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Renault to face disrepute charge this month
Renault to face disrepute charge this month
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Sep 2009   |  6:43 pm GMT  |  157 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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You repeat the dirty work against Alonso, first with the 'blackmail' to McLaren and now with the crashgate. I dont forget it, Mr. Allen.


so Alonso had nothing to do with Stepneygate then? The man may be the best all round driver on the grid but part of the armoury of a typical f1 champion appears to be - rightly or wrongly total focus and even ruthlessness


In all his articles, James has always endeavoured to be objective in assessing Alonso and the outcome, mostly, is good writing, in favour of Alonso. If you read his posts, on this Website and on ITV's, you will realise that he is amongst perhaps the few people who remained even handed towards Alonso, when the rest of the Media went on a crusade against him during and after 2007.


shostak did you read this articule?

The only referance made by JA about Alonso was that he is the other driver in the team. I did not even see a hint stated in teh articule that FA knew about anything typical fanboy post.


You obviously don't know me very well, if you think I have anything against Alonso. Read my writings on him on this blog.


That's an incredible e-mail from the above correspondant. If anything in the past James Allen has been pro Alonso. Does anyone remember the uproar caused earlier this year when James suggested that Alonso has never had top class cars during his career?


ha-ha (or should that be ja-ja), poor old James has got the Spanish Armada on his ass.

I've seen bloggers and messageboards die like dogs in the street for such transgression, and they're organized, once you get on their radar it's hopeless - nothing less than complete genuflection to the chosen son will get you out of this particular pickle.

Our thoughts are with you at this most precarious time ... Mr Allen


You're a big fan of Alonso, saying that i think you should honest. There is no doubt Alonso was in on it. People talk about the Glock Conspiracy in Brazil, but that just doesn't really add up. This is the same car, same team, same garage, same engineers and same management. Alonso blackmailed Mclaren and he probably did the same to Renault otherwise he would have left.


There is no Glock conspiracy in Brazil. He was on dry tyres on a wet track, so was Trulli. Both of them were miles off the pace on that last lap because they had no grip. End of story


The real question is if Renault is guilty can the FIA give an appropriate penalty? Can F1 stand to lose another major manufacturer to leave the sport with Honda and BMW gone and rumors flying around at Toyota?


hello James,

Surely they will take the win away if convicted. However, what if disqualifying Renault from that win elevated Massa 1 or 2 points. Would he then retroactively win the championship?

I know this is not the case Lewis finished 3rd and Massa 13th but......


If the race result is changed via disqualification, I doubt the points for the other drivers will be recalculated - remember when Schumacher was judged to have deliberately driven Villeneuve at Jerez in 1997, he was stripped of his points and his position in the Drivers Championship, but his race results still stood.


If Renault are deemed guilty and have their race victory taken away, then I guess Rosberg has officially won his first GP, since he came in 2nd at Singapore?

Also, is it coincidence that Alonso was heavily involved in the McLaren/Ferrari spying incident? I like Alonso and think he is the top driver in F1 at the moment, but is it possible that he is willing to take illegal and unethical risks where others wouldn't? Let's hope that's not true, and it's all just Piquet Jr. throwing a tantrum about being sacked.


Someone should charge the FIA of bringing the sport of F1 into disrepute(all the negative publicity caused because of the desire of investigating/penalizing every silly thing,their actions almost leading to a breakaway series and destruction of F1)...


So are you suggesting that teams should be allowed to cheat and shouldn't be investigated because of te bad publicity?


i'm not suggesting not to investigate because of bad publicity. i'm saying not to investigate every ridiculous allegation or penalize racing incidents(ex: Webber's Nurburgring and Spa).

from what i understand the race stewards have all the means(radio transmissions etc.,) at their disposal to catch cheating.obviously they didn't find anything wrong with renault at singapore so why are they trying to dig graves after a year to uncover something(that seems to be based on hear-say and why would Nelson risk his and perhaps other lives on purpose).

its a team sport. how do we know Heikki was not deliberately slowing down Rubens to ensure a Lewis victory in Valencia?


"World Vouncil for hearing cases like this in"

Surely you mean Council James 🙂

Sounds very serious for Renault - can't help feel its all very convenient with Max leaving (he and Flavio were hardly best friends!) and the Alonso to Ferrari rumours.


