Piquet-Renault scandal: more new evidence and complaints about leaks

Flavio Briatore has gone on the attack against former driver Nelson Piquet Jnr

Flavio Briatore has gone on the attack against former driver Nelson Piquet Jnr

Since Nelson Piquet Jnr’s statement leaked online yesterday the story has exploded, commanding back-page coverage on many of Britain’s daily papers and dominating the build-up to the Italian Grand Prix.

There are accusations of blackmail, complaints about the media’s handling of the story, more material appearing online and statements flying around. Here’s a quick summary of how the story has developed in the last 24 hours.

Pat Symonds

New material has emerged which gives further insight into the FIA hearings. In particular, data from Piquet’s car showing how the accident happened, and transcripts from his radio communications and the subsequent FIA enquiry.

The telemetry leaves little doubt that Piquet intentionally lost control of his car by applying an excessive amount of throttle at the exit of the corner.

The article also claims that during the FIA interviews, conducted at the Belgian Grand Prix weekend two weeks ago, Pat Symonds refused to answer several questions about whether they had decided to create a crash. It also says the stewards felt Flavio Briatore’s reaction to being told of the investigation by them was unusual.

Renault threatens legal action against Piquet

Today the ING Renault F1 Team and its Managing Director Flavio Briatore personally, wish to state that they have commenced criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet Junior and Nelson Piquet Senior in France concerning the making of false allegations and a related attempt to blackmail the team into allowing Mr Piquet Jnr to drive for the remainder of the 2009 season. The matter will also be referred to the Police in the UK.
Renault statement

Renault has announced it is taking legal action against Nelson Piquet Jnr. This in itself may not be all it seems, as Joe Saward explains:

This is not possible and Renault lawyers in Paris would know this, which makes the statement seem very odd indeed. […]

In French law it is not possible for a private individual or a company to commence criminal proceedings. All they can do is to claim that a crime has been committed and ask the authorities to investigate.

Despite Symonds’ reported reluctance to answer questions, Briatore is confident about his case against Piquet and representation to the World Motor Sports Council:

You know what? Whatever happens, if someone goes against the rules, they go against the rules. If I tell you to go rob a bank ?ǣ afterwards, you decide whether to rob the bank or not.

I don’t feel I have any responsibility, and we don’t feel we have done absolutely anything [wrong]. In the case of Piquet we go to the World Council. But the fact already that we have put a criminal plan to Piquet is because we have enough confidence to be successful – the team and myself.
Flavio Briatore

Max Mosley’s take

Autosport have published an interview with Max Mosley in which he suggests Renault could be thrown out of the 2008 world championship:

Question: What could be the penalty if they guilty?

Mosley: It could be anything up to disqualification. Because that’s what’s set out in the code. Disqualification means you are out, finished.

Question. From the 2008 championship?

Mosley: Out. Total. Exclusion forever, gone, finished. That’s the worst that could happen, but don’t for a moment get the impression I’m saying that would happen or will happen. That is the worst that could happen.

He also makes some very interesting remarks about the reaction to McLaren’s $100m fine two years ago.

Nelson Piquet Jnr’s statement

Nelson Piquet Jnr has put out a statement this evening saying:

Regarding the current FIA investigation, I confirm that I have co-operated fully and honestly with the sport?s governing body. Because I am telling the truth I have nothing to fear, whether from the ING Renault Team or Mr Briatore and whilst I am well aware of the power and influence of those being investigated, and the vast resources at their disposal, I will not be bullied again into making a decision I regret.

I have every confidence in the FIA investigation and World Motor Sport Council and I will be making no further comment until the conclusion of the hearing of 21 September 2009.
Nelson Piquet Jnr

It has also emerged that Mosley offered Piquet immunity from punishment in exchange for revealing the details of the plan, just as the McLaren drivers were during ‘spygate’ two years ago.

FIA and FOTA condemn leaks

Both the governing body and the teams’ association has criticised the publication of Nelson Piquet Jnr’s statement yesterday. It first appeared on F1SA (which, at the time of writing, appears to have gone down) and later other sites, including this one. Mosley explained why he was unhappy about the leak and vowed to prevent it happening again in future:

That is actually very unfortunate because it is just one side of the story. We are quite genuinely curious as to how that happened. Next time, when we send out to 20 or 30 people, we will probably arrange it in such a way that we can tell who is leaking stuff.
Max Mosley

The Formula 1 Teams’ Association, of which Renault is a member, echoed his views:

All parties to the dispute should have the right to a fair hearing carried out in private and not in the public arena, which is producing adverse publicity damaging to the corporate image and credibility of Formula One.

