In 2005 we had the Indianapolis farce, two years later brought the ‘spygate’ row, last year was dominated by Mosley’s sadomasochism scandal, and the first half of this year was taken up with the budget cap crisis.
But F1′s latest row, over Renault ordering Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash during the Singapore Grand Prix, is surely the worst yet. Indeed one writer has already called it the worst act of cheating in any sport.
I won’t claim a sufficiently encyclopaedic knowledge of sport to make that claim, although it’s gained some favourable responses on Twitter. But it’s hard to think of a worse example from F1′s history.
There have, of course, been other occasions where drivers have crashed or spun on purpose. Alain Prost hit Ayrton Senna in 1989, and Senna hit Prost back in 1990. Michael Schumacher hit Damon Hill in 1994 and Jacques Villeneuve in 1997.
Like Piquet’s crash, these all involved drivers risking the lives of themselves and others, though admittedly to varying degrees – Senna piled into Prost at around 150mph, Schumacher was doing rather less when he took out Hill.
But what sets the Renault case apart is the offensive cynicism of a team ordering one driver to risk injury or worse in a crash to benefit his team mate.
It was not just Piquet at risk – but spectators, marshals and other drivers. The impact showered debris across the track – and recent accidents have left us in no doubt of the terrible risks that presents.
It’s one thing to have a team like McLaren being caught using a rival team’s confidential information. That’s obviously wrong and must be punished – but it doesn’t put anyone’s life at risk.
The FIA may have offered Piquet immunity from punishment but he should not be immune from criticism. Renault’s plan was disgusting but his willingness to go along with it in the hope of promoting his career was cowardly.
It raises all sorts of questions. Was anyone besides Briatore, Symonds and Piquet involved? Had Renault, or any other team, tried this sort of thing before? Have they done since?
And given the manner in which he scored this ‘victory’, should Fernando Alonso now publicly deny the credit for it? I think he should – regardless of whether he knew about it or not (and so far there is no evidence that indicates he was aware of it).
A two-times world champion has no need of tainted triumphs handed to him in a corrupt fashion. He proved that well enough with his victory at Fuji in the very next race.
In 2006 he told the world he no longer considered F1 a sport after being handed a joke of a penalty by the Monza stewards. Now it’s time for Alonso to tell us his no longer considers Singapore 2008 one of his Grand Prix wins.
Renault Singapore crash controversy
- Briatore and Symonds step down as Renault accepts Singapore crash charge
- 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
- Renault F1 team
- Bungling the tyre row will give F1 a tainted title fight
- Button’s complaint shows we need more team radio
- The pay driver debate needs to move on
- Fewer races and more testing? No thanks, Alonso
- Why Ferrari would do better with “two roosters”
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Image © Singapore GP/Sutton