Potential double whammy for Mosley: Briatore and Di Montezemolo (who would find it difficult or impossible to employ Alonso).


Wondering what the required standard of proof is in order to find guilt . . .


James your last paragraph suggests that you are pretty sure about Fernando going to Ferrari in 2010, what makes you so sure? Also what will Ferrari do with Raikkonen?

If proven guilty, Bernie might be right in that Renault may quit F1.

Lets see.


If the FIA imposes an outlandish monetary fine on Renault or strips them of their points, which have a similar effect, I can't see why Renault would stay in the sport.


If its $100M just for having information from another team, how much for endagering lives and fixing races?

Even if Renault decided to walk away from F1 they would still have to pay the fine not to mention damadges for breach of contract.


I think Alonso is clear by all the ways, even if he had an idea about what the team planned (If they appeared to be guilty) because Alonso didn't participate in the thing, didn't commit any actions manuiplate the race results, he just drove his car!!!

While on the otherside, Nelson and Renualt are guilty up to their knees, as they planned and executed!


Well, it's a teamwork after all. If it was proven, Rubens should be thankful for the fact that Schumacher, at least, had to do his dirty work, where as, Alonso doesn't.


NO if someone knows about such things happening and fail to report them to the governing body they are also guilty.

Who in their right mind thinks FA would not have talked about the fuel strategy for the race?

The only real question is was he told the truth (whatever that may be) or was he hoodwinked if indeed Renault did cheat.

Don't forget this if it is proved and also shown that FA knew will not be the first time.

If that happens they have to make the point clearly that drivers are responsible for their own actions which include failing to report known transgressions of the rules.


ah yes.... The team set this up for Alonso to win and yet he is clear according to you?! The team should lose the win first and foremost(that means Alonso)


Who would like to bet that Renault will be found to be innocent of all charges, as they were innocent of spying (I dont think)


Would Bernie Ecclestone be in a position to know whether or not Piquet jnr had been a whistleblower? While the report of BE's interview with The Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/formula_1/article6816343.ece) doesn't contain direct evidence that Piquet is F1's deep throat, BE has clearly assumed that he is.


Even if Ferrari had been planning to announce Alonso as a 2010 driver in Monza, I suspect the chances of that now are essentially zero. I wouldn't expect to hear any announcement until after the hearing.

Cockney James Hunt

You're down to the wire, at your wits end, you've hit a dead end and the only way out is to take drastic, life threatening action. Only in these circumstances is it possible to accept the sanity of what the FIA has accused Renault of. But, Renault were well out of it in both the constructers and drivers championships. There was no reason to undertake that action at that race circuit at that time in the season. I just don't believe it. It is utterly senseless.

What's the name of that nice Renault engineer with the dodgy 'man jewellery'? I mean, are we supposed to believe this man and the double world championship, Schumacher thrashing Renault team would do this?

Nah, man. Nope. No way.


"the name of that nice Renault engineer with the dodgy ‘man jewellery’" is Pat Symonds. Also engineered Michael Schumacher to his first two World Championships. I'm not saying he's a fraud, but back then Benetton had their fair share of scraping on the edge of what was perhaps legal and what definitely wasn't (but was pursued nonetheless). He's marvellous when lateral thinking is called for, hats off to him, but still I'd find it hard to swallow if it really was an orchestrated result.


I can't see them being found guilty, I think this is all a total nonsense. Piquet would be crazy to cause such a big crash, it wasn't a little love-tap and a broken front wing, he really gave it a shunt. Can't see a driver accepting that as an instruction when his life would be at risk.


Here we go !

The question is : is there any obligation on teams to keep their telemetry from season to season, or to make it retrievable. James ?


Good question. I would imagine they do keep it anyway.


A friend of mine worked at Jordan. I believe they keep the most important data related to the car's performance, as this is useful and used year on year to set the cars up (they retain weather and track data too, is my understanding).


If you ever needed to look back to do a "what if" comparison it would be very handy. I'm with James, discarding such data would be foolhardy, especially as the cost of keeping it and archiving it would be so low.


Great! and Ferrari want to hire a driver who is not only part of the Singapore fixing, but also responsible for the McLaren espionage! Hmmmmmm.


