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Stakes raised on all sides in Renault crash-fixing row
Stakes raised on all sides in Renault crash-fixing row
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Sep 2009   |  6:26 pm GMT  |  115 comments

The stakes were raised significantly today in the case of Renault and the crash which won the team the Singapore Grand Prix.

Briatore: Deplores the leaking of evidence (Photo Darren Heath)

Briatore: Deplores the leaking of evidence (Photo Darren Heath)

Renault issued legal proceedings against the Piquets, father and son for defamation and blackmail, team boss Flavio Briatore spoke about the damage the bad press is causing to the image of Renault and FIA president Max Mosley said that the FIA considers this allegation to be more serious than cheating and that the team could be thrown out of F1 if found guilty on September 21st.

In what is rapidly turning into the biggest in a series of damaging scandals for the sport in recent years, the leaking of confidential evidence before the World Council hearing on September 21st, has forced Renault to react.

Interestingly they were backed today by FOTA, who issued a statement deploring the way that information has been leaked not only in this case but also over other sensitive matters between teams and the governing body in recent times.

Mosley said this morning that he regretted the leaks and didn’t know where they had come from.

Briatore put it far more strongly, “I think this is really not honest, this is really damaging and this really takes the sport in dispute [sic]. We probably don’t know where it’s coming from, but this takes the sport in dispute [sic] because at the moment it is the accusation about Renault with no possibility for us to defend ourselves, because we respect our word to the FIA.”

Asked why he had taken two weeks to come out and deny the allegations, he said that it was because a) the Renault parent company was preparing the blackmail case against the Piquets and b) they understood that the FIA wanted the details of the case to be kept confidential so as not to prejudice the hearing.

It is debatable to what extent this has happened already, with the amount of evidence which has found its way into the public domain. What has certainly happened is that the weight of evidence stacked against Renault has had a hugely damaging effect on Renault’s image as a company. This is bad press that they do not need and cannot afford. They needed to put something out there to try to balance things out a bit. It’s interesting looking at the replies to this blog on the subject – of which there have been hundreds – that most people seem to think negatively of the team management over this.

The fact that the car companies can tolerate bad press far less than the FIA was a key part of Mosley’s strategy in the summer when dealing with the threatened breakaway. Today Briatore said, “The bad press I think was completely unfair – some leaks in the press to accuse somebody before they had the possibility to defend themselves. The leak, already everything is against Renault, it’s a big damage for Renault.” He added that it would make them wonder ” if they want to be part of this world anymore.”

Briatore added that he is about to publish a statement of his position and didn’t want to be drawn on details such as whether the meeting between himself, Pat Symonds and Piquet took place before the race and if so what was said, when speaking to reporters at the track this afternoon. However he did say, “I don’t feel I have any responsibility, and we don’t feel we have done absolutely anything.”

Mosley: Awaiting more evidence from Renault (Photo: Darren Heath)

Mosley: Awaiting more evidence from Renault (Photo: Darren Heath)

Meanwhile Mosley, who has presumably seen all the evidence gathered so far, held a briefing at 11am in which he said that Renault’s defence case, due shortly, must contain more than what the investigators were able to glean from their interviews,

“I think that one must expect there to be more,” he said. “We originally gave them until [last] Monday to put in all the documents, and then they have asked for more time, which they have been given until the middle of next week. And, we have got no idea what they will produce. But in the nature of things, there are always two sides to a story.”

The FIA investigators, aided by independent investigators Quest, have already spoken to Briatore and Symonds and have submitted that evidence. Reading between the lines, Mosley is suggesting that Renault’s case will need to find more for their defence in the material due shortly.

“We are in a situation at the moment where we have heard one side of the story and have investigated to the best of our ability. Now we are waiting for Renault’s side of the story, and it is only when we have got both sides, and both of them have been heard, that one can actually reach a conclusion, ” he said.

Mosley confirmed that Piquet has been granted immunity from prosecution, much as Fernando Alonso was in 2007 when he was encouraged to come forward with emails which showed that knowledge of the Ferrari data went deeper into McLaren than the team was letting on.

“We have said to him that, and I don’t know exactly how it was phrased, but he has been told that if he tells us the truth then he will not be proceeded against individually. It is exactly the same as it was for Alonso.”

He also said that it is too late to change the result, even if the world council finds against Renault.

Another awkward aspect of this for Renault is that, in the material leaked to Autosport, Symonds says that the meeting did take place, but that it was Piquet who proposed the crash. If this is the case then why didn’t Renault warn the race director that their driver might deliberately crash his car?

And what if the World Council finds that Piquet’s evidence is not trustworthy? Piquet says he deliberately crashed, so surely if Renault are cleared, Piquet’s action deserves a case by itself?

Renault’s 600 employees at Enstone are entitled to feel very nervous about all of this. The team’s future has been in question at several points recently as the car industry suffers heavy losses and on the face of it Renault has the least F1 friendly CEO in Carlos Ghosn.

Once again the livelihoods of a whole team’s employees’ families hang in the balance.

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Interesting quote from Flavio Briatore at Not much until you get the last answer. The analogy between telling someone to rob a bank and telling someone to crash.

Q. Do you think someone is trying to discredit you?

FB: You know what? Whatever happens, if someone goes against the rules, they go against the rules. If I tell you to go rob a bank – afterwards, you decide whether to rob the bank or not. I don't feel I have any responsibility, and we don't feel we have done absolutely anything [wrong]. In the case of Piquet we go to the World Council. But the fact already that we have put a criminal plan to Piquet is because we have enough confidence to be successful - the team and myself.


James do you think Mosley is settling scores with Briatore and Co for the sex scandal which came to light sometime ago??


No, but if you remember Carlos Ghosn and Renault were at the forefront of the European manufacturers association (ACEA) complaint in June about FIA governance during the breakaway row. The statement read, "Today, the members of the Board of the European Automobile Manufacturer's Association discussed the current situation prevailing in Formula One, and have concluded that the current governance system cannot continue."


Personally, I am growing to really despise the Piquets.

Snr was a whinger in his days, and incredibly lucky to win the championships he did. In fact if Bernies medal system was in play he would be the biggest loser and have zero championships, which I think would have been more accurate given the wealth of talent he was around...

Anyways Jnr to me seems to just have a sense of belonging, over privileged and under talented.

