Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault, Singapore, 2008

Fernando Alonso should renounce his Singapore Grand Prix ‘win’

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault, Singapore, 2008F1 has been dogged by scandal after scandal in recent years.

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


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286 comments on “Fernando Alonso should renounce his Singapore Grand Prix ‘win’”

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  1. Keith, I absolutely agree to everything you say here. This is why people read your website so much! Why don’t you stand for FIA president?

    1. But then who would write F1 Fanatic?

      1. Had it been LewisFanatic, there would be so many to run the site! But since it is F1Fanatic, there is not any! [:D]

        1. there was a forum topic here a while ago asking who we support. although there may be a few Brits here, doesn’t mean we all support Lewis. I don’t! (great driver, not aggressive enough! on and off track)

  2. So what if they were cheating, they’re not the first and they definitely won’t be the last. There is simply no real way it will ever be stopped as long it it relies on integrity and trust. But if the odd bit of cheating can generate this much publicity and excitement surely that can’t be all bad can it?

  3. Totally agree Keith. But this is the man who didn’t come out and condemn the Spanish racists who were his fans who disgustingly abused Lewis Hamilton. This is the guy who publicly said he would try and help Massa to win the championship so that his old teammate wouldn’t. This is the man who was in possession of proof of technical espionage and instead of going to the FIA about it, tried to blackmail his own team into giving him preferential treatment over his teammate. This man has no honour, only a win at all costs mindset, who is too arrogant and egotistical to ever apologise or admit he is wrong. So, don’t hold your breath.

    He might be pressured into it, but I’m sure he would do it dragging his feet every inch of the way.

    1. we all know you don’t love him… it is OK, but it is getting boring

    2. Yeah, let’s build a fire and BURN HIM!!!
      Not voicing your opinion about racism and liking one pilot better than another is disgusting!

    3. S Hughes,
      You don’t get sick writing same sort of lines again and again, do you?

    4. As the only defense presented on behalf of Alonso here against a confounding aggregation of nefarious circumstances are his present denials and his purported character, Mr. Hughes’ reference to the clear record of Alonso’s recent mendacity is relevant and compelling. I find each of his recitations both refreshing and cogent.

  4. All this talk of Alonso knowning about the crash is shrouding the fact this is a Renault issue and is bigger than any one man.

    Do you remember seeing Alonso sitting talking with Briatore after the race and Alonso was smiling with joy and saying to Briatore “It was the saftey car that won it for me”. The way he was saying it and his body language was of a man that really did not know anything about the crash DURING the race. Briatore stood there and just nodded to Alonso and didnt really say much (in the back of his mind he was thinking “yeah… sure i caused the crash on purpose”).

    It is very very possible that AFTER the ceremony, Alonso was told about the crash but looking back at his driving and also his attitude after winning the race, he didnt seem to know anything at that point.

  5. There is SO much speculation, I think that Hamilton should hand back his championship due to Glock letting him through……

  6. I can see your point Keith, about Alonso renouncing the win. I’m sure that the race win now leaves a very bad taste in his mouth. But – safety car aside – he still had to race the car for another 40 odd laps, keep it out of the walls, not take off with the fuel rig still attached etc and make it to the chequered flag first with the car still in one peice. He still deserves the credit for that, don’tcha think? Besides, as the result of the race cannot be changed now accordingly to one S&Max Mosely, such a gesture would be entirely symbolic anyway.

    While this whole situation just confuses the heck out of me (Why? WHY?) I remain certain that Alonso knew nothing about it. I just don’t think he would want to win that way. It just doesn’t gel with how he drove last year – wringing the neck out of the car in every race knowing that he was not going to win, but just doing it for the sheer delight of it. Doesn’t sound like someone who would take the easy way out, to me.

    1. But – safety car aside – he still had to race the car for another 40 odd laps, keep it out of the walls, not take off with the fuel rig still attached etc and make it to the chequered flag first with the car still in one peice.

      …this was also achieved by other 15 drivers!!!
      Why not Rosberg or Hamilton or Glock or Vettel or Heidfeld be the winner? They were just 10 seconds behind with a real strategy!

      1. They were within 10 seconds behind…

        1. so they were BEHIND :)

          1. without their team cheating

  7. Well, it is only called cheating IF you get caught right?

    Every team is doing everything it can to win this goes without saying, however Briatore and others like him who are powerful men seem to think they can get away with anything at anytime. I hope they not only fine him heavily but they seek legal action to throw the bum behind bars. Too bad they didn’t give Jr. what he wanted- this could have never came out then.

