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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1

As both Jackie Stewart and Sir Stirling Moss said during the McLaren spygate scandal, “Cheating has been part of F1 since it started in 1950!” The trick is not to be caught! However, it is a sad, but true indictment of the “sport”, that the greater amount of money that is invested in it, the greater the risk that the participants seem willing to take, when it comes to the “cheating” aspect! Recent events are testimony to this, and most especially demonstrated by NP Jnr, when he was prepared to crash a car and risk life and limb for whatever end goal…!!

NP snr has sadly tarnished his reputation, hugley to my mind, by continually muddying the water, to protect his son. However, one has to remember that he never guarded his tongue when he partnered Mansell in Williams. He was even prepared to sling mud at Rosanne Mansell to get at old Nige.

Fernando, however, seems to keep his cool through thick and thin. In 2007, in spite of all the negative press during the Mclaren spygate scandal, he got on with doing what he has paid to do – drive an F1 McLaren and deliver, and in that way win back the credibility that he had lost. It’s interesting to note again, that in spite pf all the heat and suspicion that NP Snr and Felipe are determined to pile on Fernando, he continues to deliver the best that he can in the car and brush off all the heat with calmly delivered responses. It’s no wonder he’s regarded as the most complete F1 driver on the current grid.

2

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

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

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

3

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

4

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

5

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

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

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

6

It was all Flavio’s idea.

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

And Alonso knew the whole time.

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

7

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

8

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

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

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

9

I wish the Piquets would crawl back under whatever rock they came from. Piquest Sr. seems like a sour person. What does this serve to continually rant and throw mud in the press?

Just like Schumacher, Alonso is always a target because he is on top. No driver is beyond reproach. Let us move on from this crazy event and get back to racing.

10

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

11

Latest news from Brazil: In order to strengthen his chances to restart his formula one career, the driver formerly known as Nelson Piquet Jr wishes from now on to be known as Sebastian Nico Souto Maior. He also offers as a gesture of good will to be the athlete, from the team of the organising country, to take the Olympic oath at the Rio 2012 games:

“In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams”.

12

James let’s go to the point:

Do you THINK Alonso knew it or not?

13

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

14

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

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

15

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

16

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

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

17

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

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

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

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

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

18

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

Really? That’s pretty conclusive to me.

19

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

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

20

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

21

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

22

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

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

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

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

23

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

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

When FA was called in for the first time, according to the transcript, there was some surprise expressed by those on the desk, but I think it was Pat Symonds who said words to the effect “It’ll be alright”. This, along with his own admittance of colluding with Piquet Jnr’s suggestion, condemned him and he resigned.

Many experienced F1 observers have said that Alonso would probably not have questionned the early call, since most drivers accept what the desk tells them during a race.

More confusion indicated by Alonso’s engineer later, something like “I don’t know what’s happenning, mate.Just drive like hell to the end”. Which he did.

But this confusion may not have been solely the confusion over Piquet’s crash but all the other strange things going off at the same time. It was a chaotic race in more respects than one.

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

Afterwards he comments to the media that the first safety car had helped him.

Is this the response of someone who had plotted to set up the crash? Would such a person not be rather anxious not to draw attention to it e.g. Nelson Piquet who spent a year laughing at the mere idea of it!

Are the recorded comments of the pit wall team indicative of people fully in the know?

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

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

24

You have to choose who to believe:

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

I choose to believe 1) because:

– there is no reason for PK Jnr to lie about Alonso’s guilt, on the contrary, Alonso haters would love him if he told about his involvement

– Alonso didn’t have to know for the plan to work, and, more importantly, by not knowing he would have reacted normally after the race which was in my view quite important

25

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

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

26

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

27

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

28

“Admittedly it wasn’t his idea….”

What does that mean?

29

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

30

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

31

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

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