If Reno did what he says, fine that's disgustingly wrong, and as a Fernando Alonso Fan, I hate that he is once again embroiled in controversy.

But the Fool which PK Jnr seems to be, has surely if not made himself prosecution free, definitely unemployable... Unless his old man bought a team, why would you take someone who would crash his car on purpose. (if he even did, how many cars did wreck in his 1 1/2 years anyways, maybe he is just saying he did)

PK Jnr is a hugely privileged human being for having this opportunity and he behaved like a spoilt kid.

And now he is just being a vengeful weapon against 600 poor workers at Enstone and thousands if not millions of fans, who are dropping away. Growing immensely tired of the drama off the track!

For the sake of all these people, I hope that the person on the short end of the stick is a singular figure, or two!


Bang on in every point


On a sidenote, I am not really much of a fan of the Piquet's, but I would never call Sr's championships "lucky".

You can be lucky and win a race, but luck over a year doesn't come into it - luck does not last consistently for 10 months of the year; funnily enough it's called "consistency"


You have to be a world class idiot to say someone lucked into 3 WDC's.


To Steve: [mod]

Not like I need to defend myself here, but I'm not implying that he was only lucky. And lucked in. I was implying that he was lucky that that his competition at the time wasn't AS lucky as he was. And its true, had the championships been based on outright wins, he would have been the sports biggest loser in championship stakes. There are very few occasions in history where the winner of the most races doesn't win the championship, and rightfully so.

I remember how Mansell used to scare him off the road!

Obviously he was a far better driver than his son, but he will never be remembered or spoken about in the same vain as Senna or Prost were, and even Mansell, who was unlucky not to have 'lucked in' as you say, who were all from the same era.

Back up statements before you imply that I am not at "your" advanced level of intelligence Steve!


Well "World Class" I got news for you. The Championship is not decided by most wins so your point is absurd. Nelson Piquet won one of his WDC's with cry baby Nigel as his teammate. How did "your nige" scare him? Before you embarress yourself further remember Mansell was behind Piquet in points when he crashed out. I am glad you brought up Mansell because that show's where your anti-Piquet bias comes from.

Study this Winger:

Piquet 3 WDC

Mansell 1 WDC

Time will never change that.


Do you have any evidence that 'thousands if not millions of fans' are leaving the sport? I think it's more likely that millions of us are fascinated by this story, like me!


I live in Brazil and I am ashamed.


Piquet says he deliberately crashed as ordered by his management. His management says it was Piquet's idea altogether. It is to be seen who says the truth. The thing is all of them knew that a crash was plotted, so none of them can wash their hands off too easily. In my opinion it will be very difficult for Briatore and Symonds to explain themselves satisfactorily, once they admitted the crash plot meeting actually took place. I just hope Robert Kubica does not go anywhere near Renault.


May be that's the point!!!

Briatore and Symonds may admit the crash plot but they can wash their hands(To some extent) by telling that it was piquet idea and they refused or at least ignored. And why he proposes something like that? The answer is ready:" He thought he was at risk of losing his seat so he decided to do such thing to add to his credit"

May be they are still in but it is more better to be in the position of "Know and didn't tell" than in "Planned & Ordered"

And although I think that Piquet says the truth, Briatore isn't that fool to put his fate in piquet hands. I am sure that he planned well to that situation before firing piquet.


Just when we have what is shaping up to be an exciting and unpredictable finish to the season these recent accusations are detracting from the real story on the track.

I like Flavio's comment about Piquet's 17 crashes - you would think a couple of practice runs would be enough...


2 questions here

1)why does all the information have to come out just before to start of the race weekend so we can talk about whats going on the track.

2)why does f1 seem to be in the headlines for past few years for the worng reasons like spygate and fia–fota dispute.


I feel sorry for all Renault staff about thie situation. Perhaps Flav and Pat could have thought about the consequence more (if they are guilty) before making a rash decision.

I think immunity for NPJ is not fair to the sports image either. I know he wouldn't have come forward unless he felt sure his neck wasn't ion the line, but still.. He crashed an F1 car deliberately! He could have injured or killed someone! Debris could have caused a puncture or other problem and caused another driver to be injured!. Where's the common sense gone in all this?.. The money involved certainly adjusts ones levels of what is morally acceptable.

I note that NPJ's address on his testimony is Monaco.. so basically, even if you're a cr*p F1 driver with a tendency to whinge and moan, and also grass up your team mates.. you are still well wedged! unbelievable.

BAD Flav



Sorry for Renault

Sorry for F1

Sorry for Fans

Renault as a car company have to distance themselves from this scandal and hang Flav out to dry!

Check Pat's bank account over the next few days.. see if there's any deposits from a Mr.F.Briatore. hehehe.

Such a shame... F1 was just getting good again!!!!


If Renault is found guilty the team has to be banned for a good amount of time and Briatore forever.

He also should face criminal charges,a driver,a marshall or a spectator could have been killed that night.


Piquet was driving the car, HE crashed, he put people in danger, so in my oppinion he should face criminal charges. Renault should be punished for damaging the sport.


Indeed he should. I wonder if Singapore police are investigating this.


It doesn't make me think any worse of Briatore than I did before, because I've always thought he was unpleasant. (And what was Piquet doing having him as manager AND team boss anyway - that's like electing your boss to be leader of your union).


Well Fernando has had Flavio as manager and team boss. Mind you Mark Webber walked away from that combination. I wonder how he feels about his manager right now (I think Flavio is MW's manager - correct me if I'm wrong somebody)?


You are wrong I think his current partner is also his manager.


I'm sorry I got my information from an interview with Mark himself in the Herald Star in 2008.

Have a look at

Could he have Flavio too perhaps?


Ian, I think you will find that Snail was correct, Flavio is MW's manager. Unless anything has changed recently, that is.


Thank you.


This is sad for the sport and for the people that work for Renault.... Flav, Pat, Nelson and Alonso should all get a stiff penalty.... I assume the 2 drivers will walk away free, but Pat and Flav surely are toast.....


I do not see why Alonso should get punished, unless some evidence that he was involved will surface.

until then he should be out of the picture.

otherwise we should also punished all the race engineer and mechanics that were involved with Alonso earlier pit stop, since they all benefited from the outcome.



you would have to say that by pat saying nelson suggested crash that the team have some guilt on their hands as after the crash they did not declare this conversation

I'm actually quite sad about this as I all ways considered pat symonds a decent bloke ......or has he been pushed into the fall guy postion by his boss


I agree, my experience of Pat is that he is a thoroughly decent bloke. I have always had the highest respect for his intellect and his racing instincts.