Wouldn't be the first time they did, after all, they did hire some guy in 1996, who won his first WDC by eliminating his closest rival and in a car with dodgy hidden software and a modified refuelling rig (same team by the way...)



come off that. It was proved that there was no hidden software on the car. Ok. The fuel rig was changed. I'm sure they had notified that it had done. And as for michael taking out his nearest rival. You need too take out your video and have another look at the incident. When michael went off. Hill wasn't even in sight of the incident. Hill went into the corner and dived for a gap that clearly wasn't there.look at michaels head. He doesn't look at the mirrors. Does not move his head. He turned into the corner as usual. If anything. Hill took himself out by being too eager too get past.


Paul, my recollection of this was that traction and or launch control software WAS on the car but had been disabled. I recall that some reports said that the disabling was done simply by removing it as a menu option, it was still there if you knew the right button or sequence of buttons to press.

FIA were unable to prove that the software had been used so Benetton were found innocent.


Thats a valid point.


Alonso responsible? Aware, an accessory by subsequent actions perhaps; but Coughlan and Stepney were responsible.


The other instances involving Renault sound interesting?

This story has a long way to go.


If Renault were to be thrown out of this years' championship, how would the point totals of the other drivers be affected? Could this rearrange the current driver standings?


History shows when teams/drivers are removed from the hitory books of race results they are removed all other drivers points remain the same.


The FIA could, if it so chose, disqualify Renault and its drivers from the championship but leave the race results to stand. It did this with Schumacher in 1997 and Tyrrell in 1984, for example, thus not affecting other positions or points.


In 1984 they fully wiped Tyrrell from the records. AND redistributed the points.


Well remembered, Victor, you are of course absolutely correct. Apologies for my senility!


What is the evidence?


None of us know "the evidence"... it's all supposition, at the moment.

However, Renault have been called to the World Council, so there must be something the FIA wish to discuss.

What you can say is that most, if not all, of the teams are looking for an advantage (be it, on the car or within strategy - which includes the possibility of safety cars).

It seems to me, as if Renault have always been under-pressure; almost every year we get Flav or Simmonds being asked, is the team folding and the answer is "no", yet there is always talk of them pulling out or friction behind the scenes.

If you were struggling a little (as Renault have since Michelin departed and their mass-dampers were removed) and looking for a way to keep your team running; to give your board \ backers some indication that you were improving and worthy of more (or continued) financial resources... what would you do?

I'm not saying that they did it; but perhaps, you'd look into the feasibility of one car crashing and the other benefitting as a consequence... it is not beyond the realms of F1 and "F1 business".

We have blood-gate in Rugby (Dean Richards and Harlequins) and dive-gate in football (Eduardo and Celtic). And you mean to tell me that "crash-gate" isn't feasible in F1!?! There were some who were adamant Macca weren't spying... yet!!!

C'mon people, there is so much money in sport, that winning is everything... who cares how you get there!?!

[Ok, I'm off to change my name to Cynical Ste and I'm gonna start chasing windmills...:-P]


Alonso hasn't been averse to cheating before. He only threatened to talk because he wasn't getting his way at Mclaren. But you have a point there with the fact that the FIA has to prove Renault guilty, and Renault don't have to prove their innocence. You sort of get the feeling that the way things have been done for a few years, it's more like guilty until proven innocent. What do you think James?


Renault don't have to prove their innocence. The FIA have to prove their guilt. That is, by definition, innocent until proven guilty. You have it completely the wrong way around.


My point wasn't that. I've been saying appearances over the last few years tend to indicate that the FIA can find any team guilty over circumstantial evidence, hence the feeling that you're guilty until proven innocent. The official line is, of course, the other way round.


No that is what I said, You have read it the wrong way around. Read it again.


To rational people like you and I, the FIA would have to prove Renault guilty beyond questionable doubt before they could administer a penalty.

However the punished McLaren in 2007 on the weight of supposition, circumstantial evidence and a personal vendetta held by the FIA president towards the team principal.

