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Renault to pay “substantial” libel damages to Piquets over crash scandal
Renault to pay “substantial” libel damages to Piquets over crash scandal
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Dec 2010   |  8:18 pm GMT  |  135 comments

The Renault F1 team has apologised to Nelson Piquet and his son Nelson Jr and agreed to pay a large amount of damages for libelling them in September last year over the Singapore crash scandal. The matter was heard in the High Court and Renault accepted the outcome.

The Piquets however have indicated that this is “the start rather than the end” of their mission to clear up “wrongs” over what the case which rocked F1.

Piquet Jr was involved in a plot with then team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds to deliberately crash his car at a key moment in the race at a specified corner in order to help his team mate Fernando Alonso, win the race.

When Piquet was dropped by Briatore, he went public with the details of the plot and Renault and Briatore’s first reaction, on 11th September, was to put out a statement saying that the allegations were lies and that the intention was to blackmail the team into letting Piquet Jr continue with the team.

Since then the facts of the case have been established, Symonds admitted that the allegations were true and both he and Briatore are serving a temporary ban, which expires at the end of 2012.

After a hearing in the High Court, the Piquets won and Renault F1 has been forced to pay them a “substantial” amount of damages. I asked around in legal circles tonight among lawyers who do this kind of work and heard estimates of £100,000 for the damages and probably slightly more again for costs. But these are pure estimates from legal professionals.

The Piquet’s lawyer, Dominic Crossley, who acted for Max Mosley in his action against the News of the World, said “Today the Renault Formula 1 Team apologised in the High Court for defaming my two clients, the motor racing father and son Nelson and Nelsinho Piquet.

“This marks the start rather than the end of the long journey they are both taking to correct many of the wrongs that took place during last year’s “crashgate” scandal. They were both treated appallingly by Renault F1 when they dared to reveal the scandal to the governing body; and Nelsinho was abused terribly throughout his absurdly short career in F1.”

After the hearing Renault made a statement too: “On 11th September 2009, Renault F1 Team Limited (“the Team”) issued a Press Release, which was repeated on our website, in which we suggested that Nelson Piquet Junior and his father had lied by making false allegations that members of the Team and Nelson Piquet Junior caused a deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix,” said Renault.

“We also suggested that these lies were invented in order to blackmail the Defendant into allowing Mr Piquet Junior to drive for the Team for the remainder of the 2009 season, and he and his father were therefore guilty of a serious criminal offence.

“The Team accepts – as it did before the World Motor Sport Council (“WMSC”) of the FIA and as found by the WMSC in its decision of 21 September 2009 – that the allegations made by Nelson Piquet Junior were not false. It also accepts that Mr Piquet Junior and his father did not invent these allegations in order to blackmail the Team.

“As a result, these serious allegations contained in the Press Release were wholly untrue and unfounded, and we withdraw them unequivocally. We would like to apologise unreservedly to Mr Piquet Junior and his father for the distress and embarrassment caused as a result.

“As a mark of the sincerity of our apology and regret, we have agreed to pay them a substantial amount of damages for libel as well as their costs, and have undertaken not to repeat these allegations at any time in the future.”

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Why they didn't solve the matter behind closed doors. The Renault F1 press release is a Briatore press release actually.

The PIQUETs have problems with Flavio who controlled everything at the time rather than Renault and I don't see how Piquet Jr can salvage any reputation. I'm surprised they didn't sue him as well for the verbal abuse he threw at Nelsinho at the time.

What he did is the worst piece of cheating in F1 history and the best excuse he can put forward is the he's a weak man. A good driver has to be strong together with many other qualities and he lacks most of them.


Given that it's Renault who published the press release first, it's their responsibility, not the Piquets, that this is public.

Whether it came from Briatori or not, it was still Renault's responsibility and they have to deal with it.

And as for Piquet being weak, well, I'm pretty sure 99.9% of the human population are weak at some points in our lives, and all of us make mistakes. To deny that is to deny humanity itself.


I don't understand how people can say this should have been handled behind closed doors? This is our sport! We deserve the truth.


I have to agree. F1 has been criticised for backroom deals in the past - it is in everyone's best interests that these things are completely transaprent and public.


I agree this was as damaging to the image to the sport as the Ferrari incident. To the casual watcher it's crass and an obscene flouting of the laws of sport and civil society.


Agree this should have been handled out of the spotlight.

Is difficult for us non-lawyers to understand how someone can be part of a cheating scandal but the teams management cannot acknowledge they were part of a cheating scandal, at least not in public.

Can Renault claim back the cost of repairing the R28?


do some of you remember how happy briatore was 2 or 3 stages before the end of this season, because his guys, alonso and webber, were leading the championship, with huge chances of winning the title?

well, vettel brought him back on earth... and now piquet family...


If I've read that right I think that's rather unfair on Nelson Jnr. It must be very difficult for a rookie driver to go against team orders -- even if the order is to crash his car to help the No 1 driver.

Piquet was set up by a team who were prepared to sacrifice him. It destroyed Piquet's career in F1 and taking the team to court who tried to smear him has at least helped him win back a little dignity.


Worst piece of cheating in F1 history? Schumacher took out Hill to win a WDC and failed trying the same with Villeneuve; the Villeneuve incident was almost certainly premeditated. I'm sure there has been far worse incidents that haven't been made public.


The worst one? Senna announcing that he would qualify 2nd, take out Prost in turn one at Suzuka in order to become world champion and then doing just so. And you what is worst? Everybody (and that includes the press) glorifying him for it.


Please tell me of one way Jr could handle this where Flav wouldn't get away with a slap of the wrist? There have been worse certainly and in the end the way this played out those that needed to be taken down, were.


Ooops, I pressed the key accidentally.

I meant:

"Second that.

Not to talk about the good old days, whit very few TV cameras around the circuit, and no radioed messages broadcasted publicly..."


