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 ?óÔé¼ÔÇ£ 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?óÔé¼Ôäós 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

  1. If Piquet was given “inferior equipment”, and inferior here is a relative term, he was probably driving with a car at some point that was perhaps 0.3seconds slower, till he got equal machinery. Now a team would expect him to drive up to the limit of the car, ie 0.3 – 0.5 seconds slower. He would not be judged by his team mates time, rather by his machines limitations. If he cant meet the machines limits then he’s no good.

  2. bananaman said on 12th September 2009, 12:30

    So Piquet admits, about a year after the event, that deliberately crashed in a move decided before the start of the race.

    It’s remarkably similar to Senna, who about a year after the event, admitted that he decided before the start of the race that he would take out Prost if he got ahead at the start of Suzuka ’90.

    Senna’s move involved another competitor, in an era when cars were less safe than they are now, and directly involved the two world champiobship protagonists. Piquet crashed into a wall, and at a much lower speed.

    • mp4-19b said on 12th September 2009, 15:01

      Yeah! You are right!! So, what shall we do? Ban Senna from competing? Or maybe ban his nephew Bruno from racing in F1. Bananaman, are you from the banana republic?

  3. Ahh yes, intrigue, threats, deception… F1 at its usual best…

  4. bananaman: I believe Senna admitted to making his mind up to take his racing line and stick to it. It wasn’t a decision to take out Prost. In his mind Prost got in his way. Senna just wasn’t going to give.

    Flav has a good point with his bank robbery comment. I think he knows that there are no concrete evidence against him. Which would be the case if it happened during a 3 way conversation. Pat and Flav won’t budge so its just Nelson screaming bloody murder. I think he plans on sitting back and letting Nelson dig himself into a hole. Nelson, in his accusations, is essentially going to incriminate himself and look like a complete idiot.

    For Nelson’s sake he better hope he has some Evidence and not just his accounts of conversations.

  5. Tokyo Nambu said on 12th September 2009, 18:13

    It couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of people, with the honourable exception of Pat Symonds, who’s one of the straightest men in F1.

    NPJr is second rate, trading on his name, and appears to suffer from the usual problems of sons with heavy hitter fathers pushing them into the family business. To be managed by a bully like Flavio and going home to a three-time world champion father who will berate you for failure as well seems certain to make a man somewhat conflicted.

    Firstly, that telemetry shows a crash caused by driver action is hardly surprising: NPJr crashed in a large portion of the races he drove in, so that he didn’t control the car correctly is hardly news. Secondly, if Piquet really, honestly was ordered to cause a major accident — and I just don’t believe it, see below — then he should either have shouted at the time or at the very least made a deposition to a lawyer for future reference. To hold it back until he’s sacked is just stupid.

    Why don’t I believe it? Firstly, it’s too pre-meditated. It involves a fuel strategy agreed at some point prior to the start of Q3. Secondly, it’s too vague. It gets Alonso to the front of the grid on lap 14, but thereafter anything can happen. It isn’t a slam-dunk win. Thirdly, the stakes are too high. Maybe one win gets Renault to renew the team for a year, but if you get caught you’re all out not merely of a team but of a career, and if anyone gets hurt Renault pull out anyway. Fourthly, asking Piquet to get as far as lap fourteen before crashing is hardly the mark of a master criminal: plenty of races he didn’t make fourteen corners, never mind laps.

    And the idea that Briatore kept NPJr on for the purpose of persecuting him doesn’t stack up anyway. One reason why Renault were doing so badly over the past few seasons is that they’ve been running Briatore’s proteges (HK, NPJr) who simply aren’t quick enough. That Briatore gives his charges drives they don’t deserve is a conflict of interest, and Renault should worry about it, but once they _have_ got drives, his incentive to make them look as good as possible. If anything, were FB the Machiaveli he’s claimed to be, we’d be seeing a Zanardi/Ralph style fight over parts in which the favoured son gets the quick bits: why on earth would FB use his position to get his driver a drive, and then do everything possible to ruin his career?

    Piquet Jr wasn’t fast enough or clever enough. Piquet Sr wasn’t clever enough. Piquet Jr had the misfortune to be managed and advised by two rampant egomaniacs. Piquet Jr is the child who was expected to become a doctor by his consultant parents, flunked his A Levels, and is now blaming others to stop his father hitting him. Tragic. But not, I suspect, a crime by Renault.

  6. If you can read this post,and this analisis, then we can think that it is true that the crash was planned and obviously Alonso knew about it.
    Is in portuguese:

    “11/09/2009 às 15:55Fiz uma análise das corridas de Fernando Alonso no ano passado, levando em consideração a posição de largada (PL), a volta em que foi feito o primeiro pit-stop (1PS) em relação ao número total de voltas (TV), a fim de calcular qual o percentual de voltas dadas até o primeiro pit-stop (%). Organizei a tabela de acordo com a posição de largada, das melhores para as piores. Não levei em consideração os GPS de Mônaco (Alonso bateu antes do primeiro pit-stop), da Europa (Alonso abandonou na primeira volta), do Brasil (os pit-stops foram motivados pela necessidade de trocar pneus), e da Itália, por falta de dados do inforace. A TABELA FICOU DA SEGUINTE MANEIRA: GP PL 1PS/TV % Esp 2 16/66 24,24 Fran 3 15/70 21,42 Jap 4 18/67 26,86 Chi 4 14/56 25 Ale 5 19/67 28,35 Can 5 19/70 27,14 Gr.B. 6 20/60 33,33 Bélg 6 13/40 32,5 Mal 7 22/56 39,28 Tur 7 15/58 25,86 Hun 7 22/70 31,42 Bah 10 20/57 35,08 Aust 11 29/58 50 Cing 15 12/61 19,67 A tabela nos permite as seguintes conclusões: Somente nos GPs em que largou até o 3º lugar, o primeiro pit-stop foi feito antes de 25% da corrida; nos GPs em que largou a partir da 6ª posição, o primeiro pit-stop foi feito depois de decorridos mais de 30% da corrida (com exceção do GP da Turquia, 25,86%), sendo que, no GP da Austrália, em que obteve a pior classificação (sem contar Cingapura), o primeiro pit-stop foi feito na metade da prova. No GP de Cingapura a situação foi completamente diferente. Foi sua pior colocação no grid (o que deveria implicar numa maior quantidade de combustível e um percentual maior de voltas antes do primeiro pit-stop), mas, contrariando tudo o que aconteceu nas demais corridas, fez o primeiro pit-stop antes mesmo de completados 20% da corrida, coisa que não aconteceu nem mesmo quando largou entre os 4 primeiros e, naturalmente, deveria estar mais leve. Essa análise me força concluir que a Renault efetivamente planejou a batida de Nelsinho e elaborou a estratégia de Alonso contando com a batida premeditada. Espero que essa análise que fiz possa servir para embasar as opiniões dos comentaristas deste site.”

    link: http://colunistas.ig.com.br/flaviogomes/2009/09/11/milanesas-3/?allcomments

  7. well in a way Fota is right not to have this discussed in the public Arena, because after all Renault’s name as a brand and operation is at stake, and the will be very damaging to the business and to the thousands of employees that make it what it is…I would love to see Renault and its directors bounced out of F1 if the cheat is true…permanently

    • Martin said on 13th September 2009, 3:19

      Then they shouold be more careful of the people who they employee to carry out their competition wing.
      This is not the first time that Briatore has been involved in what would be considered outside the sporting regulations or rules.
      People need to realize these days there are to many camera recording everything that goes on. Just because you think you can do it and no one will know, isnt neccessarily the case anymore.
      If you want a secret kept then you had better not tell anyone or have more than 2 people involved.
      All the telemetry recorder along with engineers testimony plus video coverage and how questions are answered are going to make this a pretty rough world for Renault the companny to live in.
      If this goes badly, we will be back to 12 teams as either renault will withdraw from all competition or will be banned for a very long tiime.

  8. usF1fanatic said on 13th September 2009, 4:52

    First thing, Piquet should not be given immunity. If this turns out to be true, he kept it a secret until he no longer had a ride in F1. No matter how this turns out, his integrity is none exsistant. Either he is lying now, or he lied for almost a year and only came foward for vengenance or black mail. Someone moral standards this low does not belong in any sport.
    Second, only those directly involved should be punished. If Renault’s corporate representation did not know of this and wish to come back next year with a team, they should be allowed. If the whole team knew of this plan they should all be banned: Flavio, Fernando, the engineers, anyone that knew and did not come foward.
    Stong, stern, but mostly fair action is required with this.

  9. I agree, Nelson looks the worst in this situation. He should not be treated as a noble sportsman coming forward with the truth. If this really happened than he lied and participated in it for his and his teams benefit. He should have secured his ride with performance and not crashing (which ironically he was really good at). Nelson you are low on many levels.

  10. http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/78580

    Williams’s Patrick Head made a statement wich I think is very wise.
    According to him, Renault (Symonds and Briatore) are 99% guilty and Piquet 1%.

  11. There always seems to be much politics associated with Formula 1. The politics is not kept behind closed doors, but played out to the public. It seems annoying and disappointing, but at least we know what is going on. Can all sports say this? To this end I commend the way the FIA handles conflict. The truth seems to prevail and is exposed in F! – This is why we get people who will fall by the wayside. Sadly for the Renault team and mainly for Briatore, their manipulation of the rules will cost them dearly. I hope that they enjoy the rest of 2009, because if justice prevails as I believe it will, I can see Briatore spending some considerable time behind bars. He should not have put F1 fan’s lives at risk with his personal greed.

  12. usF1fanatic said on 18th September 2009, 22:18

    Well, I am still curious of what is going to happen with Pique. Hopefully he is not going to be given immunity.

  13. Dearie me,

    What a lot of knowalls after the fact.
    What facts?.

    So you would shoot someone if told too under threat of being shot. Doubt you have been there mate.
    What’s to stop you being shot anyway?

    Will you all crash your cars at high speed on the M25 tomorrow please or I will put a fluence on you.Ensure that you don’t hurt anyone else.
    He just didn’t have to do it. Poor driver no brain.
    Let his Dad down big time: As they do.

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