  8. I know I’m going to get royally flamed for saying this, but this whole episode will increase F1’s popularity not harm it.

    That’s because we live in this substanceless, sales driven, X-factor, simulation, ‘get beat up by someone up on a bus for confronting a loud mobile phone user’ culture where cheating is so commonplace it feels like you have to join in or miss out.

    Yes, Senna drove into Prost – but at least he was honest about it.

    1. John H, you are right all of this will indeed increase F1’s popularity. You know what, since this started, at work that’s all people are talking about. And since they know I’m into F1, asking my views and when it will be on again on the TV. If it carries on like this, it will take over from Eastenders. LOL.

    2. Yes, Senna drove into Prost – but at least he was honest about it.

      True, but it took him a year to admit it.

    3. Just to add a bit more irritating spice and conspiracy theories and whatnots,

      it could be Singapore GP’s way of increasing publicity to sell out the final few tickets.

      Negative publicity is still publicity after all.

  9. Quit slamming Alonso, what about Lewis ‘liegate’, there was evidence. Alonso will gladly throw way the Singapore GP win, hey, he’s a 2 times WDC not that he’s not won before and he wasn’t fighting for the 2008 WDC. Vanity has taken Nelson to a different level, cheat just to stay in F1, it’s glamourous you know. No wonder Nelson never mentioned Alonso in the plot, BECAUSE IT”S TRUE he didn’t know. Piquet should stand by the fence and watch F1.

  10. A very strange question has raised in my mind that is this the first time happened in f1.we know all this becuase piquet disclosed it.and this rarely happens in f1.wonder this thing happened before.i would glad to know abt previous races which were won in the similar circumstances..Throw some light on my point.

  11. Piquet Snr also moved to clarify media headlines that suggested he had accused Fernando Alonso of also being involved in the crash conspiracy.
    “All I said was that an intelligent driver like Alonso would ask questions if his team told him to come in to pit after 12 laps from fifteenth on the grid.
    “As a driver I would have suspected something, so I can imagine only with difficulty that Fernando didn’t know anything,” he added.

    Wish could give Piquet snr a good slap and not Mosley style! Honestly, Alonso is unlikely to comment until the hearing anyway, no-one knows if he knew and maybe he didn’t question strategy or accepted it; he needed to make a gamble to get anything out of Singapore.

    1. Where’d you see that, Steph?

  12. people who believe alonso was involved in it are the ones who dont know him.Alonso drove his heart out in that uncompetetive renault.He extracted every tenth out of that car.and the way he celebrated singapore win should put these speculations to end but iam afraid people are blaming alonso.He didnt know abt this.whY Would flavio tell alonso abt this?.wHY would a worlchampion who is one of the most respected driver on the grid wnts to win in this way..
    if he wanted such wins he could have stayed in mclaren but he prefered to go to renualt.recall ur memory”its better to score points in renault than to win in mclaren”….and guys no one can win a race if he knows he is cheating..i bet on it.the way he stood on podium and was talking to flavio after race is the clear demonstration of the fact that he didnt know abt it.

    1. Well, I would like to know the radio conversation between Alonso and the team. Was the pit stop scheduled or did they just suddenly call him into the pits and if so, what reason did they give him?

      And if the stop was scheduled, why would Alonso agree to such an idiotic strategy?

      1. And now I’ve read the transcript but it reveals nothing.

        1. The team transcript shows that Alonso’s engineer was debating with Symonds that they should not let Alonso pit yet. Symonds then said “It will be OK”.

  13. Is there a cash prize for wining an F1 race? If so, then if Alonso denounces his race win at Singapore, it would be nice to donate the money prize to a charity.

    I find this whole thing shocking. Shocking that it would be considered and asked, and shocking that a driver would actually go through with it.

    Niki Lauda recently said this about Piquet- “When I drove we were men and would have said no.”
    F1 has become very corporate, and people are afraid of saying no.

    Oh to be a fly on the wall.

    1. Yes there is prize money, plus teams get money depending on their finishing position in the constructors championship.

      1. F Alonso uses to give the prize to his racing engineers, as many other drivers.

        1. :-) and this was not allowed at Mclaren…

  14. Author’s expectation from Alonso is like asking Kim Clisters to renounce her recent win in US Open because Other Participant (Serena Williams) defaulted the Semi-final match.Because now the Win has become tainted because of someone else’s wrong doing.

