Briatore and Symonds step down as Renault accepts Singapore crash charge

2009 F1 season

Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left Renault

Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left Renault

The Renault F1 team has confirmed it will not contest the FIA’s charges against the team over the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

This surprising development is tantamount to an admission that Nelson Piquet Jnr was instructed to crash to help Fernando Alonso win the race.

Renault has also revealed its managing director Flavio Briatore and director of engineering: Pat Symonds have left the team. Only yesterday Symonds had been offered immunity from prosecution by the FIA in exchange for revealing further evidence.

Update: New Renault documents leaked today – see below.

A statement from Renault read:

The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.

Before attending the hearing before the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009, the team will not make any further comment.

The first question now is how the World Motor Sports Council will choose to punish the team on Monday.

At the very least, Renault must be stripped of their win at Singapore last year. That could mean Williams driver Nico Rosberg being promoted from second place to be handed his first F1 win. (Update: See Hakka’s comment on why this won’t happen)

It’s impossible to ignore the ramifications of what happened. One indirect consequence of Piquet’s crash was Ferrari’s botched pit stop for Felipe Massa, which cost him a likely race win. That could even have changed the outcome of the world championship.

However even if the points from Singapore are re-distributed, Lewis Hamilton will remains the 2008 drivers’ champion and Ferrari the 2008 constructors’ champions.

But the full scale of the punishment could be far greater than just the loss of a race victory. We could be looking at a fine comparable to McLaren’s $100m penalty in 2007, or a one-year ban such as that handed down to the Toyota rally team in 2002.

What do you think should be the consequences for Renault? Will they be racing at next weekend’s second Singapore Grand Prix?

Update: The Daily Mail has leaked the FIA documents on Renault in full. Here’s links to all of them:

Statement of Nelson Piquet Jnr to FIA
Supplementary Statement of Nelson Piquet Jnr to FIA
Letter from Lars Osterlind to Max Mosley
Report of Stewards’ investigation into the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix
2008 Singapore Grand Prix Transcript of Extracts from Renault file
Telemetry 1
Telemetry 2
Telemetry 3
Telemetry 4
Telemetry 5
Partial track map
Recovery vehicle locations
Letter from Flavio Briatore to Nelson Piquet Snr
Letter from Pierre de Coninck
Invitation to an extraordinary meeting of the WMSC

Renault Singapore crash controversy

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386 comments on Briatore and Symonds step down as Renault accepts Singapore crash charge

  1. I’m afraid the solution could be something like ban Renault Team for one season… this one!

    So that way, the punishment sounds hard, but in a pract

    • sorry, something went wrong with my keyboard!

      So that way, the punishment sounds hard, but in practice, the impact will be minimal for Renault, a few millions for their points.

      Renault could focus in 2010: Car, Team (managers) and Driver(s)

      All of this if Renault still want to stay in this circus.

    • mp4-19b said on 16th September 2009, 14:38

      IDR, tell me as an Alonso worshiper as to how to deal with him? Do you honestly think he’s innocent.

    • Afraid so. Its simple. You can’t have a team on the grid that has admitted to race fixing. If I see them in Singapore I will be sorely disappointed and I think so will the promoters. They should not have been in Italy, given the evidence already on the table.

      • Nitpicker said on 16th September 2009, 17:16

        They should not have been in Italy, given the evidence already on the table.

        They had to be given a chance to defend themselves at the WMSC meeting.

  2. steph90 said on 16th September 2009, 14:25

    It’s a shame this year all the drama seems to be happening off track.
    Renault will probably lose that win but all other positions will stand. This was maybe a concession to keep Renault in the sport, to get rid of the root of the problem and try to save the team.
    I know everyones race was compromised by what happened and the pit stop that was botched was because of Ferrari’s poor system but I can’t help but wonder how the championship would have gone without this. This has tainted a team, last year’s epic championship and the sport as a whole.

