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FIA to probe claims against Renault’s Singapore victory
FIA to probe claims against Renault’s Singapore victory
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Aug 2009   |  9:56 pm GMT  |  106 comments

Today we got word that the FIA is going to open an enquiry into the events of the Singapore Grand Prix last season, when Nelson Piquet crashed, bringing out a safety car at precisely the right moment for his team mate Fernando Alonso to take advantage and go on to win the race.

The implication is that Piquet’s accident was deliberately caused in order to affect the result, which would be a contravention of the team orders rule as well as of several sporting and safety rules.

Renault are feeling the long arm of the law in the shape of another FIA disciplinary hearing coming soon after the appeal into their one race ban for allowing an unsafe car to leave the pits in Hungary.

The Singapore enquiry has echoes of the current scandal in the rugby world, where a player was encouraged to feign a blood injury using stage blood in order to leave the pitch and allow a specialist kicker on at a critical point at the end of the match. If the accusation is proven then it could have similar consequences with a possible ban and/or some forced resignations, as happened this year with McLaren after the Melbourne stewards scandal.

After that race in Singapore I remember that the conspiracy theorists, of whom there are many in F1, were straight onto it. It was just too much of a co-incidence to be believable, they said. And then when Nelson Piquet was given a new contract for 2009, when his performances all season had not appeared to deserve it, having been patchy at best, the whole thing seemed to make sense in conspiracy world.

I shall be absolutely fascinated to see what the outcome of this will be and it has potentially huge implications.

The FIA has access to all of the radio traffic, so if a verbal signal was given to Piquet, they would surely have noticed it at the time.

The enquiry has been triggered by “new information” which has recently come to light. The claims were apparently made on Brazilian TV network, Globo. It is not yet known whether Piquet, who described Renault boss Flavio Briatore as his ‘executioner’ following his sacking, has any involvement in the story breaking.

Whether Piquet has felt moved to go to the FIA, in the same way as Alonso and de la Rosa did over the Ferrari spying scandal, time will tell.

There is no doubt however that should there be any proof, this situation offers the opportunity for outgoing FIA president Max Mosley to settle a few scores with Briatore before he leaves office in two months time. Briatore has been in Mosley’s cross-hairs for many years, since writing an open letter of no confidence in the FIA president in 1994.

His role in the recent FOTA breakaway series is also believed to have been a source of irritation.

This weekend has been a difficult one for the Renault team. Alonso had a shot at a podium but lost it after contact at the start damaged a wheel cover which malfunctioned at the pit stop.

And the team dropped to eighth in the constructors’ championship, as BMW moved up ahead of them.

Renault may well be completely blameless in this case, but if they do find themselves on the wrong side of it, they may point to the penalty awarded to Michael Schumacher at Monaco in 2006 when he deliberately blocked the track in order to prevent others from taking away his pole position.

His penalty was nothing more severe than being moved to the back of the grid.

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Briatore and Symonds guilty! If they weren’t they would have profusely contested their dismissal. Someone should check Alonso’s pants – I’m pretty sure he is p**ng himself right because I am willing to bet he actually knew about the scheme even before it took place. Or else how would he have accepted going for such a strangely short first stint from near the back of the grid, under any tactical methods it still makes no sense when considering the gradual spreading of the field as the race progresses. He too should be question as he has time and time again proved how dishonest and spiteful he is. I am shocked that Ferrari even consider him at all – do they REALLY want someone who can ruin their reputation? Toss him out too! He’s a sore loser [mod] – give someone more deserving a chance.


piquet’s crash on alonso’s pit stop – a coincidence. just a mere coincidence. case closed…..then again,…….


Well now that the FIA has officially made the case known and the Renault F1 team has been called to the ‘hot seat’… things are about to get real interesting. Max, go get ’em boy!!!


Whilst I am by no means a renualt fan ( I hate them with a passion ) I find it hard to believe that someone would crash a race car on purpose, Ive barrel rolled Go Karts so no what a crash feels like and i would like to meet anyone who can steer there car towards a concrete wall on purpose. Even if the team manager orders you to. Its just not mentally possible to do.


Motor racing is a very dangerous sport. I used to race myself in saloon cars and open wheel cars and crashes can be very unpredicable in their outcome. If Renault were complicit in asking or telling a driver to deliberately crash then the punishment should be unlimited. The sport is dangerous enough without increased danger. I think Renault should be told to withdraw from ALL motor sport world-wide if found guilty.


