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. Keith…

    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”….

    1. 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.

      1. 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….

        1. 100% correct Snowcat.

  2. 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……

  3. 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.

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

    2. 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.

      1. maybe because the japanese are a rational people?

        1. maybe because the japanese are a rational people?

          Pearl Harbour??

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

          2. @ sykes

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

          3. ….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.

          4. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.”

  6. Keith

    Please do a poll!
    I do want to know how many F1 fans think Flavio did it deliberately.
    What I am interesting most is not if this gate is ture or not, but how many fans trust F1.

    Flavio might disappoint fans, but before any proof is revealed, I never want to doubt of this sports.

    Yes It is true, Japanese was disappointed at Honda and Toyota.
    Now in Japan, Honda airs a TV CM saying ” We take part in Eco GP!”(Which means they quit racing and focusing on Eco solution.)…  

    1. I never trusted the Illuminati bosses who run this sport.

  7. Following Hakki’s comment, I’ve started a poll to see how many people think it was deliberate: Did Piquet crash on purpose? (Poll)

  8. I have posted this before, but I think it is really relevant to every article on this subject. This is from ‘The Official Formula 1 Season Review 2008’ book that I was bought for Christmas:

    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.””

    1. When was the last time anyone planned to stop that early on (just less than 20% of the race distance) in a race?

      note: Remember that Schumacher’s 4 stop stratergy at Magny Cours was decided 2 laps into the race, and so does not count.

      1. Form a starting position that far down the grid, the only one that comes to mind is Hamilton in Monaco this year.

  9. Remember that after Japan 1990, Senna was found guilty of deliberately causing a crash so that he could win the title, but was not punished.

    I know that this was a long time ago, and the situation was slightly different, but the charge was essentially the same as that of Renault’s, and therefore a precedent could have already been set.

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