  3. S Hughes said on 16th September 2009, 14:25

    I just want to say first: “I told you so”. I found it most annoying that people were slandering Piquet for lying and having sour grapes just because he was sacked. The psychology of man suggests that one wouldn’t make such a huge claim as this without some evidence to back it up. He apparently intimated to Ecclestone as early as May’09 that this had happened and Ecclestone just blithely told him if he claimed that happened, instead of whining to him, he should report it to the FIA. This illustrated what sort of man runs this sport – that Ecclestone just shrugged off such a remarkable allegation as if it was unimportant shows what a morally bankrupt person he is.

    Also, I really feel sorry for Piquet. I know what he did was so bad it is off the scale, but he comes across as a very weak person. He seems to have been bullied by the odious Flavio from the moment he joined Renault and was never given a fair chance to prove himself as an F1 driver. As Flavio disgracefully admitted, if you have a driver like Alonso, who cares about the 2nd driver? Remember how good Piquet Jr was in GP2. What a real shame for him. It shows what sort of man Flavio is that he started gossiping about Piquet Jr’s sexuality. I am surprised about Symonds though – what was he thinking? There must have been some sort of pressure from sponsors or something – will we ever know?

    Does this also validate Piquet Sr’s assertion that Alonso must have known? I feel Alonso must have: mad strategy + control freak driver + history of being embroiled in cheating (possessing emails about stolen Ferrari data; holding up Lewis in Hungary 2007) = guilty as charged in my view. I just KNOW he will get away with it though. If it was Lewis in his position, he would have been hung, drawn and quartered by now.

    This is just so so bad for F1. It really puts a question mark over the validity of race results and will just make people suspicious all the more.

    • we know you hate Alonso, it gets old

      • S Hughes said on 16th September 2009, 14:52

        There are plenty of people on loads of forums saying the same thing. Instead of saying that, look at the evidence.

        • Which evidence, exactly? Everything you mentioned above is circumstantial and proves absolutely nothing.

          It’s entirely possible that Alonso was involved, but he’s denied it in the clearest possible terms and, as far as I can see, nothing has been disclosed so far that implicates him beyond hearsay, conjecture and a feeling on the part of some that he must somehow be involved somewhere.

          You mention that Joe Saward feels the need to ask the question – he did, but he didn’t feel the need to answer it without having seen all the evidence.

      • He’s not the only one, time to wake up and smell the coffee me thinks!

    • S.Hughes, here, here. I always like reading your posts.
      The elephant in the room is Alonso, did he know, was he involved? Will FIA turn look the other way? The buzz on the web is all about Alonso. Poor guy, must be worried. But you are right, if it was Lewis, the press would have crushed him by now and he would have to leave F1, by now.

      • S Hughes said on 16th September 2009, 15:16

        Thanks Lynn. I think one should ask questions that are obviously relevant but it seems some people think some drivers are above question and get very angry about it whereas others are always fair game. That strikes me as odd. It’s funny how Mutton ignored the rest of my post and only homed in on the Alonso thing. I also mentioned Ecclestone’s role, the shame for Piquet and Symonds and the ramifications for F1, but only the Alonso thing was homed in on.

        • The thing is S Hughes, that you seem to gloss over the fact that the angelic Hamilton started this season off with a somewhat dubious cheat…and wasn’t even clever enough to cover it up…

      • S Hughes said on 16th September 2009, 15:21

        Joe Saward also thinks it is worth asking the question, but hey, what does he know?

        http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2009/09/16/renault-axes-briatore-and-symonds/

        The World Council must also look at the question of whether Fernando Alonso could have been part of the conspiracy to which Renault has now admitted, or whether it was just Briatore, Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr involved.

    • If ALO gets out of this scot free it will be amazing. Mutton, do you seriously believe that the driver who benefited from the fraud, who had a strategy dependent upon its success, knew nothing, both before and after? Say hello to new 2010 Scuderia Malboro Ferrari driver Giancarlo Fisichella.

    • If it was Lewis in his position, he would have been hung, drawn and quartered by now.