I think this Renault charge will be proven and they will either be fined hugely, banned from the constructors this year and next or both of the above. They will certainly exclude the Renaults from last years Singapore Grand Prix result, although they do not have to promote Rosberg to 1st place, remember the cool-fuel saga in Brazil 2007? That was one of the options then (to ensure Hamilton would not be champion)

Brave shout mentioning Alonso's culpability James, you'll have the conquistadors on you before you can say "beaten by a rookie"


This doesn't spell out to well for Renault. Going the confidence & authority with which the FIA has proceeded, they seem to have in their possession damning evidence which brings out Renault as indiscreet perpetrators of this farce. This prosecution in itself is a huge blow to the brand of Renault. And if they are found guilty,we will be able to see some serious effects of this on many individuals including Fernando Alonso. As I have mentioned in one of my earlier comments, Alonso is in a delicate position as far as this situation is concerned. He has already faced flak for being involved in a conspiracy and its aftermath at McLaren. Given the gravity of the situation and, not to forget, potentially, his second known involvement in unscrupulous activities, this could have disastrous consequences for him as well.

The one point that makes me believe that Renault are guilty is Flavio Briatore’s stance brought out by BCE in his interview with The Times. In that interview, BCE mentioned FB as saying to him (BCE) that he (FB) doesn’t know anything about such orders. Doesn’t know anything about such orders?! With this single comment, FB is, technically, not denying the existence of such orders. And second, he is saying that even if the orders were given, he was not aware of them! This is preposterous to believe. He is the boss of an F1 team. He knows/ should know everything that goes on in the team. He should have come out as saying explicitly that there were NO ORDERS given to NPJ to crash his car.


With this single comment, FB is, technically, not denying the existence of such orders.

You can't not deny the existence of something you don't know happened. Logic dear chap.

Your reasoning is unsound. If he had said nothing you would have, on the basis of your reasoning, would come to the same conclusion. And if he had said "yeah, knew about it all along", you'd come to the same conclusion. Hmmm... hope you aren't serving on a jury any time soon.

But in fact, if you didn't have anything to do with it, you'd give the answer Briatore gave "I don't know anything about it".

And second, he is saying that even if the orders were given, he was not aware of them!

What!? You mean you haven't been aware of things your kids have done? Don't be daft. Just because you are team principal it doesn't follow you know everything that is happening. You *should* know, but that is a different thing.

I don't know if he is guilty or not. I'm not on his side, I don't have a high opinion of how Renault operate. But please, show some logic to your analysis. You can't make those pronounments on the logic you are displaying.


“I don’t know anything about it” could mean:

1. I don't know anything about the existence and execution of such orders. I have checked with everyone, carried out a detailed enquiry and have found nothing to this effect. These are just rumours.

2. I personally don't know anything so far about such orders being given. I need to find out from my team, understand their views and stance and get a consensus. I don't have clear picture yet of what went on during that weekend as far as the details of this incident are concerned.

List of key facts of the case as we know them:

1. FIA are investigating, among others things, the role played by the Renault team in manipulating the result of last year’s Singapore GP.

2. FIA deem that the Renault team did this by asking one of their drivers, NPJ, to crash his car in order the safety car be deployed to benefit the race strategy of the other car driven by Fernando Alonso.

3. As of date, amongst many other members of the team, team boss FB knows that the team are being investigated for issuing such orders to the said effect.

Logic beggars that now what FB should know is whether the team gave orders to NPJ for crashing his car or not.

If allowed to share his views, FB should be able to *confidently* say that: a) Yes, the team did give orders for the crash b) No, the team did nothing of this manner, these are baseless rumours.

If not allowed to share your views till the time the case is sub judice, then keep mum.

What I have tried to relate here is the seriousness of the incident and *the lack of clarity* emanating from comments of a person of the level of FB.

You seem to have conveniently ignored the last part of my post.

‘He is the boss of an F1 team. He knows/ should know everything that goes on in the team. He should have come out as saying explicitly that there were NO ORDERS given to NPJ to crash his car. ‘

OK, point taken that the guy can’t know everything what goes on in a team, but we are talking about having knowledge of a strategy to deliberately crash one of the cars, at the risk of physically and seriously hurting the driver, marshalls & spectators, in order have the safety care deployed to benefit the race for the other car of the team. Not something rote, I suspect.

