Piquet Jnr and Alonso in Renault conspiracy claim

2008 Singapore Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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!

218 comments on “Piquet Jnr and Alonso in Renault conspiracy claim”

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  1. I would rate this conspiracy theory as highly unlikely. Piqet often had spins of this very type. That just one of the (how many tons of spins?) would result in a lucky consequence for the team is not improbable at all, since there has been so many of them.

    People often makes mistakes when thinking about improbabilities. Let’s say that there’s a 2% chance something will occur. If only done once, it’s surely very unlikely for the outcome to be the 2% one. But if done hundreds of times, people still fail to take into account that it is then [b]unlikely[/b] for it not to be in those 2% at some point. Instead they think “wow, what an outrageously improbable thing! Something is fishy. Fate/god/conspiracy” as if the real odds should be 0%.

  2. After some thought, and experience in Conspiracy theories since i live in the middle east, here’s my theory.

    Flavio is Nelsinho’s manager, Nelsinho got kicked out of Renault, but Flavio is still his manager, and after that executioner letter, Flavio would not be very happy, and would care less if Piquet has a drive.

    Now Piquet Senior has other plans, he possibly secured a drive for his son, but Flavio being hurt by the letter will not agree to release Piquet junior from his managing contract.

    so Piquet plays his card, he is carrying nearly lethat information, and since he’s burnt he’ll take the whole team including Flavio down with him since he has nothing to loose.

    i imagine the rumor has some credibility to it, enough credibility to blackmail Flavio into releasing Piquet from his managerial contract. when that is done, Piquet can claim that it was a misunderstanding when he explained it to his fellow Journalist friend who made a sensational headline out of it….

    because lets face it, if the claim is actually true, it wont be the Renault team that would only be reprimanded, it would also be Piquet himself, and i doubt Piquet would burn himself like that.

    fixing a race goes beyond cheating, so in the spy gate, Mcmerc got a $100 million penalty. With something like this, Renault and the men responsible for such a decision will be banned by the FIA/WMSC and never allowed on a race track for a long long time. The repercussions are immense for a company like Renault that is hoping to stay in F1 through several engine supply deals, not to mention the cheat reputation that will filter down to their showrooms.

    Carlos Ghosn will be very very upset, i wouldn’t want to be his assistant now…. Yaykes!!!

  3. Bigbadderboom
    31st August 2009, 8:45

    Having slept on it, my thoughts are still the same (unlikely but possible). However as I read the recently posted comments, TALKsport radio have just started reporting the investigation in their half hour news reports. The story (an old one i know) now seems to be gaining some momentum.
    More negative PR for F1, although Bernie loves all PR, and recent news coverage seems to have given the sport plenty of airtime, I can’t help thinking that the sporting element of the F1 circus is becoming irreparably damaged. Too many times I hear casual followers or non F1 fans say “Its all fixed anyway” maybe they have a point after all.
    If (and it’s a big if) there turns out to be truth in all this, some people have asked what punishment should be applied. Well simple, all implicated individuals should serve a 5 year ban from all motorsport, I know Nelson snr runs his own team, but he should be excluded from attending all venues, as should Flavio and anybody else.
    I hope it’s all hot air and sour grapes, I really do, F1 does not need this.

  4. If this is true, then like most other fans I will be shocked and deeply sadened.

    If it turns out to be fictious then the instigators of the theory could find themselves the recipient of a multi-million law suit for deformation. Renault, Flav, Alonso, Piquet all would have some claim against the instigators.

    Conspiracies/secrets require all involved or who know about the truth to remain silent. I really don’t think people of such integrity as Pat Symmonds and the rest of the Renault team would knowingly allow this to happen or remain quiet if it had happened.

  5. singapore
    completely unexpected driver wins F1 race

    possible connection – no waaiii

  6. “nando” ( meaning short in spanish) has really stooped to the lowest possible level a human can go.He’s not only short in his stature but also in character. Teams have to realize this fact. This “short” man is dangerous for the sport. He tried to blackmail a great team that existed since before he was born.He is just trying to appease stefano dommenicalli & ferrari thats all.He always wants to be in the limelight. Wants to make the front page of every spanish news paper.Nando is making a serious mistake. He is losing respect among the elders of the sport.

    1. to alonso haters
      31st August 2009, 9:41

      “nando” does not mean short in Spanish. Please, be serious.

      1. “nando” ( meaning short in spanish) has really stooped to the lowest possible level a human can go.

        There is no a lowest possible level a human can go, so take care.

        1. …so take care, mp4-19b. I wanted to say

  7. I must admit when I swa it live I thought it might have been pre-planned. I mean think about it – when was the last time any F1 driver was seriously injured in a crash? Kubica survived (and only missed 1 race) a MASSIVE shunt in Canada 2007 so a light-ish hit into the wall by Nelson would be nothing.

