MM and Ferrari where Ron Dennis tried to use Alonso as scapegoat.”

        One of the few real facts we know about McLaren usage of Ferrari data was that Alonso had access to confidential data that he knew came from a Ferrari source, that he discussed the information with de la Rosa, and that he did not report this to the FIA at the time. To my mind that makes him as guilty of cheating as anyone else in McLaren.

      3. mingojo says:

        The final apology by Mclaren re:Spy-saga recognised that Confidential Ferrari data was known no only by Alonso, De La Rosa and M. Coughan. However, Mclaren or Ron Dennis never revealed who else in MM knew about Ferrari data. Also Ron Dennis came out with Fernando trying to threat him in Hungary only when MM was fined by FIA. In my opinion it is opportunistic and he tried to use Fernando as scapegoat.

      4. Rik says:

        You are wrong about Hungary. Dennis informed Max Mosley of Alonso’s threat immediately after he allegedly made it. According to Mosley, Dennis told him during that conversation that McLaren did not have any confidential data. Therefore he could hardly be using Alonso as a scapegoat.

    3. Howard Hughes says:

      Brilliant post.

    4. johnpierrer rivera says:

      abulafia

      clearly you do not sound like an alonso fan, no matter. i would like to disclose that i am. however, i would like to point out just a couple of facts. as far as scandals go, what makes you think that other teams have not participated in industrial espionage, to the same degree as mclearn. i don’t think you can say with any certainty is that this has not happened, and not to a greater degree. all we can say is that no other team has been caught to the same degree. and how is mclearn’s cheating alsonso fault? true he did blow the whistle as a pay-back for what he felt was a wrong done to him. we have not idea what ron promised him as he was deciding to move to mclearn. secondly, how do you call a mass damper a scandal. this was a mechanical device that was cleared for an entire season by the FIA and then, and only then when ferrari was losing ground, did ferrari invoke there influence to have it banned. while, might i say that ferrari developed a tire spat, which from the regs seemed illegal, but since it was called a device to help cool brakes was allowed. lastly, to your point that alonso makes everyone subordinate, i think it is more a case of his team mates driving make their position subordinate to alonso driving. true again, hamilton was faster half the time, on balance, but i seem to remember pleanty of wins for alonso, not to mention he only finish 1 point behind him. one could argue that had alonso keep his cool not stayed in the pit box, swallowed his pride and just got on with it even had hamilton won that race, as things were going presumably alonso would have taken some points from that race and the championship #3 is done. tuff on alonso, that is racing. and don’t forger that year, who drove the development of the car? alonso’s time at mclearn did not turn out the way he had hoped, or was promised. time to leave, to go where he is more appreciated, i would as well, to ensure i had the best chance to win another world title. f1 is way too complex and complicated and to win, one needs more that a fast car. one needs support, confidence that the team is at the very least supporting you equally if both drivers are in the hunt, and apparently alonso didn’t feel that. lastly to your point that alsono gets a free ride from the media, english media, unlike micheal. could it simple be because he is not committing the egresses acts of arrogance that became a staple of micheals driving, and the behavior of ferrari under todt? i would think that if alsonso drove someone off the road or ran into someone on purpose the media would be all over him. instead, i think he always drives 110%, delivers the goods when he has even a half decent car and speaks his mind openly. (im thinking of the comment to flavio recently, quite sure the FIA did not find that too amusing) which is really what we all want to see in F1. maybe that is not hypocrisy, maybe alonso is not micheal…jp

      1. James Allen says:

        PLEASE KEEP THE COMMENTS BRIEF AND AT LEAST ADD SOME PARA BREAKS!

      2. adam says:

        …and learn how to spell Mclaren!

      3. johnpierrer rivera says:

        opps. copy that…

    5. Eric says:

      I agree completely.

      I think the difference between MS and FA is that MS was much more open about the fact of doing whatever it takes to win, whereas FA is a lot more guarded on the subject and tries to make it appear not so. I respect the former, not the latter.

    6. Harveyeight says:

      Don’t ask too much of journos. Whilst we glibly put the –gate suffix on every dispute or minor spat, the truth is that legislation and the decision of judges has meant that the Washington Post would not dare break the Watergate break-in nowadays as it would break the paper.

      Without concrete evidence – which Woodward and Bernstein did not have – no journo can hope to get any accusation against a driver past their editor. What word ran through your mind when you saw the prison garb, the German uniforms and the lice inspections? Printing it cost the News of the World £8571.43 for each character.

      Times have changed, and are still changing at the whim of judges it seems, and comment is no longer viewed as anything other than actionable. Mosley threatened Brundle with what might have been penury for a comment that many feel (I’m not saying what my opinion was) reflected that of the pitlane. And name two F1 commentators who are as well regarded as Martin.

      The days of the prefix allegedly covering all sins are no longer.

      The press follows the lead given by the FIA. We are led to believe that the Stepneygate fiasco was, to use your words, ‘the biggest industrial espionage and whistleblowing scandal the sport has ever seen’. But McLaren corporate wasn’t involved. It was just individuals – one high up in McLaren and one high up in Ferrari, and two drivers acting rather pathetically.