I cant help but agree that the punishment needs to be as stern as possible, but if this case proves true then I believe normal civil law should also be applicable by virtue of purposeful endangerment of lives. The Renault corporation should also be penalised but I would not like to see them banned from motorsport globally indefinately – perhaps for 7 years or so would suffice.



i don’t see Flavio (or anyone) putting someone’s life in danger for the sake of a win (drivers fighting on track not included).


True James, but you mustn’t forget the almost shocking levels of safety in crash scenarios that those monococks ensure. A mere shunt between concrete barriers where you are more likely to slide along the barriers is quite easily a calculated risk. Not saying Flavio actually did intentionally put anyone’s life at risk, I believe he would have been more interested and focused on results.


Thearetically speaking… if you are Nelson and his Dad what would be a good way of getting back at Renault and Flav?

What about feeding a conspiracy theory that has already been voiced so as to spark a huge media interest since there is a bit of a void now Mclaren have stopped shooting themselves in the foot?

And how best to get it fast into the mainstream? Feed it to a journalist!

Sour grapes I think…


Sour grapes… very much likely actually. Who wouldn’t want to hit back where it hurts when they have been hard done? To be honest Piquet Jr had too much pressure on his shoulders to produce stunning results in a mess of a car. I do not believe though that he was or is really that skilled as he seems to lack that ‘killer instinct’ that separates champions from grid place holders.


like the 40 odd bloggers before me, i would like to offer my 2 cents.

F1, like all multi billion dollar “industries” is full of conspiracies and politics that actually runs the whole show. There are the king makers who set forth and decide the “rules” for all to follow.

Is it coincidental that for the previous 2 years in a row we had the championship so closely contested?

Now on to the matter at hand….

It is completely plausible that such a disgraceful act was perpetrated and executed. does anyone care to remember that Kubica escaped a shunt flying at over 200kmh practically unscathed? What more a mere 140kmh albeit even against concrete walls?

F1 is a sport of precision excellence and the competitive nature of those involved should not be underestimated. it is a game that by the very nature and definition defies all logical thought, a meeting of pushing the boundaries and limits.

The reality is that there is and never will be any equality between drivers much less teams. It is UCP that one driver will be given upgrades before another, to hedge the performance and points possibilities. NB: Alonso has always had preferential treatment even from his Minardi days when his car was far more superior to that of his then teammate Yoong.

Do NOT be misguided nor deluded into thinking otherwise.

As to the actual investigation and possible outcome, it MUST go beyond radio transcripts as anyone with half a brain can easily use innocuous codes.


as you mention, the consipacy theory is not do to with renaults conduct – it’s more about max’s mission against flav (it will be subtitled getting rid of F1 team owners i don’t like pt.2 in max’s autobiography)


Let us just remember that so far there are only two facts: Piquet had a shunt that brought out the safety car (from which Renault ultimately benefited) and new evidence has come to light over this. Everything else, including the source of that evidence, never mind its persuasiveness, is speculative.


even calling it “evidence” is speculative if it only amounts to accusations… which is all we have for now.


Where’s the evidence?


i think it’s possible that renault enjoyed pique’s second place in germany that year so much that they wanted it to happen again so badly that someone came up with the idea and the rest of them thought of the consequences.

pique said flavio didn’t know much about f1 and that all he is interested in is manking money and uses his friendship to bernie to help the team so how is it possible that renault would be severely punihsed if they were found guilty.

i don’t think max is out to get them either. renault didn’t get punished when they did with mclaren’s data what mclaren did with ferrari’s data so why will they be punished this time?


You have a point there…


For sure it seemed even back then, rather dubious; but one quickly pushes such frustrations to the back of their minds and tries to enjoy the rest of the season and remember the great moments. It is such a shame that things like this happen but I strongly believe it has to do with the large amounts of money the circulate in the F1 business and greed soon has an influence in tactics employed by teams like Ferrari and Renault. After all, Briatore cannot deny having given Alonso preferential treatment in the team as he repeatedly claimed it was only right to do so while trying to get Alonso back from McLaren. Briatore and Luca I believe were quite enthusiastic about the F1 break away for a rather sinister reason too, I believe they were more interested in a possible position of power in the new structure and breaking away from the FIA would serve them well and to the detriment of other teams – power struggles and political infighting were inevitable. I hope this case is soon concluded and I am sure Renault have much to answer, I just hope the FIA does not prove to be toothless but can actually hand out a staggering, example making punishment. While I do not wish to see Renault banned, Flavio and Alonso are two individuals the sport will do better without.