I don’t agree with these views. Greater transparency can only be a good thing for the FIA, particularly when so many of its recent verdicts have drawn criticism for inconsistent judgements and unclear rules.

As for the suggestions the leaks are unfair because it only shows one side of the story, I am entirely happy to publish Renault’s version of events and I’m sure every F1 fan would like to read it.

Until then, I hope we can spend the next few days with our attention where it should be: on the Italian Grand Prix. If you haven’t made your predictions yet, head over here: Enter your Italian Grand Prix predictions

Read more: Statement by Nelson Piquet Jnr on his Singapore crash leaked online

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94 comments on Piquet-Renault scandal: more new evidence and complaints about leaks

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  1. Random Chimp said on 11th September 2009, 21:33

    You know what? Whatever happens, if someone goes against the rules, they go against the rules. If I tell you to go rob a bank – afterwards, you decide whether to rob the bank or not.

    What, so he’s saying that he or someone else high up in Renault told Piquet to crash and he assumes that as the driver is the one directly causing the incident that it is totally Piquet’s fault?
    Is he being an arrogant fool or am I missing something?

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 11th September 2009, 21:41

      What he is doing is to forestall the response “I was only following orders!”
      So, if he gave the order, it was Nelson’s fault for following it.

      • Random Chimp said on 11th September 2009, 21:54

        But that wouldn’t be neccessary if the team never told Piquet to crash.

        • HounslowBusGarage said on 11th September 2009, 22:15

          Quite so. But the quote reads as though Flavio is admitting to giving illegal instructions to someone in his employ. And the trying to blame them for carrying out the orders.

          • Random Chimp said on 11th September 2009, 22:21

            That’s kinda how I interpreted it, although I may have jumped the gun a bit.

          • exactly, If I hold a position of authority over you and I give a command you carry out..it is implied that you had no choice or if you chose not to there wouold be repercussions.
            This is the same position that authourities use is harrassement cases. (sexual or other)
            If briatore told him to crash the decision was his but the retaliation for him if he didnt weighed in his decision to do so.

          • Maksutov said on 12th September 2009, 12:18

            The contract that is held between the driver and its team, does not give the jurisdictional right of the team to make such an order.

            In saying that if Flavio did indeed suggest such a thing to his driver, the driver can not rest on the case that he was “ordered” to do it. Because such order does not apply under the contract between the driver and its team.

            so it was clearly Piquet’s choice to carry out this incident, and I believe it could have been Piquet himself who suggested on the grounds that he could help the team win and get a seat for next year…

            Either way Flavio is guilty for allowing such a thing to happen without reporting it, if nothing else, in addition he is guilty for conspiring and not disagreeing with his driver. Furthermore with his recent comment he has practically shot himself in the leg.

      • I think many people are missing the key to this whole debacle and that is two fold. 1. If your boss says to file a paper or drill a hole, you ask how big and/or where. Authority is pretty easy to understand. CEO’s are legally responsible for their companies and so is Flavio and Renault in this situation. 2. It is too often overlooked that Nelson Jr. is just a kid. I’m sure he was frightened not to do as he was told despite knowing the consequences and the ethical dilemma. He did his best as far as I can tell to choose a corner where there would be no harm to anyone else which shows that his conscience was working. People need to realize the situation these kids are put in. The first person that had everything figured out at 25 please raise your hand. (If you just raised your hand, you are a fool and still have much to learn!)

        Furthermore, there is a statement regarding damages to the corporate image of Renault. Who cares. They are ultimately responsible and sounds like they need to work out their corporate ethics before they worry about their image. They look BAD because they behave BADLY. What about NPJR’s image and chances of ever getting to drive in F1 again? That’s not recoverable. They owe him a debt that has no number for forcing this situation. I’m not a Nelson fan, but I feel for him. This is his life for crying out loud. I’m sure he was thinking that if he didn’t Flavio would ensure he wouldn’t race again anyway so he chose to follow the command. This is how it happens people.

        I hope all of you, provided that we get the information to prove so, will support NPJR and hope he gets another chance to drive at this level.

        Finally, I completely agree with transparency Keith. Good call. I wonder what the FIA thinks that they have to hide? Old rich people are ethically disgusting monsters IMO. Its time for the dragon to come out of the cave and let all see just how thick those decrepit scales are!

