Renault face Singapore crash hearing

2009 F1 season

Could Fernando Alonso lose his Singapore GP win?

Could Fernando Alonso lose his Singapore GP win?

The FIA put out a short media release late this afternoon confirming Renault are being called to answer charges that they deliberately caused a crash to help Fernando Alonso win the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The statement read:

Representatives of ING Renault F1 have been requested to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Monday, 21 September 2009.

The team representatives have been called to answer charges, including a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, that the team conspired with its driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso.

Rumours about the investigation first came to light over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

Renault is being investigated under the now-infamous article 151c, which concerns bringing the sport into disrepute. It’s the same charge McLaren were found guilty of in 2007 (for obtaining Ferrari intellectual property) and earlier this year (for misleading the Australian Grand Prix stewards).

In 2007 Renault were found to have broken article 151c in another spying inquiry, but no penalty was imposed because, as the verdict read, of a “lack of evidence that the championship has been affected.”

Felipe Massa may rue that Piquet’s crash led to a safety car period during which his race was ruined, costing him vital championship points.

If Alonso’s win were retrospectively taken from him, Nico Rosberg would inherit his maiden victory. But even if the points were redistributed it would not change the identities of Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari as the drivers’ and constructors’ champions.

But how the crash affected the world championship is likely to be of less interest to the panel than the matter of safety. It almost goes without saying that causing a deliberate crash puts drivers, marshals and fans at risk – something the FIA may be extremely sensitive to given recent serious accidents in F1 and F2.

If Renault are found guilty, expect the World Motor Sports Council to press for a very severe penalty.

Renault will go before the World Motor Sports Council on September 21st. Funny how the story came out last thing on a Friday, just as we expected, isn’t it?

The Renault Singapore controversy

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142 comments on Renault face Singapore crash hearing

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  1. GP4 Carl said on 4th September 2009, 18:03

    Kaboom.

  2. GP4 Carl said on 4th September 2009, 18:05

    SOunds really demented, but I wonder if there was some spread betting sindicate on PK spins, and on what laps. Did’nt they send him out on slicks at Monaco, with predictable results?

  3. S Hughes said on 4th September 2009, 18:11

    Surely they wouldn’t summon Renault if there wasn’t any substance to the accusations.

    I hope Alonso gets punished or thrown out of F1 because he MUST have been in on it (if it turns out to be true). He seems to have not been mentioned in all of this, but knowing how forceful he is in the team, if they told him to pit on lap 12, he would have protested unless he knew why. Wouldn’t surprise if it was all true … but we will see.

    • “if they told him to pit on lap 12, he would have protested unless he knew why.”

      Pat Symonds actually came out after the race and said that the logic of putting Alonso on such a super-aggressive strategy was not that it was a better strategy when compared with alternatives, but it was one which allowed a small chance that with a safety car intervention Alonso could get a spectacular result. Where as the optimum strategy would get 1 or 2 points at best. The logic, which would have appealed to an Alonso who was after race wins, was that a small chance of a great result would be better than a high chance of an average result. It was a high risk high reward strategy, and it was also given to Piquet in the hope that by fuelling him unuasually heavy, by the help of a safety car he could do a ‘Hockenheim.’

      A high risk high reward strategy from Renault is nothing unusaul and would not have aroused suspicion in Fernando, nor was the strategy in itself evidence of a conspiracy.

    • I hope Alonso gets punished or thrown out of F1

      You should finish there your comment.

      • S Hughes said on 5th September 2009, 10:22

        If it turns out to be true, which we don’t know yet, there is no way that Alonso wasn’t in on it, no way at all. If so, he doesn’t deserve to be in F1. I seem to remember there were plenty of calls for Hamilton to be thrown out of F1 after Australia (predictably) for saying what his team manager asked him to, and it didn’t involve such danger and lack of regard for safety as ths plot (again, IF it turns out to be true). Why do you think Fernando should come out of this smelling of roses – if any other driver profited from such a thing, they would be instantly implicated.

  4. I think people need to remember that Renault are;

    Innocent until proven guilt here

    And in normal situations i would agree it is very worrying that they have been called before the court however this is the FIA we are talking about

    If they are guilty i think we can say goodbye as the fine and the loss of money from last year (due to loss of prize money as points are changed) would be more than enough for Renault to leave.

  5. Wow. It seems like they found enough inconsistencies or effective admissions from the Spa interviews to shut the case quite quickly. If the allegations are true I can’t believe that Goshn will not have Flavs head on a platter. But it seems Alonso will come out of a dung heap smelling like a rose again. He’s not mentioned, except as the beneficiary of the fraud, and only “team representatives” are being called.