      Yet just before that a McLaren employee went to a computer and accessed a file he had no right to see. He downloaded it and then took it with him to another company and, they have admitted, it was then dispersed it around their whole company. Out of the two instances I know which I feel is the worst yet one team was fined £100m and the other was allowed to go and cheat again.

      Someone doctored a fuel rig for the purpose of gaining a second or two during a pit stop. The resulting fire was dealt with by marshals risking their lives. And we are supposed to believe that the Stepneygate saga was big wthout anyone’s life being put at risk and no injuries.

      The crash conspiracy I’ll give you. That was out of order.

      *******HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION ALERT**********

      Imagine what would happen if a journo, one well respected in the international motoring press, suddenly stated that Alonso did indeed know of the conspiracy before it occurred. The journo had information from an informant and this was corroborated by a second, totally unconnected, source. Watergate in a nutshell.

      Would any editor publish it?

      ********HS Alert over**********

      Press freedom, that mainstay of a free society, has been eaten away bit by bit since the days of the real -Gate. We are now treated to sycophantic interviews, such as the Mosley one in The Times this week, which are offensive to one’s intelligence.

      Don’t blame the journos. I feel sure they do their best in a political situation which is, in all honesty, very worrying.

      1. abulafia says:

        James, I will try to keep this short…

        Mass dampers, of course that wasn’t a scandal. In much the same way that the Ferrari bargeboards in 1999 were not a scandal, or the BAR fuel tank in 2005.

        The point of my post was that the level, quantity AND quality of criticism in most media tends to be governed by likes and dislikes rather than facts, figures or, at least, equal standards.

        I am a Schumacher fan, but I will be the first to point out that he has been the architect of some patently dumb incidents in the past. Jerez 97, Monaco 06 and others spring to mind. In my book, he has been the best driver (on and off the track) the sport has ever seen, but when it came to sudden, on-the-sport decision making, he left a lot to be desired. His instictive reaction would always be to block, chop and weave. In some ways, the knowledge of his superiority and his competitive drive got the better of him, every time. He reminded me of a friend of mine I used to play football with. He was a defender, and he believed in the doctrine “either the ball passes, or the player – not both at the same time”. I still have scars that bring his memory back.

        I have no problem with journalists criticizing my idol (MS) – in fact, I have the feeling that Michael himself had little time for brown nosers and bandwagon jumpers. I do have an issue though when double standards are applied.

        Harvey, you bring a very interesting point regarding journalism as a whole, which could be a basis for a more general discussion. Johnpierrie, I tried to read your post dude but… dear lord, introduce paragraphs into your life dude, you have me a headache.

    7. GP says:

      I stopped reading your post after the part about the mass damper being a scandal. As James mentions, there was no scandal. The mass damper was legal for over a season before the FIA decided to make it illegal. Why? who the hell knows with this bunch.

      However, I wanted to bring up a point about the naivete of racing fans. Racing drivers are not saints or examples of how one should conduct one’s life. There are other people much better suited for that, if one needs that sort of thing.

      Racing drivers, by the very nature of the job, will never be angels. They have to be bastards who only think of themselves. If you read what experts say about the psychological profile of a typical driver you will see that empathy and generosity are not exactly their forte. Senna, Michael, all of them, are the same. You don’t put life and limb on the line, week in and week out, and then go: “After you George.”

      1. James Allen says:

        An excellent post, thanks

  5. Silverstoned says:

    Round 1
    Massa : 0 Alonso : 1

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, it is starting to look like a bit of an own goal by Massa. Italian media reporting it that way…

      1. Pietro says:

        there’s no rounds. Just races, that starts in 2010.

        And its points James, not goals.

      2. " for sure " says:

        ..I disagree. What we got from Massa was heartfelt, intuitive. What we got from Teflonso was cold, calculated PR spin, originated by someone on his behalf to create the required impression of a feeling, caring teamate. The exact opposite of reality.

      3. rossetto says:

        Guess who was smarter?

  6. Lady Snowcat says:

    And the rest Fernando…

    Felipe has been closely connected with Ferrari since 2003 (if not earlier) when he was a test driver for them…

    He’s really part of the fabric there….

  7. John says:

    Even though Lewis Hamilton repeated exactly the same strategy at Melbourne this year and wound up 3rd? I know there is a view that “mud sticks” but unless someone comes up with some actual evidence to implicate Alonso, then it says more about the somewhat pathetic mindset of the accusers than it does about Alonso. Beyond this, there is a question of justice. We should recall the slurs repeated against John Kerry in 2004 about the Swift Boat veterans – the mud “stuck” to an extent, but it was founded on a complete pack of lies by people with an agenda to pursue, and who entirely lacked any ethics whatsoever. The FIA did not simply “not charge” Alonso – it actively stated that it was satisfied that Alonso had no knowledge whatsoever and fully co-operated with the enquiry. In other words, it actively declared his innocence, rather than reaching a “not proven” verdict. As far as I’m concerned, Piquet Sr. appears to be a man unable to read and has diminshed yet further in my estimation with such silly remarks. I know he is gutted that his son was unable to replicate his own success, but he really needs to get over it.

