Piquet Jnr and Alonso in Renault conspiracy claim

2008 Singapore Grand Prix

Nelson Piquet Jnr crashed out of the Singapore Grand Prix on lap 14

Nelson Piquet Jnr crashed out of the Singapore Grand Prix on lap 14

After last year’s Singapore Grand Prix there were plenty of conspiracy theories that Nelson Piquet Jnr crashed deliberately to help Fernando Alonso win the race.

Those theories are now being given credence by Brazilian F1 journalist Reginaldo Leme, who claims Renault are to be investigated by the FIA over the result of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

Brazilian TV station Globo also carried the report during its Belgian Grand Prix coverage today. The allegation is that Piquet was ordered to crash by the team to help Alonso win the race. Here’s a paragraph from the race report which explains the scenario:

Alonso, who along with Rosberg had started on the less favourable super-soft tyres, made his first pit stop. Although he fell to last it proved extraordinarily fortunate timing when his team mate crashed two laps later, Nelson Piquet Jnr backing his car into the wall in front of the grandstands by the Marina.

Sure enough, as the other drivers made their pit stops Alonso inherited the lead and won the race. This came a day after qualifying down in 15th due to a car failure.

Piquet was, of course, dropped by Renault earlier this year and later launched a vitriolic attack on former boss Flavio Briatore. It doesn’t take a cynic to wonder if he might just be trying to get revenge on his old team.

Here’s a look back at some footage of the crash:

Piquet also spun on the warm-up lap in Singapore. More evidence he was capable of spinning without being told to? Or was he getting in a practice spin ahead of his big moment?

I still think it’s a bizarre conspiracy but if Piquet himself claims it’s true then, notwithstanding his obvious antagonism towards the team, the FIA are surely going to have a look.

Do you think the claims are true? Here’s links to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix coverage from last year, and other relevant articles, to help you make your own mind up:

Thanks to Sandro and Dank for the tips!

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218 comments on Piquet Jnr and Alonso in Renault conspiracy claim

  1. I always thought that it was deliberate. His voice on the radio was so unemotional, and both Flav and Fernando have form in terms of being willing to break rules to gain the advantage. If the team was in danger of having its budget pulled, as was rumoured last year, they may have felt it justified “tweaking the circumstances” a bit.

  2. Cockney James Hunt said on 30th August 2009, 17:26

    It’s not true. Renault would simply not allow such a potentially lethal and plain idiotic plan to happen. Not just Renault – any sane individual. Not only that, but given that Renault and Fernando Alonso were well out of the drivers and manufacturers championship, they had absolutely nothing critical to gain by co-ordinating such a bizarre, homicidal plan at that particular moment, on that particular circuit. This is utter bonkers. Pantaloon wearing bonkersness.

    • benno said on 30th August 2009, 23:40

      +1. Absurd.

      Why would Piquet endanger himself, other drivers, marsels and members of the public?

      He might not have set the F1 world on fire, but he is a professional driver and good human being.

      FIA is wasting money and futher damaging the F1 brand.

  3. Salty said on 30th August 2009, 17:27

    Only one problem with this idea. All team radio transmissions are monitored and recorded. No way that Renault could radio Nelson Piqued (sic) and advise him to trash the car.

    Anyway, you have made racing your life. You are driving in the ultimate global series, one of the most powerful racing machines ever made. Race you really going to risk you life, career or reputation by trashing your drive?

    Nah! No way. More chance that Michael Jackson has just moved into a villa next to Elvis in the Seychelles.

    • Derek said on 30th August 2009, 17:42

      I agree, complete rubbish!!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th August 2009, 17:58

      The FIA are investigating and presumably the first step would be to demand copies of the radio transmissions – as they did with McLaren at Melbourne this year, for example.

      But you wouldn’t necessarily have to use a radio instruction of “Piquet, please crash now so Alonso can win”. If it was pre-planned, any phrase could have been used as a trigger.

      At the time, there’s no way I would have believed the story. And even now I’m sceptical about Piquet’s motives. But we’ll see what the investigation turns up. After their recent troubles and given the economic situation it’s the last thing Renault need.

      • But you wouldn’t necessarily have to use a radio instruction of “Piquet, please crash now so Alonso can win”. If it was pre-planned, any phrase could have been used as a trigger.

        Indeed, and the true meaning of any “trigger” phrase (and this entire affair) would presumably be Piquet’s word against Renault’s. Unless Piquet can find someone within Renault to back up his account it won’t stand up.

        It would also be an incredibly risky thing for Renault to agree with a driver who was at that point widely believed to be on the verge of the sack – why give an already underperforming employee potential leverage for blackmail?

        I remember reading a piece in Autosport years ago, an interview with Stefan Johansson where he’d been filming some promotional material for McLaren. At one point, the script required him to spin the car and he found it near impossible to do intentionally.

