A surprising and quite telling development in the FIA’s investigation into the Renault Singapore crash came today as the governing body extended its offer of immunity to Pat Symonds.
The clear implication is the FIA believe Symonds know more than he has told them so far – and suspicion will inevitably fall on the next man up the chain, Flavio Briatore.
Already there have been various comments on this site and others suggesting Mosley has it in for Briatore. As James Allen wrote recently:
This situation offers the opportunity for outgoing FIA president Max Mosley to settle a few scores with Briatore before he leaves office in two months time. Briatore has been in Mosley’s cross-hairs for many years, since writing an open letter of no confidence in the FIA president in 1994.
Perhaps, but if this is the case then why did Mosley pass up an opportunity to exact his revenge two years ago when Renault were found guilty of using McLaren’s intellectual property, but went unpunished?
Further information about the timing to the investigation came to light today with the publication of a letter from Flavio Briatore to Nelson Piquet (Snr) dated July 28th. It included this passage:
I was extremely shocked to learn from Mathieu Michel, and from Bernie [Ecclestone], as a matter of confirmation, that you would have declared that Nelsinho was asked by Renault to cause an accident in the 13th lap in the Grand Prix of Singapore, 2008.
Given the timing of the letter, should we be more doubtful of the Piquets’ position? Prisoner Monkeys offered an interesting alternative take in the comments yesterday:
The FIA may not be going after Briatore. They may no longer trust Piquet; his story changes with each re-telling. Firstly it was that they were going to stage an accident. Then they were going to stage an accident and even picked out a corner. Now Piquet Snr. has said Alonso had to have known about it.
Piquet is trying to bring Briatore down, to ruin him, and he’s trying to get the FIA to do that. If both Piquet and Symonds testify and their stories conflict, one of them is clearly lying. And Piquet has more reason to do so.
Whatever the FIA’s reasons for offering immunity in this fashion may be, the decision to do so raises difficult questions. Should Piquet and Symonds be immune from punishment just because the roles of others who may have been involved has not yet come to light?
While ‘plea bargains’ increase the speed of the process of gathering information and holding a trial, they may encourage guilty parties to work the system to their advantage in order to shift the balance of punishment towards innocent or, at least, less guilty parties. (I’m sure any lawyers who may be reading can enlighten us further on their benefits and shortcomings.)
We will likely only understand the FIA’s purpose in offering Symonds immunity when the details of the case become clear next week. Why do you think they have done it? And how should he respond?
Renault Singapore crash controversy
- Piquet-Renault scandal: more new evidence and complaints about leaks
- Statement by Nelson Piquet Jnr on his Singapore crash leaked online
- Did Piquet crash on purpose? (Poll)
- Renault face Singapore crash hearing
- Nelson Piquet Jnr and Fernando Alonso in renault Singapore claim
- Fernando Alonso’s bad luck turns good for win (2008 Singapore Grand Prix)
- 2008 Singapore Grand Prix analysis
- Piquet’s scathing attack on Briatore
- Nelson Piquet Jnr dropped by Renault
- Alonso and the Piquet-Renault fall-out