      Well, I only hope for Hamilton, you will not be one of those. I must say you do a terrific job with Alonso!

    • David BR said on 16th September 2009, 15:21

      Fact is ‘everyone’ knew the crash may have been deliberate during the race and rumours were already circulating around the paddock and among journalists very soon afterwards. So the question is why FIA – which presumably heard early on – didn’t act sooner. Or maybe they decided fairly on that they needed someone’s (Piquet’s) testimony.

      I think the big remaining questions are indeed (a) Alonso, did he know or was he even an active participant in the plan? and (b) Nelson Piquet Sr. Was he in on this from the start too? The question is particularly relevant if he plans to enter F1 with his own team. If he was party to the plan, he too should be banned for life from F1.

      Really nauseating, the lot of them.

    • Nitpicker said on 16th September 2009, 17:23

      You can’t blame Bernie for not entertaining an unsupported claim like that. As soon as Piquet provides evidence, people would listen to him, and it is right that he takes his case to the FIA whom deal with such matters. This is called “structure.”

    • You feeling sorry for Piquet (S Hughes), makes me feel sorry for you…hahaha

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th September 2009, 20:03

      I think it’s entirely reasonable to ask if Alonso knew but the fact is the sum total of evidence against him at this stage is zero.

      • The sume total of evidence that WE know about, that doesn’t mean that the FIA don’t have evidence. Equally it doesn’t mean that they do. We just don’t know as yet…

      • I agree Keith, what WE know is that he had nothing to do with it, it happened last year, and the ‘bad seeds’ are gone. I can’t see any 2009 bans be appropriate.

    • Why are u surprised about Symonds, is it because he looks like a charming old man?

      • S Hughes said on 17th September 2009, 1:46

        Well, I think because Symonds seemed so sensible and dignified when interviewed. He came across as having integrity, nothing to do with him looking like a charming old man. Seems looks and interviews can be very misleading.

  4. wong chin kong said on 16th September 2009, 14:28

    The next race is in Singapore, the venue where the shameful crash-gate happened. Singapore F1 fans will certainly be reminded of last year crash when and if they see Renault F1 cars taking corners at high speed in this night race. Fans be better prepared-wear armour and shields.

  5. Sudhakar said on 16th September 2009, 14:34

    In my view, Massa deserved the win. He got the pole position and he was running first when the accident happens. He drove the car perfectly after the pit stop error.

    FIA should consider the position during the accident happens (means during Lap# 14). And, they should ban the whole team for atleast 2 years (including their test drivers) from any sort of motor sports.

    • (including their test drivers) from any sort of motor sports.

      What?!?
      Are you mad? Why would they do that?

      Anyway, I’m worried now about Robert Kubica’s future, if he has already signed with Renault. :|
      The contract would have to be cancelled I guess. This leaves him without a team anyway.

    • Quote: He drove the car perfectly after the pit stop error.

      I thought he spun at least once and finished somewhere near the back.

    • Massa drove horribly…he couldn’t pass anyone, whereas Kimi made his way to 5th.

      • Antifia said on 16th September 2009, 21:55

        Not going into the change-the-championship-results thing, I must say that your memory is not serving well. Not only Massa went from first to dead last following a pit stop messup in which he was in no fault, he also had to serve a drive through penalty after the safety car came in. He could not pass anyone because that track is as good for passes as Monaco is. The mediocre Kimi had a lackluster race driving a top Ferrari, managing only 5th after having no external troubles whatsoever (he didn’t make his way to 5th, he languished his way to 5th).

  6. VitaRedux said on 16th September 2009, 14:35

    The WMSC still need to make a clear judgement and explain the evidence and their ruling. This is what they failed to do with the McLaren saga.

    We need openness and honesty from the F1 authorities. I’ve had enough of the cloak-and-dagger politics and conspiracy theories and this has the whiff of them once again.

    Whatever the outcome it would be sad to see an F1 grid without Renault.