I am repeating what I have mentioned earlier. When you are a team boos, and are facing an enquiry of this magnitude, you should be very sure of what transpired. There have been no comments from the Renault camp thus far. This little bit was shared by BCE in his interview. My opinion is, if FB at all wanted something to be said for the consumption of the press and more importantly *is sure* that Renault are not guilty, he should have expressly said that these are baseless rumours; there were *never* any orders given to NPJ to deliberately crash his car to benefit his team-mate’s race. Obviously since FB hasn’t said that, I can only imagine what the truth is.

I really hope that these are just baseless rumours for I am big Alonso supporter and would hate to see his reputation tarnished again.


I still refuse to believe that Renault are guilty of these charges, it would be a huge shock if they were to all.

If they really did do it I would be terribly disappointed in the team.

Anyways, i'm guessing (and hoping) that Renault will be able to prove their innocence in this as I still believe the whole thing is a farce which is being done by the Piquets to hurt Renault.


Whether they are found guilty remains to be seen, but someone needs to wake up and smell the coffee. It doesn't get this far because Piquet threw his toys out of the car!


"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."

I find it amazing you say this with 100% authority... last year the press was saying the same thing....


James, in 2006 at the Italian Grand Prix - Monza (Won by M. Schumacher) you also said with 99.9% confidence that Michael Was retiring at the end of the season right at the end of the race,...

You seldom get wrong anything regarding Ferrari, can you tell us something perhaps? 🙂


I enjoy very much your analysis on F1 James, as it's sometimes too accurate,...

Was just wondering whether you being confident about Alonso's move to Ferrari next year is the result of another strong analysis or your sources [Italian Journalists, I guess] confirmed that to you.


Maybe the fact that James can speak Italian allows him to eavesdrop 'secret' conversations 😛


Or perhaps where Kimi will land?


does that mean wait and see what happens or wait and see i am right about fernando-ferrari move?


Well of course now the press (if not you directly) can say, "We were right all along, about Ferrari announcing the signing of Alonso at Monza.... they just didn't announce it because of this Renault scandal. They will still announce it though. Honest!"


Fernando Alonso just recently said he doesn't know his team for next year.

Is he a liar?

He has to be, if what you are reporting is true.


Alright, James, you modified my message. It's your blog, of course, but I don't think there was a need to modify the message. Certainly I wasn't trying to be offensive. Just stating that someone has to be lying. It is either Fernando Alonso, or representatives of the so-called media.

The statements coming from Fernando Alonso and the statements coming from commentators in the media, like you, do not match. So I figure someone is not being honest with us.


The moderator is instructed to cut out all offensive language, personal attacks and libellous statements. If you read the Rules of the Blog, it's very clear. You are free to post your thoughts and they are most welcome, but it has to be on those terms.


Alonso lays waste to another team.... He burned Macca with childish behavior and by turning them into the FIA... and now this....


Red Kimi why you repeat yourself over and over again, I have already read the same comment from you on the other thread, you make your point, you don't like Alonso, but enough is enough.

With your comments you are basically saying that you would be happy if McLaren would not have been caught with cheating. And you blame Alonso for doing the right thing and giving his e-mails to FIA, right? I am a McLaren fan and I don't think so. I'm kinda justice for all kinda person and even if it's my favourite team, if you do wrong you pay the price.

Also you already blame Alonso for something you don't even know what he's done, thats far more childish what Alonso has ever done.


My biggest problem with FA that year was not the FIA part... It was him sitting in the pit stall in Hungary, it was him accusing the team of purposely deflating his tires in qualy in China, it was him demanding the FIA put someone in his pit stall to watch over him.... It was his constant crying because he had a capable teammate for once.... So yes, I don't like FA and I fell he is more babied than anyone in F1.


I Agree, Whilst Alonso is a supreme driver he doesnt seem to like playing on a level playing field! He always seems to be involved in some ploy to better his position using any means necessary.


I almost never agree with your posts, but just this bit, is on the mark.


Although Alonso appears far from innocent in the McLaren affair, so far as we know he only threatened to go to the FIA - it was Dennis who actually did - and whatever his as yet unknown implication in the as yet unproven Renault affair (and he could not possibly have authorised it), there is currently no suggestion that he is the informant.