        • usF1fanatic said on 6th April 2010, 22:58

          NPJR faltered in not bringing it up until he was fired by Renault. Yes, he was not fully a man, but his father is, and I don’t know who his manager was/is, but I’m sure he is fully a man to. Either of these people should have known that about this incident soon after the race if not before, and probably told him to go along with the plan. Junior is not an innocent child with no clue of what was going on.
          I am not excusing Renault for what took place. They are the owners of the team, and if they couldn’t keep the team principal in check (which they didn’t) then the Renault name should be tarnished. But the Piquets showed that they lack integrity with how they handled this.

    • He is. If you give someone a gun and tell them to shoot someone, you’re still responsible. Nice try Flavio, and you’re right that Nelson still had to do it, but he’s got immunity now.

      • Random Chimp said on 11th September 2009, 21:58

        Giving someone a gun and an incentive to shoot someone places even more of the blame at your doorstep, and as Piquet is saying that he was forced (or at least felt forced) into doing it to keep his seet then the team coerced him into crashing.

      • Mike "the bike" Schumacher said on 11th September 2009, 22:01

        He should NOT have immunity. Ultimately it was him who risked the spectators and marshals lives.

        • I agree, but it is just like in normal justice, give one immunity in a trade off for a testimony and it will enable you to catch the big guys.

        • Maksutov said on 12th September 2009, 12:29

          Thats exactly correct Mike, in fact Piquet should be sent to jail if it was up to me..

          Clearly Mosley has orchestrated this immunity, that man has too much power.

          In fact one could ask, how can Mosley give immunity to for cooperating, if Piquet has come forward willingly and has given the information willingly. Simply does not make sense. If Piquet did not give the information by his own choice than Mosley himself could have advised Piquet to do so.

          On the end of the day both Renault and Piquet are guilty, but the man who actually made it happen and risk the lives of many and is the most guilty of them all, will be spared.

      • Mark Hitchcock said on 11th September 2009, 22:53

        If you give a gun to someone and tell them that if they don’t shoot someone you’ll shoot them, then they’ll do it.

        I know Flav probably didn’t threaten to kill Piquet, but if you are under extreme pressure to keep your job, you’ll do anything to keep it.

        It doesn’t excuse his role, but it does provide an explanation.
        There’s a whole field of psychology dedicated to whether “just following orders” is a legitimate excuse. Mostly that relates to group psychology, whether low level Nazis can be excused for just following orders etc. but it could be applicable now.

        • You’re right, Flav didn’t threaten to kill Piquet, so maybe this is a more applicable analogy…

          Lets say you want someone shot and you go to one of your employees and tell them that you’l give them a large sum of money (for Piquet this was his 2009 contract) if they shoot them. If they don’t they’ll lose their job.

          Clearly in this case the person making the suggestion would be unable in a legal trial to successfully argue that they had no responsibility. This is exactly the same scenario, only with the order to crash replacing the order to kill. I just don’t see how they hope to prevail with this argument. If anything it will only serve to make their punishment much more severe. Its one thing to make an effort to beat the charges. Its another to make such a ridiculous case for your defense. Renault just needs to accept responsibility and hope to move on.

      • That’s why Charles Manson is in jail. To my recollection he didn’t physically kill, it was on his orders and influence! If only Flavio could see the inside of bars.

    • Let me translate from Flavese: Just because I told him to do it doesn’t mean its my fault. He’s admitted it. Unbelievable.

      Apparently Flav’s assuredly expensive lawyers have not told him what a conspiracy is.

      And the suit against the Piquets is pretty dumb. The Nelsons will get to put Symonds and Flavio under oath for discovery. That’s not going to work out for them. They won’t be able to stonewall a court like they did the FIA.

      As for going to the cops, you know the police are always so keen on prosecuting one criminal for threatening to expose his coconspirators’ crimes for an increased share of the loot. Whatever, Flav.

      The irony here is that “extortion” by Flav’s definition is what he was doing to Piquet in Singapore.

  2. HounslowBusGarage said on 11th September 2009, 21:38

    I tried to understand this sentence from Flavio
    “But the fact already that we have put a criminal plan to Piquet is because we have enough confidence to be successful – the team and myself.”
    And I’m still not sure what it means.