People might have lied, and that is wrong. But what Piquet Jr did was unforgivable in my mind. I honestly wouldnt care less if he didnt race another car in F1 again. He put himself, other drivers, officials and fans at risk. Yes, noone was hurt, but it was the best case scenario for what he did and it could have been horribly, horribly worse.

Any credibility as a racing driver that he might have had, has been shattered and I believe that the vast majority of fans wont have any warmer feelings towards him despite this libel win.


You say, "what Piquet did" but Briatore did it more than him. Yes Piquet accepted and that's his error but lets be honest, no F1 driver wants to drive for the other guy. He only did what he did because he was pushed by Briatore who not only was his team boss but his manager too and instead of supporting him he did exactly the opposite.

We can blame Piquet for accepting Briatore's evil plans but anyone knowing even an inch of human psychology knows how hard is a for young rookie like Piquet to put a fight against an intimidating figure like Briatore and especially considering how much he was at the hands of Briatore.

I'm certain that Piquet wanted to tell him to go f%&k himself instead of accepting but he wasn't strong enough to do it. Piquet could be blame for not being strong enough but to me at least 80% of that crash is in Briatore's hands as if he was holding the steering wheel himself.

Is kind of annoying how everyone absolutely hate Piquet who in a way was a victim too but many still adore Briatore.


At least one person who has the perspective of things the right way up! I cannot believe that Briatore who was the mastermind of all this comes out cleaner than Nelson Piquet who was pretty much a victim.


How pleased I am that at least one other person can sympathise with the position this young man was put in by ruthless authority figures.


No further punishment for Briatore?


To all up and coming stars of F1: Warning! Briatore is back in 2012.


Flavio Briatore is a legend and a champion. Long live Flavio. I tend to believe that Nelson Jr suggested the crash first, and then Renault went along with it.

Nelson Jr has no credibility left after deliberately smashing his car.


how can a driver ask the superior for such thing? its his life at stake here not Flav's. Briatore's guilty as charge


Good! Love the guy!


It is well known how the Libel Laws in England and Wales are.

I would like to know what the outcome of the trial could have been if the Piquets had sued Renault Team before a French Court...

And now I will get my tin hat...


For that, I'd refer you to yesterday's French court ruling on the 2000 Air France Concorde accident. The court 100% blamed US parties and absolved all French involvement of any blame, including three french aviation officials (one of whom was the head of the Concorde programme) who - to quote Reuters - "had been criticized for failing to act on long-running concerns about the risk that exploding tyres could hit fuel tanks".

If this was a French court the Piquets would end up having to pay Renault.


I will try to make it clear once again.

My point is not what a French Court would have ruled on this case (not precisely a French one).

My point is that the Libel Laws in England and Wales are a shame for all the Brit pro - free speech organisations, such as PEN, Index of Censorship or Sense about Science. You can check some opinons here:

"To Index on Censorship and English PEN it has become increasingly clear that English libel law and the use of ‘super-injunctions’ are having a profoundly negative impact on freedom of expression, both in the UK and abroad..."

This means, on their opinion, that it is very easy to sue anybody under this Laws, being very hard to defend against it. It was very clear in the case of the Brit Chiropractic Assoc. vs Simon Singh MBE, that I followed closely.

So I am very sceptical about this cases before the High Court, not because of the Court being British - obviously -, but because of the regulations they have to apply.

As a side note, I am simply astonished with the mentions to Nepoleon and to Generalísimo Franco. Precisely we celebrated the day before yesterday the 32nd anniversary of Spanish Constitution (i.e. the return of Democracy), so I can not understand what Peter C is referring to.


Galapago555, one doesn't entertain that kind of smoking. Those "we" who "celebrated" did, while reflected what was really going on.


Austro (Austrian School economics)

Libertarian (Rothbardian ethics)

Anarcho (stateless, i.e. free from parasites)

Capitalism (genuine free-market, i.e. NOT crony/corporate/fascist/state capitalism)

In other words, property rights, without which true civilization, and therefore F1, is impossible.

Whenever conflict arises in any field of human action, F1 included, some people may suspect that somehow, someone got away with something that didn't belong to him while others cheerfully "celebrate" the outcome. Or some may think so-and-so got unfairly penalised and others that the penalty was far too lenient.

Few and far between are those who don't buy the them-and-us script and think for themselves (i.e. logical deductive reasoning) searching beyond whatever label is applied to Piquet Jr now or Mosley before, for instance.

Google Murray N. Rothbard, Hans-Hermann Hoppe, Jesús Huerta de Soto.

A few links.


@Alberto Dietz

I would really appreciate if you could explain us what an "Austro-libertarian anarcho-capitalist" is.

You should quit smoking that sh*t, or it will turn you mad(der)...


Surely you mean the self-evident ochlocracy. There was once a constitution, The Leonese Magna Carta of 1188, the world's oldest known to man and probably the best yet, as arts 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 19 beat the hell out of all others; i.e. A steals B's horse, judge makes A restitute B with two horses. Should judge take more than three days to do so, judge himself must restitute B with two horses and double costs. Someone invades C's home, C kills him there and then, no penalty whatsoever, even if the dead guy was the king himself. Compare that with anything passing as constitution nowadays and the widespread appalling consequences (like WMSC rulings) derived thereof, and you're lucky if the most insignificant bureaucrat/town planning officer doesn't literally steal your home/land by that most evil of means known as eminent domain/compulsory purchase for some white elephant for the benefit of "friends" (awful Valencia street circuit comes to mind).

Any principled (Austro-libertarian anarcho-capitalist) person will tell you Franco was not Ron Paul, but also that you can't fool gold, against which fiat (paper) money lost from 11.57 euro equiv then to over 1,000 euros today, or from 52 gold ounces per year average salary then, down to 12 miserable ounces per year now. Conclusion: Democracy sucks big time.