Given Alonso's past form in such matters, why is it impossible that he - rather than Piquet - is the source of the "new evidence"? 🙂


Because He won the race...


woooo mental- what the hell is going on?! renault are naughty as past has proven, mass damper, spy gate mk2(no charge though) this is insane. flav must have really ruffled some feathers!


the mass damper was only made illegal after McClaren and ferrari tryed it aand couldn't work out how to get any benefit from it... most of the other teams had at least tried it in testing and as far as i can recall, only renault and a couple of others made it work! its a clear case of of it you can't beat 'em, ban it!!!


What next? Timo Glock let Hamilton through last year?! Totally crazy...


Brilliant deduction - I knew Howett was next!


Dynamite stuff. I can see the Renault board pulling out of F1 completely over this.


James - were you at all baffled by the reprieve that Renault received for their own mini 'spygate' (or should that be 'floppy diskgate') saga back in 2007?

They were found guilty, yet were not punished due to a 'lack of evidence their championship was enhanced by Mclaren data'. Okay, 1.4 megabytes is hardly going to contain blueprints, but the crimes were the same, or very similar.

Do you think there is any element of this coming back to haunt them? After all, the FIA closed the case stating Renault would face a future penalty if something similar happened again.


1.4MB couldn't hold a drawing let alone a car! the rumour at the time was that most of the info he brought with him was his mortgage offer! Its not like the Macca spygate incident where they had complete technical data of the whole car doing the rounds of designers!


Okay, 1.4 megabytes is hardly going to contain blueprints,

I think you'd be surprised what a 1.44MB DWG (AutoCad) file can contain. Especially if it was detailing just the one important area on the car you were interested in.

And you can fit a fair bit in a similarly sized SolidWorks, Inventor, ProE or Catia file as well.

The thing that baffles me is that people were using floppies when you could have a multi MB USB thumb drive in your pocket. Even a few years ago you could get 4MB or 8MB, you can get 64MB thumb drives now. More convenient (smaller) and faster to use (legit or otherwise).


Renault got the same as McLaren the first time around.

McLaren then did another round, in which they got the big fine.

The difference is, of course, that Renault didn't do the another round at all.

It is very important to remember and understand this. They got the same verdict when their respective cases were first looked at. So I don't really see Renault being treated differently to McLaren there.


'This is not something which has been launched in the last few weeks'.

Presumably this means before the announcement that Piquet was to be replaced, August 3rd I believe.

If it is proved that Piquet did crash deliberately to assist Alonso, then surely both drivers are conspirators in this as well as: -




anyone else on the pitwall?


We know how these things pan out. Even IF Renault are found guilty, and remember they're allowed the benefit of the doubt at this stage, Flav will be fully exonerated and some obscure underling will be found to have acted alone. The fall guy will be nudged into early retirement, presumably with some undisclosed generous pension package. 😉

FWIW I don't see why Alonso would be a part of this. He'd won two WDCs, narrowly missed out on a third - Why would he want to win a race by such dubious means? If this was done deliberately, it'd ot have been for Alonso's win, it'd have been for Renault's F1 survival, because perhaps, just perhaps, they'd have pulled out of F1 already were it not for that result?

Would I pull a stunt like that to save my job and the jobs of all my colleagues? Probably... Provided it didn't kill a driver or send a shard of debris into the crowd at 200 mph.

I've never understood how Renault can justify their F1 spend anyway. They're not really a performance car maker. Who buys a Grand Scenic on the back of Alonso's performance?

For that matter I've been to one of their World Series events too, and had a grand day out. Am in no real hurry to put a Megane on my shopping list.


"...some obscure underling will be found to have acted alone".

Disgraceful don't you think, Andy?

"...remember they’re (Renault) allowed the benefit of the doubt at this stage

Yes we have to stress that fundamental principle of justice. However, we would be naive to think that all this investigating was going on if there was nothing to investigate.

Re Alonso and his part in this, if any? He is the undisputed number one in the team, it seems to me highly likely that he would know NPJ's strategy in all races.


At least the case has come to court quickly, reducing at least some of the scope for prolonged bad publicity. It will be interesting to see who is called to give evidence - for both sides.

