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. Whether Alonso was involved or not is not really relevant. The main question is what will the other teams do about last years championship outcome. Because one competitor cheated should that particular result be scrubbed, or at least move everyone up a position, giving Rosberg his first win in Formula one and Lewis an extra 2 points. Would Massa have won the race without the safety car period. Would Lewis have gone on to loose the world championship by 1 point for 2nd year running. Flavio, Symonds and Piquet are all in disgrace and should never be allowed near motor sport again. Not only did they cheat their fellow competitors, they also cheated the world at large especially as the Singapore GP was the first night race and a huge audience tuned in to watch Renault grab the glory in front of a huge audience by deception. Even if Renault (the company) knew nothing the team should still be expelled. BMW’s new owners will fill the gap.

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

      Simon, come again.

      Whether Alonso was involved or not is not really relevant

      .

      Why ever not? Why is it not relevant and yet it is relevant if Briatore and Symonds were involved?

      • Simon, come again.

        Thanks god we have S Hughes coming again and again and again…

        :-) :-) :-)

        • IDR – instead of trolling S Hughes posts, as an Alonso fan, give us some solid reasons why this scandal shouldn’t cast doubt on Alonso’s credibility.

          • James G said on 16th September 2009, 17:53

            I can’t stand Alonso, I think he’s the Cristiano Ronaldo of Formula 1 – ridiculously talented but an arrogant, petulant whinger who can’t stand losing. But the fact remains that there is not a shred of evidence that he had any knowledge or involvement in this debacle. And unless that changes, I’m going to have to say he’s not guilty.

            Of course, if new evidence comes to light…

          • pSynrg – there is no evidence…it’s not that difficult…they told him to go light and ‘trust us’….they left him out of the loop on purpose and Nelson was a pawn.

          • …give us some solid reasons why this scandal shouldn’t cast doubt on Alonso’s credibility

            Well, I’ll never try to give others solid reasons for convincing them about anything, but I will make an exception for your comment:

            I just have two reasons for believe F Alonso was not involved on this:

            1) He was asked, and he answered one simple thing: NO.

            2) Quest personnel in charge of running the investigations they made at Spa, conclude there were no any single evidence of F Alonso’s involvement.

            I’m not going to try convince others; those are my reasons. And maybe I’m wrong and F Alonso is involved, who can be 100% sure? I’m only 100% sure about my love to my daughters.

            And I’m telling this not as Alonso fan, just as F1 fan. I don’t know what kind of support or light could bring to this, the fact I’m an Alonso fan or I feel some sympathy for him.

            In general, I don’t like to answer comments like this one, just because It makes me feel something personal goes around, when you ask me why I’m “trolling” some S Huges comments.

            I’m not counting how many comments I’ve made on S Huges comments or replies of other’s comments, but I’m pretty sure there were not as many as I have already read from him.

            I like S Hughes comments and I like to read them as much as many other’s, but I find funny I feel himself a little obsessed in thinking F Alonso must be involved on this, and how he expressed this feelings in every opportunity he finds.

            Nothing regrettable on the other hand; but as well as he has the right to do so, I have my own for placing mines also, mainly when I’m doing it with all respect to him and his views.

            So, if you want me to convince you about something, don’t lose your time; but I’m afraid the rant you make to me, does not have anything to do with F Alonso’s credibility.

  2. steph90 said on 16th September 2009, 15:25

    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.

    Second that.
    I’m confused by Symonds, he was offered immunity by the FIA (though whether Renault would have kept him anyway is a different matter) but he had the perfect chance to protest his innocence and pin it all on big Flav, which is the way many of us thought he was going. Instead hes snuck out the back door, still to face the hearing after terrible interviews and neither he nor Flav will be involved in motorsport again.
    While we were all wondering who would be made the scapegoat this little surprise happened.

  3. Surely now the enquiry must be all about who else in the team knew what was going on!

    One must assume that if the Renault board knew before this all came to light they would have acted differently straight away.

    It is, however, difficult how see how only three people in such a big organisation knew about it (even if not before it happened then at least very shortly aftrewards)

  4. steph90 said on 16th September 2009, 15:26

    Sorry for double post but forgot one thing-bad_whippet I thought Alonso was told he couldn’t speak about Singapore?

