Renault face Singapore crash hearing

2009 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

142 comments on “Renault face Singapore crash hearing”

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  1. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    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.

  2. Sein chez la femme
    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

  3. Circumstantial evidence?

  4. 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…

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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

    2. 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.

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

    1. 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.

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

    1. 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.

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


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

          1. 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?

  8. 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.

  9. The sri lankan
    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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Terry Fabulous
    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.

    1. 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.

      1. Terry Fabulous
        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

  11. I want to see a fine iqual to the one givem to McLaren or even worst – Briatore is mob, but I woult make a lot of money if I would bet Fernando’s hand is not right there alongside is current boss… I has that kind of personality – he’s an *******..

    Thr rule aply to all in the same way – we already know Ferrarti is a ‘special’ friend to FIA, let’s hope Renault isn’t another… so I may say with reason the FIA has been smassing McLaren for every little thing it happends… It’s a shame, it’s embarassing… it’s too much **** to take…

  12. If they are found guilty but get off lighter than McLaren did, then it will be a massive miscarriage of justice. I know McLaren’s situation supposedley effected a large amount of the season, but I think having one race manipulated to such an extent is worse.

  13. Prisoner Monkeys
    5th September 2009, 1:33

    The way I see it, there’s only really a few things that could be realistically done if Renault are found guilty:

    1) Strip them of their 2008 points. It would be justified, especially if their intention was to boost Alonso’s standing. However, it doesn’t really do anything. The 2009 season is over, so all Renault really suffer is a truckload of embarrassment.

    2) Strip them of their 2009 points. Renault really do get punished with this one, but it may be seen as a over-reaction because it happened a year ago. The WMSC has a history of issuing harsh penalties, like th McLaren verict; the obvious intention being to dissuade anyone from ever doing it again.

    3) Suspend them for the rest of the season and demote them to the back of the 2010 grid. Renault keep their 2009 points because they didn’t actually do anything wrong this season, but they’re not allowed to race. And because the championship doesn’t go back to Spain, there isn’t going to be any pressure the way there was post-Hungary (which was too harsh of a penalty to begin with, but I digress). As added incentive to never do it again, Renault would be forced to run the numbers 26 and 27 in 2010, much the same way McLaren had to carry 22 and 23 last year.

    I don’t think they can realistically adjust the 2008 championship a year ater the fact. Even if it was completely justified by Renault’s cheating, it wouldn’t go down to well. If I were Nico Rosberg, I wouldn’t been too keen on inheritin my maiden victory by default a year after it had happened.

    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.

    So what, you want Briatore’s head to roll?

    They cannot punish single individuals, even if only a handful of people were in on it. The reason is that the people who would be in on it are Renault; they’re the names commonly associaed with the team: Briatore, Alonso, Piquet, Symonds et al. They represent the marque far more than John Q. Pitboard Man does. If it was intentional, it was a decision made by the team, for the team, and justice is due. Even if their only crime is guilt by assoiation.

    1. “This is a crime, so crimes are only committed by persons. ”
      That sentence is nonsense anyway. Companies can be persecuted and found guilty as a whole too.

      In the spygate case they punished McLaren AND they banned the people involved (apart from Alonso and de la Rosa)

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

        That sentence is nonsense anyway. Companies can be persecuted and found guilty as a whole too.

        Oh yesss! We have seen many corporations in jail… When have you seen a Corporation accused in a criminal case?

        You are not a lawyer, do you?

        1. There is such a thing as corporate manslaughter, in which a company itself is charged, rather than any individuals.

          Likewise many (almost all) violations of competition law are applied to companies, with very few actual individuals being punished.

  14. All this mess smells bad…very bad and the Stinky this case is just one man,the abominable F1’s dinosaur BRIATORE I find it hard to believe that Renault will continue associating your image around this crapula

  15. Another witchcraft hunting by the FIA. What can we earn from this? Nothing…

    1. The sheer entertainment of a public trial.

  16. All this whole issue does is bring to light how pathetic a person Piquet is. Anyone who would make up such garbage is a looser, anyone how takes orders to crash a car is a looser.. I think the case is closed ;)

  17. Evidence? We don’t need no stinking evidence to bash Alonso!

  18. Max almost missed out. After Ron Dennis, Flavio Briatore is Max’s least favorite person, it was Flavio that Max refered to as a looney in the BBC Silverstone interview. When you consider that the only way new evidence can arise is from Nelson Jr statements and I would be surprised if they are substaniated by anybody at Renault (unless Fernando has been texting again). If true, this has to have been decided pre race as all radio traffic is recorded and monitored. All telemetery can be investigated and no uplink is fitted or allowed. So Max will have his day in court with Nelson as star witness and judging by some of his comments in the media Flavio is in for a stormy ride. Bernie will be watching with interest. QPR on Saturday would be worth watching.

    A couple of other points that have been raised here and I’d like to comment;

    1. McLaren’s fine was paid partly by FOM, partly by technical partners and partly by McLaren Group. It was imposed because FIA knew McLaren could afford to pay it. If (a big if)found guilty and they get a fine. Renault’s fine would be smaller because Renault’s biggest sponsor ING isn’t going to pay a bean (of the 6 sponsors they might get a contribution from Mutua, Pepe and Megafon) and Renault would be unlikley to pay up.
    2. Piquet Jr will be ending his formula career at the hearing. There is not a team in the paddock that will touch him (even if he was fast). Alonso tainted himself over Ferrari-gate and is only employable because he didn’t give evidence or talk about it (outside of what Ron Dennis disclosed) and Alonso’s a very fast racing driver.
    3. The result of the Singapore GP. As everybody seems to agreee the WDC and WCC stay the same. However, all of the teams that finished in the points benefit (FOM money) as do Honda (Button 9th becomes 8th).

    1. If the FIA had it in for Renault why did they pass up an opportunity to punish them at the end of 2007?

      1. Because they’re afraid that Renault would leave F1 for good if a hefty fine is imposed on them.

        There’s no danger of that happening with McLaren, hence the $100 million fine.

        Perhaps McLaren should threaten to quit the next tie they’re hauled up for something.

      2. Keith

        The 2007 charge was before Flavio started making noise about breakaway series and questioning Max’s government. Just as importantly it involved Renault having information about McLarens car. I’m sure the outcome would have been very different had it been Ferrari information.

        1. Flavio called for a vote of no confidence in Max’s leadership as early as 1994. He’s been in Mosley’s bad books for some time.

  19. I dunno how Alonso could maintain a straight face on the podium & the post-race press conference. Either all of this untrue or Alonso must be the greatest actor since Marlon Brando. I tend to believe the latter. Nando & Brando!! This could have serious implication on the sport. This is in fact more serious than the 2007 espionage incident. If Alonso if found to be one of the main conspirators, he imo must be banned at least for an year. I don’t think even the immoral Ferrari ever asked Eddie Irvine or Rubens Barrichello to crash for Schumi to take advantage. Piquet Jr must be the dumbest driver ever, dumber than Barrichello!! The approach to the start-finish line is not a place to crash at all. The fact that he spun at the same place during the formation lap shows he was up to something. It could have been understandable if he walled at the tortoise, even Kimi walled it there. Maybe Piquet wanted to discredit himself totally ;) This is really bad for F1.

    1. Man, you really have it in for Alonso. Are you just jealous of him or something.

      1. Why should i be jealous of him? i’m not even a F1 driver.

  20. I’d just like to ask – when did everyone start taking Piquet Jnr so seriously? ‘Cos when he was driving, he was considered an absolute joke.

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