    1. That’s something completely different. You don’t have to excuse yourself for utter stupidity/cheating of the opponent.

      The case here is that someone did something bad on your behalf.

      Another example that would be Steffi Graph denouncing the win over Monica Seles after the latter got stabbed by a Graph fan.

      Steffi Graph had nothing to do with that either, but still, that’s not how a true champion wants to win.

      1. You don’t have to excuse yourself for utter stupidity/cheating of the opponent.

        All 20 drivers are competitors against each others!!! , Hence the comparison between two incidents is very much valid.

        Steffi Graph had nothing to do with that either

        Steffi( and Her Father) were losing sponsorship monies due to meteoric rise of Seles, and thus indirectly Steffi was benefited (Like Alonso in this case).

        I don’t remember Steffi “Renouncing” Anything :-?, She Denounced the attack and so far it is not proven if anybody (Father) arranged the attack on her behalf ( Looking into financial troubles Peter Graf ended up eventually its quite likely though)

        1. OK, in bold then.

          He should denounce the win because the team CHEATED on his behalf.

          Graph did speak about the stabbing. For instance:
          “It’s not easy for me to live with, knowing that I’m Number 1 because she was attacked.”

    2. Williams that is a rubbish comparison

  15. Keith it was either autosport or newsonf1 they are the only sites I’ve been able 2 check today. At uni right now but that won’t stop me coming on here when there’s such a big scandal lol.
    Lauda’s interview is also on the Dailymail which somewhere on that site there’s about 15 different documents from the FIA.

  16. Alonso’s [alleged] involvement in ‘crashgate’ must be investigated. For, anyone who was involved or knew about this incident has committed wrong. If someone were involved in this incident’s coming to be, clearly, that person has committed a very serious wrong. But, if someone just knew what occurred and failed to report it, that person has also committed a serious wrong. As we saw in Australia, the drivers, et al, have a duty to be truthful and wholly forthcoming. To fail to comment (or, worse, to lie) when one knows that there has been a wrong committed is to (a) be dishonest in nature; (b) fail to conform to the FIA requirement of total disclosure and transparency; (c) to be(explicitly or implicitly)involved in a cover-up.

    If Alonso did not know about Piquet’s crash before it happened, why did he, a clever, experienced and talent driver, agree to a pit-stop strategy where he was to refuel after just 12 laps, on a track at which overtaking is extremely difficult (to say the least), when he was back down in 15th position on the grid. The logically choice, here, it seems, would have been for Alonso to carry a heavy fuel load and hope for others’ misfortune and, more importantly, the odd safety car. It is alleged that Alonso did more than just hope for a safety car. We’re frequently told that it is Alonso himself, not simply his engineers, who choose Alonso’s fuel strategy. Alonso’s odd fuel choice is, then, at the very least, suspicious. Alonso’s odd fuel strategy, combined with his status and influence in the team, and the fact that he was the chief benefactor from Piquet’s deliberate crash, could suggest that Alonso at least knows more than he’s currently admitting. We should also use a person’s past actions, his past history, as a guide to his actions. And Alonso has a history of being ruthless (recall his threatening to blackmail Big Ron if Ron didn’t make Lewis Alonso’s No: 2, since Lewis was too good for Alonso on the track. Moreover, Alonso has been involved, in some way, with every major scandal of the last five years.

    One final note. What Renault are alleged to have done is incredibly serious. The Times even calls it the worst single instance of cheating in sporting history. Renault, if found guilty, should face appropriate sanctions. Max has already said that what Renault are alleged to have done is worse than what McLaren allegedly did in ‘Spygate’. The threat of Renault leaving F1 should have no influence in the case.

    1. What you say is all true and logical. What I can’t understand is if Alonso gets off Scott free – that will be completely unjust. But I suspect he will.

      1. Alistair, if you read the full Renault transcript you will find that the Pit stop was scheduled on Lap 15. Then the team decided to bring him on Lap 12 because He was going to be held up by Nakizima (As was comunicated to Alanso from the team).

        Also, if you see the practice timing from that weekend, Alanso was incredibly quick. A 1 stop stategy would mean may be a 2-3 place gain. SO, tacking a gamble on a short first stint was not an absurd idea but a realistic strategy for me.