    I wonder if Luca is wondering if getting Alsono is worth the drama that follows the man around

    • One also wonders if Fisi got the call up shortly after Ferrari saw the FIA visit Renault in Spa. If I’m Ferrari I’m flailing around right now trying to secure my line up because my one signed driver is injured and awaiting medical evaluation and the other could be banned. Ferrari may be forced to get friendly with Kimi again. If he has already inked a deal they may need to lock in a decent guy or an option for him soon. The best option would seem to be Trulli (Yes, for the all Italian Ferrari line up)

      • HounslowBusGarage said on 4th September 2009, 21:24

        Interesting, interesting . . .

      • Martin said on 4th September 2009, 21:48

        Wouldnt it be ironic or karma for fisi to end up in the ferrari seat and they tell alonso to go packing because of this.
        If this is true it is worse than anything with the spy scandal… but wait alonso was hip deep in that also. He and Pedro were using the data in the simulator and texting each other about it.

    • bananaman said on 4th September 2009, 20:07

      I wonder if Luca is wondering if getting Alsono is worth the drama that follows the man around

      There was plenty of drama following Schumacher and Benetton (which became today’s Renault, and also had Flavio at the helm at the time), but Ferrari felt Schumacher was worth that drama. When they signed him fairly early in 1995, he had suffered a tainted ’94. Remember the proven allegations of banned launch and traction control on the B194, for which there was no punishment ostensibly because there was only circumstantial evidence of their use? The unauthorised removal of the filter from the refuelling equipment leading to Verstappen’s fireball at Hockenheim? Schumacher’s overtaking of Hill before the start of the British GP and his subsequent ignoring of a black flag? His disqualification at Spa for plank irregularities? His collision with Hill at Adelaide? His much-publicised (and later retracted) unsportsmanlike comments about Hill towards the end of the season?

      When Schumacher finally got to Ferrari, the drama continued – Jerez ’97, Silverstone ’98, A1-Ring ’02, Indy ’02, Monaco ’06 – but he did win 5 consecutive WDCs…

  6. Lady Snowcat said on 4th September 2009, 18:30

    Interesting that S Hughes mentions that, so far, in all the coverage absolutely nothing has been made of Alfonso’s position on all this…

    Given that the only way his fuel strategy worked was in these circumstances it will be impossible for him to say “I knew nothing” won’t it?…

    If he is the “complete driver” all rate him to be I can’t see him not knowing and all this could give the red team a problem couldn’t it?….

    If they do announce Alonso at Monza that is pre the WMSC meeting…

    If they have allowed Kimi to go and he has a drive with another good team lined up (I live in hope) then what happens if Alonso gets a substantial ban?… and then Felipe doesn’t make it back?….

    Don’t forget that Alonso got off with knowing all about Stepneygate despite the e mails….

    Hmmmm….

    • S Hughes said on 4th September 2009, 18:40

      One rule for … you know the rest.

    • If they have allowed Kimi to go and he has a drive with another good team lined up (I live in hope) then what happens if Alonso gets a substantial ban?…

      Hey, Lady, keep calm… Kimi is coming back for his real home. McLaren and their fans are waiting for him with open arms! I´m prying for Ferrari to let him go…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th September 2009, 20:54

      I don’t see how they can implicate Alonso unless they’ve got evidence of him being in on it.

      • David said on 5th September 2009, 0:13

        That’s true, but if Alonso is going to Ferrari, just how hard would FIA look for such evidence?

        Cynical I know, but the precedent is there for Alonso escaping punishment from FIA for incidents he was in on and involved with (Ferrari data mining) when he was off elsewhere (back to Renault).

        There is one extraneous factor: if Renault and Piquet are found guilty, presumably the latter could shed some light on Alonso’s involvement. Or otherwise.

      • S Hughes said on 5th September 2009, 10:28

        That’s true re. evidence, but do you think Alonso would have been totally unaware of the plan if it turns out to be true? Would any other driver escape the finger of suspicion pointing at them in such a scenario?

  7. Nomad Indian said on 4th September 2009, 18:45

    But what about Piquet Jr? If the allegation is true and Nelson was ordered to crash, did he have to do it? Are you allowed to do anything just to save yourself a race seat?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th September 2009, 20:54

      True, but how can the FIA punish him when he isn’t even racing in F1 any more?

      • With this, Piquet Jr. is a death man for F1, wich team would want him after this??

      • Patrickl said on 4th September 2009, 22:17

        They could make sure he doesn’t come back. Take his superlicense away.

        Apparently on his twitter he said that he had good news coming about a drive next year. Or at least some fans told me he said so

        • Piquet Jr has fans? LOL!

          • his_majesty said on 5th September 2009, 1:44

            I lost any respect for someone named piquet after the excuse for a kick in the 1982 german gp incident

          • Patrickl said on 5th September 2009, 8:09

            Lol, yeah there are. Guess you need to be a bit nutty for that though. They claimed he’s the best driver in this decade.

