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Renault to face disrepute charge this month
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Renault to face disrepute charge this month
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Sep 2009   |  6:43 pm GMT  |  158 comments

The Renault team has been summoned to appear before an extraordinary gathering of the World Council on September 21st, the Monday before Singapore, to answer a charge of bringing the sport into disrepute.

It is alleged that the team conspired with its number two driver Nelson Piquet, to crash his car at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix to help its lead driver Fernando Alonso, win.

It is a very serious charge and one which carries a range of punishments from fines to exclusion from the world championship. McLaren faced a similar charge over the Ferrari spy allegations and was fined a record $100 million.

The way this works is a bit like the Crown Prosecution service in the UK, which liaises with the police service to assess whether there is enough evidence to prosecute. The FIA has had an enquiry force looking into the Renault case for some time, I understand. This is not something which has been launched in the last few weeks.

To proceed in this way the FIA must feel that there is sufficient evidence to prosecute. To get a conviction, the evidence must add up to prove that the competitor has committed, “Any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally.” This is quite a wide definition, but the burden of proof is on the FIA’s side, not on Renault to prove that it is innocent.

‘New evidence’ came to light recently which seems to have hastened the move to hear the case in front of the world council. With Nelson Piquet being dropped from the team amid acrimonious circumstances, there is a suspicion that he may have acted as a “whistle-blower”. But no evidence of this has been made public so far.

Interestingly both candidates to replace Max Mosley as president of the FIA, advocate a total change to the disciplinary system and will not use the World Council for hearing cases like this in future. So it could be the last time that an extraordinary world council is called for this purpose.

There are some suggestions that, as part of its investigations, the FIA has been looking at other instances, involving Renault, but these were not mentioned in today’s statement.

With Ferrari on the verge of announcing Fernando Alonso as one of its drivers for 2010, either in Monza next week, or possibly at the end of the season, it will be very interesting to see what whether Alonso was a knowing participant – should the case be proven – and what would happen next.

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1

I find the total lack of hard info about this ‘new evidence’ interesting. Nobody can keep *anything secret these days. Everyone wants to be famous for 5 min as the guy who exposed something dastardly.

And yet theres *nothing but endless speculation.

This leads me to think there really *is nothing and its all a fantasy, probably launched by something Piquet said to somebody’s friend of a friend of a third cousin whilst drinking.

2

Cannot believe this whole thing could not wait until the end of the season. What a bunch of idiots.

3

Well, we all know that Fernando was had provided sufficient information to FIA in Stepneygate. His image,deservingly, did take quite a battering due to that. But nobody could ignore that talent, art and craft of the man. If Piquet Jr. or the people around him are the source of information for crash gate, I just wonder how does it help Nelsinho for future. His reputation as a driver is well known. Even if a team would have contemplated of taking him a driver number 2; now they would not een take him as a test driver unless Piquet Sr. ends up holding shres with a team. In any case, Nelsinho Angelo Piquet’s career seems to be over IMO. Would like to know what James thinks about it.

4

We have to wait to find out the details of who did what before we draw any conclusions on this.

5

Smells like antics of a petulant youngster. And am sure Flavio did not endear himself to Max et al with his posture during the possible-breakaway talks. Thks to Martin P. in above comment for raising the thought that Renault may have a case against the FIA. I sure wish the breakaway series had gone ahead. [mod]

6

could Renault cause a car to spin , all the computer linked up to these machines, a simple instruction to the car and bang the rear brakes lock up and of the poor fella goes, The Lad could have complained saying he did not touch the brakes….

maybe the proof is in the computers??

7

If Renault aren’t found guilty is there any means for them

seeking some sort of compensation from the FIA?

It seems that the bad publicity caused by this is such a

penalty that it makes a mockery of the FIAs “innocent until

proven guilty” approach.

8

Mr Allen,can you please tell me how long the teams keeps their audio transmissions for?

It seems strange,for me,that if there was foul play Renault would still have those.

9

Honest, I’ll become a nun if they find renault guilty!!! Nothing is going to happen, more than maybe another 100 million for max goodbye party!! (Remember, flavio is mafia too 😉

The problem i believe is at ferrari!!

They were gonna drop massa for next year, having Kimi and fa as drivers. Kool!

Well, the accident occurs and now ferrari can’t drop massa THAT easy!! Plus fa is involved in ANOTHER contraversy!!!

Saying all of the above, ferrari IS a perfect fit for fa. Is like mother ship was calling him!! get it? 😉

[mod]

Unfortunetly, the good old racing days are over!!

10

Hi James,

I’d like to thank you sincerely for not referring to this incident as ‘crashgate’ or any other form of ‘gate’… which as we all know is a reference to the Watergate Hotel; and therefore has little relevance to the suspicious events in modern Formula 1.

I think this is cojones… pure and simple. I will be amazed if it is true – for the simple reason that for all key stakeholders involved the risks so spectacularly outweighed the reward gained that it’s barely credible…. If it is true; then the order can only possibly have come from one man. We all know who that is, and he will need to be put in prison.

