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. bpacman said on 31st August 2009, 11:10

    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…

    • hamder said on 31st August 2009, 17:02

      ‘push Nelson push’

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

  2. Alistair said on 31st August 2009, 12:34

    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……..

  3. S Hughes said on 31st August 2009, 20:39

    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:

    “TALKING POINT WAS ALL AS IT SEEMED
    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.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 1st September 2009, 10:33

      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.

  4. 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.

  5. Alex-Ctba said on 1st September 2009, 3:12

    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.

  6. 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.

  7. Mauro S said on 1st September 2009, 12:12

    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”.

    • GooddayBruce said on 1st September 2009, 13:11

      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.

  8. Alex-Ctba said on 1st September 2009, 12:18

    Sad but true…

  9. GooddayBruce said on 1st September 2009, 13:01

    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.

  10. Alex-Ctba said on 1st September 2009, 13:30

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

  11. djdaveyp said on 1st September 2009, 19:25

    So now it needs “-gate” name:
    I’m putting up the following suggestions:

    -Spingate
    -Skankgate (play on the spankgate lol)
    -Crashgate
    -Champgate

    I sure everybody else can do better than that, but let the name that sticks and gets used by everybody come off the best f1 site on the web!

    Please, your ideas……

  12. Alex-Ctba said on 1st September 2009, 19:32

    Spingate sounds cool but I prefer “briatore-gate”

  13. The Limit said on 2nd September 2009, 3:26

    You know what, I am not surprised that this story has broke and, if the Piquet family are responsible, I am not surprised either.
    I can remember how Nelson Piquet Snr bahaved back in the 1980′s, and his bahaviour at times was disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, I was never a Nigel Mansell fan, but the way Nelson was at times was way beyond competitive. Everybody forgets the terrible spat between these two men in the mid 1980′s, a fractured partnership soon overshadowed by the Senna/Prost feud. But it was everybit as volatile and still persists to this day!
    Back to the point in hand. In a recent interview in F1 Magazine, Piquet Jnr was asked directly if his Singapore shunt was done to help Fernando Alonso win.
    His response was swift, and decisive, along the lines that he ‘would not risk killing himself’ for Fernando.
    At the time, reading this man’s interview, the amount of poison in his words reminded me of his father. As they say, the apple never falls far from the tree.
    If these accusations are true, they are the final nail in the coffin of Piquet’s short and disastrous F1 career. If they are true, then he is as guilty as those who ‘ordered’ him to carry them out.
    This is the same situation as Lewis Hamilton was in at the beginning of the season. He was told to lie by his team to throw the result of the Melbourne Gp, and was every bit as guilty as McLaren in the process.
    Hamilton’s saving grace, albeit after the scandal had been revealed, was that he admitted his guilt. That I respect, from anybody, as its the most difficult thing to do and thats to admit that you were wrong.
    The fact that this story comes from a Brazilian source stinks! If this story has weight, why has it taken one year to become public knowledge. Non of these F1 teams are good at keeping secrets.
    Ferrari had a guy walk out carrying the design papers to their 2007 car, and McLaren had a guy so stupid as to take them to a Sussex printers to have them photocopied. Does this sound like an enviroment derived on keeping secrets?
    No, if this were true, someone would have ‘leaked’ this by now. The F1 paddock is the Albert Square of the motorsport industry, its impossible to avoid scandal and to keep secrets. This is just the last throw of the dice by a family affronted by the treatment of their son, by a man well known for making enemies as fast as he changes dollybirds.

  14. Moo Point: Like a cow's opinion, it's Moo!! said on 2nd September 2009, 17:05

    How about “Singagate” or “Fixagate”, actually that last one sounds more like the name of a handy-man company!!

  15. just a small note:for that spin out to happen the left side cvj or drive shaft would have to fail…looks like it’s intac ,from the video above .

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