The comments were clearly libellous and Renault have admitted guilt. The British libel laws do need reform but it's not really relevant to such a cut-and-dry case as this.


Napoleon legacy is still being felt in this blog I guess


Some of General Franco,too.

Napoleon had some issues in the Iberian peninsula, didn't he?

Does anybody REALLY want to see Briatore back again, except the drivers he manages of course.


The French government suppress the media far more than the British, very rare that a political scandal gets out in France unless it suits the government. Of course Renault would of got off; French protectionism is nothing new.

The use of super-injunctions by the mega-rich isn't really relevant to the Renault/Briatore case. Surprised Briatore hasn't asked for one though.


Ok, so let's say "German", "Belgian", "Greek", or any other nationality different instead of Brit. My point is not what the French Courts would say (and I mean Courts, not the Gov), but what the Libel Laws in England and Wales say.


The "courts" will say whatever you want providing you have bought the right judge" Didn't anyone watch Spiral?


Wow, NPJ must be so proud, he has legally proven in court that he cheated at a sport, and in proving it, gets a big fat payout.

Is it just me, or is there something wrong here...


clearly it is just you


the payout isn't for cheating, its for renault saying that the piquets defamation.

Two seperate things happening:

1) Crashing.

2) Reanult calling Piquets liers.

You refer to 1, in that piquet deliberately crashed. THe money is because renault called the piquets liers and this was proven wrong. Hence it was defamation.


I don't feel sympathy for Nelsinho if, as alleged, the Singapore plot was his idea as opposed to something he was asked/instructed to do.


Alleged by the same sources that have just lost a libel case after making false allegations.


It was alleged by Pat Symonds, who the FIA has acknowledged to have been honest throughout the proceedings.

I personally think it sounds plausible, Piquet was clinging to his F1 career and could have wanted to use any means to get another chance - which he did.


Good to hear justice being served. Whatever the views of anyone on Piquet Jnr, putting out lies as "facts" is unnacceptable in any walk of life.

I dont condone Juniors actions however...

I would be surprised if this isnt a large amount of money, given I cant imagine Jnr will drive in F1 again.

When you think back to the Spygate stuff and the reprimand McLaren recieved for misleading those asking the questions, I still think Renault got off very lghtly (particularly Briatore and Pat Symonds).


The only reason Renault got off lightly was because the FIA needed Renault to stay in F1 because so many left and F1 was in danger. If the penalty has been harsh, Renault would've left for sure.


Indeed, and we could argue similarly as to why Alonso was exonerated!


But that is the point! A competent legal authority issues penalties that fit the crime otherwise it is nothing more than a kangaroo court that administers injustice when penalties are heavily influenced by political expediency. The same for McLaren except that there was personal politics to crucify the team!


James, Who pays these damages, is it coming from the current team and management budget or is it the original parent company and owners. Will whoever pays now sue Briatore/Symonds to recoup the damages paid. Seems strange that Briatore is walking around the grid again.


Must be the parent company, Renault. The team is now owned by Gerard Lopez, who had nothing to do with this. He would have asked for them to indemnify against liabilities arising, as the case was active when he bought


I read that Piquet Jr. was coerced into hitting the wall so FA could win, & FA's contract said that if he did not get a win in the year, then he could leave. So Briatore set it up, with FA's full knowledge.

What leaves me agape, is that Ferrari, knowing this, has FA, who is now saying that he wants to work with Briatore again. And since last week FA said how long he plans to drive at Ferrari, 10 years, instead of them telling him, I would guess that FA will work with Briatore again! Has any driver ever even tried telling Ferrari how long he will race for them before? What is Ferrari thinking of...? Santander money, I know, but still. Enzo must be spinning in his grave.


Quite right, Marybeth. Arri, I'm all for 'innocent until proven guilty' until it's trumped by the correct answer to 'cui bono?' arrived at by discarding all flawed (positivist/relativist/nihilist) smoke and mirrors alternatives via logical deductive reasoning.


Alonso's "full knowledge" about this scandal is all speculation and has not been proven and I still believe in 'innocent till proven guilty'. I'm not saying he is innocent but I think it's unfair to proclaim someone guilty without all the facts. I don't think it's that simple and I'm sure there is a lot we do not know. As for Alonso saying he will be at Ferrari for ten years..he has been saying that he would like to end his career with Ferrari, it doesn't however mean that he necessarily will be. Ferrari still call the shots, just look at what happened to Kimi. And I also don't think Ferrari is after Santanders money, they have enough of their own. I think they just after Alonso's talent which I'm sure we all agree, he has lots of.



What was your take on Piquet Jr.? Was he a better driver than it seemed and team did not provide him an atmosphere to tap his potential? Or was he just not good enough? Both him and Grosjean had good careers leading up to F1 but failed miserably at the top step.


I didn't think he was much of a racer, quick yes, but needed a lot of time and preparation to hit the peaks, a bit like Luciano Burti


Can you eloborate on this James, do you mean he lacked experience buthad some level of speed? If the answer is yes, then I would have to agree with you, but I have to emphasise that he was maybe thrown into the deep at a very early stage of his F1 career , he had an extremely competitive team-mate who will almost resort to anything to win given what happened in Singapore and I think being young and inexperienced in F1 he probably thought Briatore would honour his word of retaining him in the Team. I wonder what sort of relationship does Flavio have with Renault if there is still any that is.


I watched him race in the A1 series and he wasn't all that great as a racer but maybe with the proper support behind him he could have gotten somewhere but don;t think more than midfield. But that's just my opinion.


i think grosjean deservers another shot... he was closer to alonso than massa was this year...


Do we know if similar proceedings are being actioned against Briatore, or whether they were limited to the Renault team itself? He was the source for a lot of the comments about the Piquets' conduct and motivations after all. Other than that, it's unsurprising but a shame such action has been resorted to - I remember when a sincere apology and retraction of claims used to do the trick, and I'm not even that old...


and that will be the only thing he wins in F1. Surely no team will take him on now, unless perhaps Daddy stumps up and buys him a team to drive in


"...absurdly short career in F1.”