  7. Jonathan said on 16th September 2009, 14:37

    I want to hear a statement from Briatore about this.

    Renault has clearly decided not to back him, possibly to escape a storm of negative publicity. The company is unlikely to have any evidence of his guilt beyond what has already come to light.

    Does this make Briatore automatically guilty? Of course not, and he may well protest his innocence and attempt to clear his name.

    • mp4-19b said on 16th September 2009, 14:42

      Flavio will not open his mouth for a long time to come. I’ll not be surprised if he goes into hiding on that remote island. He did the same to escape a jail term many years ago.

      • I looked at your link at immediately thought, what is with those damn blue glasses….then I scrolled down and almost barfed when I saw the pics of Flav in a thong….

    • this also begs the question,

      Has Briatore rigged a race before? i think he has… a careful review to every race he’s been involved in should be done…. and then he should be hung by his sideburns….

  8. Renault will obviously be heavily fined, i’d be surprised if they were banned from races/the championship. If the FIA find that Flavio and Symonds were the brains behind the idea then they should be given lifetime bans from F1 and possibly any active participation in FIA regulated motorsport.

  9. I say they should ban Renault with immediate effect, in such a way that it wont even have the right to use the Renault na,e if it wants to continue being an engine supplier next year. (Nissan, Penske engines anyone?)

    Renault is to be banned ultimately for a period of 2 years minimum. (for hiring a **** sleeze ball like Flavio)

    Nelson PQ should have a 3 race suspension (on probation) in case he crashes again….

    Flavio, Symmonds and whoever else knew about it should be banned from the paddock, grandstands, circuits, even the circuit parking lots….

    once WMSC makes its ruling, all other sporting authorities should place Flavio on their banned list, because once a cheat, always a cheat…..

    Italy should withdraw his citizenship, or nominate him to be depute to the current Prime minister, all in the same i guess….

    and last but not least Alonso should be banned along with the team for the remainder of this season, to be allowed to race next year with a permanent yellow card on his record, one more shindig-gate, and he should be squirted out of F1….and the Singapore race win should be handed to Rosberg.

    on the financial front, Renault should be fined 150,000,000 (150 million) UK pounds on a 2.0 exchange rate to the dollar for messing with last year’s championship…. because forever last season will have a What if? hanging over it….

    • mp4-19b said on 16th September 2009, 14:48

      I emphatically agree with you mate! Especially the point you make about Alonso. There is just noway he couldn’t have known about the plot. He is also the main conspirator. but Alonso worshipers will go mad if people say negative thing bout him.
      if you’d ask me I would say Alonso is worse than Scummy.

      • bananaman said on 16th September 2009, 15:20

        Alonso may well have known. But where’s the evidence to suggest he’s “the main conspirator”? At McLaren, Coughlan and Stepney were clearly way more guilty than Alonso was. Here, considering the meeting before the race did not even involve him, FA is hardly the main figure in terms of pushing NP into crashing. The worst FA might have done is (1) come up with the idea (and there is no evidence of this; even NP isn’t accusing him of this) and (2) knowingly go along with the idea once PS and FB got NP to comply.

    • And all the staff at Enstone will have to find new jobs…

      …I fully believe that Renault will be handed a lenient penalty for cooperating, and rightly so. They’ve gotten rid of the rotten apples, why should the men and women who work very hard for very long hours for nowhere near the pay the drivers and team bosses earn be punished for something they would have no influence over??

      What I would like to know is whether Flavio will be allowed to continue as a driver manager? IMHO he should not.

    • Ronman, you’re wrong. Assume there is NO evidence against the rest of the team (there is NOT at this point), then why should all of these people be punished for what 3 idiots did. No, they should be able to continue competing just like McLaren did after spygate. The other 3 (and anyone else PROVEN to be involved) should be banned.