  8. Daniel Hoyes says:

    I wonder what Massa’s advice would be to Alonso? “Appear nonchalant and unengaged – eat lot’s of ice cream. Wear silver.”

    1. James Allen says:

      …and wear a cap with a wide brim…

      1. Chazzers says:

        “and for the love of god, don’t enunciate anything when you talk to the media!”

      2. rossetto says:

        Alonso cannot go back to Mclaren on a foreseeable future and just left Renault.
        Unless a “miracle of a team” come to the fore on the near future, Alonso with Ferrari, is at his last great opportunity to make it really big and he has to make it works, therefore he will be a nice boy beyond anybody expectation.
        Ferrari will be there to support him, since they see on him what they lost with the retirement of MS.

  9. Stupid question – if Snr. had a Toro Rosso drive lined up for him, why bother with the whistleblowing? Surely that ruined his (albeit slim) chances?

    Not that it matters anyway, aside from Seb Vettel, being a Toro Rosso driver hasn’t exactly furthered many careers, has it?

    1. Phil says:

      I believe the seat was for this year, not next, but flav, being Piquet’s manager as well, wasn’t going to let go of him if Alonso was jumping ship as having two rookies wouldn’t be the best move ever.

      1. Knuckles says:

        Piquet Sr clearly stated above that it was Nelsinho’s choice to stay, hoping that Alonso would leave:

        “But Nelsinsho wanted to stay with Renault because there was the chance that Alonso would go to Ferrari.”

  10. jonas says:

    Ah well, here’s Piquet snr making sure he is still in the headlines for as long as possible.

    As I have said before … so what if Alonso knew? The thought that Piquet Snr himself wouldn’t have gone along with such a plan is laughable!!!

    1. Steve says:

      Yeah. Pretty shocking that a 3 time WDC from Brazil would be at the Brazilian GP.

      I don’t think he would have allowed his son to crash himself.

      1. Jonas says:

        I was writing about the fact that he is still fueling the controversy, and not that he is attending his home race.

        I didn’t say he would have allowed his son to crash.

        Did you actually read my post before replying?

  11. Patrickl says:

    “Do you think Alonso would conceive a race where he starts 15th and makes a pit stop almost straight away? It was a perfect plan.”

    People really should stop claiming that that bizarre strategy is proof that Alonso must have known.

    Alonso had to declare his fuel amount ahead of Q3.

    According to Piquet’s story the whole crash thing didn’t come up until just ahead of the race. According to Symonds and Mr X, Piquet suggested to crash AFTER qualifying.

    Either way, Alonso’s strategy was set BEFORE the whole crash idea was contemplated. Let alone decided on.

    They actually use that ridiculous strategy quite often. It never works, but they still keep trying it.

    1. Steve Mc says:

      Could be wrong, but I thought they didn’t have to declare race weights last year; that was something that was introduced for this season, wasn’t it?

      1. rossetto says:

        they did not have to declare it to the public, but the FIA knew the weights.

      2. Peter W says:

        I believe they had to declare them still they just werent made public like they are this year.

        This would explain why the commentators are able to advise (and have been for a while) on who is light and who is heavy as some info always leaked out.

      3. Patrickl says:

        The refuelling rules didn’t change. Only that the weights are now published by FIA.

    2. John M. says:

      “Alonso had to declare his fuel amount ahead of Q3.”

      That’s incorrect. Only the top 10 qualifiers have to declare fuel loads before Q3. Alonso didn’t make it into the top 10, so the team was free to change his strategy.

      1. Red Andy says:

        For the bottom 10 drivers the strategy has to be set before the cars enter parc ferme, which is immediately after the driver is knocked out of Q1 or Q2.

  12. rblach says:

    “The FIA was clearly biding its time on this one”…

    James: this statement made me wonder, is it conceivable that the FIA’s timing was such as to deliberately delay action to avoid further embarrassment to the sport? I mean, had they acted before the deadline for changing the results and after the championship was decided, the logical adjustment would have been to annul the entire race and therefore change the final outcome of the championship. Certainly a huge mess that would surely trigger a very bad and angry reaction from the fans, sponsors et al…

    Am I crazy to think such things?

    BTW, thanks so much for this blog! it is a great consolation to having lost the great coverage you guys did at ITV, which I followed from the beginning when I lived in London and online when I later on moved to Madrid (Spanish media, both TV and print, is way too biased, not to mention the bad quality the spanish presenter still doesn’t even understand the race start procedure, and the rarely pay attention to anything that happens if it doesn’t concern Alonso)

    Ricardo

    1. Conor says:

      Very good point, and x2 on this being a wicked blog, pretty much the only place I come to for F1 now

  13. ImOldGregg says:

    As much as I don’t like Nelson Snr I think he/Massa are right, Alonso probably did know about it, coming in after 15 laps and no questions? doesnt add up.