        Now, whether the manner in which his victory came raised any question or not in his mind is a different Issue. If it would have come into his mind, then it should have come into the mind of the FIA Stewards as well… So, they should have investigated the issue then and there and asked for the telemetry data…

        You can blame Alanso without any proof.

    2. Alistair, I agree his role should be investigated. But it won’t be. Alonso is one of F1’s major assets and none of the parties involved – though busy tearing each other’s heads off – seems to have any personal vendetta to resolve with Alonso (Piquet Sr. has been backtracking on his earlier assertion that Alonso ‘must have known’).

      But I’d ask where in the world would a criminal investigation not investigate the involvement of the main beneficiary of the crime, particularly when he or she was also on the crime scene????

      I realize it’s not a criminal investigation (yet) but the same logic should apply.

  17. If all this is true then its really stupid of Renault to have fired Piquet Jr. Way to stab yourself in the back.

    As for the article, great headline, does wonders for your credibility.

    And why stop at Alonso — let’s get all drivers who ever “cheated” to win to renounce their positions. I suspect we’ll have an illustrious list.

  18. While Piquets at it he might as well say that all his crashes were under orders :D It would definatly explain alot.

    Alonso is no saint but I hope he didnt know about it.

  19. Keith, this is not up to your usual excellent standard. I rather like this site as I feel it provides informed and usually balanced opinion. The opinions seem to have taken over in this piece however. While you raise an important and interesting question over the validity of Alonso’s victory, the personal opinions expressed as fact throughout the piece only serve to weaken your case.

    1. @Psuedohendrix – Well well said

    2. … if you make comments like that, you should explain what you mean, exactly…

  20. Bob Thomas - US
    17th September 2009, 15:50

    Alonso stated after the race that the victory was the result of “strategy and luck”. I believe the strategy was initially a gamble on the part of the team. From their grid position, they had nothing to loose because passing is nearly impossible on the Marina Bay street circuit, even for the best of drivers. They knew a safety car following Alonso’s first fuel stop could give them the lead, which they might even be able to keep. It was worth the gamble considering the alternative. The transcript of the team’s communications clearly shows the early stop was originally part of a three stop fuel plan from the engineers point of view.

    Either Briatore or Symonds came up with the idea of creating an early safty car, either before or after the three stop strategy was planned. I can’t see Piquet hatching this plan himself, although he was, by his own testimony, brought in the morning of the race. There is nothing in any of the released information to show anyone else other than this trio had any idea what was going down.

    This is just my opinion. I don’t think Alonso knew. I think Flavio and Pat kept it between themselves and Nelsino for good reason. They knew Alonso would do his part knowing the plan or not. Telling him or anyone else on the team would only add further risk that the truth would come out one day. Unfortunately for Flavio and Pat, it did.

    Piquet Jr, in my opinion, is just as responsible for this incident as the other two. He had the final say in the execution of the plan. He did a convincingly good job too for the unwilling participant he claims to be. His motive was selfish and from all that’s been said publicly, you could deduce there was blackmail going on before his departure. According to the FIA, they were informed by Piquet Sr in July, Nelsino was not sacked until August. Make your own conclusion there.

    It would be nice if Pat Symonds would one day talk candidly with a respected journalist and explain all the details of this sordid tragedy . That’s probably our best chance of ever knowing what really happened.

    1. Piquet was a young man under incredible pressure to perform in an environment that was anything but fair. Piquet was habitually given inferior equipment, time, and opportunity compared with Alonso, and his seat was under constant pressure. These are the facts: they may be justifiable given Alonso’s superior talent. But Piquet’s alleged agreeing to crash, in these circumstances, would not be as bad as the alleged decision of his superiors to have him do just that. Let’s not forget that Flavio is the team boss and Piquet’s manager. He is a successful, experienced businessman. Symonds is also a mature man and has great experience of F1. The blame, for me, therefore, lies squarely with these two individuals – if it lies with any of the three. Yes. Piquet should have known better. But so too should have Flavio and Symonds. And I think that it should have been more obvious to Flavio and Symonds that they should have known better than it should have been to Piquet that he should have known better. Indeed, this is the view that the FIA took in relation to ‘Liegate’, where the FIA and the team put the blame at the team officials and not Lewis Hamilton, principally, who’s young, inexperienced, and contractually obliged to follow his team’s course of action in these circumstances.

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