      Pretty much everything else you said is wrong too, but I assume that you were joking through most of it, in which case it is funny…

      • Well i might of been overreacting. when the story first broke, my main concern was not just the 700 employees in enstone, but also all the employees at renault which are usually proud of what they do. having their F1 team labeled a cheat wont help them on many levels.

        what i wrote is a result of how upset i am at a yuppy like Briatore. FORGET proof, i think there’s a fat chance FA was not in the loop. but if he was he should be reprimanded. 2 gates? and the plot only thickens with each one, what’s left for a third one?

        When the dust settles, Renault will get a slap, and the FIA will try its best not to be hard to the point that Renault would desert.

        i’ll wait till the WMSC says its piece before i comment any further on what should be done, and hopefully wont have to comment on what should have been done.

    • UnicornF1 said on 16th September 2009, 21:57

      [quote]Flavio, Symmonds and whoever else knew about it should be banned from the paddock, grandstands, circuits, even the circuit parking lots….[/quote]they should also be banned from watching TV during the racing weekends :-P

  10. Clare msj said on 16th September 2009, 14:47

    Naughty naughty! What sort of punishment are Renault gona get now, cos they must be guilty if they have both resigned!!

    It wont be anything to do with the race/championship last year because they cant change that, and it cant really be anything to do with this years campaign cos the incident didnt happen this year. With the two reported purpetrators gone now though i think that will count in the teams favour. I think they can only really give a hefty fine. They also are surely reluctant to lose another team so may be lenient? I dont know? Its a massive piece of cheating, but i really dont know how i would punish it :S

    Kinda feel sorry for Piquet actually – I cant see anyone jumping out to sign him now. I know he could have said no to them asking him to do that – but he must have been under a fair bit of pressure, you wouldnt just agree to that without being under pressure from somewhere. Probably agreed for the same reasons Hamilton lied to the Stewards in Australia – thought it wouldnt be a big deal/get caught at the time! Knew it was stupid but did it anyway – both were ‘race fixing’ except Piquet’s was a little more dangerous! I dont think Piquet should be punished too much for it either (like Hamilton wasnt) – it does make his situation at Renault look even worse though, if he felt he had to do that to keep his job – what kinda of boss asks that of thier driver!! Piquet never stood a chance at the team did he. Poor guy!

    • Piquet wanted the fame and fortune that went with it. He could have chosen to work in a bank or ride in NASCAR. But he was also greedy that’s why he deserves no sympathy.

      • With all of his crashing, he’d probably last less in NASCAR than he did with Renault. If guys like JPM and Sam Hornish Jr. took several seasons to get the COT down path, Nelsinho would be a disaster :)

  11. Wonder where Fatso will go with his criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet Junior and Nelson Piquet Senior in France? Suspect it might be quietly withdrawn…

  12. Ned Flanders said on 16th September 2009, 14:50

    What limits do Renault know in their pursuit of victory? In Singapore, they bribed Piquet into crashing so that they could win. At the next race in Japan, I can only assume they went one step further and bribed God, who lowered the track temperature causing everyone to fly off the track at the first corner, allowing Alonso to win again.

  13. S Hughes said on 16th September 2009, 14:57

    It’s funny to see an old thread on the Planet-F1 forum where a poster accused Renault of this last year after the Singapore race. He was flamed and insulted, but he must be feeling mighty smug now. http://forum.planet-f1.com/index.php?t=msg&th=69061&prevloaded=1&&start=0

    • *chuckle*

      That thread is the definition of vindication. He must feel like Gallileo.

    • Nice digg S.

    • Random Chimp said on 16th September 2009, 17:18

      Sweet

    • Maksutov said on 16th September 2009, 17:18

      LOL, reading some of the replies to his comments, I just couldnt stop laughing …

      pendulumeffect <– very appropriate name

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th September 2009, 20:07

      I’ll put my hand up and say I thought the suggestion Piquet crashed on purpose was nonsense to begin with. But now we know differently.

      It was an unbelievable act of cynicism and we have to wonder now if it’s happened before. I mean, we’ve seen drivers do it out of pure self-interest – Prost, Senna and Schumacher on at least three occasions – but not a team ordering one driver to do it to help his team mate.