My hunch (and it isn't more than that) is to believe Pat Symonds on this though not necessarily any of the others mentioned.

James, you know personally all these people. Is it possible that Symonds simply didn't think NP's idea of a crash was a serious proposal?


This is growing very interesting ..It really seems to me Max is very suspicious behind the leaked information to the media. He certainly has the motive to wage personal vendetta on Flavio. It is conceivable that the FIA president has caught this opportunity when a disgruntled sacked driver came to share his grievances, or maybe Max has gone to Piquet first??

If Piquet is already offered immunity, one can imagine what he will do to destroy the ones who sacked him. I wonder if he ever thought of the livelihood of 600 in Enstone.

Whatever it is, I hope the truth will prevail.


He won't be immune if his case isn't proven and Renault sue his a** for millions for defamation. BiBi Monaco lifestyle.


Now I know I have a minority view, but I think 'so what?!' If a driver is exhorted to 'take another driver out' ontrack, then fine, penalties all round - but for a team's management and driver to concoct a plot whereby the latter crashes unilaterally to force a particular situation to develop - so what? It's F1!! The Piranha Club - where some of the hardest-bitten businessmen and competitors risk their lives and fortunes fortnightly to take the spoils - so who cares if someone's clever enough to think 4 steps ahead and create a scenario wherein the lead driver gains an advantage?

Look at it this way - if we were reading about the 'glory days' of F1, and read that in the 1930s, say, or early 70s, a team manager / owner like Alfred Neubaeur or Walter Wolf had gotten a junior driver to crash harmlessly to engineer a win for their star, we'd all grin and think 'wow how wild, those guys really lived on the edge and we'd get all nostalgic!'

I don't want a sport full of 'after you Claude' effete gentlemen - I want danger, glamour, excitement, intrigue, thrills, spills, bitter rivalries and yes, the occasional crash. I want that. I WANT that. Otherwise I'd turn channels and watch something else.

Good on Renault if they've done this, and shame on Mosley the conflict-addict for now jeopardising hundreds of families' livelihoods over something which, whether you agree with it or not, was obviously a one-off and which has never become a repeat occurrence.


I agree! In the good old days, bending the rules, sometime almost to breaking point was considered fair game and not unexpected.What the FIA should be investigating is, who leaked the documents, since this is no the first time and it is extreemly biased against Renault.


I don’t want a sport full of ‘after you Claude’ effete gentlemen – I want danger, glamour, excitement, intrigue, thrills, spills, bitter rivalries and yes, the occasional crash. I want that. I WANT that.

I want that too. But honestly. And you can have it honestly with it being staged (which is what you say you want).

From what I can see, we've got what you are asking for, except for the fact that most of the protagonists filter their speech/actions via a media filter.


sorry James miss type on my Email address


It's all so far-fetched, and a little hard to believe; the kind of conspiracy theory that plays very well on the internet, but turns out to be b*** in the real world. Hopefully, anyway.

Still, F1 deserves a lot of credit for the way it's being handled, although if Renault are found to be innocent then the leaker should be banished.


This is very shameful if it's true (which I hope it isn't). But I wonder if this ever happens in NASCAR. I remember one Indy 500 when Michael Andretti was chasing down Rick Mears for the win late in the race when Mario crashed to bring out the yellow flag and bunch up the pact.


The excerpts (at )I read of the stewards' interview with Pat Symonds do not look good. He made several "no comment" and "I don't want to answer" type replies that look very damning.

It's not even a denial, or a shifting blame to Piquet Jr. It's just a refusal to answer the question.

At this point, I suspect the team had no knowledge of the crash plan. But, Renault will most likely pay a very heavy price for the actions of the key players.


Where does this stuff come from ? Why are stewards' interviews out there in the public domain ? I suspected that the leak of Piquet's testimony came from his father, but does he have access to this ?


Wow, if genuine, this document for me is the smoking gun. Pat clearly had the opportunity to deny these allegations and if they were made up you would imagine him being apoplectic with rage. Instead he remains coy, almost a man that knows he has been caught and is in damage limitation mode. His refusal to answer the questions coupled with his agreement (mind you the telemetry is damning) that Piquet's driving was inducing a crash says to me he knew what was going on. Later on in the document Flav comes out with a lot of hot air, not convincing at all.

This is pretty upsetting, Pat has always seemed like a nice guy, were the pressures in the team that great for results? Maybe. It's all so ironic given Alonso's great results at the tail end of the season. So, so sad.


Holy sh*t!! That interview with Symonds is about as damning as it gets!!'s not hard to see why the FIA had no choice but to call Renault in for a formal investigation if this is the real responses given by Symonds.

I'd say they'll need divine intervention to escape Max the executioner


I don't see why Nelson should have immunity over this - in fact he is the one who should face the most censure. It was he who crashed deliberately, then hid that fact until sour grapes made him go to the authorities - which somewhat supports the idea of blackmail.

The 'only following orders' defence holds no water in a very black-and-white situation like this. Nelson is guilty in the first degree, and has admitted as such. He should be banned from holding any FIA licence for life. As for FB and PS, well, their case has yet to be heard.


Neither do I. What we have to remember is that Piquet père, Bernie and Max go back a long way. There's a lot to all this that doesn't quite meet the eye.


I'd like to know who is leaking the information. There are documents circulating the internet and they are very in-depth. If they are correct then certain people need to come up with very good explanations regarding their actions and statements as it appears that Piquet has a lot of supporting evidence to back up his case.


If Renault were found guilty, do you think the WMSC would take into consideration that potentially only 3 people may have been aware on the situation and that subject to the removal of the 3 people from the team (now 2) that they would be more leniant on Renault itself taking into consideration it could mean hundreds of redundancies caused by the actions of 3 men.

Its not exactly fair. Can they make a request to Renault that they would be lenient should FB and PS be removed from their posts? As I say IF proven guilty.


I think you mean 4 men... Alonso is in this as well.. he can claim he is innocent all day.... not very beleivable


If I was in Flav's position and I did conspire with Piquet, I wouldn't tell my star driver.