    • bad_whippet said on 16th September 2009, 17:11

      Ah, very possibly, I really don’t know. Good point.

      It wouldn’t have surprised me if Flav put a stop to Alonso talking, but Renault may now urge him to; it might go some way to appease a bunch of people and save face (albeit only a little bit).

  5. Renault (so also Alonso, since he has a contract with them) will not make any comment till the hearing… so we should wait

  6. A few points:
    Renault sacked F. Briatore and P.B.R. Symonds, and stated that they will not contest the charges against them, thus they effectively admit to being guilty.
    Like in the 2007 McLaren case, no matter how many team members you fire, the team is ultimately responsible for their actions. I believe this is even in the FIA’s Sporting Regulations.
    Max Mosley said last Friday that “fixing is one degree worse than cheating”.

    Taking these points into account, I expect Renault to either:
    Receive a fine of roughly the same magnitude as McLaren’s in 2007.
    Be deleted from the 2008 World Championship, much like M. Schumacher in 1997.
    Suffer a one-year ban from Formula One (which would be an easy way out for Renault boss C. Ghosn, though).

    On the results of the 2008 Singapore GP: the World Motor Sports Council may consider stripping Alonso and Renault from their victory, without moving up the other finishers in the classification.

    Something similar happened in the 1983 Brazil GP, when K.E. Rosberg was disqualified from 2nd place, which was then left vacant.

    A difficulty in the Singapore case, though, is that the GP would have neither a winning driver nor constructor.

    • Tiomkin said on 16th September 2009, 16:07

      I have to agree, the whole team should be punished. I’m sure they aren’t contesting it because there is evidence which proves guilt. The engineers must have known because the telemetry would have shown the full details of the crash. As nobody had the guts to speak out, the whole team should be suspended. And fined heavily.

      • Random Chimp said on 16th September 2009, 17:22

        I believe some of the engineers did raise at the concern at the telemetry.

        • Random Chimp said on 16th September 2009, 17:23

          Sorry:
          I believe some of the engineers did raise concern at the telemetry.

          • yes, i believe you are right. I read somewhere that piquet’s engineer asked what was wrong with the car on the radio after the crash, in way that implied ‘why have you crashed???. If the precedent was set from the Mclaren fine (which it should be), then you must think that it is going to be very bad for Renault. I just feel sorry for the hard workers back at the factory who work very hard for ‘the team’ who could now loose their jobs because of a few very silly people in such economic times. They will be most displeased with their leaders.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th September 2009, 20:09

      A difficulty in the Singapore case, though, is that the GP would have neither a winning driver nor constructor.

      What a fine way to celebrate the 800th championship Grand Prix that would be…

      • UnicornF1 said on 16th September 2009, 22:13

        Singapore was to be known in history as the first night GP.
        Now, the history will be re-written and Singapore will be known as the first GP without a winner.
        The fact that it took place at night is much less important.

  7. I guess Renault were offered immunity to hand over flavio.

  8. Although a massive fine may effect whether Renault stay in F1, this should not prevent them being handed a punishment equal to McLarens.

  9. crazy idea said on 16th September 2009, 15:42

    Is there any relatioship between Carlos Goshn and the Piquets? Both are Brazilian.
    (I love Brazil, OK?)

    • mp4-19b said on 16th September 2009, 15:50

      As alleged by Flavio Briatore:

      “He [Nelsinho] has also heavily accused me of breaking his relationship with a friend of his. I don’t want to be accused unfairly, so I want to say that I did it because Nelsinho’s father asked me to,” explained Briatore.

      “Nelsinho used to live with this gentleman: the nature of their relationship is unknown. His father was very worried about the relationship Nelsinho used to have with this 50-year-old man. They used to live together, and his father asked me to intervene.

      “I made this gentleman not come to races anymore, and I made Nelsinho move from Oxford to London in a building where I live, in order to keep him under control.

      “I was asked to by his father, and now Nelsinho accuses me of having even taken his friends away from him – I don’t know what kind of friends these are, but he accuses me of that.”