Sounds and looks very convincing that it was planned. It also could be coincidental as Piquet Jr. is not an excellent F1 driver with so many mistakes made in the season. If true, Renault will leave and Alonso will never recover after the Mclaren spygate and now this. Alonso haters will certainly want him to be executed and out of F1, cause if he’s in Ferrari……wonder if Max is part of this, he’s been too quiet for too long, never can trust him, can we???


F1 requires UK health and Safety regulations. The cars go round too fast! They should slow down the cars to 90m p/h! that will eliminate cheating.


Shame if the accident was staged, however, this is a salient part of the sport. Remember in the early nineties when pit crew and mechanics were caught taking photos (after breaking into garage at night) of rival cars a la Nixongate!

If true then Renault should be punished heavily/fined and reprimanded/placed on probation etc. A totally sanitised motor sport F1 may not be achievable unless one wants to elude themselves about eclectic paradigms etc in sport.

Cheating should not be condoned but as seasoned viewers of F1, these things will always happen followed by apprporiate punishment/censorship etc.

Alonso is known for his shenanigans and is a racer to the core. He will find “advantage” where it does not exist and will at times manufacture “advantage” to his benefit. As for Briatore…. enough said. It will be an interesting few weeks.


Woah, woah, woah, do you you want to have another crack at this paragraph:

“Whether Piquet has felt moved to go to the FIA, in the same way as Alonso and de la Rosa did over the Ferrari spying scandal, time will tell”.

I appreciate post-modern historiography now tends to the revisionist, but let’s not go over the score, eh? Let’s be clear on the basics at least; Ron Dennis went to the FIA, Alonso and PDLR just got sweetheart immunity deals to sing.

Be real interesting if Piquet in team-meetings had a Costanza-style tape recorder in his briefcase, but either way Ghosn just got his out. Ferrari beware, you could be third team in a row to have the roof dropped in on you by the bold Alonso and his obvious distaste for team mate equality.


I have to agree, Alonso was actually very actively involved in the use of the data with Pedro and they actually did NOT blow the whistle. The only reason why they co-operated with the FIA was because their careers were on the line. It’s such a shame that even with all that extra advantage giving information, Alonso just barely managed to match a mere rookie in the final analysis. Lewis Hamilton was more of a seasoned and skilled driver through and through in his rookie year alone, than Alonso will ever be his entire life.


Apparently, Piquet also put chewing gum in Massa’s fuel rig in Singy.

This is so Doh.


Difficult one. Mad Max would make the most of this to get at Flav, but the likely consequence is unless this is nailed within days it will send Renault out of F1 – they’re in it to get good publicity and sell cars not win races per se, and no way will they stay around if this will drag on for some time. But would the FIA/Bernie run with it unless there was some real evidence, it’s not in either of their interests?

IF it’s true, as others have said, it’s nothing like what MS did – this must have been premeditated, was in the middle of a race, and other drivers/marshals could have been killed. Those responsible should have no role in F1 again, and that includes Alonso if he was part of it.


It seems a bit far fetched, but conspiracy theories are great aren’t they, we had loads at Spa.

However it is Briatore, and would you buy a used car from him? No me neither. As the chairman of Commercial Development for the FOTA teams, it doesn’t shine a positive light on FOTA either.


There are a few facts that everyone should already be aware of, and they are as follows.

1. Alonso is a bad sportsman.

2. Flavo is a snake.

3. Even though I love formula 1 more than anyone, it is impossible to accept that in this day and age when everything is about money that F1 is the only sport that does not have fixed results. It happens in nearly every other sport and with F1 being the money making giant that it is, why should it be any different.


The betting industry is very sophisticated these days, and any betting scam would be picked up very quickly, especially in a low volume betting market such as F1.

To suggest that Renault would go to such lengths, take such great risks, to win what would only be a modest amount of money, makes no sense. How much would have had to make from betting just to cover the cost of repairs to the car? Hundreds of thousands of dollars probably.

A bet to win that kind of money in F1 would set alarm bells ringing, even if it was a well organised coup by professional gamblers. Believe me, I have worked in the field of F1 gambling for years and struggle to get a bet of a few hundred pounds on! Flavio, Alonso, whomever at Renault, simply won’t have the nouce to pull it off even if they wanted to.

Sure some insiders have bets on their team or drivers, and why not,it’s betting against their drivers which would be a worry.