    I don’t think this is the last we hear about this whole episode.. and if Charlie Whiting knew about it why has it been kept secret for so long? We only found out about it because Nelson Jnr decided to act after getting sacked. The whole thing stinks.

    Best F1 website on the web by the way James, I miss your commentary, you were a good match for Brundle. I make do with 5 live on the red button now. Legard is a nice bloke but he isnt cut out for it. Please come back next year! :)

    1. Phil says:

      Didn’t he come in after 12 or so in Hungary this year?

      It was a decent strategy when you realise he was in the midfield and needed to pass a few cars as quickly as possible – which is easier when you are fuelled light.

  14. Michael C says:

    Alonso said that he intends to speak to Massa today in the Interlagos paddock, “Not about this story, but about his health. The most important piece of news this week is that he drove an F1 car at Fiorano and has recovered 100%. I want to ask him how he found Ferrari when he first went there and get some advice from him, to make it easier for me to fit in. He’s been there three or four years and I have to learn everything.”

    yes – and pigs have wings…

    on another note (I love conspiracy theories!)so if he knew why didn’t Mosely do something last year about crashgate and what else does he know he hasnt acted on

    1. DK says:

      Look out for Max’s memoir publish date!!

  15. JonG says:

    Of course he knew, and of course Mosley/FIA knew he knew, but what where they going to do, shoot themselves in the foot? If they’d investigated further and/or punished him then almost certainly the Ferrari deal would have been off, and that might just be the one thing that salvages F1 next year (providing Ferrari and McLaren sort their cars out).

    Mosley got what he wanted, Briatore out, then conveniently let Renault and Alonso off the hook for the greater interest of F1, simples.

    1. " for sure " says:

      ………..at last, a realist.

  16. Ben says:

    Now James, correct me if I’m wrong here but this is my understanding of the chronology of events.

    Alonso was eliminated from Q2. The team has to give the FIA the race fuel levels before the end of qualifying.

    Mr X and Symonds both say that Piquet suggested the accident on saturday night after qualifying. (Given Mr X is immune from prosecution and incognito I’d give credence to his version of events).

    So Alonso was already on the very short fuel strategy before the crash idea was even mentioned.

    If those events are correct, wouldn’t it make it very unfair to suggest Alonso must have known about the plot to agree to the strategy, as his strategy was decided before the crash plot made.

    1. Ben says:

      Sorry, just to clear up my own mistake here, drivers eliminated in Q2 have to declare fuel loads before Q3 even starts, not before it ends as I said in my first post.

      So the crash was planned after Alonso’s strategy decided – so he couldn’t have known about the plot when he agreed to the risky strategy.

    2. James Allen says:

      Last year they did not have to declare the fuel weight after qualifying. That rule came in this year.

      1. mvi says:

        Hold on, they did have to declare them but not publicly. This part is from 2008 regulations, unchanged for 2009.

        Art. 29.1 c:

        c) Any competitor whose car is eligible but unable to take part Q3 must, prior to the start of Q3, inform the FIA in writing what quantity of fuel they wish to add to the car. Any such refuelling will take place when the car is released from parc fermé on the day of the race.

      2. Maxime LABELLE says:

        Yes, exactly. The keyword here is “eligible”.
        Clearly, having been kicked out of Q3, Alonso was not eligible to participate in Q3, and thus the team did not have to declare the quantity of fuel.

      3. Andy says:

        Doesn’t that just state, that if you qualified to Q3 but are unable to drive, you must declare the fuel load before Q3 starts. Alonso did not qualify to Q3 in Singapore, so he didn’t need to declare his fuel load.

        At least that’s how I read the quoted regulation.

      4. Jason says:

        A driver cannot be eligible for Q3 if they are out in Q2.

      5. mvi says:

        Whoops! I think you folks are right. So the relevant regulation seems to be the part that was added for 2009 in the Weighing section:

        26.2 Within two hours of the end of qualifying practice session the race start weight of all cars eliminated in Q1 and Q2 must be declared by the relevant teams to the technical delegate. These weights, together with the weights of the top ten cars following qualifying, will then be published by the press delegate.

        However, the section on Refuelling is/was not at all explicit about what may or may not be done during qualifying.

    3. Steve says:

      Wrong – When Mr. X was in the room and told of the plan Piquet Jr. was not in the room. Please read the official report.

  17. Peter says:

    I thought in Piquet Jr’s sworn statement to FIA it said that Briatore and Symmonds proposed the idea to him?

    How can Piquet Snr now say so confidently it wasn’t Briatores idea?

    Symmonds has constantly said that it was Piquet Jr’s idea (and still has to my knowledge even after his and Flav’s ban). This statement from Piquet Snr makes it look like Symmonds was telling the truth on that one which makes it look like more of a stitch up to me.

  18. zenmeister says:

    Personally, I’m as convinced Piquet Snr. that Alonso did know what was going to happen. What you have to realise is that the FIA said in effect that they had no evidence to implicate him, so obviously they couldn’t, but that’s a world apart from saying that he absolutely, definitely and irrefutably was not involved. They just couldn’t prove it based on the information they had.