    There was also a case of something similar claimed to have been done in an Indy 500 race in the late 90’s/early 00’s when just as Paul Tracy – a CART driver who had entered with Penske into the IRL Indy 500 – was about to take the lead with a couple of laps to go when all of a sudden some backmarker crashes, brings out a caution and an IRL driver takes the win.

    Doodson’s article is interesting however, so it shall be interesting to see what comes of it. I was always a bit cynical about how Renault got away with their use of another team’s data in 2007 when for a lesser offense McLaren got smashed, both by the FIA and by the media.

    Very intriguing…

    1. when was the last time any F1 driver was seriously injured in a crash?

      Felipe Massa, qualifying, Hungary 2009.

      1. That wasn’t a crash

        1. what would you call slamming into something at high speed?

          1. An “incident”

  8. i know many people over here disliked James Allen’s commentary, but his blog is very informative, though its not as famous as this one, nevertheless unbiased & informative to an extent. He makes a very intresting point

    There is no doubt however that should there be any proof, this situation offers the opportunity for outgoing FIA president Max Mosley to settle a few scores with Briatore before he leaves office in two months time. Briatore has been in Mosley’s cross-hairs for many years, since writing an open letter of no confidence in the FIA president in 1994.

    His role in the recent FOTA breakaway series is also believed to have been a source of irritation.

    Is this Mad Max’s Final act of madness??

  9. This is absurd. Exactly what would Renault gain by telling a driver to risk his life by purposefully crashing a multi-million euro machine?

    Of course the FIA has to investigate claims like this, even if they guys claiming it are wearing tinfoil hats.

    1. I think the actual car is pretty much a writeoff anyway, a team like renault couldn’t care less about contructing a new car, most of the money is in in R&D and continuously updating the car, which Renault was doing a lot at the time.

      Besides, the financial gain from winning a single Grand Prix, especially an historic first night race on a new track in a season in which they had yet to win a race with their extremely popular driver far outweighs the cost of a single F1 car.

  10. This conspiracy was actually covered in the Official F1 Review of 2008 – can’t find the book right now (I am in the process of moving house) but it mentioned the convenience for Alonso of the timing of Nelson’s crash, and the perhaps coded radio message of ‘push Nelson push’ given just before Nelsinho’s crash…

    1. ‘push Nelson push’

      LOL no need for conspiracy, that’s all they needed to do, Piquet Jr. being in or it or not.

  11. We don’t know if this charge is true. But if it is, Renault should be in serious trouble. What they’re accused of, essentially, is race-fixing. And it’s no minor incident of alleged race-fixing: Alonso went from the back of the pack to the front because of this incident. Think of what happens in other sports, such as horse-riding, athletics or tennis, when race-fixing is proven: the competitors are banned from their sports for a long time. But what Renault are alleged to have done is worse than simple race-fixing. In addition, there are safety concerns. Renault are alleged to have ordered Piquet to deliberately crash his car (Piquet might have agreed so as to secure his threatened seat for 08 and perhaps 09). This endangered the safety of Piquet, the fans, and the other drivers. If this were deliberate, from a safety point of view, the action is much worse than if Piquet had just made a silly mistake: as he often did. Given the seriousness of this charge, I’m amazed that it’s not a hotter topic than it is on the various F1 websites. One wonders whether the situation would be different were McLaren accused instead of Renault. One final point: notice how controversy always seems to follow Alonso; whether it’s the Renault suspension, the possession of Ferrari data (that wasn’t shared with his superior team-mate, Lewis Hamilton) the possession of McLaren data etc……..

  12. Apologies in advance for this long post, but I recalled seeing someone saying that this was mentioned in ‘The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2008’ and I was just sorting through some books and thought I’d glance at my copy. I haven’t read through the entire book but coincidentally, the book opened at this page (I swear – scary!!!). This is what was written:

    Although nobody wanted to be too outspoken on the record, many teams were deeply suspicious that Fernando Alonso’s victory in Singapore, the first of the year for Renault, had been choreographed, with Nelson Piquet Jr crashing at an opportune moment to trigger the safety-car period that swung the race towards Alonso.

    Alonso had been quick from Friday’s first free practice and was deeply unhappy when a fuel-feed problem afflicted him early in Q2, before he’d had a chance to set a time. Starting only 15th on the bumpy Singapore street circuit, where overtaking was doubly difficult, his prospects were not promising. Piquet Jr had not made it out of Q1.

    Normally, faced with Alonso’s situation, a team will fuel up and run a long first stint one stopper in an attempt to make up track position on some of the two-stopping cars and those one-stoppers with shorter stints. To go aggressive on strategy will only work on a circuit where overtaking is particularly easy and you have good top-end engine performance. Neither applied to Renault at Singapore’s spectacular Marina Bay circuit and Alonso said they did it because the brakes were running hot all weekend and would not cope with a heavy one-stop fuel load.