    For that reason in particular and for many others as well, I do not agree with your sentiment Keith, that greater transparency is automatically beneficial. Instead of the court of public opinion, I would prefer to trust to learned counsel, sitting in the cool atmosphere of a court room.
    This particular argument is going to get very messy and very damaging for a number of people’s careers. The further it can be kept from the possibly ill-informed opinions of the general public (read: lynch mob), the better.

    • I agree with HounslowBusGarage.

      This is where a jury with no previous knowledge of the incident or perhaps F1 would be needed. Unfortunately that isn’t possible anymore due the leaks.

  3. Mike "the bike" Schumacher said on 11th September 2009, 21:40

    Lets hope the F.I.A. don’t make more of a mess with this and get it over and done with quickly. Looks like Piquet is finally making a name for himself although I thought I heard that name before!!!!!!

  4. “The telemetry leaves little doubt that Piquet intentionally lost control of his car by applying an excessive amount of throttle at the exit of the corner.”

    So he crashed intentionally. Why has this been revealed only now? The speculation was there already after the race. Why didn’t anyone look into it then?

    Then to the question of “whose fault was it” if it in fact was intentionally.

    Piquet drove the car. That someone else may or may not have told him to do it is irrelevant. He should know that you don’t do something like this either on your own or on order from the team, so therefore he should be punished hard – probably out of F1 forever. If he was pressured to do it but didn’t say anything until no just makes things even worse.

    If the telemetry leaves little doubt that he did it intentionally, then why didn’t the team discover this during or after the race? Surely they would examine all that related to a crash – especially if it came to a surprise. If they did see it, they should have notified the stewards about it. But they didn’t. Why? In my view that is close to cheating.

    And if they openly with the driver discussed the scenario on how a crash could benefit them, then they should be reprimanded and hard. That is very unsportsmanlike.

    And if they did tell him to do it, then they should be out of F1 forever.

    • David BR said on 11th September 2009, 22:40

      Seems Piquet was questioned by one or more Renault engineers about his crash after the race, so presumably their suspicions were aroused immediately. I’d imagine that after years of looking at telemetry data, they could only draw the conclusion it was deliberate. What happened after is anyone’s guess…

  5. Patrickl said on 11th September 2009, 22:00

    That link doesn’t work for me (want’s me to subscribe)

    Here is another:

  6. Grace Lovvorn said on 11th September 2009, 22:04

    This is definitely shady.
    So, tell me, why would Renault be threatening legal action against Piquet Jr. if they were the ones responsible in the first place? Flav said, “If I tell you to go rob a bank – afterwards, you decide whether to rob the bank or not.” He’s probably referring as him telling Piquet Jr. to rob the bank (intentionally crash), and it’s up to Nelson to do it or not. But, most likely, he purposely crashed at Singapore out of fear of his job (Flav was his boss!). The evidence is now out, and Renault can’t deny anything anymore. Now it’s up to the FIA to give an either too harsh/lenient (you really can’t be too harsh in this case) punishment to Renault and Godfather Flav. We’ll just have to see what happens to the Renault Mafia, because I believe it’s going to be pretty devastating to the team and the brand.

    • this bank analogy originates from bernie:

      “If it is true, then I would have thought Nelson was in just as much trouble. If I tell you to go and rob a bank and you get caught, you can’t say, ‘Bernie told me to’,” the Briton said.

      • Yes but in the bank analogy Piquet didn’t rob the bank, he disconnected the alarms or held the door open or something, allowing Alonso/Renault (although Alonso may well have been ignorant) to steal the money.

  7. Steph90 said on 11th September 2009, 22:05

    He should NOT have immunity. Ultimately it was him who risked the spectators and marshals lives.

    Couldn’t agree more, whoever is involved should not have immunity esp not Piquet when he was driving the bloody thing so it was his choice!

    If the telemetry leaves little doubt that he did it intentionally, then why didn’t the team discover this during or after the race

    I think Piquet’s engineer looked it at the time and was concerned about it.

  8. theRoswellite said on 11th September 2009, 22:12

    OK………not to imply guilt….Let’s assume the NPJ’s remarks are correct.

    Max says the worst penalty would be to have Renault removed from the championship forever? FOREVER???

    That seems a bit long.

    What about fines, or a lifetime ban on individuals…Symonds…Briatore? Are these likely outcomes?

    And, touching on this other subject (Monza)…how ironic if Fisi switches to Ferrari only to run mid-pack or worse, while Sutil runs at the front, perhaps even wins, in the new “force” in F1. Plus, Ferrari conveniently drops him for next year, having previously arranged for one Fred A. to come on board…that assuming he isn’t found to be a participating member of the ongoing Piquetgate scandal.