    He has a reputation for being particularly astute where race strategy is concerned and I simply don’t believe that he would have gone along with a strategy that, on the face of it, was going to mire him at the back of the field for the whole of the race, unless he knew that something was going to happen to change everything.

  19. JimmyF says:

    I think Piquet Jr will be back in F1 by the start of the 2011 season. This sport has an amazing ability to forget its past errors, and the one thing Piquet Jr has (albeit through his father) is cash.

    Being realistic about it, money usually talks in F1 and rightly or wrongly Piquet Jr is able to shout a bit louder than most.

  20. alex m says:

    “Do you think Alonso would conceive a race where he starts 15th and makes a pit stop almost straight away? It was a perfect plan.”

    Does anybody, apart from fanatical Alonso fans, really think Alonso is not clearly as guilty as hell ?

    It was very obvious from the start, utterly inconcievable that Alonso would not have seriously questioned the bizarre strategy of the pit stop from nowhere. Pitpass was the only website to spot this, or at least dare question it, at the time.

    Alonso cheated McLaren, Hamilton, F1 and us the fans when he saw the speed of the Rookie Hamilton and tried to keep the benifit of Ferrari data and inside information to himself, claimed his sheer genius had resulted in “0.6 of a second for the team” whilst trying to hide “his” setups from a beginner. Blackmailing the team and causing them, not himself, a $100M fine will not be forgotten for many decades.

    His uncomfortable exposure now is a pure joy to watch, sadly we do not yet have a governing body interested in real justice, so the cheat carries on, abeit more exposed.

    Most importantly, I do wonder about the future, what the feeling amongst the Ferrari mechanics is about this flawed driver and his bought seat. Spanish Banks are reported to be covering up large losses and the 2009 car has not exactly shot up the grid like the McLaren has.

    1. Peter says:

      Sigh you are very angry arent you?

      The strategy itself doesnt mean much. You better also question why Hamilton didnt query very similar strategies for himself at Aus and Monaco in 2009 where he was down the grid on much lower fuel than everyone else around him. You might as well try something different when a heavy fuel load is going to get you nowhere.

      I doubt Hamilton and Alonso are the only ones to have tried this in the last few years either.

    2. Corso says:

      Doesnt matter if you think (or anybody else) Alonso is 100% guilty. You have to show us proofs of it. Otherwise, it´s just one opinion as good as opionos from who thinks he´s innocent.
      I agree with Jones. Whay if he knew? What he supposed to do? Avoid running as fast as he can? (as he always does). To report his friend Flavio to FIA? Nonsense.
      Unless someone proofs he came up with this plans, Alonso gonna be remembered cause his WC titles. Those “scandals” gonna be considered a sign of what a competitive, race animal he was. As happened with Michael Schumacher.

      1. Tigerdad says:

        Don’t even compare Alonso to MS, Corso. Despite his 2 WC’s, Alonso’s 9 years in F1 pale in comparison to Michael’s first 6 years in the top flight. Even if Alonso were to match Schumi’s 7 WC’s, Schumi never caused his teams any headaches.

      2. Corso says:

        I think we cannot make a definitive statement when it cames to compare Schumi and Alonso careers. We´ll have to do it once Alonso retires.
        But this is a piece of info: Schumacher took 9 years to archieve his third WC and he was 31. Actually, I´d say so far are plenty of similarities between both…

    3. Sergio says:

      ¨Alonso cheated McLaren, Hamilton, F1 and us the fans when he saw the speed of the Rookie Hamilton and tried to keep the benifit of Ferrari data and inside information to himself, claimed his sheer genius had resulted in “0.6 of a second for the team” whilst trying to hide “his” setups from a beginner. Blackmailing the team and causing them, not himself, a $100M fine will not be forgotten for many decades.¨

      I am sorry, did I missed 2008 R. Dennis very public letter of apology because Mclaren was still using Ferrari dossier for the 2008 car development? did we missed the transcripts were more than 1 sr engineer is mentioned? Do you think only Fernando had access to Ferrari´s data? ……seriously…..

    4. Adrian says:

      Okay. Firstly, let me say that I am NOT an Alonso fan, used to be prior to 2007, but lost all respect for him during that season.

      However, I can understand the logic in doing something different with your race fuel just on the off chance that something happens to make it work.

      You have to put yourself in the mindset of a racing driver – they want to win.

      If Alonso had simply run the same strategy as everyone else, then he would have ended up running around in the mid-field and pitting with everyone else. Not what a racer would want.

      If you run a different strategy (in this case fuel light) then if something should happen after you’ve stopped, then you might, only might benefit from it and have a chance of scoring big. Yes it’s a risk, but one that offers a chance of a big result – something that would be extremely unlikely running a standard fuel load.

      I fully believe that a racer would prefer to take the chance of a light fueled first stint paying off than settle for probably no points…I know I would.

      Did Alonso know about the crash-plot? We’ll probably never know…

      Does his light fuel strategy prove anything in this case? No.

