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

  1. Flavio, Flavio, Flavio.
    You might want to try rose tinted glasses to se if you can make things look better.
    This affair is so disappointing. F1 has become the playground of the unscrupulous, and now seems controlled by cheats and lawyers, both of whicn make me ill. Sorry, I forgot to mention Schiesters and poliyicians. Nobody lives with their contracts and commitment is rare. Ferrari should look well into the onus of Fernando driving for them. I don’t like the fact that I’m not to sure that he didn’t know about this prior to last week. Did he, He should have been the one to step forward. And I beleive that should this be true, that J> would have said something to him at some point since the occurence. I hate the fact that I can’t but beleive that there’s probably some bit of truth in the allegations, and I don’t feel that Renault the manufacturer is responsible. The persons alleged to be involved and or knowledgable, if found guilty, should be banned and fined personally, rather than corporate Renault. Maybe that wpold have an influence on cheaters in the future.
    This is so disappointing to me as a fan of F1 for over45 years.

  2. John H said on 4th September 2009, 20:12

    This looks bad for Alonso. To be honest, I wouldn’t put it past him to be in on this.

  3. Xeith, This is on a different subject altogether.
    I read, although I can’t remember where, possibly here, that Grosjean said that OP2 cars had more ground effect that aerodynamoc downforce and in turn were able to follow more closely and were also more able to pas than F1 cars. I was wondering if you might investigate this and give some insights into the subject should this prove to be the case. It seems to me that should it be, then maybe reverting to a limited form of ground effect would be the way for f1 to improve the passing game.
    On the other hand , it seems that with the laptimes as close , and the cars so nearly equal, this present condition is not going to change. With the advent of KERS, it seems that if you don’t have it, you’re going to be in deep do-do, as I understand that KERS will be allowed next year, and I personally this this bring a positive to F1. It is something that can related to road cars, just like disc breaks, oberhead cams, 4 valve per cylinder heads, and independant suspensionall but the last developed in aviation prior to daining acceptence in the automotive field.
    To get back to my original querey, it seems to me that the primary reasons for banning Ground effect was safety do to the probelms should skirt jamming or suspension failure occure.
    But now in the age of carbon fiber tubs, suspension tethers, huge runoff areas incredible braking capability, and power steering, all the reasons for its being banned are mute, and the ability of the cars to draft and pass with it would seem to me to point in that direction
    And best of all the cars were so much better looking in the ground effect era.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you will think about writing on the issue.

  4. Would Piquet really risk a future f1 drive by making false allegatitions like that just to get back at flavio?

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 4th September 2009, 21:42

      Quite honestly Sam, I wonder who he might drive for in the future even if this hadn’t all blown up. Few drivers get binned part way through the season and then turn up at another team the following season.
      if you get binned, you get binned – often for good.
      His father’s money apart, Nelsinho would not have had a lot of attraction to any F1 team manager having been thrown out by Renault mid-season. There are plenty of other talented drivers out there who haven’t been fired – yet.
      Junior’s only F1 chance for an F1 drive now is if his father can either buy a team or make a convoluted money deal with a struggling team. No one else will touch him or his possibly poisonous father.

  5. People need to stop judging Alonso. Renault haven’t been proven guilty yet and not even in any of the rumours has Alonso been implicated in the plot. Even the FIA statement emphasises a conspiracy between Renault and Piquet. I really doubt Alonso would have been the source of any plot, despite what the people who demonise him say its not in his character.

    Also people need to stop making snide comments about trouble following Alonso etc. They of course base their criticism on what happened in 2007. I don’t want to refight the old battles over Hamilton vs Alonso, sufice to say the troubles in the team weren’t Alonso’s fault as intra-team fighting has occured often in McLaren multiple times over the years and had more to do with Ron Dennis’ hypocracy than Fernando Alonso.

    Alonso is still the most complete driver in Formula 1, Kimi or Lewis may at times be faster than him, but Alonso is the complete package and this scandal won’t damage his standing in F1. He could still drive for any team he wanted.

    • alonso is not the complete package. he only won the 2 championships due to dnfs from KR & MS.