      You know what!! Carlos Ghosn was Born on March 9, 1954 (1954-03-09) (age 55). ;)

      • mp4-19b said on 16th September 2009, 15:57

        Anything is possible in this crazy world of Formula One!

      • What a load of utter cr@p! The older man was Jr’s mechanic for crying out loud. And it was Nelson SENIOR that set them up in a house in England, cause Sr was too busy flying around the world being a famous GP driver to be bothered with raising a son.

        “The nature of their relationship is unknown.” Bl@@dy H3ll! FlabbiO sure can spin it.

        And sadly it seems some folks are taken in by spin.

        mp4, I thought you knew your F1 history better than that.

        • crazy idea said on 16th September 2009, 16:26

          I wouldn’t call this F1 history…
          Anyway, I meant ANY relationship with Piquet Sr or Jr, not necessarily what Flavio was talking about

  10. donwatters said on 16th September 2009, 15:44

    By dumping Flavio & Pat Renault is obviously trying to limit its losses and get out ahead of a very bad situation. The question in my mind is: Should the team itself and it’s employees be made to pay for the crimes of the three perps? The team? Perhaps. Senior management at the corporate level should have maintained better control over Flav and the operation. The employees? I really don’t think so. But when you lie with dogs, your apt to get fleas.

  11. A poster on the Dutch Autoblog.nl site inspired me to this:

    Prosecutor: Mr. Briatore, did you order the Deliberate Crash?
    Briatore: You want answers?
    Prosecutor: I want the truth!
    Briatore: YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!
    Prosecutor: DID YOU ORDER THE DELIBERATE CRASH?
    Briatore: YOU’RE DAMNED RIGHT I DID!

    ;)

    • Well, let’s fix this:

      Prosecutor: “Mr. Briatore, did you order the crash?”
      [...]
      Briatore: “You want answers?”
      Prosecutor: “I want the truth!”
      Briatore: “You can’t handle the truth! Son, we work in a sport that has fans and those fans have to be entertained by men with cars. Who’s gonna do it, you? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom! You weep for Nelsinho and you curse the management! You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know! That Nelsinho’s crash, while tragic, probably saved ratings! And my existence, while grotesque, and incomprehensible to you, saves the sport! You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at forums, you want me on that pit wall! You need me on that pit wall! We use words like ‘Racing’, ‘Sport’, ‘Loyalty!’ We use these words as the backbone of a life spent racing somewhere. You use them as a punchline! I have neither the time, nor the inclination, to explain myself to a man who races and starts under the blanket of the financial freedom that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it! I would rather you just said “Thank you”, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you purchase a team, and be on the grid! Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!”
      [...]
      Prosecutor: “DID YOU ORDER THE CRASH?”
      Briatore: “YOU’RE GODDAMNED RIGHT I DID!”

  12. Jonathan said on 16th September 2009, 15:47

    What infuriates me about this is that we may never know the truth.

    Renault have forced out Briatore and Symonds to save face. A company of Renault’s size could not allow a scandal of this magnitude to drag on.

    The scandal was, of course, fuelled by numerous leaks of confidential documents by the FIA.

    In short, Briatore has been character-assassinated. It’s almost as if someone in the FIA had a longstanding grudge against him… I wonder who.

    But here is what we don’t know: did Briatore really do it? Quite simply, the evidence does not establish beyond reasonable doubt that he did.

    • F1Yankee said on 16th September 2009, 15:52

      But here is what we don’t know: did Briatore really do it? Quite simply, the evidence does not establish beyond reasonable doubt that he did.

      you haven’t seen the evidence.

      • Jonathan said on 16th September 2009, 15:59

        You really think the FIA has anything it hasn’t already leaked?

        Get real. There was no smoking gun.

        Inconclusive telemetry, innocuous radio tapes, a statement from a hostile witness and some non-answers from the suspects – that’s all they had.

        That’s why “someone” in the FIA knew that Renault’s hand had to be forced. The scandal had to be fuelled by damaging leaks until Briatore’s position was untenable.

        • Hear, hear! Well said.