      • Max should resign now!!! said on 31st August 2009, 6:32

        Well it doesn’t have to be Renault, I mean the companies are always expecting results from their teams and the teams have their team manager or however it’s called. So maybe Flavour Flav was in pressure to deliver some results and he figured out he could do this and to maximize his options of getting a podium at least.

        I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories, actually I don’t buy’em at all but I live in Argentina and with the kind of politicians we have here I’m no longer shocked when horrible claims are made. I guess we will just have to wait for the investigation (and to see how it was carried out too) and see.

        The only thing that tells me that this could be very well true is the fact that they had not had a good result before that and the fact that Alonso had a very unusual fuel strategy to be starting from P15.

      • Derek said on 31st August 2009, 11:19

        How long do the teams have to keep audio tapes. They could well be scrapped by now, as it was last season.

  4. sykes said on 30th August 2009, 17:31

    The FIA can probably use this as an excuse to scrap Singapore from last years results and say that Massa is the new 2008 WDC champion.

    • Bosley said on 30th August 2009, 17:36

      I wish! More fuel for the FIA-is-against-McLaren fire. It’s been too quiet, we need MORE rumors, conspiracies, what-if’s etc

  5. chaostheory said on 30th August 2009, 17:32

    And for a moment I felt sorry for Piquet jr after he was out of his Renault seat, but now… whether its true or not revenge at all costs is not the way. It would be better for him, more honourable showing to Briatore what hes worth on race track, just like Kubica did. Now Im sure we wont see Piq jr in an F1 car, I cant see any team taking him.

  6. Max should resign now!!! said on 30th August 2009, 17:32

    looks like my forum thread is useless now…

  7. Bosley said on 30th August 2009, 17:33

    So all Piquet crashes were only because he tried to let Alonso win? In that case I’m sure he was right all along about him being a top driver.

    Of course Briatore is Dr. Evil in disguise, but surely radio traffic and such is known by the FIA and would’ve come out long, long time ago.

    Nice conspiracy, plenty of Alonso-haters will be up in arms again.

    • Why would any radio exist? If (and it’s a big if) something happened it was planned and Nelson knew in which lap he had to crash. If there’s any radiocom it’s something that would look innocent outside of the context.

  8. Giant21 said on 30th August 2009, 17:34

    Despite being a brazilian, I agree that Leme (who is better at sounding more credible than he is) is making too much sound and fury over this, and even if it true, I don’t think it will “rock the foundations” of the sport as he mentioned… just add another sad chapter to formula one racing (Austria in 2002 springs to mind). Furthermore, it wasn’t Renault’s fault that Ferrari screwed up Massa’s pit stop. As much as it pains me to say it, we must on from 2008 and accept that Hamilton won it. Some win, some you lose.

    Furthermore, depsite being a fervent supporter of my country’s driver, I think Piquet Jr. should just shut up already! Granted, Alonso isn’t the best teammate to have and Briatore is not the world’s greatest boss, but he could have done more, a lot more in the car. Honestly, stop finding excuses as to why you were a bad driver and accept that you were just not good enough. Maybe if you accept that (and that you are NOT your father), things may improve… slightly (Massa never whined, just got into the car and drove…).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th August 2009, 18:00

      Allowing ourselves for one second to believe that it were true, what an irony it would be if one Brazilian’s involvement in a scheme like this provoked circumstances which led to another Brazilian losing points and, ultimately, the world championship.

      …and now back to reality.

      • S Hughes said on 30th August 2009, 19:54

        But remember the pit stop hose debacle – that wasn’t Renault’s fault. After looking at these comments, I do wonder if it is another huge conspiracy to strip our Lewis of the title. Surely not! A conspiracy within a conspiracy. This is getting quite surreal.

        • Giant21 said on 30th August 2009, 22:56

          If this is a conspiracy against Hamilton it wouldn’t work… If Alonso and Piquet were stripped of all of it’s points from last year (and other drivers inherit the positions), Hamilton would still win the championship, and with a two point difference to Massa instead of 1 (104 to 102).

  9. I was watching the brazilian coverage of the Belgian Grand Prix erlier today (as I live in Brazil). After Reginaldo Leme’s revelation, there was clearly an unconfortable situation installed in the coverage. Luciano Burti replied “As long as I know Nelsinho, I’m sure he would never crash purposely on a race”.

    Later, Galvão Bueno brought back the subject, saying Piquet sr. told him earlier this year: “Why do you think I am coming for every single GP in 2009? Do you think I like this? I am here ’cause something big is gonna happen”.

    I can’t say I don’t think Briatore is not capable of such thing. My only fear is the future of the Renault team in F1 after this Singaporegate.

    • Augusto Barreto said on 31st August 2009, 3:22

      I agree with you. Very strange the way Reginaldo told the story as well as Galvão´s reaction. Never saw such a situation.

