Briatore and Symonds step down as Renault accepts Singapore crash charge

2009 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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

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

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  1. Massa not winning the 2008 championship had absolutely nothing to do with Renault or anyone employed by them. Blame it on the fact he ended at least two races in the gravel traps, or on the engine failure in Hungary, or on the pit traffic light system, or just on the bloke in red who pressed the “green” button too soon. I felt sorry for Massa, listening to him on the radio at the end of Brazil last year, but Hamilton won that title fair and square, despite the FIA`s best efforts.

    1. FIA’s best efforts? Remember Melbourne??

      1. I think you are confused, Hamilton did nothing wrong at Melbourne `08.

  2. Regardless of punishments from the FIA, how’s this for a guess… Singapore refuse Renault admission for this year?

    Is that possible? Would they have the authority to do that, or if they tried would anyone dare challenge them on that? Presumably even if the race officials didn’t, the Singapore authorities can refuse Renault workers admission to the country. And if that happened… really can’t see Renault sticking it out, perhaps not even finishing the season.

  3. Well, what a mess…..

    So the parties responsible for the cheating- at least some of them- have left the team and perhaps the sport overall? My big question is…what happens to those guys from here? And, was anyone else aware of the events before they went down?

    I can’t see Renault being thrown out..indeed, now that they key guys are out of the sport, I wonder if the FIA is going to take the same approach they took with Mclaren at the start of the year- force out the head guy(s), then issue a slap on the wrist?

    That’s what I would normally would say is going to happen, but this is a much more serious case. And about Nelson Jr.- am I the only person who thinks the FIA won’t issue a Super License to a driver who has crashed on purpose?

  4. I just heard the president of the Real Automovil Club of Spain and member of the World Motorsport Council, Carlos Gracia, speak on the radio. As I understood it, he made, more less, three statements asuming the crash was made on purpose:

    1) Formula 1 does not need people like Briatore and Symonds.
    2) While Symonds an Briatore should be held responsible, to his own opinion it’s nonsense to offer inmunity to Piquet as the executor of the action.
    3) Information is being leaked prematurely by publishers closely related to FIA in what seems to be the personal interest of (someone) involved. Some of this information has not even reached the Word Council yet.

    He also mentioned that it would be a disaster for Renault to be expelled. Renault provides engines and other material to other F1 teams, GP2, World Series…

  5. slighlty different angle on events, but does anyone think that this may help Ari Vatanen? Maybe this will convince people that there is a need for a culture change in FIA and F1, and Ari is the best man for the job? It would certainly be a silver lining if this was to be true.

  6. There is no concrete evidence at this stage to implicate Alonso but I think it is reasonable to ponder that Alonso, who is supposed to be very involved in strategy and even dictates what tyres he wants even if it doesn’t make sense (see Monaco last year), how come he didn’t question the senseless strategy unless he knew why there was such a strategy. And before anyone starts to say the strategy wasn’t senseless, please see the article I posted from ‘The Official Formula 1 Review 2008’ book. He even said that he suggested the strategy. Why would he say that as it is clearly a lie? Why lie? What else is he lying about? Unless he wasn’t lying and he did suggest the strategy along with the now known reasons for it. Whether there is concrete evidence or not, I don’t believe for one second he wasn’t in on it as do many people on the F1 forums. But the probability is that he will not get punished because there seems to be a buffer between him and any hard evidence. I’m afraid it will always hang over him like a bad smell though.

    1. Alonso has gone for ludicrously short fist stints many times before, just to be different. He has said that he’s not too interested in finishing 7th and 8th, so would rather go for “senseless” strategies in the hope that he may very occasionally sneak a win in a sub-par car.

      Admittedly, at Singapore, he was out in Q2, whereas all his other ludricously short first stints came in an attempt to qualify as high as possible in the race-fuel run Q3.

      1. That’s it in a nutshell – it was senseless because he was starting from 15th.

        Anyway, I think I can answer my own question maybe. Alonso credited himself with coming up with the “aggressive” strategy because he probably wanted to get the credit for the ingenious win. That makes him dishonest and egotistical. If he didn’t cotton on to the plot, it also makes him a bit dim.

        1. It’s not 100% senseless because it was 1)the first race at this track 2) there are tons of walls which typically results in safety cars 3) it was the first night race and anything can happen 4) they were having a horrible year and not fighting for anything but wins.

          Just for argument, FA could have ‘thought’ that they should gamble on a safety car within the first 5 laps for the above reasons and with a light car he might be able to pass a handful of cars at the start, and maybe get lucky enough to catch the safety car after his early pit if it came out after lap 7.

          Then, in the actual race, the crash happens and FA is in the lead, then the team tells him that it just so happened to be his VERY crash prone teammate….