  21. F1 Kitteh says:

    “Admittedly it wasn’t his idea….”

    What does that mean?

    1. Martin P says:

      Yep, I think that’s the most interesting line. It suggests Piquet Snr is clear of the facts and chronology in his own mind – clearer than any of us seem to be from what’s been released by the FIA anyway.

    2. Doozer says:

      It sounds like the Piquets deliberately misled the authorities with their testimony that Briatore was the mastermind.

      1. F1 Kitteh says:

        I’m surprised (or not) that with all the discrepencies in the testimonies, and comments like these, that FIA says case is closed…

  22. Paul Mc says:

    The best thing Alonso can do , like Schumi did admid controversy, is win races and championships.

  23. Stephen says:

    It would be interesting to see what Gerhard Berger says about this. It sounds unliklely to me. I know that Torro Rosso ultimately dropped Bordais, and might well have been prepared to do so at the end of 2008 if a better option had been available, but, seriously, would they have taken on Piquet Jr? He’d hardly set the world alight in his debut season! And if he had something else lined-up, why stay on at Renault after being bullied by Flavio into crashing at Singapore? This strikes me as more of a case of Daddy trying to rehabilitate Nelsinho’s career by making it sounds as if he was in demand pre-crash-gate.

  24. Cesar says:

    So James, when the article about Alonso´s answer to Felipe´s comments, u found very interesting his remarks (i found there was no need and they say more about Felipe being nervous and unsecure, like many times before), i found even more interesting what Fernando had to say, when Felipe said he was not to be friends with Fernando, Fernando said why not and that he was expecting to have dinner with him, when Felipe said Fernando should adapt to Ferrari and he won´t Fernando said Ferrari is all about the team, about being a family and that he´s willing to adapt and work with everybody, it´s clear that the last thing Fernando is worried is about Felipe´s comments.

    If this is the war u mentioned the result now is Massa 0-Alonso 1, hopefully Felipe will fight the next round driving his car and not having lunch with his brazilian buddys, F1 doesn´t need any more dramas.

  25. Surallan says:

    You have to choose who to believe:

    1)Symmonds, Briatore, Piquet Jnr, The FIA, Alonso, witness X or 2) Piquet Snr, Massa

    I choose to believe 1) because:
    - there is no reason for PK Jnr to lie about Alonso’s guilt, on the contrary, Alonso haters would love him if he told about his involvement
    - Alonso didn’t have to know for the plan to work, and, more importantly, by not knowing he would have reacted normally after the race which was in my view quite important

  26. VicWeir says:

    The implication of this statement from Piquet Snr. not only disputes Fernando Alonso’s part in the affair but, by extension, the entire Renault pit wall team since they all claimed total ingnorance of the crash plan too. And, as with FA,their inocence was accepted by the FIA after listening to the transcript of orders during the race as well as interviews.

    I imagine everyone in the team (and probably on the grid) knew what the strategies for the two Renault drivers were before the race: one was short fuelled, one long fuelled, in the hope of a safety car intervening. After poor quali results it was the best they could hope for. But the ‘crash’ itself? It wasn’t necessary for everyone to know that.

    When FA was called in for the first time, according to the transcript, there was some surprise expressed by those on the desk, but I think it was Pat Symonds who said words to the effect “It’ll be alright”. This, along with his own admittance of colluding with Piquet Jnr’s suggestion, condemned him and he resigned.
    Many experienced F1 observers have said that Alonso would probably not have questionned the early call, since most drivers accept what the desk tells them during a race.

    More confusion indicated by Alonso’s engineer later, something like “I don’t know what’s happenning, mate.Just drive like hell to the end”. Which he did.
    But this confusion may not have been solely the confusion over Piquet’s crash but all the other strange things going off at the same time. It was a chaotic race in more respects than one.

    In the drivers’ area before going on to the podium Briatore congratulates a seated Alonso. Alonso, aware he’s on camera and mic says, in English, quite clearly “It was the safety car”. Briatore appears not to hear, Alonso repeats “It was the safety car”. Why on earth would he have said that to someone who knew, and he knew they knew, precisely that?
    Afterwards he comments to the media that the first safety car had helped him.

    Is this the response of someone who had plotted to set up the crash? Would such a person not be rather anxious not to draw attention to it e.g. Nelson Piquet who spent a year laughing at the mere idea of it!
    Are the recorded comments of the pit wall team indicative of people fully in the know?

    If they are, then so may FA have been. If not, as the FIA decided, there is absolutely no reason to think it was necessary for Alonso to have known either. It was much safer for all but the central protagonists in this drama to remain in ignorance.

    One more thing, is it not slightly wise after the event to say that this was all done to get a win for FA? A podium, a good clutch of points, but no-one could have known in advance that Ferrari would make such a hash of a fuel stop, or a second safety car, or so many drive through penalities?

  27. Pedro says:

    Here’s another angle that hasn’t been considered much… the selfishness of Piquet Snr.