Just discount betting from this conspiracy, there was not even a hint of betting irregularities regarding this race.


Hi James,

What you say is true, however, I was not really talking about the Renault situation but rather F1 as a whole.

I would (as a massive fan) like to think that fixing results in whatever manner to be impossible. However, to some degree it surely is done.

The FIA know this and that is why “team orders” were outlawed.

However, I believe it does go a little deeper.


Alonso didn’t go to the FIA with spy details at McLaren did he? He threatened Ron Dennis that he was prepared to go to the FIA after his Hamilton blocking incident at Hungary in 2007. Surely Alonso doesn’t have the right for immunity then?

If found guilty I believe that would be the end of Renualt in f1. With potential withdrawal still hanging over them in the recent recession, this might make a withdrawal certain. Briatore would be given a life ban and Alonso’s reputation absolutely shattered.


Why Alonso? Do you think he is given an order to Nelsinho to crash?


So what if they did plan it? It transformed what had been up to that point an absolute yawnfest into a thrilling contest. I can guarantee anyone who watched last year’s Singapore GP was delighted when the safety car came out as it foreced everyone into the pits and really shook up the order, thus forcing the quickest guys to the back of the field which led to overtaking, which we would have never have got had Piquet not hit the wall. He did the sport, Bernie and most of all the organisers of the Singapore GP a massive favour by shunting. Had he not then it would have been viewed as a massive white elephant, just like Valencia, whereas it is now viewed as a great event. I was praying during the tepid European GP a couple of weeks back that someone would crash and thus bring out the safety car, so fair play to Renault if they did this last year, they were the only ones who thought out of the box in terms of race strategy. Some may aruge it’s not in the spirit of the regulations, but F1 is a show first and foremost and a sport second. Would you rather watch a dull processional race such as Valencia ’08 (no safety car) or a thrilling, tense, topsy-turvy race, such as the one Nelsinho gave us in Singapore?

James, surely you were glad to see the Safety car come out in Singapore last year after what had been a very dull race up to that point?


“So what if they did plan it?”

How about because it’s premeditated cheating of the worst kind, as well as being extremely dangerous?

“Some may argue it’s not in the spirit of the regulations.”

It’s much more than against the “spirit” of the rules. It’s a direct contravention of article 151c of the sporting code:

“the following offence…shall be deemed to be a breach of these rules:

Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.”


Well I’d hardly say it was extremely dangerous, it was a low-speed shunt off the racing line. What Schummel Schumi did at Austria ’00 and Monaco ’05 was far more dangerous and dirty. Parking a staionary car on the racing line in the hope to get a race red flagged is much worse. All Renault were doing was invoking a strategy to shuffle the pack and turn a total yawnfest into a decent contest, and good on them for trying. Until we get reverse grids this is the only way to turn processional borefests into thrilling races without the help of rain.

I’d strongly argue that they didn’t contavene the sporting code – their acts were anything but prejudicial to the interests of competition as they allowed the likes of Alonso, Rosberg and the red bulls to challenge for the win rather than what was set to be a dull ferrari 1-2. What happened was also massively in the interests of motor sport, as the Singapore GP was turning into a pathetic white elephant but is instead remembered as a great event thanks to the safety car jumbling the field up. If we don’t get a safety car at this year’s race, I guarantee we’ll have a crap race akin to the pathetic ‘races’ we have seen at Valencia. Thanks Renault for entertaining the fans, who should be the most important people in F1 and are poorly catered for at the moment.


So James G, are you saying you wish Nelson Piquet hadn’t hit the wall and we’d have been subjected to a continuation of the putrid yawnfest that was the first 13 laps of a pathetic race? Are you even able to think for yourself or do you just spend your time quoting the FIA? I was saying it wasn’t prejudical to the sport as it gave us a great race, which is the most important thing. I couldn’t give a toss about the sporting code of F1, it’s about entertainment. If the rules have to be stretched to provide great racing then so be it.


You said, “I’d strongly argue that they didn’t contavene the sporting code.”

And according to the FIA statement: “The team representatives have been called to answer charges, including a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code”.

I’m afraid you fail.


I believe this is normally called banger racing.


Piquet Jr spun during the warm up lap as well.

There’s a video of it in Youtube – as well as of his real crash during the race.

I suggest you to look at both of the videos and draw your own conclusions.

My view? They do bear some resemblance both being rear-to-front spins, I’m not ruling out accidentality but 2 similar spins during one race in dry is quite odd, especially as the first one was during the warm up lap.

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