It implicates him in this too, and could affect him psychologically in the race, and it's just another person that can run off to the FIA.


Care to point out evidence Red Kimi? because so far there is none that links Alonso to this mess


I agree. Why would you tell Alonso?

He demonstrated at McLaren what damage he could do if shown which cupboard the skeletons are hidden in.

He's a shrewd fella, he'd have probably guessed what went on, but he'd not have been part of the conspiracy. There was no need for him to be.


You are correct.... that is the beauty of it... Alonso is not stuck wiht the smoking gun... He is like the mob boss who benefits when his guys go steal for him. Alonso is too smart of guy to start P15 and pit before the entire field on a track with no passing. I am sure he questioned the strategy. Even if you want to take his side and he was not in any of the talks he knew what went down.


Judging by your nick "Red Kimi" I knew you were Alonso fan.

Maybe Kimi caused Massa's pit stop error by queuing behind Massa and making traffic light operator nervous? (notice sarcasm)


After reading the transcript of his interview I am inclined to believe he had nothing to do with it.

Just because not everything has been reported doesn't mean it is impossible to get hold of material.

I wont go into any further details.


I think you may have hit the nail on the head with your last para, Amanda


The irony in this story is that Alonso is involved in yet another scandal of lying and cheating. At what point is his career affected by the negative publicity?


...and the facts for your claim are... where??


Why all the Hatorade on Alonso? From what I can tell, people only started coming down on him because he (a two-time defending world champion) didn't defer to Lewis (then a rookie) at McLaren. That he co-operated in the Spygate investigation doesn't make him a villain or a cheat. If he is, then so is de la Rosa. And no one makes that claim.

And don't tell me that he showed "bad character" or "dishonesty" by "hurting McLaren" when they didn't give him number 1 status. He didn't hurt McLaren. They hurt themselves in every way possible that season, starting at the top: By failing to thoroughly investigate how and why a senior engineer and the test team had the full technical specs of their Ferrari competitor, and, yes, by getting so caught up in the performance of the wunderkind. I don't recall anyone urging Williams to push JV at the expense of Damon Hill just because Villeneuve made a splash.


i'm sorry for the misunderstanding. i meant those you were rebutting.


emmm... (I was defending dear Fernando - not that he needs my defense...)


I think Alonso's career already has been affected by the negativity by contributing to the reasons why he couldn't stay at McLaren for 2008. Further effects now look very likely.


Alonso involved in lying and cheating??? Are you able to read and understand English or any other human language dear Jeremy??


Where is Alonso involved? Just curious, but I haven't seen him mentioned... he has deniability if he was kept out of the plan....


He is the beneficial party of the "strategy". Directly or Indirectly, he is still involved until otherwise proven innocent.

Racing not Politics

I seriously didn't think F1 could outdo the spygate issue of McLaren stealing Ferrari design secrets but it has. This situation is absurd and I suspect people will be switching off in droves


Or the opposite.

people like scandals.

otherwise a lot of celebrities would not even be as such. some become celebs simply because they create controversy.


So Piquet will get immunity from any punishment for risking the lives of himself, other drivers and track side staff in Singapore? And for bringing Formula One into total disrepute? While Renault staff who have nothing to do with the anti-sporting idiocy of this sleaze-bag cheat may lose their jobs?? This is a ludicrous and anti-ethical decision by Mosley and FIA to protect the (joint) perpetrator of the worst scandal in the sport's history. Who the hell will want to race against Piquet in the future anyway even if he isn't banned for life as he should be? You can be sure all the other drivers will want him kept out of F1 for good. Hopefully we'll see some real jurisdiction and maybe proper criminal proceedings against Piquet on a whole number of counts, along with Briatore and Symonds if found guilty of conspiring over the crash too.

Racing not politics

he may well get immunity but he won't get another drive in F1


"ludicrous and anti-ethical"

Two adjectives that sum up the latter part of the Mosley era perfectly.

Whatever the truth of the Piquet case, and I still do withhold judgement because of the complexity of motives, lack of indepth knowledge of the situation and, truthfully, lack of faith in the FIA to determine fairly or correctly, the leaks are a matter of indisputable fact and for which the FIA, as sole owners of the material, are entirely responsible. Conspiracy theories about Mosley and possible motives, however plausible, are irrelevant - the FIA is corporately responsible for failing to safeguard the confidentiality of evidence in a sensitive trial to a degree that could compromise its fairness and has undoubtedly damaged the participants prior to any outcome.

F1 has prospered in spite of the FIA not because of it.


Well said sir!


Either way, and I never thought I would say this having followed F1 since the early 1980's... I'm getting tired of it all.

F1 is about speed, technology and excitement.. please don't kill it.


"Either way, and I never thought I would say this having followed F1 since the early 1980’s… I’m getting tired of it all."



If Briatore and Symonds suspected that Alonso won the race because Piquet had come up with the idea of intentionally crashing at a meeting before the race, why didn't they tell the FIA that Alonso may have won the race by deception afterwards?

I'd say they're up to their necks in it even if they didn't instruct Piquet to do this because they would have known that Piquet caused an illegal and highly dangerous race incident after the race but were happy to silently collect the Alonso win.


Exactly my thoughts. If the leak is correct that Symonds and/or Briatore had a meeting before the race where even the mention of a deliberate crash by NP (whether it was suggested by the later or not) is THE smoking gun. Assuming they didn't order Piquet to crash, that this "thing" was brought up in the infamous pre-race meeting, and (no denying this) that Piquet had his crash 1 (one!) lap after Alonso pitted, they should have reported that pre-race meeting immediately. If they didn't, and celebrated Alonso's "victory" as if nothing unusual happened, they are guilty as sin, and ciao to anyone wearing ugly-as-hell blue, white, yellow, and orange overalls.


exactly, good point.


James has touched on it briefly in another post, it was the first Singapore GP, the main sponsor was ING and they chalked up their first victory of the season.


If Pat Symonds is such a thoroughly decent bloke, why did he not quit Benneton after the Option 13 scandal?

Finally justice might take place after 15 years.


Mr. Allen,

If at all there was a meeting between the three people here, irrespective of who came up with this suggestion, all three are to be held accountable. The trouble I have understanding is " Why did such a meeting take place at the first instance?". Was there any pressure from Carlos Ghosn or higher-ups in Renault to show some results (read victories) for their continuation in F1. If I remember correctly, there have been a couple of instances/news about Renault wanting to quit F1 and wasn't that a factor in Alonso's move to McLaren?