    This whole process only surfaced in the first place because of the feud between Piquet Snr. and Briatore. If Briatore hadn’t been as arrogant as he was in his dealings with Piquet Snr, this would not have likely surfaced. It was only when Briatore pissed off Snr. beyond return that Piquet Snr. decided to push this through.

    He did it as an act of revenge and with total disregard for the impact on his son’s future career and personal life. He was willing to sacrifice his own son simply to prove a point to Briatore and make him pay for his arrogant behavior. Sure Piquet Snr says that it was his son’s decision in the end but what else could he do at that point…

    I think it is good that this information came public in the end but the behavior of Piquet Snr from early on has been shameful to put it mildly.

  28. PaulL says:

    Speaking of scandals, perhaps someone should put it to Piquet Snr that he probably had some involvement with Honda giving him more powerful engines than Mansell in 1987 to keep him ahead.

  29. Mario says:

    This story just shows you how everything is carefully manipulated in F1. What we have behind the scenes is a Muppet Show. But thankfully the racing tiny little bit is still going on.

  30. Paul Moss says:

    Alonso said that he intends to speak to Massa today in the Interlagos paddock, “Not about this story, but about his health….

    Did he pause after saying that, before moving on to explain? Ok just having fun, it caught my eye as i read it though!

  31. R.Choudhry says:

    Although the fuel that Alonso was carrying in the race, could be percieved as very circumstiantal evidence, it however raises questions about Alonso, with a degree of justification.

    First of all lets not forget that this is a driver whose already been invovled if dodgy stuff ( spygate etc).

    Secondly, I do remember that one of the problems that Alonso apparantly raised at Mclaren was that the engineers were deciding his race strategy without his input ( no doubt a weak excuse for that fact a rookie was matching and beating him!). It is ironic therefore that when questioned about this ridiculous strategy in Singapore 2008, he stated that he never questioned anything or felt anything was wrong, since he had the full confidence in the Renault engineers decisions…

    I cannot believe that a so called 2 times WC, who for some reasons is regarded as the best in the business, would just go along with a short fuel strategy when qualifying at the back of a street race. Can you ever imagine the likes of Senna, Shuey, Prost etc not questioning or giving any input? This is regardless of the fact todays F1 is more and more shaped by those with the Laptops and not steeering wheels.

    As a final point, I was disgusted to hear Alonso, state, without any thought, that he still still valued his race as proper victory after this farce came to light. The guy is a disgrace to champions, and I for one hope Massa puts him in his place ike Lewis did.

    1. Eric says:

      “I do remember that one of the problems that Alonso apparantly raised at Mclaren was that the engineers were deciding his race strategy without his input ( no doubt a weak excuse for that fact a rookie was matching and beating him!). It is ironic therefore that when questioned about this ridiculous strategy in Singapore 2008, he stated that he never questioned anything or felt anything was wrong, since he had the full confidence in the Renault engineers decisions…”

      Really? That’s pretty conclusive to me.

  32. Carlos says:

    There wasn’t that much puzzlement last year when we found out that Alonso was going to run light. He was stuck in a sea of cars that were on fuel-heavy strategies… it was pretty obvious that if he did the same thing as them, he’d still finish outside of the points. As someone else here stated, Hamilton has done the same thing, quite successfully. Renault used the strategy in other races too.

    If Alonso suspected anything it wouldn’t have been until he was called in a couple of laps early and Piquet crashed. But that’s not really “knowing.” And it would be pretty crazy for someone to think, “Hmm, they’ve talked me into using a light fuel strategy… I bet they’re going to ask my teammate to crash.” On the other hand, it was quite reasonable to assume that there would be a legitimate safety car early in the race. Maybe only a 10% chance, but that’s better than the odds of getting any points on a conventional strategy. It’s not uncommon to plan a race around a safety car… you know that.

  33. J.M. says:

    If Ferrari is searching for a driver to act as a Team lider, then Alonso’s comments win over Massa’s this time around.

  34. Chris says:

    I know Piquet Sr. is not popular, especially with the English, but he is not a liar. And compared to Briatore, Symonds, or Todt, Ron Dennis, etc., he’s an angel.

    As for Massa and Piquet’s comments about Alonso, what’s wrong with that? Everyone says how much of a role Alonso has in the team’s strategy, but for one race, with the most implausible outcome ever, he had no idea what was going on? Come on.

  35. bones says:

    James let’s go to the point:
    Do you THINK Alonso knew it or not?

    1. James Allen says:

      No idea. It’s one of the great mysteries.

  36. DAN says:

    Latest news from Brazil: In order to strengthen his chances to restart his formula one career, the driver formerly known as Nelson Piquet Jr wishes from now on to be known as Sebastian Nico Souto Maior. He also offers as a gesture of good will to be the athlete, from the team of the organising country, to take the Olympic oath at the Rio 2012 games:
    “In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams”.

  37. Amritraj says:

    In this photograph James, Piquet Sr. seems to love to display his Paddock Passcard. I wonder what feelings would that evoke in Briatore….