11

It would be shame to lose another manufacturer but cheating is cheating and must be punished to prevent anybody else from doing it. That said I do not see why manufacturers like BMW, Renault and Toyota need to pull out completely. Apparently, supplying engines to F1 teams is a profitable enterprise and as far as I can remember, Ferrari were the only proper ‘manufacturer team’ in F1 anyway up to the 90s. One question I did want to ask James or anyone in the know here is with all this talk of manufacturers exiting the sport, is there anything out there on any manufacturers thinking of joining it? The vw empire is a logical choice with its deep pockets, massive portfolio of very suitable brands and near domination of le mans in recent history.

12

VW or maybe Audi were said to believe (sorry but I can’t remember where I read this) that spending on F1 made as much sense as flushing money down the toilet.

This would have been in the last year or two but the cost of competing is coming down massively!!!

13

Ian, I can’t see VW joining F1 anytime soon. They have their own internal arguments going on at the moment with regards to the overall ownership of the company. I believe a deal has been done with Porsche, but there are questions being asked surrounding share price movements, so F1 would be a distraction rather than a marketing opportunity. They do however supply engines to other levels of Motorsport.

As for manufacturers leaving F1, it was rumoured that three Independent Teams were placed on standby, so the FIA would appear to have no issues as far as filling the Grid Slots for 2010.

14

Quite why, would any one of them, deep pockets or otherwise, want to get involved in F1?

15

I have always found intriguing that of the two Spaniards caught exchanging emails about Ferrari (spygate), one is considered a felon by MacLaren and its fans, and the other one continues to be employed by the team. If what they did was do bad, why didn’t they fire De la Rosa?

Re. Crashgate, what puzzles me is, if it’s true that Briatore asked Piquet to crash, the fact that Flavio was willing to give so much power to a 21 year old. From the moment Flavio asked this from Nelson, he was putting himself in a position of being blackmailed any time in the future. Why would anybody do that for 10 points in a championship he wasn’t going to win I don’t know.

16

Well, you just saw what happened when Renault released young Piquet.

It would cost Alonso 30million bucks if he decides to break the confidentiality clause in his contract release; so it’s just Pedro that needs to be kept on the payroll and kept onside.

Let him do a couple of straight line tests, now and again, if it makes for a quiet life … but you’re right, as part of the Coughlan cabal, he should definitely have hit the bricks.

17

The season review shows the warm-up lap practice by Piquet. If he did hit a barrier on that lap the car would have been near enough in the same position (facing the wrong way on the inside wall.

After the race when they were celebrating Piquet was there, practicly praised for what he did and shook hands with Pat Simmonds I think.

It adds up but maybe it’s just one big coincidence. After all, If your driver one legit but only beacuse your other driver crashed you would celebrate with him as he is the main reason why you won.

That still doesn’t explain the warm-up lap, but the Renault has been used to that (Spain 08 comes to mind) and Piquet was useless so if anyone ditched it on the warm-up lap I wouldn’t be surprised if it was him.

18

I seem to remember saying that F1 was on a level with wrestling 🙂

19

Let’s assume Piquet is the whistleblower and that he did crash deliberately! This would surely be a most foolhardy act, as he would be as guilty of a crime (endangering life, and fraudulent activity, serious acts that would fall outside the FIA’s jurisdiction) as the team management who asked him to do it! In war, a soldier who stands accused of a war crime, cannot claim his innocence by claiming he acted under instruction to carry out a crime! He had a choice – comply or refuse. Piquet, like Hamilton at Melbourne, had a choice and if he chose to agree to such a criminal act then he will be as liable as the team management who asked him to carry out the act! Hamilton retreated behind his youth and inexperience in an effort to minimise the damage to his reputation. If this hypothesis turned out to be correct (heaven forbid), how would he escape the crimes Renault stand accused of? Piquet could not hide behind his father; he would surely stand accused of the same crimes! Unless of course Max has managed to secure his protection for the information!? Surely F1 has not stooped that low? I still believe Renault are innocent!

20

I was at singapore and saw the crash. There is no way that was deliberate. No stupid idiot would deliberately crash his car as heavily as piquet crashed his car in singapore. The crash was so bad that i even thought that for sure he was gonna get injured.

As a proffessional driver, i don’t think he would risk serious career threatening injuries by deliberately crashing heavily just to let alonso win.

Any minor crash would have brought the safety car out. This crash was bad.

i hope that you will blog an analysis on that crash. It would be nice to see your opinion on this, james.

21

James, what can you tell us Kimi’s position next year? Is he talking to Brawn as has been reported?

22

I meant ‘what can you tell us about Kimi’s position’.

23

So was Piquet sacked for poor performance or because he was caught helping the FIA with their investigation into Renault?

24

I hope Renault are innocent; they have brought so much to F1 from engines to Williams that gave Mansell, Prost, Hill and Villeneuve Championships & 2 chamioinships of their own as a constructor with FA.