  10. Tiomkin said on 30th August 2009, 17:59

    Well, we all know Nelson is the ‘King of Spin(ing)’.

    To Piquet: to spin a vehicle on track with style.

  11. Ashes1991 said on 30th August 2009, 18:05

    Haha…I love this because as soon as the race was over and it showed the highlights I said as a joke to my dad I bet he did that to gift Alonso the win, to get back in briatories good books.

    If any sort of punishment was given to renault it is likely to be diqualification from the race…etc. Not really changing that much, giving Rosberg a win and Hamilton an extra 2 points onto his title, meaning he won it by a margin of 3 points, as Massa finished 13th.

    Would love to hear more about how Briatorie treated Piquet though, feel sorry for the poor lad…

  12. Salty said on 30th August 2009, 18:13

    Truly awful news if true mp4-19b (was your dad an F1 fan by any chance?), Journeyer just alluded to this in another thread.

    What a difference one week makes. Shiney, sterile Valencia – no overtaking on the circuit, but excellent entertaining facilities over the pit lane for the uber-wealthy. Soggy tents and mayo-soaked chips Spa – overtaking throughout the field. Shame Vijay Mallya had nowhere to park his dingy, but bet he is still grinning from ear to ear.

    Without real racing in F1, the fans WILL switch off. The TV companies will stop buying. The billionaires club will find somewhere else to party.

    Bernie and CVC need to take a reality check, before they start bouncing.

    • mp4-19b said on 30th August 2009, 18:29

      was your dad an F1 fan by any chance?

      why would you want to know that?

      • Salty said on 30th August 2009, 18:43

        LOL – your name sir! Just being silly. No offence intended. And no, my dad wasn’t a sous chef, before you ask.

        Back on topic though. Could we be seeing the final throes of Max trying to lash out at the constructor teams who have been his undoing? I mean really why else would the FIA be seriously giving credence to this frankly delusional journo’s ramblings. Could Max want to force out Renault, thus creating a force majeure, wherein he, as current FIA president, steps into the breach and REMAINS president of the FIA ufn to provide the guidance the sport obviously needs during this constructor crisis?

        Now that’s what I call a conspiracy theory!

  13. I wonder whether the FIA will consider investigating the Brazilian GP, given that similar conspiracy theories were flying around about Glock “yielding” to Hamilton. To me both claims seemed equally baseless, but it does make you wonder….

    • S Hughes said on 30th August 2009, 19:59

      The Glock conspiracy is more baseless than the Piquet conspiracy (sounds like a Robert Ludlum novel). Glock was on dry tyres in the wet. No true F1 fan or expert would ever consider that to be a conspiracy, whereas quite a few seem to be giving credence to this one.

      • I don’t think it’s really possible for something to be “more baseless” than anything else…. ;)

        That aside, the Piquet conspiracy was widely dismissed until this “new evidence,” whatever it may be, came to light. The same could well be true of Glock, for all we know.

        • slicksf1 said on 30th August 2009, 23:24

          Glocks final lap time in Brazil was identical to Trulli who was the only other driver on the wrong tyres. There was no conspiracy there. In fact Glock made a position by not changing tyres, so the decision was a success for him.

          In Singapore, I did immediately think “that was convenient” when it became obvious Alonso would benefit hugely from his team mate’s crash.

          I hope the FIA find that it was just coincidence. I can’t be bothered with months of controversy, which would surely end in Renault leaving the sport if they’re found guilty.

        • NDINYO said on 31st August 2009, 6:13

          Andy this is not the WMSC. This is a public forum of F1 fanatics. Winning an argument here won’t change the evidence – if it is a fact that Nelson crashed on purpose, then regardless of where the information comes from, FIA are bound to take action. If it is not, then why worry?
          Frankly, FIA was ready to risk McLaren leaving the sport in 2007. I don’t see why saving Renault – a team with less following – should be a priority above McLaren. Maybe this could be Mosley’s last kick at the troublesome FOTA members – first, BMW, then Renault and probably Toyota later on in the year. Now how is that for conspiracy theories :)

  14. Alex 3 said on 30th August 2009, 18:36

    The FIA will undoubtedly look at it. They can’t help themselves.
    Since the FIA loves conspiracies they will punish teams whether they had a real part in something or not.
    This will undoubtedly result in Renault getting a huge fine and maybe a suspension for a year. This is more than spying after all. It is doing something to manipulate the outcome of a race and affect the championship.
    The lawyers will be busy!!

  15. gabal said on 30th August 2009, 18:51

    If he managed to pull that crash on purpose he deserves an Oscar nomination. I’m a sceptic untill I see an evidence.
    Also, I don’t mean to generalize but recently a brazilian journalist made headlines with his creative way of doing investigative journalism.

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