I wonder how many of your readers agree with that part of the statement.

I don't. I thought he was over-rated from the start and that he lived up to that analysis.

Regardless of my opinion on that, anyone that would do what he did has no place in the sport.


I never cared much for him. But I think he got terribly mistreated by Renault. He should have had the backbone to stand up for himself and not follow through with their demands to purposefully crash, though.


I feel the same about him Jodum5. However, how anyone can say that he should have stood up for himself, when they weren't \ haven't been in that situation themselves bemuses me.

I've seen young \ new members of staff "bullied", forced, pressurized into situations that they shouldn't have gone into and they felt the repercussions. Unfortunately, those above them have been in such a position to survive with their reputation intact, despite being the "guiding hand".

As a young \ new member of a team, you have to trust those above you - they are in control, they pull the strings, they pay your wage. I'm not condoning Jnrs actions - not at all!!; but I can see \ understand how he ended up in that situation... because I've seen others end up in horrible situations just by following orders \ being a team-player.

Did Jnr question himself, I wonder? Did he consider that it was a bad thing to do at any stage? Did anyone involved think "this is not right - we shouldn't be doing this"?


Sure... being young and inexperienced is no excuse - I agree, to an extent. But being young and inexperienced you rely upon those above you within the organisation.

Being older and wiser and more experienced as Briatore and Symmonds were, is no excuse either, they should know better and not have put Piquet Jnr in that position.

But as I said before I am not condoning Piquet Jnr's actions.


Thanks for the response. My main point it being young and inexperienced isn't good enough excuse to do something like that. Anyway, his career has taken the necessary nose dive as a result which seems like a fair trade to me.


I know, that was an interesting line that the lawyer came out with there, caught my eye too


This, alongside the 'start and not the end' quote points to a further claim for loss of earnings or the curtailing of Nelson Piquet Jnr's career.

Could be interesting to argue but he did actually have the choice of not crashing into the wall.

It could have panned out quite differently: By saying 'no' to Flavio he would have shown strength in character. Worse case he could have had a decent negotiating position for contract renewal and the fans would still like or respect him.


It could have panned out quite differently: By saying ‘no’ to Flavio he would have shown strength in character.

>> Saying "No" to Flavio who was having dual(and conflicting) role that of Driver Manager for both Piquet Jr. and Alonso as well as Team Principal for RenaultF1 team. While I don't condone what Piquet has done, one must take into account that this was done by a 20something lad who was under "duress". His manager who is supposed to work in "Best Interest" of his career was making him do things as Team Principal and threatening him his position in the team.

I am sure if he had refused to do what he did and gone public with his allegations, he would have ended up object of ridicule as someone who is not fit for F1 and just making lame excuses and inventing fictional allegations.


Probably the best new analysis I've read on the whole affair.


So what Piquet really did was went to the court in order to prove that he didn't lie when he said that he cheated, or in a more simple way - he wanted to prove that he was in fact guilty of cheating... what's more he got quite a big amount of money for it and he wants to continue the topic. It's actually "sad" in a way...

I don't really understand one thing - I've heard people saying that Piquet was under pressure and he had to crash in order to keep his seat. But could he really believe it? I mean, if you're not a good driver and you have to do anything (or everything they tell you) in order not to be fired then can you really believe that there's anything that can save you? I think that common sense tells you in such a situation that if you're asked to do such a thing then you're not good enough to race and therefore - you will lose your job sooner or later no matter what you do. So I think he should have said "no". What he (and some others as he wasn't the only one guilty) did was awful and they also jeopardized the reputation of all the members of the Renault team and also the whole F1 as a sport.



Anyone who really thought about this case clearly can see that Jr was in a no win here. If he quit accusing Flav it's his word against Flav's who owned him in every sense of the word. The only way to ever gain an upper hand on Flav was to do it and then bring him down but sacrifice his F1 carier too - which he did. If you think aboutit it's no different to what the law authorities do. Sacrifice the small fish to get the whale.


I think we're both looking at this case from two different perspectives, which aren't in fact contradictory - they are simply different. In terms of "cleaning" the sport from people who would do anything to win, maybe (just maybe) Piquet did a right thing by doing what he was told (speaking theoretically, because I'd never consider such actions as a "right" thing). However, in terms of his own F1 career it was a bad choice. And in terms of the credibility of the sport it was also wrong IMO. Maybe Briatore and Symonds were ready to cheat to get what they wanted, but they still needed help - somebody who would do the dirty job for them and that was NPJ. If he'd said "no", there would have been no cheating in Singapore, no matter what was in Briatore's and Symonds' minds. By accepting their orders, he joined them and became a cheater himself. And I don't agree that he had no choice. They told him what to do, but he was the one who executed the orders. Some people simply can refuse in such a situation and some cannot. It's a matter of self-respect, pride and conscience. If he had refused, what then? They would have probably fired him, but they did it anyway in the end. Only that if he had refused, he would have a chance to find a seat in some other team. So yes - he helped to clean the environment but still lost respect, fans and made some people lose faith (if you can call it that way) in F1 - because some may now say that with Flavio and Symonds gone, F1 is cleaner, but there are others who realised that F1 is full of people who are ready to play dirty and these people think that Briatore and Symonds weren't the only ones and that whole F1 is still dirty. Now, Briatore and Symonds can be back in F1 quite soon (if they want to), but Piquet probably never will, so his "sacrifice" didn't really pay off - the cheaters were exposed, but they might be back some time (in fact they are still around), fans realised that F1 is a dirty sport and (some of them) do not trust the sport as general and its authorities, while Piquet lost chance to be an F1 driver. What's more he's disrespected by fans. All he got was money and I don't think he needs that really.

