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 ?óÔéĽÔÇŁ 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?óÔéĽÔäós 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.
FOTA

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

  1. The sooner we see the back of Flavio the better. Go back to watching QPR or whatever you do outside of F1.

    Bernie and Max are starting to look like angels in comparison!

    • Please!!!!!!

    • Martin said on 12th September 2009, 1:03

      no just devils in a different disguise’s. and we know what max’s disguise is..

      • Heh!

        My take is that either Piquet acted with a tremendous amount of forethought in order to put them in a vice or Symonds and Briatore are guilty.

        • Martin said on 12th September 2009, 3:39

          I dont believe that forethought is involved with Piquet…I do believe that he is getting even for the way he was treated and if what he says is true about the way he was equipped and treated at renault with alonso getting the prime stuff and he gets the leftovers then some of his complaints are valid.. but I still dont think he is the driver that his dad was.

  2. Piquet was promised immunity from FIA punishment in exchange for his testimony, but the ferderal courts never promished him that. So he could still get in trouble.
    I still admire his courage for coming clean, but I still don’t like him that much and regardless of his immunity, no one in Formula 1 wil hire him, and I doubt he will get a seat in Indy car.

    • Martin said on 12th September 2009, 3:46

      I wouldnt say that no one in f1 would hire him as we have seen some other drivers hired or brought into teams of dubious ability. What would be interesting is if the drivers wouold be willing to share the track with him after this. It is one thing to upset the race fans and the organizers, it is another to loose the respect and friendship of your fellow competitors. If the drivers association black balls him and says they wont share the track with him he’s done. If they are forced to race with him then they just take him out of every race at the start, he will walk away from the sport.
      Indy car is another matter, what he did in the rest of the world doesnt matter, but if he is suspected of doing it in a US race he will persecuted and prosecuted because of the revenue the tracks could loose, and the penealty will vary from state to state. Not to mention if he is involved in fixing and Vegas boys loose big because he screwed with the betting line then he has a new grouop of people to deal with that take money much more seriously the flavio or bernie ever thought of.

  3. 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.

    Weel, Keith, I think you should add another feature on this summary: Flavio is spreading a rumour, suggesting that Nelsinho is GAY.

    That history is that Nelson has a friend named Marc Cavezzale, who helped him in some stages of his career. He also followed Nelson in some races last year. The point is that Nelson Senior didn’t look the man with good eyes. He thought that, in a way, the man interfered in Nelsinho´s focus on race weekend and in Nelson´s career planning in general.

    The father has asked Flavio to forbid Marc entrance in Renault´s garage and also to move Nelson´s place from Chelsea to London, next Flavio own home.

    Flavio suggested this history in Italian, but telling it with “some colors” to the Brazilian press today.

    LINK: http://blogs.jovempan.uol.com.br/f1/2009/09/11/briatore-fala-e-jovem-pan-registra/

  4. Sorry, I messed up the quotes.

    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.

    Weel, Keith, I think you should add another feature on this summary: Flavio is spreading a rumour, suggesting that Nelsinho is GAY.

    That history is that Nelson has a friend named Marc Cavezzale, who helped him in some stages of his career. He also followed Nelson in some races last year. The point is that Nelson Senior didn’t look the man with good eyes. He thought that, in a way, the man interfered in Nelsinho´s focus on race weekend and in Nelson´s career planning in general.

    The father has asked Flavio to forbid Marc entrance in Renault´s garage and also to move Nelson´s place from Chelsea to London, next Flavio own home.

    Flavio suggested this history in Italian, but telling it with “some colors” to the Brazilian press today.

    LINK: http://blogs.jovempan.uol.com.br/f1/2009/09/11/briatore-fala-e-jovem-pan-registra/

    • Thanks for this link. Very interesting to hear Flavio’s voice.

      He seems to be really nervous, and his comment on Nelsinho’s relation is really pathetic. He sounds like a big wounded animal attacking violently everything around him.

      For me, this attitude, as well as the criminal claim he told Renault has started, are (IMHO) the best demonstration for the veracity of Nelsinho allegations.

      Other thing that surprises me a lot is the reaction of Pat Symonds. In my point of view, Pat declarations are the strongest prove for Nelsinho’s case. It seems to me, Pat has been not only the mastermind of all this, but Flavio’s executioner also.

      Amazing to watch big rats “leaving this ship”; well I would like to see those three rats (Nelsinho, Flavio and Pat) leaving F1 for the rest of their life.

      On the other hand, I think it’s very unfair not only for Renault as a Team, but for all the engineers and staff working in, being affected for this. It’s quite clear nobody knew anything about, so they should not pay for (criminal) actions committed by others.

      In any case, I’m afraid Renault will decide to leave F1 after the hearing.

      At the end, they will loose top management (hopefully), they will not have F Alonso, and I hardly see other experienced driver willing to drive for a team with restricted budget, a dog as a car and a Board of Directors asking themselves everyday why on earth they have to spend millions in being part of what F1 is today.

      500 families will be asking themselves how on earth their destiny depended on the actions of an Arrogant “Capo” (Flavio), a disciplined rat (Pat) and a spoiled brat with no character and dignity (Nelsinho).