      • Ned Flanders said on 16th September 2009, 20:51

        This case has warped my mind and taught me to question everything I see in F1 so much. In fact, I’m no longer prepared to dismiss entirely the idea that Timo Glock might have let Lewis Hamilton by on purpose in Brazil.

        Like all sensible F1 fans I didn’t even consider it at the time, and I still think it’s extrememly unlikely, but looking back it seems like the ultimate coincidence. Who knows how rotten the F1 apple actually is…

        • Antifia said on 16th September 2009, 22:14

          I think it is all a big anti-Massa conspiracy and everybody is in it: His pit crew (Canada and Singapore), the engine guys (Hungary), Piquet Jr., Glock. Barrichelo was probably trying to finish him off, just to make sure he’ll never be champion..what are the odds that a part of your car will come out and hit the other driver right were it hurts by accident?

      • S Hughes said on 17th September 2009, 1:53

        You’re right Keith, it does call into question so many past crashes and will call into question future ones. It is so damaging to the integrity of F1.

        I must say I immediately thought something was amiss when Piquet made the accusation purely because if he was wrong, he would be in serious trouble with the law. I doubt that he would be so poorly advised by his own father.

        Then when I read the suspicions raised in the article in the F1 Review book, I was convinced because rival strategists were quoted as saying that there could only be one explanation for the strategy and that was the intended crash bringing out the safety car.

        Which is why I doubt Alonso despite no concrete evidence. It doesn’t add up that he was unaware of what happened even if he didn’t co-plot it.

      • bwells said on 18th September 2009, 6:22

        I was just coming here to bring that up Keith… Senna vs Prost… to me that seems to be the craziest intentional crash ever! He said he was going to do it if Prost got a better start… and he did it… at 160 mph!!… plus it won him the championship!! Was anything ever said about that one? Here’s a bit of footage so we all remember… :)

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kh1WxQmst

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbGmMur0U

        “Not a bad feeling at all…is it”

  14. VitaRedux said on 16th September 2009, 14:57

    What were Briatore and Symonds doing conspiring with a disgruntled employee? They should have known he’d hang them with this.

    It almost makes them look less guilty the fact that they happily got rid of Piquet.

  15. Until evidence arises that states Alonso was directly involved, one cannot call him a cheat.
    Just because he was at McLaren when the spygate issue kicked off does not mean he was involved here. In fact the way most of the Alonso comments are going you’ll believed he instigated every F1 controversy going.

    The WMSC need to find a punishment that sends out a clear message. Race fixing in F1 is a disgrace and they should be charged with bringing the sport into disrepute. If this means they are banned, so be it.

    • bad_whippet said on 16th September 2009, 15:14

      It’ll be interesting to see if Alonso makes a public statement, officially denying any role in the whole saga.

      I think he needs to, IMO. For what it’s worth, I don’t imagine Alonso had anything to do with it; I’m not his biggest fan, but I think the guys got more integrity and class than this. He wouldn’t want a false victory.

      But where does this leave him now…?

      • Well, he already made it.

        You can read it in Autosport.

        But he was pretty clear when the journalist asked him:

        Did You know?

        FA: NO

        • S Hughes said on 16th September 2009, 15:57

          To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

        • Of course he never will accept he is guilty!!!Briattore also claims he is innocent!!Alonso knew!!!he is guilty but for money reasons he again will scape without the sanction he deep deserves.

        • bad_whippet said on 16th September 2009, 17:05

          That was last Thursday, before today’s news though.

          I’m expecting him to do a proper ‘staged’ announcement, something more official than a Q&A with autosport.

        • But he was pretty clear when the journalist asked him:

          Did You know?

          FA: NO

          I can smell something…. Yep, smells like bulls**t to me! I formally call Alonso a lair and a cheat. He knew, hes not stupid, or inexperienced in these things. He’s also very experienced in managing to side-step out of the spotlight when the situation calls for it.

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