All in all - I don't see him as a victim, who had nothing to say or do. F1 is a sport for strong people and not for weak ones. He knew what he was doing and he had an opportunity to refuse. He didn't, not because he was that brave and strong, but (IMO) because he wasn't able.

One more thing - if we consider his actions as a kind of sacrifice and a part of a plan to clean the sport then why didn't he say all these things right after the Singapore GP? The way I see it, is that I think Piquet agreed to crash only to save his seat (firstly he was a "good" driver - doing what he was told and secondly, he gained an argument - firing him after Singapore was a risky thing for Renault as he now knew too many dirty details). So he did save his seat but only temporary in the end. However, he kept quiet as long as he was driving for Renault. Then he lost the job anyway and that's when he started talking in an act of revenge. If he was really thinking about purifying the sport, he would have crashed and and then said what happened a week or two later, he wouldn't have waited for a year until he was fired. So I think he used this crash as a way of securing his own future and there's nothing noble in that.


You're right, but only if NPJ's plan was to accuse Briatore. Then - of course, if he left without crashing, he would stand no chance against Flav. But if Piquet had been thinking about his carrer in F1, then he shouldn't have crashed. We all know that he wasn't a brilliant driver, so I don't think many teams would like to hire him anyway, but after crashgate this number is in fact close to zero. When asked to crash in Singapore, he must have known that his carrer in Renault was over sooner or later, so he should have left or should not have crashed and be fired. He would then had a chance (a very slim one when we see his abilities as a driver, but still a chance) to find a seat in some other team. And he wouldn't have lost fans' trust (and would gain some respect by saying "no" to Flav). When choosing to crash, he probably prolonged his career in Renault a bit (though it was still over actually), but at the same time defined himself as a cheater and deprived himself of any chance to drive for any other team (when the scandal is known to the public), thus literally putting an end to his whole F1 career (not only the one in Renault). So yes - he had no choice if he was thinking only about revenge on Briatore/Renault team and earning some big money on it. Yet in terms of his career as a whole, the only good solution was to refuse, let them fire you (let the public know about the wrongdoings of the team or not, despite the fact that Flavio would have contradicted it - and I don't mean going to the court with it and having a case against Renault, but rather just saying in an interview/book how it really was) and try to continue your career maybe in a better environment. By crashing he made himself win a court case against Briatore and some money, but lost everything else - his F1 career, respect and trust.


Think about it a bit more and realize the powerless position Jr was in. He was in a no-win if there ever was one. He made the choice that put him in position of power which you can't blame him for. He also did it in a way that if the position he was forced into wasn't respected - powerful people will be brought down. In the end Flav did this to himself and Renault did this to themselves by taking Flav on. These are hard business men who knew what they were doing. For the sake of purity in our sport you should praise Jr for takin the hard road to weed out the bad. I can tell you few would do it.


"I mean, if you’re not a good driver and you have to do anything (or everything they tell you) in order not to be fired then can you really believe that there’s anything that can save you?"

Sounds like a question that might have run through Massa's mind a few times this year!


Wow. Didn't actually know this kid still existed. Fact is, this matter has been resolved a long time ago. Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore still have a presence in F1 one way or another, and definitely they will both be back one day. Can't say the same for Piquet though, on both ends: He has been forgotten and no one wants him.

He was never really up to it. And how ironic, During their time together at Renault, Fernando Alonso gave him a taste of his father's (Nelson Piquet Sr.) own medicine!


Hopefully we will never see either Piquet in F1 again.......for any reason.


Further proof if ever it were needed that "Crashgate" was another scandal badly handled by Max and FIA, driven by political expediency.

Max and Bernie turn up the size of the fines when it is convenient for them, to placate Ferrari, as was the case with Spygate (and because FIA knew that McLaren was primarily an F1 racing team and so had little option but to play ball). BUT FIA also turn them down to avoid chastizing motor manufacturers too much as was the case with Renault, irrespective of the seriousnes of the charge, fearful that they might leave F1 following Honda, BMW and Toyota. How is that justice? Can McLaren get a $100m refund please?


No need for going into denial mode. The record is and can only be : '05-'06 massdampergate + '07 spygate + '08 crashgate + '10 radiogate = ElFraud Fourgates.


You failed to mention that he has been formally accused of killing both JFK and Robert Kennedy ("Kennedysgate")


He wasn't around during that 1910 duck hunting expedition ... nor EO11110 in the early sixties, ... fast forward to 2010 and ... tox(censored) deriv(censored) ...


Seems to me that Piquet loyally followed team orders in exactly the same way that Massa loyally followed team orders this year. Interesting that the beneficiary was the same driver both times. I accept that crashing the car was rather a dangerous thing to do, but those that asked him to do it -- particularly given their long experience and standing in the sport -- to my mind, were even more culpable than the driver. To then throw him to the wolves was unforgivable.

I can't find it in me to blame him for, at least, wanting to set the record straight.


Any rumours as to how big the settlement payout was?


It's funny that the mud nevers sticks to Fernando Alonso. He reaped the rewards of this scam or strategy in Singapore!Of course he had no idea what was going on and i am a monkeys uncle! Massa moved this year and still he gets away squeky clean! Sounds like he wants to be a winner at all costs!Fernando you piss weak!man up!Anyway it is for the best that Piquet is not racing.


Dont put Grosjean in the same bracket as Piquet-no comparison.Grosjean deserves another chance-he's won in just about everything he has driven since being dropped by Renault after a handful of races.


I for one would like to see him make a comeback. I'm not a fan, just like the underdogs. And Jr sure is one to ever make a return in an F1 car.

CJ the 2cnd, probably...

So, Piquet junior was 'terribly abused' was he?