  38. Fausta says:

    I wish the Piquets would crawl back under whatever rock they came from. Piquest Sr. seems like a sour person. What does this serve to continually rant and throw mud in the press?
    Just like Schumacher, Alonso is always a target because he is on top. No driver is beyond reproach. Let us move on from this crazy event and get back to racing.

  39. DAN says:

    The inconvenient truth: I find it quite amazing that some people in this stream are telling us that Fernando Alonso must have known of the Piquet/Symonds/Briatore plot on the ground that in a modern formula one team all informations are shared between drivers and at the same time “conveniently” discard the same argument to exonerate Lewis Hamilton from any involvement in the Spygate affair in 2007. Come on guys surely if you think Fernando knew of a plot which took place in the space of a race week-end you must also admit very likely (even more likely) that Lewis Hamilton must have known and have personally benefited of the fact McLaren had illegally gotten access to Ferrari’s data for many many months. Don’t tell me that Lewis was not aware that De La Rosa was spending a lot of time in the simulator testing Ferrari’s solutions with Lewis never ever asking about was Pedro’s tests were all about!

    Surely Lewis and/or his engineers would have known that Pedro was spending a lot of time testing in the simulators and would have sought to gain some benefit from it at least as much as Fernando would have done. Remember all teams are telling us that nowadays drivers always share all information and it is pretty impossible to hide something to one of them.

    All I am saying here is that if you really believe Fernando was privy to the Crashgate plot then you must also surely believe Lewis was privy to the Spygate one. Personally I still can’t quite understand why Pedro De la Rosa was not sacked by McLaren after Spygate as he so willingly offered to use Ferrari’s inside information. This guy should no longer be in a F1 paddock. Maybe he knows too much about McLaren’s dodgy dealings?

  40. Craig Scott says:

    Piquet Sr continues to portray his son as a victim, even though, irrespective of how many people were actually in on the fix, it was Nelsinho who ultimately did the deed and took a dive with his car. Either Piquet Sr is having an epic case of denial, or he’s simply trying to hurl as much mud as he can at all the other players in this farce simply to distract attention from Nelson Jr’s involvement in the whole affair. I agree, it’s time to move on. Take a note, Felipe.

  41. Adron Gardner says:

    It was all Flavio’s idea.

    It was Flavio who killed the butler with the candlestick in the conservatory after shooting JFK and framing Oswald while hiding the evidence from the UFO crash.

    And Alonso knew the whole time.

    What a bubble these folk all live in. 2010 cannot come soon enough.

  42. Cabby says:

    Even though I think it is quite probable that Alonso knew, I could also imagine Flavio as a long time mentor, manager and maybe friend, was quite able to convince Alonso to take whatever strategy he wanted.

    “Look here Nando, we are winners, and the only chance to win the race is too risk it all with a low fuel load, there has to be a crash on this new curcuit very early”.

    Maybe he would have been satisfied with that, at Renault with Flavio Alonso was the undisputed number 1, this was different to his McLaren days.

  43. Arya says:

    The way Piquest Sr. claims the involvement of Fernando in crash gate makes me think as though he has some kind of proof. But so far he has not been able to produce anything apart from his speculations. My question is why doesn’t his son say anything about the involvement of Fernando whatsoever? Any idea James?

    1. James Allen says:

      Disagree, the way he talks about it is very much, “He must have known, how could he not know? ” As you say, the fact that none of the other principals in this have mentioned Alonso makes you wonder whether he did know about it. Problem for him is, these suspicions will never go away.

  44. Chad says:

    “He deserved it,” says Piquet. “Admittedly it wasn’t his idea”

    Does that mean something James? is NPS trying to say Pat Symonds came up with the idea?

    How would he know Flav didn’t come up with it unless he knows for sure who the originator was, which could only be his own son if he isn’t stretching the truth here.

  45. Nick4 says:

    As both Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss said during the McLaren spygate scandal, “Cheating has been part of F1 since it started in 1950!” The trick is not to be caught! However, it is a sad, but true indictment of the “sport”, that the greater amount of money that is invested in it, the greater the risk that the participants seem willing to take, when it comes to the “cheating” aspect! Recent events are testimony to this, and most especially demonstrated by NP Jnr, when he was prepared to crash a car and risk life and limb for whatever end goal…!!
    NP snr has sadly tarnished his reputation, hugley to my mind, by continually muddying the water, to protect his son. However, one has to remember that he never guarded his tongue when he partnered Mansell in Williams. He was even prepared to sling mud at Rosanne Mansell to get at old Nige.
    Fernando, however, seems to keep his cool through thick and thin. In 2007, in spite of all the negative press during the Mclaren spygate scandal, he got on with doing what he has paid to do – drive an F1 McLaren and deliver, and in that way win back the credibility that he had lost. It’s interesting to note again, that in spite pf all the heat and suspicion that NP Snr and Felipe are determined to pile on Fernando, he continues to deliver the best that he can in the car and brush off all the heat with calmly delivered responses. It’s no wonder he’s regarded as the most complete F1 driver on the current grid.

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