        • Patrickl said on 16th September 2009, 20:46

          We have:
          – CONCLUSIVE telemetry showing the crash was deliberate
          – A confession of the driver that performed the crash
          – A confession of Pat Symonds that indeed the idea was discussed
          – Pat Symonds did not alert the FIA to this wrongdoing

          That’s enough evidence to “convict” Symonds and Renault

          Briatore was at the same meeting so why wouldn’t he know? Symonds was hiding the truth which is compelely useless since he’s toast as a co-conspiritor already for not telling the FIA.

          The interviewers clearly felt that Symonds was hiding the truth to shield Briatore.

    • mp4-19b said on 16th September 2009, 15:55

      In short, Briatore has been character-assassinated. It’s almost as if someone in the FIA had a longstanding grudge against him… I wonder who.

      Haven’t heard of a guy called Max Mosley??

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th September 2009, 20:10

      It’s almost as if someone in the FIA had a longstanding grudge against him… I wonder who.

      If so, then why now and not in 2007 when the FIA had a clear shot at them?

      • mp4-19b said on 16th September 2009, 20:28

        Even I really dunno why Max let go of Flav during the J-Damper spying case. the fact that Renault had been using Mclaren’s patented design itself is reason enough to have punished them.

        Professor Malcolm Smith’s “inerter” device and concept has been deployed in Formula One racing (A genius idea, and why McLaren hasn’t tried to stop others using it”). McLaren signed an agreement with the University for rights to exploit the technology in Formula One. After a rapid and confidential development process the inerter was raced for the first time by Kimi Raikkonen at the 2005 Spanish Grand Prix, who achieved a victory for McLaren. The inerter had been used for the first time in practice by McLaren at the previous race at Imola.

        During development McLaren invented a decoy name for the inerter (the “J-damper”) to keep the technology secret from its competitors for as long as possible. The inerter featured in the 2007 Formula One “spy scandal” when it was reported that the Renault engineering team failed to understand the purpose of the device from a McLaren J-damper drawing they had acquired

        Here is a LINK to that article.

      • UnicornF1 said on 16th September 2009, 22:19

        Because of the line that was kept by Briatore during the FOTA-FIA fight concerning the badget cap and the alternative championship that FOTA members were planning to run…

      • Not Mosely – it’s Ecclestone.

        Briatore offered to take the Ecclestone role promoting the
        break away series.

        Threat alert. Threat alert. Threat alert!!!!

        Dig out Bernie’s black book of past misdemeanors
        and general black mail material. Lookup the “B” section
        under Flavio. Whisper in Max’s ear and offer one last punishment
        session….

        Phone Nelson…

        Whack…

  13. I for one don’t see how Alonso can get away without some form of punishment.

    He is a double world champion and is (regardless of what you think of him) one of the shrewdest drivers out there today. He must therefore have known that his strategy was unrealistic and crazy, and should have questioned it. Shouldn’t he!?!

  14. verasaki said on 16th September 2009, 16:00

    The consequences? $200 million fine and a one year ban for Renault. Briatore, Symonds and Piquet-lite banned for life from motorsports. Any one have a problem with that? The think of all the safety conciousness a bolt flying off Rubens’ car into Massa’s helmet caused and the cries for closed cockpits, etc. Now think of what could have happened if debris from Piquet’s crash had done that to another driver or even worse a spectator or a track marshall. And if you think that wouldn’t happen, take a look at the opening lap of Imola ’94, or the crash in Oz where a track worker was killed. There is no way to guarantee crash safety. All three of them are idiots.

  15. What a bunch of cheaters Renault is. And just like in 2007, Alonso is very lucky to be saved from any punishment even when i am sure he had big role or at least influence in both the cases.

    As i said earlier, the allegations of Piquet looked very real and practical and it became clear in a day that some one was guilty and playing blame games. Piquet saying team ordered to crash, these frauds saying Piquet himself wanted to crash(which was a joke really).

    Anyway happy for Romain Grosjean, he is a lucky guy, he won’t be working under the same situations and people as unlucky Piquet did. Last but not leaset, i hope Alonso never wins another race let alone Championship.

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