    Ah, it feels good to have the real F1 show back in town….

    • Fisi was set to retire after this season. Racing for Ferrari is his dream, probably more important than winning for ForceIndia. Ferrari is a legend amongst teams, ForceIndia cobbled up over night. No disrespect to those who work there. All teams and their personnel may have their passions, but there is a passion about Ferrari that doesn’t always agree with reason.

  9. HounslowBusGarage said on 11th September 2009, 22:27

    Oh, the Roswelite. How wonderful to have free-ranging imagination!
    But yes, I agree; how wonderful it would be to have Force India at, say third and fouth, with the Red Team at eighth and ninth – particularly in Italy.
    Except that I do not think this will happen. I’m backing Kimi for the win!

  10. With immunity Piquet can race and have involvement in [other] FIA motor sports. I’d say life exclusion is on the cards for those directly involved.

    You’d think they would have broken the telemetry transmitter or lost the the data.

  11. newdecade said on 11th September 2009, 22:42

    Piquet is doomed whether the plan was his or Flav’s/Pat’s. There is no denying he intentionally caused a crash, so labelled with that now there is no guarantee he will ever race again. Certainly not in F1.

  12. Well since the leaks started, all we’ve been hearing consistently are the Piquet’s camp version of events. Max knows very well how the leaks are happening, and its deliberate. He is hell bent on causing as much pain to those tho he felt wronged him or opposed him, so in a way its his last stand before he’s forced to stand down.

    Immunity for Piquet doesn’t take into account if Piquet is in fact telling the truth. How can you prove Piquet is being honest when there were only 2 or 3 individual involved.

    Piquet is dishonest by his very actions. If he got signed for another 4 years he would be happy to get away with murder, but now he’s been sacked he’s spilling his guts. Why did it take him a whole year before he decided to talk, that alone is worthy of punishment.

    • My thoughts exactly. This is S&Max’s last hurrah as FIA president.

      How’s this for a conspiracy theory? S&Max orders Nelson to crash deliberately, telling him that to do so will assure his 2009 seat – he’ll get his mate Bernie to lean on his mate Flav so Jnr gets the drive. Then when Flav takes a stand against S&Max in the FIA/FOTA war, S&Max tells Jnr it’s time for part B of the plan, to ‘fess up about the crash, but with one slight twist to the story. Jnr now points the finger at Flav, saying that he was the mastermind behind the plan. All Jnr has to do is make sure there is ‘some’ evidence (the FIA has never been strong on that side of things) pointing towards Flav, and bingo. As of 21 September, S&Max can make sure that Flav goes the way of Ron Dennis. Maybe an extra added bonus is that he sees off another one of those pesky manufacturer teams as well (as I think the chances of Renault sticking around after this affair are buckley’s to none) that he keeps warning us are so bad for the sport. Howzat? :)

  13. MacademiaNut said on 11th September 2009, 22:58

    I smell CODE RED. :) So reminded of “A Few Good Men”.

    If you go by that movie, Nelson Piquet should not get immunity. He should be dishonorably discharged. In the end, he was the one who put the other drivers, support crew around that area, and spectators (if they were close enough) at risk. And he chose to do all this for an F1 seat in which he consistently underperformed.

  14. I’s hard to believe that all this info. is out and doing the rounds. Transparency is one thing but ad hoc leaking of damaging witness interviews is is quite a different issue altogether.

    I think they are all for the high jump if what we’ve seen so far is true. Piquet is already in mid-air, immunity or not.

    Pity about Renault the car maker, they have been sullied by this whatever happens next and the company did not deserve it. Carlos Ghosn must be mad as hell.

  15. Carl 27 said on 11th September 2009, 23:20

    I’ve just read in a spanish website that Flav is saying that “he did a lot for NPJr, even helped him to stay away from a 50 year old man he was having a relationship with”….I think the “dirty war” has just started…I don’t think neither of them is comin out well of this one.

    • :-)

    • Martin said on 12th September 2009, 1:02

      For flavio to say that just shows how little class the man has. Just because you are rich doesnt make you have class, and the people around you often define you also. Just look at flavio’s friends we already know what a peice of work bernie is and he has been linked with many other sporting violations.
      flavio’s true colors are now coming out.

      • You’re right Martin, but we learned long ago that Flav has no class and is all about money, etc…this is just the latest example.

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