    • Grace Lovvorn said on 4th September 2009, 21:27

      Sure…he might have two WDCs under his belt, but his morals aren’t up to par. Fernando loves scandal, and always seems to be in the middle of it. This is just another example. I have a habit of glorifying teams/drivers, but to me, Fernando’s just bad news.

      • “but his morals aren’t up to par”

        Again with judging Fernando, give the guy a break. He fell out with a team which is and always has been hypocritical in its treatment of drivers, many drivers would have done the same, and have done in the past. People are prejudging Alonso saying he’s guilty when no one has anything on him.

        What has he actually done that was moraly suspect? He wasn’t an inocent party in 2007 but was the victim of rather than the cause of the breakdown of the team and its hypocracy. At no other time in his career has he been found guilty of doing anything morally suspect. The claims against Fernando’s integrity are and always have been false.

        • Patrickl said on 4th September 2009, 22:23

          Alonso asking for information from the Ferrari mole sounds pretty moraly deplorable to me.

          Amazingly he wasn’t punished because his information could nail McLaren and that was more important. Still, he was proven to be a driving force behind spy gate.

          • Alonso wasn’t the man who instigated the stealing of Ferrari data, the whole team used it, as did Hamilton. It was simply that Alonso still had evidence of his using it, and was the man who exposed the cheating in the end.

            But I think it’s fair to say we are not close to knowing the entire truth about what happened in the team that year, especially considering Fernando has been sworn to not speak about it until after this year, and we probably won’t hear his side of the story until after he retires.

            To be honest expecting everyone to be whiter than white in F1 is unreasonably in such a cut throat business where the rules are bent by every team. Remember Lewis lying to stewards in Melbourne, BAR having seperate fuel tanks, Ferrari having special treatment from the FIA. All teams bend the rules and Alonso shouldn’t be singled out as somehow moraly suspect.

          • Patrickl said on 5th September 2009, 8:13

            Hamilton was found to have no connection to it.

            Alonso was specifically emailing questions he wanted answered. Are you seriously claiming that that’s not something morally wrong?????

    • Martin said on 4th September 2009, 22:00

      What he is a complete package of is the real question… He is in the middle of every major scandal in F1 in the last 3 years barring Max’s party.

    • Karlos said on 5th September 2009, 11:29

      Let’s not forget that Alonso fell out with Renault, before his move to McLaren.

      It was only after his return to Renault, After consuming a rather large slice of humble pie, that he matured the **** up and stopped throwing his toys out the pram so much.

      Of course that was partly because this time he bothered to have “confirmed number one driver” written in his contract – something that seemed to slip his mind when he moved to McLaren.

      I wonder if he’ll have confirmed number one status at Ferrari?

  6. Mike "the bike" Schumacher said on 4th September 2009, 21:25

    Spygate + indygate + liegate x 1,000,000 = Crashgate.

    Renault and flavio should be thrown out and Piquet should never be allowed back. Its so bad for the sport.

  7. Sein chez la femme said on 4th September 2009, 22:03

    Even Massa had his own suspicions
    Even Felipe Massa suspected Nelson Piquet crashed deliberately in Singapore last year and faced Flavio Briatore on the incident in person. At least according to F1-live

  8. Circumstantial evidence?

  9. Grace Lovvorn said on 4th September 2009, 22:20

    Well, I’m guessing mine need to go ahead and be removed, because they wouldn’t make a bit of sense. I now feel really bad/guilty that I got caught up in someone’s lack of intelligence. Thanks, Keith, for keeping your blog in tip-top shape, and keeping spammers away! Which in this case, might just be me…

    • Grace Lovvorn said on 4th September 2009, 22:30

      Oops, well this doesn’t make sense, either! Got my email, and now I’m pretty relieved to find out I’m not a spammer! Whew. I was pretty worried there for a second.

  10. Surely Rosberg wouldn’t want his first win to come by a technicality.

    • I was thinking the same, but the only other way to change the result would interfere with the WDC and make Massa Champion. If they DQ Alonso, Rosberg wins. If they take the race as finished on lap 12 its half points to positions then, Massa is champion. If they say the race is void and no points count then Massa is champ.