          It is possible

  7. I hope Renault and any team member who is financially worse off because of this sues Flavio, this will be better than any punishment the FIA could hand out.If he was left pennyless it would be the best deterent to anyone else thinking of cheating.

  8. hardly the biggest scandal in F1 ever…

    One guy crashes to try and fix a race after a dozen or so laps doesnt declare anyone a 100% guarantee of winning, it a best is a med chance of bring out safety car, relying on cars not having to pit, hoping Ferrari stuff their pit stop, Hoping Alonso car makes it to the end, hoping their inst another safety car…and the list goes on.

    It is a desperate attempt gain a new contract, and ousting Flabio rolled into one.

    I would say Shui, purposefully crashing into another title contender twice is far more damaging to the sport but that is swept under the carpet to this 7 time ‘great’…??!?!?!?!?!
    Oh lets no forget the times Rubins had to slow down, apart from Austria, parking a car in the middle of the track in qual, illegal cars from Renault and Ferrari…and this contempt MS got away with…
    Isnt that cheating on a mass scale?

    Forcing anti competitive behavior by FIA in only picking new teams that use a cosworth engine…That is illegal..!!!! Motorsport is a business…you cant do that!

    Look if you want to dig deeper than a few years there is major corruption with in the sport and the governing body.

    1. Hey Fernando! Good to see you join in. The BIG question of course: Were you in on it???

  9. This is another example that winning has become an obsession in professional sport. I do have a regret that F1 loses a character like Briatore , because love him or hate him , I saw him as one of the most “colourful” characters therein and he will be missed.

  10. Qoute: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.

    Well Keith – perhaps I didn’t make myself quite clear. I am suggesting that the cars return to the grid in the positions that they were when the accident occurred. Then they would restart in the order and time interval that existed at that time. It would prevent this distortion that currently occurs under Safety Car rules.
    Refinement and adverse comment invited.

    1. You’re saying they should re-run the rest of the race?

    2. This would be interesting.
      If an accident happen use the red flag, restart the race and keep the temporal differences that existed one lap before the accident.
      The only bad thing is that it will be complicated for the spectators to figure out the final grid order.
      In order to avoid this, they could restart the race from inside the pits, having the cars in the same line order that they were before the accident and allowing each car to leave the pits at the specific temporal gap from the leading car that existed before the accident…
      If anybody fails to restart he would simply lose his place from the following car/cars until he is able to do so.

      How does this sound?
      Fair and realisable I believe!

      1. It sounds very unhealthy for cars that don’t have proper radiators and rely on air flow to cool just about everything….

  11. wow what a surprise when Formula 1 tries to be fair it just gets worse over the years lol i doubt it very much Alonso knew about this Alonso doesn’t look like the kind of guy that desperate to win a race.

  12. HounslowBusGarage
    17th September 2009, 10:58

    Possible extradition to Singapore?
    I have to say I hadn’t thought of this, but the Telegraph is reporting that “Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds could potentially be extradited to Singapore to face criminal charges in the wake of their departure from Renault on Wednesday in connection with race-fixing claims.”
    Plus the paper is suggesting that “There are also legal challenges open to Ferrari and their driver Felipe Massa, who missed out on last year’s world drivers’ crown by a single point; and to Renault itself, which may want to sue its former employees for allegedly bringing the company’s name into disrepute.”
    Read it all here
    Plus I still think the Piquests will sue Briatore.

  13. Sir Jackie Stewart is right in that there is something rotten at the core of Formula 1. And that thing is Flavio. Remember his pedigree is not motor racing. He came into the sport after meeting Luciano Benetton, the multi-hued fashionista. Before that he had no apparent history, dealings or knowledge of F1. So he brings with him a “skill” set that has no reverence for the sport, but the view that it is just another less-than-serious (sporting) business where anything can go. He is the bully transferred to the new school who has started the big fight. It will end poorly for all if the WMSC make an example of him at a modern day stockade. Which they should. Not dealing with this crime properly could de-legitimize the sport for years.

  14. I meant “unless”

  15. The really bad thing is that F1’s professionals get dragged into this sort of thing. Pat Symonds this time, Mike Coughlan on a previous occasion. Nigel Stepney. Can anyone inside F1 tell us why these people get involved with the the political freaks please

    1. That one’s eeezi peezi! BUCKETLOADS OF DOSH

      1. OK but do these lesser beings earn that sort of dosh or are they seeing retirement not too far away and feeling the draught?

        1. I honestly have no idea how much they get (or ‘earn’ in some cases).
          My assumption is based on the vast honey pot that is F1 and that most of the top players (I would put Pat Symonds in that category, Mike Coughlan maybe a few notches lower) expect to scoop as much out of it as possible. Retirement or not…

  16. I don’t mind it not being quiet but a season that’s about racing would be good.

  17. The McLaren fine was outrageous, but any amount less than that for Renault should be sent directly to Woking.

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