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 ?ˇďÚ╝?˘everything_08R15_Race_2008 192002?ˇďÚ╝?ě
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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387 comments on Briatore and Symonds step down as Renault accepts Singapore crash charge

  1. I hope Symonds gets a shot at another team….He’s a great guy and loved to hear him (on the radio)

  2. Rocky B said on 16th September 2009, 17:59

    Let’s not forget Flav is a dirty cheat! And he has gotten away with it for way too long. From the Benneton days right until now, always looking at a way to cheat and without thinking of the safety of others. Fuel rig anyone? A crash during a race places drivers – people at risk. If you had a friend or family at Singapore in 2008 and say there was a huge crash and they were spectating nearby….flav has become arrogant with wealth and disregarded the value of life. Let him hang. Book closed.

  3. I feel bad for Nissan most in this. I don’t know how their relationship exactly works with Renault but this is going to damage Nissans reputation as well.
    I hope to god that Nissan can find a way to take control of the team and return it to glory.
    I don’t know if Nissan can but I really want them to cut all ties to Renault after this is over.

    • Okay, I figured it out. Renault has 44.4% shares in Nissan and in turn Nissan has 15% shares in Renault. That is what wiki says anyway.

    • Nitpicker said on 16th September 2009, 19:38

      Exactly what association has Nissan got with the Renault F1 team? It would be like saying Skoda’s image would be damaged if the Audi Le Mans team were found to be doing something dodgy.

  4. Not a bit shocked when I heard the news, sadly. My F1 friends have suggested I was stupid to ever suggest that NPJ would have to face constant barrages from the press had he been found to have been lying.
    Flavourless is an unpleasant bully, Alonso (whose driving I admire, I think he’s one of the bravest drivers on track at the moment) appears to be untrustworthy, and Pat Symonds’ has surprised me to be honest.
    As for Ecclestone … He shies from responsibility. People who complain to “the person in charge” about being bullied shouldn’t expect to be told “do something about it then”. He should’ve taken it up himself, if he wants a clean sport. But so long as he gets his cut, he doesn’t really seem to care ….
    *sigh*

  5. not a good day. i think renault should be fined very heavily…or offered a less heavy fine but on condition of selling the team. this way renault are punished but the team is still able to race next season, one way or another.
    also on an old post, cant remember if it was a comment or part of an article, it was mentioned that mclaren didnt pay the full 100mill fine, can someone explain this or post the link?
    you wouldnt want to shake hands with these people.

  6. Ok,

    Here is what I think should be the penalty 75 million fine. Win Resended (I know wont happen). Renault is stripped of all constructor points and driver points for the year. If both drivers knew both suspended (Alonso). Poor Romain Grosjean got to be thinking what did I get my self into.

  7. GooddayBruce said on 16th September 2009, 19:27

    There will be no further real punishment to Renault. Rather than observing the precedent set by the exclusion of the Toyota rally team in 95 I think that the FIA will observe the precedent set by the Lewis Hamilton ‘liegate’ scandal – a suspended ban.

    The fact is that this case had no moral imperative from the start and it has achieved its goal already. Max has his man.

    • Nitpicker said on 16th September 2009, 19:43

      What about the McLaren ‘spygate’ affair in 2007? That was the closest precedent. If Renault get off simply because Max has succeeded in pushing out Flav, the punishments will be inconsistent. And we all know how much we love that.

  8. classjazz said on 16th September 2009, 19:32

    Sometime ago I put forward the suggestion that the use of a Safety Car distorted results by closing everyone up and potential winners being hounded by the ones they had left behind. Why the officials cannot use the existing technology to stop all the cars at the time of the accident ( no pit stops allowed) and then restart the field with the pre stoppage time intervals being used is a mystery. There obviously has to be some refinement to this idea but in the Singapore case- it would have stopped any of this current upheaval.
    I have mixed feelings about Alonso. I didn’t like his whining attitude when he was with Maclaren and it does seem strange that he seems to be involved whenever there is a problem. As someone has said _ Good Luck Ferrari.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th September 2009, 20:13

      Well the safety car rules have changed since last year – we no longer have drivers being forbidden to pit while it is out – so it would be harder to replicate this scenario.

  9. Incredible…almost too much to take in. Very, Very sad day in F1. Have races been manipulated before? Has F1 turned into professional wrestling?
    Couple questions:
    Will Flav and Symonds be able to return to F1? This statement seems to say they have “stepped down”. Not been banned.
    Also, do you think somewhere Max Mosley is smiling? Before he left he was able to get rid of Ron Dennis and maybe now Flavio Briatore, (although perhaps Flav on his own accord). What else happens before his term is up?

  10. Flav was a bad guy, but he was a great personality. In that respect it’s bad for F1 to lose him.
    I certainly will miss him.

    • mp4-19b said on 16th September 2009, 20:22

      Poor guy, this decision has come at a wrong time for him. He is apparently pregnant & expecting his baby sometime later this year.
      He’s 60. Dunno why he choose fatherhood at such an advanced age.

    • Patrickl said on 16th September 2009, 20:52

      Great personality? He was always a daft loudmouth. he never had anything sensible to say and he had to retract so much of his annoying insults that it was an embarrassment.

  11. Tit for Tat…… Piquet has the last laugh….. Briatore literally has devastated his career by messing around with the Piqeuts.

    A good lesson learnt I believe.

  12. The 100mil $ fine was a number wich was seen as a punishment that was in line with what McLaren earn and the current climate… and the climate at the moment isn’t good so the fine will be less anyway!

  13. To all those who are trying to drag Alonso into this fiasco, let me remind you of one fact, Alonso didn’t need to win that race, rather it was Renault that stood to gain. Alonso wasn’t in contention for the drivers championship, neither did he need the extra money a win might bring.
    RenaultF1 stood to benefit in the long term from that win, as it would bolster their long term prospects. In all, Symonds and Flavio may just as well have been happy to ask Alonso to crash into the wall and give Piquet the win. It wasn’t the driver winning that mattered, it was the car.

    By the way, I’ve never been a keen fan of Alonso, but I can’t stand stupid assumptions. The fact a cat has wet paws doesn’t mean it ate the gold fish. :-)

    • I’m sure you’re right a double world champion would have no desire to win a race would he? I’m sure he’s perfectly happy to stroll around at the back of the grid and take no part in the action. I’m not saying he is involved but it’s silly to say he didn’t need to win the race so he must be innocent…

      • I am saying it wasn’t worth it for Alonso to be party to this. But for the management of RenaultF1, it was worth taking such a gamble.
        It makes more sense to tell Piquet, crash the car cause we win and Renault will commit to F1 and you can drive for us still, than to tell him to crash the car so Alonso will win and look a far better driver than you.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 16th September 2009, 22:44

      What we know of what happened so far points to the fact that no-one who didn’t need to know about the conspiracy knew. The documents linked to in the article claim Piquet Jnr, Symonds and Briatore were in the meeting, and not Alonso. And you have to ask yourself, why would Alonso need to know?

  14. I hope now Barricello and Button take revenge and say a lot of bad things about cheater Flavio.
    Funny he said his drivers are the best and brawn pair is retired drivers, and we have seen who is winning, fast and talented (Brawn drivers) and who is winning with the help of cheating (Alonso).

    Also what about the criminal case filed against Piquet, now the police will come to arrest piquet but will take two disgraceful crowns britore and symonds with them. I think the criminal case thing was a last effort by these two to scare Piquet. They must have threatened Piquet and his father verbally many times.
    Flavio and Symonds deserve some big Punishments, at least for not caring about Safety of anybody.

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