Do you have any insights on this Mr Allen?


Stupid question but could Max use this as an excuse to stay on as dict ... I mean President?


Piquet comes across as a thoroughly spoilt, utterly immature, brat.

Staggeringly naive, utterly in thrall to dominating senior family members, pathetically incapable of making sensible decisions for himself, and about as likely to be successful in the tough uncompromising world of modern F1 as a dormouse in midwinter.

It's quite likely that this irritating young fool has destroyed the jobs of 600 or so first class F1 people at the Renault factory in Enstone.

Ghosn has been searching for months for powerful reasons to severe Renaults F1 presence

and this silly boy has handed the Renault CEO a very sharp hand axe.


My impression of Pat Symonds has always been (and remains) one of good judgment, integrity, loyalty and personal kindness. He, like everone else, is entitled to a fair hearing.

Reluctance to answer certain questions tells you nothing. He may have been advised, or instructed, by his team not to answer questions about certain issues until full disclosure has been made of the allegations against Renault.

This weekend must be hell for everyone at Renault. That is not fair. The issue has yet to be determined.

Why must people guess? Evidence beats ill informed opinion every time. Be patient.

Any spleens which need vented should be directed to the person at the FIA who leaked this stuff. The sack is obligatory for that moron if he is detected. Which journo is protecting him? Shame on you.


When will this end? And what's the true cause behind all of it?

Over the past two years, there's been very few days of calm and peace in F1. Somehow, despite all the calls to improve the show, the sport has done its absolute best to make it near impossible for its fans to focus on the racing. Instead, I've been constantly bombarded with scandal after scandal. I'm now at my limit. If I wanted to watch scandals, I'd watch Fox News.

Is the F1 circus really populated only by a bunch of cynical team owners, cynical drivers, cynical corporate sponsors, cynical stewards, cynical governing bodies, and cynical journalists? If there's no hope left that F1 will return to being a sport, with some measure of respectability and nobility, someone should let the fans know so they can take their attentions elsewhere.


I don't quite understand all of the talk about "poor Renault employees". Their own management exercised, at the very least, poor judgement, and at the most, cynical, dangerous fraud.

It's too bad for them, but was Piquet Jr. just supposed to keep his mouth shut to protect everyone?


I also don't agree Piquet should walk free...
"Piquet suggests that he only went ahead and caused the accident because he felt he would be rewarded for his actions".
So if Renault had rewarded him...he wouldn't have said anything??? Thus, why should he be allowed to walk if Renault gets punished?


Now there are reports that Symonds refused to answer direct questions about the incident. Then this talk of Britore's anecdote that telling someone to rob a bank is different from doing it yourself.

Ouch! This combination strongly suggests that both that Symonds and Britore knew of the scheme.

Piquet has been given immunity, but if the FIA find that Symonds and Britore had knowledge of the scheme, I can only think they'll both be given a sporting "Death Penalty".

In that they'll both be convicted of severe sporting ethics violations then forbidden from any involvement in the sport for a great many years. It may extend to any FIA sanctioned motorsport, perhaps even to any European sport of any kind, even football.

Such a penalty would be especially damaging to Britore, as he has his fingers in so many aspects of FIA sanctioned motorsport. Such a penalty would very likely prohibit Flavio from representing drivers in FIA motorsort. Were he to be excommunicated from FIA motorsports, the contracts would likely be violated and all those drivers would likely be free agents, with a massive financial loss to Flavio.

This is why Flavio is playing this so hard, this is why he's responded with criminal allegations of blackmail. Flavio is no dummy, he knows that if he's found guilty of this, it's over, it's all over, his sporting empire will crumble at his feet. He'll lose his team, he'll lose his driver contract business, he'll never live his dream of being the next Bernie.

Flavio is taking some serious risks here. He better hope young Nelson didn't have the forethought to make an audio recording of that meeting. If there is such a recording, Britore could actually find himself in jail! Not for the actions themselves, telling a driver to wreck is not a criminal matter, but bringing criminal charges against someone who you know to be innocent is very much a criminal violation in itself.

That said, I'm not getting the feeling that the FIA wants to kick Renault from the sport. If Renault wants to remain in the sport, I think they'll be permitted to remain. They may suffer a penalty, perhaps an probationary fine to be paid in the event of further misconduct. In exchange for such leniency, certainly, positively, the FIA would demand that any Renault employees involved be thrown to the wolves, and probably out of the sport for the rest of their lives.

There's a reason Britore is playing this so hard, it's for all the marbles.



I think that the Piquets are trying to mess around with Briatore, which is never a good idea.

Remembering from watching the Singapore event on ITV last year, I'm sure Piquet spun on the formation lap on the last corner going to the grid. This suggests that he was always under pressure in that race. Was he trying to stick the car in the wall before the race even began?

What do you think of this point?



Do you have any idea if this scandal - if realised against Renault F1 - will cascade down through junior Formulae, or will it be restricted to F1?

I'm struggling to see a reason for this to affect other series, but I just wanted clarification from an expert.


Obviously the below did not happen.

"I could accidentally crash the car in a narrow place if it would help"

"Oh no you must not do that, it would be against the rules and cheating."

"Could you do a Schumi instead and just park it in the middle of the track perhaps whith out damage?"

"Nobody would believe that, it has to be a crash"

"Well I'll try but I want a reward"

"Yeah yeah whata-eva!" "I want a drive next year"

"Well your manager will have to negotiate with the team about that.......ok!"

Well now is the time, but if I crash here, it might hurt, no I don't think I can do it, no, mmm no, oops, oh s**t!


You don't necessarily need insight; of course there is pressure from above, just exactly as you mention. If Renault were always winning I doubt any of this would have happened. Pressure causes people to act completely in character!


From Mosley interview, we can clearly see ( if there was any need of confirmation) what kind of dangerous man he is and that at FIA there are quite a bunch of amateurs.

Some people at FIA must have been very clumsy on order to leak those sensitive documents or they are completely ruthless for having leaked them deliberately, which i tend more to believe it is the case.

I believe the docs were leaked deliberately and was Mosley idea.

It is pretty scandalous that he simply state that next time they will pay more attention for this not to happen again. Are we kidding!!!?