With so much of real interest happening at Monza, I just hope this sickening tale is not allowed to over shadow the proper show. For the sake of F1 and the insurmountable complexities concerning the affected race that would otherwise result (excuse the pun), I hope the allegations are unproven. Should this not be the case, then I sincerely hope heaviest book known to man is thrown with KERS-like force at the guilty, and if that spells the end of Renault in F1 then so be it because their actions would be hard to forgive, certainly without the expulsion of virtually all the senior figures, including Alonso if he was (all the motor racing gods forbid) found to be complicit.

As equally unforgiveable as the cynical corruption either way is the monumental stupidity of either Renault or the false accuser(s) in thinking they could get away with it. Fortunately, there's a full moon tonight, so this werewolf can howl with impunity.


Ferrari announcing Alonso as a 2010 driver in Monza would be quite rude to Fisichella, wouldn't it? Besides, I'm still not convinced Räikkönen is going anywhere, and I'd expect them to let Massa keep his seat as well. If so, where's Alonso gonna be next year? Really tough to second-guess this.




Fisi has been confirmed as a Ferrari test driver next year, so who gets the race seat will have no detrimental affect on him.


"rude to Fisi" it would be a slap in the face to Kimi... He is coiming to the teams home race with a victory in his pocket and 3 staright podiums to hold the team in 3rd place and they say "bye bye"


Surely they keep the data for year-on-year comparisons, for use in their simulators, and for use on the 7-post rigs for setup work. But equally they may only keep data from one car, and as only one Renault went the full distance Piquet's data may be long gone - especially so if there were something to hide


The Renault board will probably pull the plug over this. Cost cutting era or not, F1 is too expensive to continue with such an embarrassing charge out there, meritorious or not.

I'm curious: Just what is the burden of proof here? Is it beyond a reasonable doubt? Some lesser standard like preponderance of the evidence?


These World Council meetings are akin to Kangaroo Courts. It always seems as if the FIA has already settled the case before these things are called. Quite Dickensian for the accused party to have to prove their innocence. Toyota ran off with Ferrari's engineering playbook and not a thing was ever done.


As said above in James' post, it is up to the FIA to prove guilt; Renault do not need to prove their innocence.

The burden of proof, in other words, lies on the accuser, as is the norm in western law.


Why has it taken a year to get this far. Surely the only new evidence is something verbal? All the electronic stuff has been available since the alleged incident.

Regardless of the outcome I think this is it for Renault as a full blown constructor and next year they'll be an engine manufacturer only. Williams-Renault and Briatore-Renault will do just fine, save a load of money and if there are problems like this arise in the future the reputational damage is much less.


Why are there no public statements (denying the allegations) from:

- Flavio Briatore

- Fernando Alonso

- Pat Symonds

- Nelson Piquet junior

- Renault

- Anyone within F1 except BCE (not knowing whether he knows something and even not knowing whether he could tell the interviewer something if he knows something)




after Glock let Hamilton through last year.... thanks to a mercedes envelope!

Bring Alonso on! Winning is winning! The Spaniard will power drive the Cavilino Rampante onwards...

F1 has always been high stakes, if you dont like it, go watch rugby! bet on a fairer sport?!?!

Renault is but an engine, the guys who compete can do so under another badge and booo to NPJ if indeed there is any truth in this.... I dont see him handing back his pay cheque?

but then again, I am looking at this synically am I not Mr Allen?


Knock it off with the dumb Glock conspiracy nonsense already. It only shows that you are clueless and not an F1 fan.


It's called irony and maintaining a bit of sporting edge! If you think any of the teams or personalities will stick to honest sportsmanship all the time... I can't share your perspective...

Schuey is my hero and he would push the envelope... winning is everything and there is so much money involved it is part of the game...

just look at the gentlman's game of rugby...

I love the fact that you say I am not an f1 fan....

Would you rather have everyone with the same opinion or just yours?... a fascinating end of the season awaits that's for sure! Forza Fisi!


Sure try to twist it into irony now.

"I love the fact that you say I am not an f1 fan…."

Yes. Bringing up the debunked Glock conspiracy nonsense shows a lack of understanding of F1 and thus that you really cannot be a real fan of the sport.

If anything you would be a fan of a single team or driver with a blinded passion for the truth to only suit that driver/team. That's not a fan of the sport really.


Personally I blame Max and Bernie for this - they probably have compromising pictures of Briatore with Sue-Ellen and black mailed him into forcing Piquet into the wall because Bobby had a bet on Alonso to win. And cue 'Dallas' credits.

