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. Net Sticks said on 5th September 2009, 0:38

    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…

  2. 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.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys said on 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.

    • Patrickl said on 5th September 2009, 8:15

      “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)

      • “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?

        • 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.

  4. Alex-Ctba said on 5th September 2009, 2:13

    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

  5. Dr Jones said on 5th September 2009, 2:30

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

  6. Choltz said on 5th September 2009, 2:51

    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 ;)

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

  8. Del Boy said on 5th September 2009, 5:59

    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).

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th September 2009, 9:51

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

      • 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.

      • Del Boy said on 5th September 2009, 13:04


        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.

  9. mp4-19b said on 5th September 2009, 7:02

    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.

  10. 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.

  11. Lady Snowcat said on 5th September 2009, 8:44


    Further up you wondered how they could implicate Alonso…

    I think that is quite clear….

    Given that it now seems common knowledge that the only way he could get in the points with a 12 lap fuel load from where he was on the grid was for this to happen you have to ask “Why did he accept the strategy if he didn’t know?”….

    Given that most commentators see Alonso as a “complete driver” a la Schumey (interesting comparison given tactics he sometimes employed) I don’t believe that Alonso wouldn’t have wanted to know EXACTLY how his strategy would pan out….

    But let’s see if the FIA come up with some excuse as they did with the e mails in “spygate”….

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th September 2009, 9:51

      Given his low qualifying position an aggressive fuel strategy wasn’t an unreasonable proposition. It was their first race on a new street circuit – there was always going to be a good chance the safety car would make an appearance.

      • Lady Snowcat said on 5th September 2009, 10:00

        I think you’ll find that the window to get Fernando anywhere at all totally relied on this happening at precisely this point….

        That’s the problem…

        The odds of a safety car exactly as Alonso pitted was very slim….

        I didn’t realise at the time myself….

  12. It is comman knowledge that Piquet sr was a bad looser. The things now brought up by Piquet jr is complete in the line of the Piquet family. We can’t win so we say terrible things. First he was saying that Briatore doesn’t understan the F1. when that didn,t had the impact that he wanted he maked up this story…… don’t listen to that boy he is not F1 material he had his change and he blew it……

  13. Hakki said on 5th September 2009, 9:40

    I was shocked when I red these all responses becaue most of people in UK seems to belive that this gate is ture.
    In Japane(I am Japanese), most of F1 fans think it is ridiculous Pique’s evil scheme. Few Japanese F1 fan think this gate is ture.
    I’m getting sick of F1.
    F1 is European stuff and It’s not easy for us to understand like European Machiavellism.
    I come to know why F1 is not popular in the U.S. and Asia.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th September 2009, 9:49

      I don’t know if it is true that most people believe it – will have to do a poll…

    • mp4-19b said on 5th September 2009, 10:00

      Maybe Japanese f1 fans are sour that Honda pulled out & Toyota have replaced Force India as back markers? Circumstantial evidence points to the fact that something was indeed wrong. The world is getting evil by the day, people are coming up with evil methods to succeed. I wouldn’t put it past Flavio & Alonso. This incident definitely needs to be probed. Flavio is after the same man who went into hiding on some remote island to escape a Jail term. my only question is why did it take Piquet so long to disclose this matter?

      plz don’t tell be he feared losing his seat at renault, he would have lost it anyway.

      • maybe because the japanese are a rational people?

        • mp4-19b said on 5th September 2009, 10:55

          maybe because the japanese are a rational people?

          Pearl Harbour??

          • Are you seriously bringing up Pearl Harbour as an example to prove that Japanese people are not rational?

          • mp4-19b said on 5th September 2009, 11:25

            @ sykes

            No, not at all. I was just trying to point out that “Machiavellism” exists everywhere.

          • ….I think i’m going to ignore your comments from now on. Obviously it’s just a whole pile of ill thought bias. I doubt that the Japanese being “sour” over honda leaving and toyota not doing well have ANYTHING to do to disbelieving something that sounds like rubbish.

          • Patrickl said on 6th September 2009, 8:56

            At first I thought it was just rubbish too, but then the FIA organised this hearing.

            If it’s such rubbish, why is the FIA asking to hear Renault explain that they didn’t cheat? There must be some evidence for FIA to take this story serious.

  14. Remember Max Mosley called Favio ‘head of the loonies’ and Flav was a key part of the power house that got Max to finally resign. You don’t think there could be any witch hunting here in the last days of the MM dynasty? I mean that would assume the FIA was run as a personal fiefdom, which of course is absurd.. right?

  15. S Hughes said on 5th September 2009, 10:30

    I saw this article:

    “Should Renault be punished, it is almost certain the penalty will be severe, especially as deliberately crashing a car puts the lives of not only the driver, but also marshals and spectators at risk.

    Alonso would certainly be stripped of his victory, potentially even all his points from last season, which may result in Renault being forced to pay back all their prize money for 2008.”

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