That leak create an incredible damage to a company like Renault and to the life hood of many workers. if the leak happened deliberately, it is criminal act that should be persecuted.

As for Piquy junior immunity, it is mot point, since the spoiled brat and his father will be "persona non grata" at any F1 GP venue and Formula 1 team. I would not be surprised if the F1 driver association will refuse to have him again as a competitor, on the remote eventuality that could happens.


I dont believe piquet at all.


A few of points to consider: -

1. Nelson's immunity from prosecution by the FIA is conditional on him telling the truth, Max Mosley saying, "We have said to him that, and I don't know exactly how it was phrased, but he has been told that if he tells us the truth then he will not be proceeded against individually".

Curious that Max doesn't know nor has he found out "...exactly how it was phrased..."

So what happens if the World Council finds in Renault's favour?

More importantly, if Nelson junior is found to have lied under oath you might start to think about, perverting the course of justice, perjury, conspiracy, defamation of character etc

2. According to Joe Saward's blog, no private individual or company can start "criminal proceedings",(he is referring to French law) only refer something to the authorities and ask for an investigation to be started.

So, is Joe wrong, or have Renault put out a badly worded press release at a sensitive time? Joe lives in France, has done for a long time, so probably knows what he is talking about. Curiously, "The matter will also be referred to the Police in the UK", but no proceedings are to be started by Renault or Briatore in the UK.

3. Many posters reckon Piquet's GP career is over unless Nelson senior buys a team, BMW perhaps.

Would the FIA accept an entry fom a Piquet-owned team?

Would BMW, a very image-conscious company, accept Piquet money?


My problem with the entire ordeal is that all the evidence that has been 'leaked' has only been from the Piquet side which has certainly prejudiced the press and public against believing Renault's defence.

I personally will be waiting for the outcome of the WSMC hearing and the criminal investigation, because Renault really have not gotten a fair play in the media because of the leaks.

I am probably alone in this but I have a feeling that Renault are going to come out with a victory from the WSMC one way or the other. Either from the fact that the FIA has not got definitive and conclusive evidence to validate Piquet's claims or that Renault will be able to successfully offer evidence and argue that the FIA will not be able to make a ruling against them beyond a reasonable doubt.

Of greater importance is the politics behind the issue, in that everyone knows if the FIA come down hard on Renault they will pack up and leave, and that if Piquet's claims are to be believed the actions of 2 or 3 men will mean the loss of 500 jobs and millions of dollars of investment in F1.

The FIA has already hurt Renault's position this year with the Valencia ban and this is only making it far worse. By all indications it looks like Renault does not have a title sponsor for next year and I doubt they will get one now. If the FIA slap Renault with a big fan ala Mclaren i'm pretty sure they will just decide it is better to quit and cut their losses. I would not be surprised if behind the scenes there is plenty of posturing and negotiating going on between all the interested parties in how to get the best outcome for everyone involved.

So if a guilty verdict is reached what's to be done? I think it will be to make Symonds the fall guy and he will get a ban from F1 and a 1 year suspended ban from competition with probation.


Spot on on the leaks. For a similar situation, see the nonsense that Major League Baseball has perpetrated here on positive "steroids" tests.


The interesting point about 'crash-gate' is that I find it hard to see how guilt can be proven - i.e. Renault, Pat and Flav included were involved in a conspiracy

I have seen no evidence of conspiracy.

The only evidence I have seen is:

1) There is acceptance of the pre-race meeting (this is not an unsual meeting in itself)

2) Car telementary and the video footage of the crash

Well, if Nelson rasied the point, as is suggested at the meeting, and it was rebuffed. Then this is a case of the infamous "rogue employee".

The car telementary, his spin on thh warm up lap and the crash itself are all Piquet Jnr's responsibility

If Nelson went ahead an did it anyway which I am sure will be Renault's defence.... why should Nelson be immune from prosecution

Imagine if Renault win at the World Council, what if they win the criminal case as well (which they must be confident about to launch) - then where does that leave the FIA and Piquet?

Well it leaves the FIA handing out immunity to the culprit

And it leaves Piquet with no chance of a drive again or getting sponsorship - even for his own team


In all fairness Renault had no choice but to counterclaim if they had not done so it would have made them look guilty

but it is interesting they have gone down the blackmail route rather than anything els or is this just me ????


I believe Nelson's only given immunity if he told the truth. If he deliberately caused the crash of his own initiative I'm guessing he might be liable.


I know I'm doing what I am criticising others for by commenting.

If what Mosley says is true and he has no idea of the source of the leaks then he is putting himself away twice: he must take responsibility for the leaks and if he doesn’t know where they came from, why not? And then, just to compound the error, he gives a press conference not to limit the damage, but to criticise Renault for not replying on time.

The FIA, has no ‘side’. They are the investigators. They have no press role other than to say: We will look into it. They have a duty, for which they are paid handsomely, and that is to look after the sport. This they do not appear to be doing.

As you say, James, many on this blog and on forums have already made up their minds from the leaks that Flav and Pat – that’s Pat Symonds! After what he’s done for the sport he deserves a little faith – are guilty. That goes for many scribes as well. And it seems it goes for Mosley as well as, it would appear, he is suggesting that Renault ‘will need to find more for their defence’. Is Mosley’s role to brief against one of the teams? Because that is what the quote amounts to.

You call Quest independent: I don’t think that’s quite right. Certainly not my idea of independent. That said, there is no requirement for them to be so.

The absolution granted Piquet, before Renault’s evidence has been submitted, is rather suggestive. Even just going by the leaks and Piquet’s statement, if it is to be believed, it would appear that he was one of the principals. And it would seem the only motivation for going public was to get back at Flav after his sacking. If he hadn’t been kicked out he would have happily sat on it.

One explanation for the crash, if it was deliberate, is as a conditional gift to the team. Piquet knew that short fueling FA was a risk and decided that such a selfless move might well get him in the team’s good books. Further – remember this is pure speculation – he would be happy in the knowledge that his sacking, which we all thought would have happened last season, would be unlikely because he could always say he was put up to it. Something, no doubt that, if he was that dishonest, he would put to Flav. Mind you, only someone who was very fragile at the time would ever do such a thing.

That explanation seems to me to be more likely that Pat being part of a conspiracy in which the health and life of one of his drivers is put at risk.