More silliness, even more loss of credibility - Poor old BMW, you can't blame them from switching channels to 'Dynasty'.


One thing that interests me is how such an order could possibly be given. If I'm not mistaken the FIA have access to all radio feeds so such an order would have to be given BEFORE the race. It would thefore have come in the guise of a briefing in which case it would be fair to say several members of the team would know about it; or in the guise of a quiet word on the grid before hand - in which case impossible to prove.

The whole thing seems improbable especially as the likelyhood of another safety car later in the race was a strong possibility, making the plan futile. it all seems too risky and a long shot to win a race that they weren't in need of winning.


If the conspiracy did in fact occur, of course it would need to be arranged in advance. The strategies would have been planned prior to the race (although not as far ahead as would be the case under this year's rules - cars which qualified outside the top ten last year did not have to declare their race fuel level after qualifying, as they do this year).

I have read twice that the supposed "code phrase" used to tell Piquet that it was time to do his kamikaze stunt was when the team told him over the radio to "push". Presumably they had given up using this as an actual instruction due to lack of response. 🙂 [I can't find a link to either story where I read that information, sorry. Maybe someone else can track it down.]


I think everyone who loves the sport hopes that it is disproved if only because it is something that is unthinkable. A team and driver(s) willing to deliberately have an accident which of course by the nature of accidents must also put at risk the driver and any other drivers following behind, marshals and also spectators.

However if it is proved then what penalty fits such a reckless and dangerous form of cheating.

$100M for just having information so what for risking lives?

Lifetime bans for all involved and massive fines have to be the minimum.

A side note to this and something James has not touched on are the bet rigging laws in Singapore. If the team are shown to have deliberately fixed a race then they could find that the legal system takes the view that hasher punishments than lifetime bans are needed.

To all those who say but we need Renault in F1 sorry F1 does not need cheats, and worse than that cheats who are so happy to risk the lives of everyone who goes to a race.

After all it is just a few weeks since they were happy to allow their driver to go round the track with a known fault which only by luck not skill or judgement did not hurt either their driver or others when the wheel came off.

Are we seeing a pattern of a team who don't care about safety as long as they win at any cost even if that cost includes putting lives at risk?


Interesting point on the Singapore laws. Thanks for that. But they haven't been found guilty of anything yet.


Hi James,

Speaking as a native of Singapore, if our local anti-corruption agency CPIB get involved in the investigation (as they do in match fixing cases in our local football league), you would expect criminal charges to be made should the allegations against Renault hold water. This may involve jail time as well.


Well - unlike the Williams/Senna saga in Italy, this one would actually make some sense!


The problem here I think is that the rumors suggest Renault weren't totally committed to F1 anyway. I'd fear that all this hearing will do (guilty or even not guilty) is push them closer to pulling the plug. Honda, BMW, and Renault all leaving within a year or so of each other? Would look terrible for F1.


James, I think we'd all like to see you produce an article in which crimes and punishments past are presented in a hierarchy that illustrates how serious the "fraudulent conspiracy" charge is. Ideally, this study would separate the roles of owner, orchestrator, instructed subordinates, aware and unaware beneficiaries and involved whistleblowers. Thus the reader is able to extrapolate and infer what each party should expect if the fraud is grave beyond precedent. I'm sure you'll elucidate the possibilities without malice toward your paddock colleagues. Revealing the wages of sin is not knitting before the guillotine.


I'm not sure the fact that Piquet destroyed his car in the crash has anything to do with it being deliberate or otherwise.

With today's anti-stall systems if he'd not smashed it up, it would have been an obviously construed accident.

What extra evidence would have had to be present for Jean Todt to be investigated over allegedly instructing Fontana to block Villeneuve at Jerez 97? Or is that not actually prejudicial to competition in the same way telling someone to crash is? Not being sarcastic, just an open question..


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.....


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...



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.....


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? 😉


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.


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...!!


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...



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


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.


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.


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.


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....


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.



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!


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,


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.


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


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


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


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!!!


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.


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


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.


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? 😉


Unfortunetly, the good old racing days are over!!


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.


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.


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??


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]


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.


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


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


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.

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