Young children are 'terribly abused' by paedophiles, the use of such language in connection with his experience is obscene. At best Piquet was treated 'a little bit badly', although personally I would find that an exageration too. Piquet the 'man of principle' is not a concept that stands up, given that his whistle blowing did not occur at the time of the incident, only after he had been dropped from the team, at which point whistle blowing was possibly in his own interest. A man of principle would have stopped the plot in its tracks or, failing that, have exposed it immediately after the race. He did neither.


how do you know to what degree he was badly treated by Briatore/Renault?

CJ the 2cnd, probably...

Of course I do not claim any great insight into the nature of Piquet's treatment at Renault, my point was about the devaluation of language such as 'terribly abused' when applied in this context. We are talking here about pressure applied to a young man from a wealthy and privileged background, pressure to perform, which after all is what he was there to do. If that is 'terrible abuse' then we need some different language for real cases of terrible abuse.

My understanding is that Piquet was only prepared to expose the plot when it may have given him some sort of tactical advantage in his negotiations with Renault, hardly the most principled position. He may have won some damages for defamation but I doubt he's won much respect.


James,if you can be honest and can say it, what is the off the record word in the paddock about Alonso: did he know about the crash?


One more thing that occured to me: if you plan something illegal, it's best to involve as few people as only possible in it, in case something goes wrong. So I think Alonso wasn't involved in planning the crash (the rest of my theory about him knowing about it is described in my other reply to your comment), what's more Alonso was Flavio's beloved driver, so I don't think Flavio would be willing to risk Alonso's career by informing him about the plot (again - Alonso realising what was going on is quite a different thing). What's more the Piquet men didn't hold back from accusing some of the important people in F1, so I think they would have come out with any evidence against Alonso, if they had it.


I was thinking about the Alonso knew/didn't know thing a bit. And the way I see it (and it's based only on, I hope ;-), logical thinking) is: Alonso didn't really need that win in 2008. Of course it's always good to win, but he wasn't fighting for the championship or anything else that season. The win would only be added to his statistics and that's all. I know that Alonso is perceived as a driver that wants to win at all costs, but I just don't think he would be so unreasonable to do such a risky thing to get a single race win that actually gave him nothing (apart from the statistics and some good mood). The team was a different thing. Renault needed the win: firstly (quite obviously) - to get more points in the WCC, secondly to keep Alonso. He's a good driver, no doubt about it, the one that wants to fight for the WDC and not for the e.g. 8-10 spot. Yet the Renault in 2008 was a different Renault that the one he was leaving in 2006. Thus, Alonso would have a reason to leave the team once again so that he could fight for the WDC with a better team. So I think it's possible that Briatore and Symonds planned this to show Alonso that the car is good and that the team can give him a winning car - to restore the driver's belief in the team and prevent him from leaving. In order to achieve this goal, Alonso couldn't have been informed about the whole plan (if he had known about it, then he would have understood that the team can win by cheating but not necessarily because the car is so good and that was not the purpose. The puropse was to show Alonso that the car is good and not that the team is "smart"). However, Alonso is an experienced driver, so I think he must have suspected something before the race. If you start from the back of the grid, then fuel for 12 laps (if I remember correctly) is not a thing that you would expect. So I'm quite sure that Alonso realised that there was something fishy going on. The question is: could he actually expect (before the race) that such a thing was planned? Nothing like that had happened before in F1 (or at least the public doesn't know about it), so could he have realised that Piquet would crash to help him win? Because you're innocent as long as you're not proven otherwise and Alonso was never proven guilty, then I prefer to think that although he could have expected that something suspicious was going on, he didn't know exactly what it was (I'm still talking about the events before the race). Then, after the race, when he put all the facts together, I think, he could have realised that it was all planned, but what was he supposed to do then? Go to FIA and say that his own team cheated? That wouldn't be a wise move, because even if you know that your team is not playing fair, there's always this thing called teamplay and sometimes you have to stick to the team's politics and pretend that everything is fine. He would have been criticised for going to FIA, telling the truth after the scandal and being disloyal just the same way he is being criticised now for saying that he didn't know a thing. We must also remember that Alonso left Renault, went to McLaren and then was taken back by Renault after he infamously left McLaren, so he owned something to Renault and had no choice but to stay loyal towards the team. So even if he realised what happened after the race, saying the truth would be unfair towards the team that gave him, in a way, a second chance. He also owns quite a lot to Briatore I guess, so testifying against Flavio wouldn't be easy for him either.

So - did he know before the race about the plan? I think - no. Did he suspect anything? I guess, he probably did. Did he, after the GP, realise what really happened? I believe he did. Yet, staying quiet then was the only reasonable thing to do. And if he had stayed quite for a year, then he couldn't have suddenly said in 2009 (when the whole thing was finally revealed) that he realised after the race what happened, because that would have probably worsened his situation.

I think that's a quite reasonable explanation of what happened, however these are of course only my suspitions.

All in all, I don't think Alonso was totally unaware of the whole thing - I believe he might have been unaware about the plot before the race (though he might have had suspicions!) while he wasn't involved in planning it.

Thinking about it for the first time since a long time made me realise that the winter break is really here as the crashgate saga is back. Merry Christmas everyone :).


Lilla writes: "Alonso didn’t really need that win in 2008"

Seems to me that Alonso always needs to win and is always fighting for the championship (as are all the best drivers).

History has proved that while ever there is a statistical chance of a Drivers' Championship, they must fight. Who would have thought in the middle of this year that Alonso would come so close to collecting the big one this year? It proves the point.


I stand corrected. However I would still say that if Alonso is in a race, he'll go for it.