And off topic for a while, but important I think, you suggest it is the same as Alonso – although de la Rosa seemed to be the instigator to me – which showed ‘knowledge of the Ferrari data went deeper into McLaren than the team was letting on’. I think that Mosley was forced to admit some time later, in a staged press brief and photo op with him shaking hands with Dennis, that one of the reasons they ‘didn’t let on’ was because they didn’t know of FA’s and PdlR’s conspiracy with Coughlan and Stepney.

You say: If this is the case [that Piquet proposed crashing] then why didn’t Renault warn the race director that their driver might deliberately crash his car?

That is a separate offence. In any case you can’t dissect leaks and press briefings. There could be any number of reasons. Email me for a list.

If someone in the FIA wanted to ensure that one of the major manufacturers left the sport they could have done nothing better than what they’ve done so far. The press, it seems to me, are being manipulated.

There is no excuse for the way this has been handled. The damage, to Renault, Flav, Pat and F1, is already complete. This is a disaster for the sport. Renault has been a major supporter of F1 – they started the turbo era which gave rise to 1500bhp engines for qually – and here they are, being beaten and bullied. And there’s still more than a week to go.

How about the headline: Underperforming man, whose abilities fall far short of his illustrious father’s, makes wild allegations against the man who sacked him and the team that no longer wants him. That is, after all, all that we know for sure. Perhaps we could mention in the text that the person defined himself as ‘fragile’ and this wasn’t denied by Flav.

This is the sport that I’ve followed for 43 seasons. I’ve got a whole bookcase dedicated to it. I’ve got every race and season published on DVD. And I think the real scandal is the way in which this whole matter has been handled. I am in despair. Just when I thought that it was all over, we get this farce.

And James, a bit harsh with the [sic]s on Briatore’s quotes aren’t we? English is his second language.


Credit where it's due, you have it right. I've certainly made my share of if/then statements on this case, but I have to agree whole hog. As an ex-journalist, I know that you have to depend on sources. As an ex-prosecutor, I know that the only thing you say if asked about a case by a journalist is, "it's under investigation."

This is such farce. The FIA itself is FUBAR, and has outlived its usefulness, at least as a sporting regulator. We'd be better off if they got out of race sanctioning altogether, as the AAA did here in 1956, to concentrate on its core mission of mobility and safety initiatives. USAC took up the reins quite well until they got too FIAesqe in the late '70s.

International Racing Club, anyone?


I thought 'pentiti' normally got a reduced sentence, not immunity. On his own account NPJ is more hitman than whistleblower.



With do much infornation in the public domain, do you think that either party can now get a fair hearing? Using this site as a good example, the views (to which all are entitled) are so polarised it's difficult to say yes. I think it's now time to wait until 21.09.09. I still can't get my head around someone agreeing to, let alone suggesting, to crash an F1 car!!

As an aside,

Give us your views on Saturday Practice. Have Brawn found their pace, is Sutil a genuine contender and are RBR struggling?


I do wonder about that. We will see. As for the pace thing, looks like Brawn car is working well, getting the tyres up to temp and is fast on long runs and with the hard tyre. Red Bull not having a comfortable weekend


Well Luca di Montezemolo did give us the opinion that he thought the race was a F in circus show, but did't go further. Did he see something different to those who voted Singapore as the race of the year!


I'm not convinced Renault-Nissan have the stomach to continue in F1.

Carlos Ghosn (Renault Group CEO) has had to make key cost cutting decisions to pave the way to Renault profit. Nissan at the moment is keeping the group in the black, just. Renault however, is like a lead weight. Plus as an image boosting exercise, F1 doesn't have the halo factor it once had.

On track, the Renault engined RedBull have at least one title contending driver. Where are the Renault works team? Nowhere at the front, well not consistently. Redbull have 104.5 points (2nd) where Renault are 8th out of 10 with just 16 points.

The Formula Renault series' are going well, the racing Meganes are too.

Then you have the new Piquet-gate story. Not what you want from an image point of view; the Renault brand dragged though the courts by Flavio et al.

If you had a business decision to make; cost cutting in your motorsport division, what would you do?

Renault have a long line of success as an engine maker but will it again as a constructor? Flavio has enough to buy out the Renault stake in the team. Renault could continue with RedBull and TeamFlavio as suppliers can still claim an active part of the F1 circus without the negative headlines as a constructor.

Remember Renault (and BMW) only became a constructor during the time when F1 was going that way 8+ years ago because it would have been advantageous from a technology point of view. F1 isn't still moving that way. With a return to garage teams with off the shelf engines; look at how BrawnGP (Mercedes powered), RedBull and now Force India (Mercedes again) are at the front.

The new rules mean the added cost as a constructor making it's own engines isn't the way to get trophies anymore. BMW know it, Carlos knows it, it's just a matter of when and not if.

Maybe as a owning team principle, Flavio will focus on wining on the track and not in the courts.


Something seems really fishy in this investigation and trial of renault.

Max Mosely is a lawyer, and as a lawyer, he knows that immunity is not given to persons who are direct and principal participants of an offense. Nelson jr. deliberately crashed his car. He said so himself that he directly participated in the offense, in fact he is the principal participant.

This is distinguished from Alonso's participation in the spygate scandal where he took no part in the stealing of the ferrari documents and therefore he could be granted immunity.

For example if Flav and Pat told Nelson jr. to kill max mosely and then Nelson Jr. does it then confesses to the authorities that he did it but flav and pat told him to do so. There is no way that the state would give him immunity from committing murder.

This is a case where immunity is unavailable, except when the immunity is only limited to where his statements cannot be used as evidence against him but other evidence can be used to prosecute him for the offense.

The fact that the FIA has granted blanketimmunity to Nelson Jr., provided that he tells the truth, makes it seem to me that the FIA is out to get Renault without a fair trial.

The trial will be unfair because their star witness has

1.)an ax to grind against renault

2.)is either a liar or a cheater. a liar if he made up the story. a cheater if he deliberately crashed.

3.)The blanket immunity granted by the FIA will not encourage Nelson Jr. to speak the truth but instead encourage him to extract revenge against Renault, as he has nothing to lose.

The fear i have now is that the FIA and WMSC will end up looking like a kangaroo court and lose all it's credibility.