But, to suggest that FA is now busy destroying (Red Kimi)another team is preposterous. When he joined Mclaren, they hadn’t won a race the previous year, even with Kimi! Mclaren mismanaged that driver combination and shot themselves in the foot by not making FA No.1, when he was reigning WC!

Let’s hope that the facts speak for themselves, proving Renault’s innocence, and F1 can hold onto a recovering image from the recent dark days of the FOTA/FIA clash.

25

Hi James,

Could this be a conspiracy by Alonso to get his contract paid off by Renault for disrepute for cheating,

in order to pay off Kimi for the Ferrari seat! lol.

Great blog by the way,

26

James,

If found guilty presumably Renault could be tried in a criminal court also?

I am assuming that the FIA and WMSC only have the power to rectify a sporting injustice and that the fraudulant aspects would be tried in a criminal court?

A bit like the Italian Police investigating McLaren’s top brass!

27

If it is proven that Piquet is the whistleblower and the prime catalyst for converting the previous suspicions into actual charges, it raises in my mind a curious and almost unfathomable point; how could any team manager lay trust for such an action in the hands of any driver given that at some point in the future, that driver might be let go from the team (as Piquet was)?

Driver loyalty can surely only ever be relied upon as long as the cheques keep being written and it must have been patently obvious to all at Renault that Piquet’s time at the team would always be as limited as his seemingly limited abilities behind the wheel.

Given the gravity of the accused action, it was a time bomb just waiting to go off.

28

James,

Does the FIA review telemetry and radio transmissions after every race? Or do they only when an appeal is brought up

29

Radios are monitored all the time. They have electronics experts looking through the car’s systems on a regular basis just to check, but as far as I know they only request telemetry when they want to check something. I’ll look into it.

30

This is the part I don’t understand.

If radios are monitored, how could they possibly have instructed Piquet to crash?

Unless it was planned before the race. But it’s hard to see what evidence there could be apart from Piquet’s word which isn’t worth much right now.

31

I dismiss all verbal evidence because of tainted motives, sour grapes etc. But, and it is a big BUT, if NP had recorded some calls or taped Flav when they were negotiating his 2009 seat, if there are damning text messages etc….. then that is evidence I could accept. Even telemetry that shows NP stomping his foot on the throttle merely tells us that he did so but it fails to conclusively tell us why.

32

The suggestion is that the trigger point would be someone getting on the radio and saying ” Alonso’s pitstop went OK” or something similarly accurate and non contentious … it would have been agreed before that that would tell Junior that they were ready for him to take centre stage….

33

James, please find a way back on our screens. We need your sort of insight and not that guy on BBC1 who appears to be more comfortable commentating on the Chepstow 2.30pm

Ask Martin to pull a few strings for you…!!

34

I second that! I do miss your insight on TV Mr Allen…

But then again we may not have this great blog then and maybe you just dont fancy doing it anymore?!

Your missed on the box all the same…

35

Let’s just think for a moment….

Ferrari are paying Kimi out (hopefully to go to Macca)…

It can’t be certain that Felipe makes it back next year… let’s imagine he doesn’t….

Then the “prize” driver Ferrari announce at Monza is implicated in “Crashgate” (sorry but it will get called thus)… because everyone is pretty clear that the only way his strategy could get him into the points, let alone win, would be if Nelsinho crashed and purrlease don’t tell me that the “most complete” driver wouldn’t want to know how his strategy could work… and, as one of your correspondents has pointed out… he has previous, not so much in Hungary but in the e mail spygate situation….

At least they have Fisi…..

36

Interesting that you mention Fisi.

Even if he’s not quite as good as Kimi in these next few races, there’ll be enormous pressure on Ferrari to retain him as a driver for next year.

Wouldn’t the Tifosi rather see an Italian win the odd race than a foreigner run away with the WDC?

If Fisc is too good Ferrari will need a B team for all their drivers. Has anyone bought Torro Rosso yet? 😉

37

Ferrari have rarely paid any attention to the nationality of their drivers. There hasn’t been a full-time Italian at Ferrari since Capelli in 1992. And Larini subbed for Alesi for a couple of races in 1994, but since then no Italian drivers at all. Enzo Ferrari was himself reluctant to put Italian drivers in his cars after Lorenzo Bandini’s death.

It’s most often said that the tifosi care very little who’s driving the car, if they’re winning then that’s all that matters.

38

Just found something very interesting on Piquet’s loss of control of the car. He did the exact same thing when he lost the rear and spun on the warm up lap. If you look at it very closely, it’s almost like he wanted the car to spin. Maybe he was practising to do it 14 laps later. Hmmm…..

39

If Renault did actually set up the crash etc, imagine how p**d they’d be if Jr binned it before the race even began! Flav would be furious! Look at how close he came to hitting the wall on the warm-up lap…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=feXvqfttAuw&feature=related

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