            It’s a shame Piquet jr wasn’t able to show any of this greatness in his 27 races. Of course that was all because Flavio was determined to destroy him and gave him a car consistenly slower by at least 8 tenths of a second *rolls eyes*

        • Apparently on his twitter he said that he had good news coming about a drive next year.

          Oh yes, Cirque du Soleil has hired Nelsinho. He will be crashing open wheel cars in Las Vegas.

          “Too young to die, too old to drive” is the name of the show.

        • Nomad Indian said on 5th September 2009, 11:39

          Exactly, they can take away his Super license and ban him from returning in any FIA approved motorsport.
          Just so that others learn that you can’t risk others’ lives (alongwith yours) and get away just by being the whistle-blower.

          If Piquet Jr.’s allegation is true that is one more major character flaw and lack of self confidence in himself. Guys like Hamilton wouldnt even give way to the same team-mate in quali, let alone crash which is illegal, immoral and risky.

          • Nomad Indian said on 5th September 2009, 11:43

            Above in reply to:

            They could make sure he doesn’t come back. Take his superlicense away.

            :)

    • This is what has got me wondering about the whole sorry affair too – presuming they are the whistleblowers, and there seems little doubt that they are, then what on earth is going through the Piquet’s heads? Surely by dredging up all this history Piquet Jr is signing his own F1 death warrant whether the allegations are true or false. Either way he will wind up unemployable, because if he did crash deliberately in order to save his seat for 2009 then his reputation will be damaged beyond repair, and if his claims are dismissed then nobody will want to take on someone who is willing to cause this much trouble for them if things go wrong. On top of that, it’s not as if Piquet Jr’s shown enough talent for anyone to say it’s worth taking a risk on him, so I don’t really see what he’s getting out of all this except revenge, which, when there’s several hundred jobs on the line and big reputations at stake is hardly a very savoury motive.

      I suppose that when all’s said and done the Piquets are moneyed enough to get by in the world regardless of how the matter ends. Piquet may well have called Briatore his executioner, but it’s more accurate to say that Piquet Jr’s is a suicide case, that he (and not forgetting the role of his father either) killed his own career through lack of judgement and through plain lack of talent. I don’t know, maybe there’s a tragedy in there somewhere. We’ll see.

  8. All of this has been pretty low profile. No screaming headlines or sound bites ( Remember Mclaren, some could not wait to have their say). Then late statement last thing on a Friday. Even if they are found to be guilty there will be no 50 million pound fine and maybe not even a ban. You see, Renault is not Mclaren and Lewis is not involved.

  9. Richard C said on 4th September 2009, 19:07

    If Alonsos win is disallowed and he is disqualified will the positions and points for those who finished 2nd to 9th be upliftded? If so who won the drivers title last year?

  10. I honestly don’t know how the FIA will decide to handle this. Call me cynical but I think the verdict and any punishment if Renault are found guilty will have more to do with politics than what is fair based on the evidence and rules. It could be Mosley’s last big case while still FIA President and he doesn’t like manufacturers at the moment.

    If Renault did receive a big punishment I don’t think they will stay if F1.

  11. Sick of the stupid FIA show always undermining the racing.

    It’s their stupid incompetent fault they didn’t do anything at the time when it would have counted for something. You have to wonder if Max now wants Briatore’s scalp (Ron is gone, who else it there to gun for to keep busy).

    Is this another instance of the FIA being too lazy to listen to radio transmissions at the time.

    FOTA and FOM should be preparing to dump the FIA in 2012 if Todt installs Mosley as his “F1 Commissioner” come October, the thought of Max running F1 for years to come sends shivers down my spine.

    I don’t even like Renault and if it was deliberate they should have been punished, but it should have been last season. They shouldn’t be tainting this season, I can’t see how this can do anyone any benefit except Max’s ego. Last season is done. Move on, the rest of the world has.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th September 2009, 20:58

      Depends what evidence they had and when they had it. It seems very likely now that new evidence has come to light and it came from someone on Piquet’s side.

      I have my gripes about the FIA but I’m not going to argue they should ignore an allegation of a team crashing a car on purpose.

  12. Renault statement:

    The ING Renault F1 Team acknowledges the FIA’s request for representatives of the team to appear before the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on the 21st of September 2009. Before attending the hearing, the team will not make any further comment.

  13. DanThorn said on 4th September 2009, 19:36

    If they are found guilty, then in my opinion Alonso would actually be one of the more innocent parties, unless it can be proven that he was actively involved in the ‘plan’. If he benefitted from a conspiracy between Flavio and Nelsinho that he knew nothing of, then Alonso isn’t any more to blame than any of the other drivers who benefitted. Also, for the last couple of years he has been more interested in seeking the odd great result anyway rather than consistant good ones, and last year Renault did adopt a few odd strategies in races. It’s going to be a tough one to call.