      Perhaps they should just let the result stand but punish Renault in other ways to prevent us having to rip up the record books.

      • When Schumacher was disquailified from the 1997 championship, only his results were affected. Other drivers had the exact same points they did before the disqualification.

        By that logic (not that the FIA ever bothers with it) if Renault are guilty, Alonso loses his win but Rosberg stays 2nd. That seems like a fair result.

        • Nah's said on 5th September 2009, 9:25

          so then when we get around to the singapore gp, it will say previous winner. – ?, you cant have a race with out a winner,
          it will be interesting to see how this unfolds expecially with piquets grudge against old flav

    • Patrickl said on 6th September 2009, 8:45

      Rosberg benefitted almost as much from Piquet’s crash as Alonso did.

      He also was out of the points, with a compromised strategy, before the crash and he was actually in the lead after it.

      He did get a drive through penalty, but that didn’t hurt him much.

  11. If Renault are found guilty then there punishment shouldn’t be any worse that Ferrari’s after they fixed the 2002 Austrian GP.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 4th September 2009, 22:47

      I don’t think the two situations compare: Renault are being accused of deliberately causing a crash, which has grave safety implications, and is quite different to the Ferrari situation, with one driver allowing another to overtake.

  12. lucky hamilton finished 5th in brazil then. otherwise massa would have been crowned champion but now may have that revoked.

    • When Hamilton came to Brazil he assumed he needed just a 5th to become champion, so that’s what McLaren aimed for, rather than go all out for a win.

      Had Hamilton known that his Singapore points are no longer counted he would have raced all out to win, not just settle for points.

      In fact everything that happened post Singapore 2008 might have happened differently had teams known that points from that race are not counted.

      You can’t just revoke the results of a race and change the WDC after a year.

      Anyways Massa lost out in that race because the Ferrari pit crew messed up his stop. Let’s not blame Renault for that too.

      • Martin said on 5th September 2009, 0:58

        (Anyways Massa lost out in that race because the Ferrari pit crew messed up his stop. Let’s not blame Renault for that too.)


        • Nah's said on 5th September 2009, 9:29

          Second that, if massa some how inherits the win, im not going to watch f1 anynore (i dont know how that would happen though)

          • I wouldn’t want to watch it either. Once the precedent to alter past results is set it the FIA can indulge in a witchhunt whenever they want.

            Are the also going to strip Schumacher of the 94 title for crashing into Hill and for using an illegal launch control in his Benetton?

  13. m0tion said on 4th September 2009, 23:44

    Would Massa’s crew have made the same mistake if his position was less precarious? I don’t know – obviously Massa thought so if reports of his attack on Flavio are right – but the possibility does taint the championship – not Hamilton the driver – but the championship. If there is anything in this Renault must be deeper in doubt for 2010 and it won’t do anything good for Toyota’s deliberations either. Remember Flavio is a driver manager too, including of Webber, so his tentacles are deep and if he is punted there is major change and possibly even in the Renault engine contractor.

  14. The sri lankan said on 4th September 2009, 23:47

    if they get banned……….this will hand the victory to Nico Rosberg which means its the 1st victory for Toyota powered CAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  15. Terry Fabulous said on 5th September 2009, 0:11

    The real loser in this whole affair is Massa.

    He was leading confidently at the time only to be screwed over by the safety car and of course further stuffed by his pit release man.

    Looks like Massa had two possible race victories taken from him by forces outside his control.

    But that’s Motor Racing. I hope he gets another chance to challenge for a title, but I doubt it.

    • Which was the second race?

      Massa can’t complain too much considering the FIA gifted him Spa and then there’s the incident with Bourdais where he got away scot free and Bourdais took the rap.

      • Terry Fabulous said on 5th September 2009, 22:39

        I was thinking about the Hungaroring when his engine failed.

        Yeah I guess you are right there, he did luck into extra points at Fuji and Spa.

        Swings and roundabouts

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