    Alonso’s first stop, on lap 12 of the 61, was very early. On the next lap, team-mate Piquet Jr, who had already spun on the warm-up lap, received a radio instruction: “Push, Nelson!” At the time, he was going nowhere fast, stuck down in 16th position behind Barrichello’s Honda from the start. Was this a coded instruction? On the very next lap, Piquet Jr gyrated into the wall and brought out the safety car.

    Rosberg and Kubica were forced to pit under the safety car, as they would otherwise have run out of fuel, attracting driver-through penalties as a result of this year’s safety-car regulations. It proved that the first scheduled stints by anyone other than Alonso had been to pit on laps 14 and 15. Most teams have a very good handle on when the opposition are going to stop, so Alonso’s lap-12 stop was both as early as it legitimately could be and as late as possible if any ‘plan’ was to work.

    “Looking at it from a purely statistical point-of-view,” said a rival team strategist, “on a track like Singapore, stopping on lap 12 is not aggressive, it’s stupid, It’s something that cannot work. Your grandmother wouldn’t do it… Then, it’s true that stopping on lap 12 is the only way to open up a two-lap gap when the safety car will benefit only one car – the one that has stopped. And then, when you create this two-lap window and in it your team-mate crashes… If you add up the probability, you end up with a figure that is very close to zero.”

    In light of the above, I’m surprised an investigation wasn’t carried out sooner.

    1. Compelling but still circumstantial, but as you say, why wasn’t it investigated before, from a spectators point of view it looked convenient at worst, but reading this passage clarifies how “coincidental” events were. Thanks for posting that, I was fairly pessemistc before but not so sure now.

  13. re-thinking of this..why would Jr put him self in possible danger of being banned from the sport -for ever- ???

    As JA says maybe Mad Max is on the war path pre falling on his sword.

    1. Piquet was probably finished in F1 already

  14. It’s hard to believe but if it is really true, and if the leme’source is piquet sr, so I only know of one way this play, piquet jr will race in US and will make a career in a place that your dad tried and failed , ‘cos his F1 adventure is ended.

  15. If the new evidence which has started this investigation did come from Piquet, he must really want to bring down Renault and Briatore, because unless he had some sort of deal with the FIA he would be just as likely to receive a big punishment for his part in it.

  16. I think the big star here is Piquet Sr. not Piquet Jr.

    Piquet Sr. has a reputation of being mean and vindictive. He is also a friend to Reginaldo Leme, the Globo reporter who unlid this can of worms.

    Let me explain my theory here.

    Back in the Singapore GP, Briatori convinced Piquet Jr. to crash the car. Later Piquet Jr. told Daddy what happened. Daddy then turned lemons into lemonade by blackmailing Briatori into renewing Piquet Jr. for 2009. Then recently Briatori broke the deal by firing Piquet Jr, whose career in Formula 1 is clearly over anyway. The Piquet family doesn’t take crap from no one and is simply exercising revenge.

    BTW, Piquet Sr. made more money as a businessman after his F1 career than as a race driver, this might as well improve his reputation – is his eyes – as a “though man, somebody you don’t cross”.

    1. nail on the head Mauro.

      This news has been brewing for some time though. Numerous commentators mentioned Piquet Snr’s presence at GP’s this year and made it very clear that he knew where the bodies were buried and was prolonging his son’s career.

      After Piquet Jnr’s sacking, again numerous commentators told us that this wasn’t the end of the affair.

      What we shouldn’t underestimate however is that Flavio Braitore is also a very sucessful and hard nosed businessman – not one you should cross lightly. He wouldnt have sacked the boy unless he felt confident he could ride out the storm that followed.

      All in all this is going to be very interesting.

      The final word on young Piquet’s career – one which has required a leg-up from his father at every stage – the dream is now over. Unless daddy buys up a team for his little boy he is un-emplyable by any sensible team manager out there. Not to mention his lack of results, nobody is likely to take on one so willing to drop his old employers in the stink. Not to mention someone so lacking in integrity that they would deliberately fix the outcome of a race in order to secure a race contract.

      I, for one wont miss the sulky little git.

  17. Sad but true…

  18. given Piquets form I could believe that it was accidental.

    It looks more and more staged everytime i watch it though. The last couple of times Renault have been in trouble they have been let off due to extraneous circumstances. In the first instance (Spygate II) because Bernie could not afford to lose a team at that time so could not afford to fine Renault and have them leave the sport. In the second instance, (‘wheel-gate’ this year) Valencia could not afford to not have Fernando Alonso missing from the grid, and Bernie made them sign up to a new 5-year deal in return.

    This time however – with Alonso on the way to Ferrari, Bernie can only gain from losing another manufacturer (and important FOTA member) from the sport. I see this one going to the wire and if they are found guilty Renault will remove their backing from Briatore’s team.

  19. I strongly believe that Piquet will continue his racing career in the USA after this “Singapore-gate ” His time in F1 just finished.

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