    Indeed, if they are found to be in contravention; a hefty fine would probably be the fairest conclusion. To disqualify them so long after the event would render the fantastic conclusion to last years championship in a whole new light. Then again, a hefty fine may well see Renault pull out and put Briatore in a very bad position with the FIA in terms of a buyout, which has seemed to be the rumour whenever a Renault withdrawal has been mentioned before…

    Do we even know who made these claims yet?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th September 2009, 20:59

      Do we even know who made these claims yet?

      Nope, no evidence so far. But I wouldn’t be surprised if little bits started appearing in the Brazilian press now.

      • Patrickl said on 4th September 2009, 22:20

        When FIA only wanted to say it was investigating a race result and wouldn’t say where their new evidence came from, Ecclestone revealed that it was about the Singapore 2008 race and Piquet Jr.

        I would assume he knows what he’s talking about.

    • Be sure, Piquet Jr….

    • S Hughes said on 5th September 2009, 10:37

      I find it fascinating how some people are convinced Alonso wouldn’t have known anything if this was all true. This is Alonso we’re talking about – control freak, involved in setting up and strategy and not one to be told a bizarre strategy without knowing why.

      • If “it gives a slim chance of a win, especially if lots of cars are overtaken or if there’s a safety car at the right time” was good enough for a large majority of fans and journalists in the immediate aftermath of the race, then surely it would be good enough for Alonso.

        What’s certain is that a number of people will try to pin it on Alonso whatever the outcome. Maybe he remotely spun Piquet’s car himself….

  14. steph90 said on 4th September 2009, 19:39

    I still don’t believe a team would do this or maybe I am just being hopeful.
    If they did then Renault and Alonso and Piquet has shown themselves to be desperate and immoral and ready to go against every sporting rule. Not only a huge risk to safety but did influenced the outcome of last year’s title. As a Massa fan and F1 fan it is shocking, Lewis won the title and is this is true it takes away from both him and Massa’s achievements. The consequences are off the scale and that and the respect Renault should have for F1 and everyone involved makes me believe they are innocent.
    This should have been sorted last year when it would have made a difference, now it’s just Mosley’s last goodbye.

  15. Alex P said on 4th September 2009, 19:42

    If renault are found Guilty surely the results need to be changed to the order the drivers where in prior to the crash ????? ie Massa Hamilton Kimi which would mean Massa is 2008 F1 Champ ???

    • Leahonard_e said on 4th September 2009, 19:51

      I don’t think so, at all.
      What would be somewhat fair, but I also doubt it, since the race was heavily influenced it should not give championship any points, what would also lead Massa to winning the 2008 championship…
      Am I way too wrong?

      • Massa was excluded due to a Ferrari foul and scored nothing. So excluding Renault can have no effect on the championship outcome for the WDC. End of story. If you want to fiddle with the time space continuum and assume that the accident would have changed events down the line, you have to consider Hamilton scoring even more points as well.

        Before a new wave of “Lewis is not the true champion” conspiracy mongering erupts, lets look at the facts.

        • Alex P said on 5th September 2009, 8:40

          I was just saying that if they where disquailfied then the most logical thing would be to treat it as a stoped race back the ranking to the last completed lap and issue points acordingly that would be a fair and logical suggestion not an Anti Lewis conspiracy

          • Karlos said on 5th September 2009, 11:21

            I disagree – surely the most logical thing would be to rob Alonso and Renault of the 10 points from that race, and leave everything else as it is.

            Arguing “what if” about the race result if the crash hadn’t happened is an absolutely impossible task, and there’s no reason to suggest that the order before the crash would have been the final order of the race without it. So it doesn’t seem fair to award point on that basis. Bear in mind also that this happened before halfway so if the race had been stopped and not restarted, no points would have been scored by anyone.

            Finally, the precedent of when McLaren was disqualified from the WC in 07 is that they didn’t score points but the teams behind them in the races, didn’t score more points (e.g. 10 for second behind a first-placed McLaren). So in this case Alonso and Renault would lose 10 but no one else gain anything.

            Kinda makes sense to me anyway!

    • If Renault are found guilty

      This is a crime, so crimes are only committed by persons.

      If there are evidences, what FIA should do is to ban for the rest of his/their life those people involved, and send the evidence to the court for being evaluated civil and/or criminal responsibilities.

      If not, If I were Renault, I will sue the FIA and all those guys that have been discrediting its name.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 4th September 2009, 21:29

      Hardly. It was lap 12 after all, in which case the race hadn’t reached 75% duration for full points to be awarded.

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