Pls. dont't get me wrong, i am not exonerating renault from any wrongdoing, what i am saying is that the method the way that the FIA is handling the situation is unfair and unjust to the part of Renault. It is as if the FIA just want to get them, when in fact the FIA are obligated to get the truth whatever it may be.


Sorry, Jed, but I've got to disagree with you on a very fundamental level. My feeling is that you haven't been paying attention to what's been going on in the FIA since 1994. You say that the WMSC will lose all credibility.

That was years ago. It's running on empty.


Interesting points Jed. Are you/were you in the legal profession?

Do you think it's likely that Piquet's testimony will be considered that of an "unreliable witness"? He has admitted to being in a fragile state of mind.

"At the time of this conversation I was in a very fragile and emotional state of mind." is taken from Piquet's statement to the FIA on, see

If Piquet is deemed to be an unreliable witness, for the reasons you raise, does that leave him open to prosecution by the FIA, he has plenty of motivation not to tell the truth?


Hi James

It seems to me that the quote from Symonds published by Autosport is absolutely key here:

"It's true, during the Sunday meeting with Piquet the issue of deliberately causing a SC deployment came up..."

Briatore is directly contradicting this, claiming that there was never any discussion of Piquet intentionally crashing. If the quote from Symonds is real though, then it is two against one - with both Symonds and Piquet agreeing that there was a discussion of deliberately crashing, and both agreeing this discussion took place in the presence of Briatore.

If I'm understanding correctly, you're saying that this quote came from Symonds' own statement to the FIA, as leaked to Autosport. To my knowledge Autosport haven't yet published or claimed to have seen Symonds' statement. The Autosport article merely stated that Symonds was "reported as saying" the discussion took place. This suggests second-hand information, with perhaps some level of doubt as to the veracity of the quote in the minds of Autosport's journalists.

My question is this: have you seen the quote as part of Symonds statement to the FIA yourself, and can you confirm its provenance? If not, are you able to confirm from where the quote was sourced - perhaps by speaking to Jonathan Noble and Michele Lostia, who authored the Autosport article?

As I see it, if both Symonds and Piquet agree that a discussion of intentionally crashing took place - regardless of how it was initiated - then both Renault and Briatore have a much harder case to answer. If that quote wasn't part of Symonds' statement to the FIA, then the whole case may come to hinge around a statement to a journalist, much like the Hamilton affair earlier this year. If evidence exists that proves Symonds made such a statement outside of his official response to the FIA, it definitely needs to be called to their attention.


As far as I know, the quote appeared first in Autosprint magazine, Italy.


I know everyone hates Mosley and it is very fashionable to bash him but personally Ive always really admired him. His intellect will crush most people where they stand and I believe many are jealous of that. If you listen to any of his interviews he always puts across the most reasonable and logically superior argument in an eloquent way that is very difficult to argue back with. However, when I listen to people bashing him, their intelligence is not exactly their stand out trait. Go figure... Mosley for PM!


A man is what a man does.

Mosley's career has been one of limited success. Or one could, with some justification, say of limited success in avoiding failure.

When a friend of mine said something racist my father, a very liberal man, took me to Brick Lane (I seem to remember) to see Mosley father and son politiking for the British Union ultra right-wing party. That was Max's attempt at entering politics and it ended in pathetic failure, complete and utter. He then took up with March which you can make your own mind up about. But finally he made a move of genius: he became Ecclestone's Mini Me. Bernie's not posh like he's not of average height and he needed someone with access to the establishment and got it with Max.

Bernie was the force behind Mosley. Or rather Mosley was there to fill the gaps. Ecclestone got him voted into an unpaid position. Whilst Mosley sat in the background, just doing Bernie's bidding, things went well, for him anyway, and not too badly for the sport in some aspects.

When, for reasons that escape me, Max went his onw way, things just fell apart. It became obvious to me - and I accept it was probably obvious to most before that - at Indygate where Mosley's intransigence led to a de facto one car race. The damage that did to the sport cannot be properly assessed as it is still going on. Since then it has been scandal after scandal.

He took a sport from the pinnacle to where it is today, struggling for existance.

It is dangerous to judge a person on how he sounds in interview. The only way is by what he does. And Mosley's CV is severely wanting. His function with regards to F1 is as rulemaker and enforcer. Not the most difficult job in the world but he manages to make the headlines time and again with his decisions.

Under his control F1 - not to mention WTC, WRC, WSC, remember them? - has deteriorated to the stage when it very existence is in doubt. He's like a prodigal son of an industrious father, but in this case there will be no welcome back.

And, just to put matters straight, he qualified as a lawyer. He was not, as far as I can see, a success at it.

I've worked with people of high intellect, including Lord Hailsham, Donaldson and many other lawyers in the Inner and Middle Temples, and I can say that jealousy is not the emotion they generate. Admiration, awe, loyalty, and more admirations is the norm.

If everyone hates Mosley then there is probably a pretty good reason. And it is not because he's good at Sudoku.


He is just a lawyer.

Nothing to get too excited about, Jay.

He can also be dismantled to pieces.


If the claims are judged to be true then this doesn't just imply that the result Renault F1 achieved at the Singapore GP 2008 was manipulated, but that ALL results of the GP were effectively manipulated. Of the 18 non-Renault drivers, some also profited from the early SC while others' races were negatively affected. So WHY not annul the complete race results? Just because that would strip golden boy Lewis of his 1st WDC title? Come on ... he'll have plenty of other opportunities while Massa may have left just a few in the coming years (if at all ...). I'd love to see Massa crowned F1 WDC 2008 retrospectively while he's reconvalescing in Sao Paulo. Ganz großes Kino, as we say over here 🙂


I think Briatore went too far with his comments about Nelson's private life,things will become nasty,specially if Nelson Sr open his mouth.


1-It will be a Mosley vs Flavio scenario. One last chance for MM to vent his power. Look at what happened to Ron Dennis.

2-(Reading between the lines, Mosley is suggesting that Renault’s case will need to find more for their defence in the material due shortly.)

3-Renault>guilty as above.

4-Anyway, Nelson P is no racing driver, just another richman spoilt son. The true meaning of throwing toys out of the pram. Anybody who hires NP must be really stupid, unless an envelope is slipped....


It's not because he's a lawyer, I know plenty of them and they are often too clouded by arrogance to be considered clever. I'm sure Max can be dismantled, but despite many of his questionable decisions and romps, etc, no one has managed to do it!

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