      “Gangs of Renault” could be the title of this “Martin Scorsese’s thriller”.

  5. Great coverage Keith- I’ve bene busy and this helps to stay on top of developments a great deal.

    It’s starting to look more and more like niether Piquet nor Flavio (or Renault, for that matter) are going to come out of this very well.

  6. S Hughes said on 12th September 2009, 3:26

    As far as I can see, Flavio is an odious bully. He appeared to bully Heikki and he seems to have been a complete monster to Piquet Jr. I too have heard the rumours that Becken has mentioned, that Flavio is saying Piquet Jr is gay. Firstly, who cares, but Flavio would do that to besmirch Piquet Jr’s name in a macho sport. How despicable.

    I’m glad to see that Piquet Jr is standing up to this man at last. It seems obvious the crash was deliberate – suspicions were raised at the time. Instead of continuing to be an immoral bully, Flavio should do the dignified thing and tell the truth and get the Hell out of Dodge.

    I also thought his comments on the no. 2 driver were revealing. He said that he doesn’t care about the no. 2 driver when he has Alonso in the team. Well, that’s great for the other driver isn’t it? Imaging if Whitmarsh had said that about Hamilton. Maybe that is why Alonso’s ego is so huge – he seems to be treated like some sort of God at Renault. The whole thing is just repulsive.

    • Martin said on 12th September 2009, 3:57

      You just brought out a great point and more info on flavio and how he runs a f1 team, he has his favorite( which has been either alonso or schumacher) and the number 2 driver(or the lackey) Fisichella complained that when he was with renault that he wasnt getting the same equipment as alonso..fast forward and now we have piquet making the same acusations.

    • William Wilgus said on 12th September 2009, 7:36

      Yeah, he said the second driver doesn’t matter, but immediately after that he said Grosjean was too young. That’s rather contradictory, no?

    • Random Chimp said on 12th September 2009, 9:43

      I get the feeling Piquet may actually come out of this quite well.

  7. If Nelson wasn’t axed from his seat, then the truth will not come out. It’s just sour graping… He should be punished as well by endangering other people’s lives. it doesn’t matter if someone told him to do it or not.

  8. Regarding the leak. With Renault only coming up with a defense on the 21st, the leak has put enormous pressure on Symonds now. He comes across as at least complicit if not the mastermind of the plan, and he’s being judged in the court of public opinion as we speak. This might put additional pressure on him to cut a deal with the FIA in exchange for implicating Briotore – which may be what the FIA want.

  9. “With immunity Piquet can race and have involvement in [other] FIA motor sports.”

    His immunity may have saved his license(s) but what team principal, in any racing series, would hire this loon bat-rat Piquet after this??

    Relative to Flabio giving the No. 2 driver inferior equipment; it may be an unfair approach, but to then complain about his results is ridiculous!

    Flab is way past his sell date, time to send him to the team principal’s old age home in a rocker next to Ron Dennis.

  10. mp4-19b said on 12th September 2009, 5:19

    There is a good old saying in french

    ” Si vous ne pouvez convaincre quelqu’un, confondent eux”

    Which translates into :-

    “If you cannot convince someone, confuse them”

    This is what Flav is doing. I think he doesn’t realize the fact that the average Formula One Fan is 100 folds intelligent than Piquet Jr.

    • mp4-19b said on 12th September 2009, 5:24

      Forgot to add one little thing.

      I think Piquet will make a perfect “Suicide Bomber” .He’s put Hamas & Al-Qaida to shame ;)

  11. American version: If you can’t dazzle them with facts, blind them with bulls__t.

  12. I wouldn’t be suprised if the punishment would be more lenient for Renault if both Briatore and Symmonds resigned. Something similar to Ron Dennis and McLaren in the spygate scandal.

    And to think we all thought there would be no off track drama this year haha.

  13. 1. The telemetry shows that the driver applied too much throttle. It does not say why he did it.
    2. Piquet Jnr had several crahses during his time with Renault, who instructed him to cause these ones?

  14. Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 12th September 2009, 10:19

    Well, if Renault are kicked out of F1, then Piquet should be banned from all sport for life too. Also, this Crash-gate (lol) really paves the way for Alonso going to Ferrari.

  15. For some reason you are missing this quote by Briatore:

    Q. Have you ever heard of a team issuing an instruction to a driver to crash?
    FB: No. Never. Fernando only won the race because Massa had a problem, Kubica had a problem. There were six or seven problems.
    I think Barrichello stopped in the same place as Piquet. What is possible on lap 14, with 40 laps to go, to determine somebody winning the race. There was another pit stop, another safety car. On lap 14, how is it possible to know what is going to happen? What is possible that on lap 14 you know what is going on?.

    And a commentary to some people:
    I think it is more interesting to talk about the FACTS, rather than feelings (Flavio is bad, I hate Alonso, Ham the best, Sato we miss you…). Everyone has his feelings and supports different people, so it is OK. But just feelings do not help to understand what happened, it leads only to critizise the people we hate. And for this (critizising the people we hate) it is not necessary anything wrong to happen…

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