It's true when talking about this season but not about 2008. I checked the results:

before the Singapore GP, there were four races to go (Singapore, Japan, China, Brazil) and that's max. 40 points to get (10 for the win). Before Singapore Alonso had 28 points, so if he had won all the races till the end of the season he would have had 68 points. Meanwhile, Hamilton before Singapore had already 78 points and Massa - 77. Thus, Alonso was out of the championship, because no matter the results, he would have never win the WDC that year. The best he could get was 3rd in the final standings (Raikkonen had 57 points before Singapore and Kubica 64), so Alonso wasn't fighting for the WDC any more and the win was only added to his statistics. And yes - he always fights for the wins, but I just don't think he would have risked that much for a win that wouldn't give hi much in a long run (i.e. WDC 2008). I'm not saying he's innocent, because I think he learnt/found out about the crash at some point, I just don't think he planned it as IMHO Briatore had more reasons to plan such a thing than Alonso himself.


What are the chances that Lewis Hamilton knew that his team was using Ferrari Data in 2007 and that he lied to the FIA ? I remind you that both Alonso & DeLaRosa admitted knowing it.


Check the relevant WMSC Sept '07 minutes at and you'll find that when asked if he had any questions for Lew, Nigel Tozzi left no one under any doubt as he answered 'I have no questions for Mr Lewis Hamilton'. Then he extracted from PdlR the confession that nailed both PdlR and FAD well enough to have both their superlicenses removed for life, no ifs and no buts, period. Incredibly, the WMSC prevaricated and in the "interests" of blah blah etc etc, there you go scot free, boys.

Thoroughly outrageous. Despicable lot.


Of course they admitted to it, there was e-mail correspondence between them discussing the Ferrari data. The FIA had full access to Mclaren's system and found no complicity from Hamilton, given the dislike Alonso has for Hamilton you wouldn't of thought he'd of covered for him.


or shared the information.

I think it is plausible that neither Alonso in the case of Singapore or Hamilton in the case of the Data were in on this.


100% he knew. Let's not be children.


I'd have thought it somewhat childish to imagine that Alonso would share with Hamilton any information that would help him.


Aha! The Hamilton hit-back!

When will it ever end?

Good Alonso/Ferrari, bad anything to do with McLaren.

Happy Christmas Jo.


He has always denied it and no-one has ever found any evidence that he knew. Other drivers say he must have done, but there's no proof


Maybe FA will reveal this in his book someday 🙂


I wonder if one day Wikileaks will gives us some details!!


I would never forget that event. I was there and I bought the tickets for me and my gf.

That crush was a few meters away from where I was. NP was waving to the fans and I got suspicious because his body language told me as if he did his job but my mates rubbished the idea.

I was supporting Massa and he was doing so well until those cheats not only robed the fans' money but it also ruined Massa's race.


The words " . . absurdly short career . . " do seem to stick out like a sore thumb, and in my view lawyers do not use words or phrases like that for no reason.

If this is the start rather than the end could we see damages sought for loss of Nelson Jr's (and Snr's) possible future earnings?


I thought the same chris. And the part about this being the start rather than the finish.

I think he should get on with his career outside of F1 and try to do the best he can.


I am kind of confused - so who exactly is guilty here?


Was not everyone involved in the plot guilty? Personally I'd say the management were more guilty than the perpetrator. Piquet Jnr was just the fall guy. Interestingly I wonder if we'd have had the same legal outcome without the backing of a famous father?

I think P Jnr should have told P Snr about the plan before he carried it out. I think P Snr would have been more aware of the likely long-term outcome.


When ppl say Piquets(plural)they are actually meaning,or trying to,that both took the decision of crashing the car and is not true.

If I am not wrong Piquet Sr was in Brazil that weekend and knew nothing about it until few weeks later.

Say what you want about Sr's personality but he was not a cheater when he was a driver.


So he didn't lie, but he did cheat. And he didn't reveal the fact that he had cheated until after he had been dropped.

And for what? Anecdotally, an amount of money that really can't make any difference to them in real terms.

Has he really cleared his name? I find it difficult looking at any of the men involved in this saga as anything other than cheats. To give any of them credit as professional sportsmen in any sense is distasteful in my mind. I still find it very hard reading Pat Symonds' articles in F1 Racing every month without feeling complicit in some way.


When I think of cheating in sport I think of it as something that a sports person or team carries out for their own benefit at the expense of other competitors. In that sense the cheating here was definitely by the team. Piquet Jnr was just a pawn -- a fall guy manipulated by the team for their benefit. As we can clearly see in hindsight -- there was no benefit for Piquet Jnr.


Broadly I agree, but with the following caveats:

Nelsinho had the benefit of keeping his drive, which was surely under threat

Generally cheating in sport affects the other players or possibly anyone gambling on the outcome. Crashing an F1 car deliberately endangers the lives of the marshals, spectators and other drivers. We can all ask what if, but what if a wheel had come off and hit a marshal?

To say he was a pawn seems to diminish his responsibility. The difference between right and wrong is pretty clear in this case.

The same is true of Symonds and Briatore. They can wring their hands and say they are sorry and regret their actions, but that is only because they got found out.

Once you have cheated, you can't go back and undo it.


After all this I have been left with the question of what is more scandalous, that such a thing as crashgate happened, or that it is being presented as an isolated "scandalous" aberration in an otherwise gentlemanly sport?

Put big money, power, competition, prestige and attention starved narcissists into a fish bowl watched by media around the world and these sorts of things are not just a possible outcome but more than likely inevitable.


I think what Piquet did was wrong, but one also has to understand the demands a sport like F1 places on Drivers especially if you are new , young and a bit immature like Piquet. Nelson probably thought, what he was doing would get the likes of Flavio and possibly the whole team to see him differently, he was probably desperate to keep his seat at Renault and when this did not happen despite him keeping his end of the deal he got upset. Think of the guy's position for a sec, his F1 Career had ended in a very short space of time and he was involved in some major controversy , must have been very difficult for him to approach and be approached by other teams.He probably felt betrayed , Yes what he did was wrong , but maybe the money will make up for for his short lived career in F1.Right or Wrong Renault had an agreement, maybe not Renault as such but Flavio being the Team Principal at the time, it is just unfortunate that other people must now deal with this mess after all these guys are gone.


...and now Renault are going to create more controversy 'teaming' up with Group Lotus, so two black and gold Lotus Renault teams on the grid. The mind boggles


I am no fan of the Piquets but I do think they have been a convient scape goat for the whole affair.

Symons and Briatore will be back in F1 next year and rather than deal with getting rid of certain characters in the sport, Everyone would have rather buried a guy who doesnt stand a cat in hells chance of ever getting back in F1. Out of sight, Out of mind.

Briatores allegations about Piquets private life also showed his true colours. True or not (and given this ruling more than likely false) it has nothing to do with what happend in Singapore and have no place in F1.


Completely agree. The actual culprit Briatore is roaming scot-free and some sections of F1 (ignorant fans included) look at this person at helm of F1 as successor to Bernie 🙁


Especially after Briatore was linked with a role at Ferrari. All of a suden many Ferrari fans were singing his praises. Incredible!

It seems that no one was ever really punished for Crashgate despite being by far one of the most damaging incidents to F1 in memory.


True Ferrari fans are cool and as such have nothing in common with damaged goods like ElFraud and his weirdos.


Damian....not all Ferrari fact, 90% of Ferrari Fans I chat in the Ferrari forums have threatened to stop supporting Ferrari should Flav have anything to do with the Scuderia including myself. So it's not really fair to generalize. He might be a good manager, strategist and business man but all that is now overshadowed by this. Anyway, I personally think his visits to Maranello recently might have something to do with Luca Di and Flav planing to purchase CVC and not necessarily a position in the Scuderia. That will most certainly stir up a storm of note 😉


And I agree too.


Can I ask where Nelson Piquet jnr. is racing currently - is he still in Nascar, or where has he ended up?


This still goes on and oddly.. no mention of the principle benefactor - Alonso

How he claimes to know nothing about it goes beyond me. Then again I think he got his just deserts this year in the season finale.


Like other commenters, I'm a bit confused about who was actually a winner here; just Mr Crossley I suspect.

If Renault's statement had been true, then Nelsinho would have been a liar but not a cheat. If it was false then he was a cheat but not a liar. I can't quite see how the difference between those amounts to "substantial" damage to Piquet Jr's reputation.

Piquet Sr had a much better case of course, since he was accused of blackmail but wasn't directly involved in the cheating.


That just made Jr an honest cheater ...


The way things are going, we will eventually find out Piquet jnr never crashed the car deliberately for an extended drive in the Renault, it was all done for his love of Renault.


Agreed on every one's sentiments that Piquet Jr. is a guilty party for following team orders and crashing his car to alter outcome of the race.

But if you look at how the things panned out, Only person who was given immunity was victimized and evicted from the sport, While the mastermind (Flavio Briatore) in the entire episode goes scot-free, with his head held high, giving “pearls of wisdom” on team-management, driver management, and F1 management to all and sundry.

Not to mention people (especially F1Bers) look forward to him as successor of Bernie to run F1.

Piquet Jr. was just used by all parties (Flavio, Moseley) as tool to meet their selfish motives and thrown on curb once he was used.

I hope the Piquets have separate litigation against Flavio, who single handed destroyed F1 career of of Jr. Jr due to his conflicting roles as driver manager of both the drivers at Renault and that of team principle of RenaultF1 team.

What Flavio “Made” Piquet Jr. do under “Duress” was definitely not in best interest of the Driver. I am sure if Jr. Jr. had “Independent” manager (s)he would have (in all likelihood) prevented Jr.Jr from agreeing to Team Principal’s request and the entire scandal would have been averted.

But then if he had independent manager, he would have never got an F1 drive in Renault in first place (like it happened with every other driver who were denied to drive for Renault previously by Flavio the "Driver Manager")…

FIA/Jean Todt has not yet plugged that hole in the governance to prevent dual roles and conflict of interests. Of course his own son wears multiple hats that of team owner, and driver manager (though hopefully not in the same team)…

Christopher Snowdon

Poor baby, James does an F1 driver need to be taught right from wrong?

Then there’s the unforgivable thing, he put people's lives on the line (James shouldn't that be deemed to be criminal activity)

He slandered his family name, and then attempted blackmail (as I understand it, thats also criminal activity)

The ridiculous thing about this situation, there were plenty of drives he could have gone for with the expanded grid.


I'm sorry but I just can't excuse Piquet jr for his actions. Yes he was under pressure to perform and his seat was in jeopardy but why did he think crashing deliberately would be the answer. I think he should have shown some integrity and not done it. Worst outcome would have been him losing his seat and taking a reserve driver role or going to a smaller team, or he could have done a Glock and gone to GP2 to re-build his reputation

As for Alonso, do you really think he didn't have some idea of what was going on? For me it seems rather strange that he is associated with controversy. McLaren 07, Crash-Gate and Hockenheim 2010


Its somewhat sad that libel law allows this guy to somehow be shown as a victim... gimme a break. He's always portrayed himself that way over this issue and this just enables his fantasy. He is still a cheat...but since he didnt 'lie' I guess that makes him a golden knight. Lets hope we have seen the last of him in F1.


There's an interview with Piquet Jr in The Times today. A bit more vivid description maybe, but otherwise nothing much new on the drama itself. Except however, a bit slipped in near the end which mentions that the Witness X who delivered crucial evidence at last year's court case was 'later revealed to be Alan Permane.' Can anyone confirm if this was the case? If so it's the first I've ever heard of it! I know he was a possibility, but so was James Allison and other senior engineers.


That is correct. We posted that here at the time


Hi James,

Is there unanimity of opinion from whispers in the paddock on the identity of Witness 'X'?

I am surprised that a name has not been widely circulated on the internet by now identifying this person.

I would n't expect you to divulge any names on your website but I would be interested to know how much you know about this!


I think it's widely considered that it was Alan Permane.


very glad to see Piquet Jr has secured an appropriate drive for the season. Trucks. Ha!

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