Fernando Alonso should renounce his Singapore Grand Prix ‘win’


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’

  1. I too do not think Alonso knew about it, assuming it all really transpired as alleged.

    His body language, his delight at winning, seemed genuine and did not strike me as the behavior of a man who knew he had it under the belt due to dubious reason.

    However I wonder if he has subsequently found out the truth, as I find his driving this season less inspired, and he seems to have lost his customary brio. Could it be disillusionment?

  2. S Hughes said on 17th September 2009, 16:08

    This from autosport (apologies if it has already been quoted): http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/78682

    This passage in particular:

    The other intriguing aspect is how much Alonso knew – either before or after the race – about the events that took place. The FIA investigations suggest that he was totally in the dark about what Symonds, Briatore and Piquet had agreed, yet there have to be some doubts as to why he would accept such a radical strategy before the event – and, for someone of his intelligence, would not have quietly questioned the perfect timing of Piquet’s crash afterwards.

    Just what I’ve been saying – I could have written that myself!

    • Alistair said on 17th September 2009, 16:15

      I, and many others, have been saying that too. In addition to Autosport, Pitpass.com has a quote in the same vein. They suggest that Ferrari haven’t announced Alonso yet because they want to wait to see how he emerges from ‘Crashgate’.

      • S Hughes said on 17th September 2009, 17:42

        Thanks for pointing me in the direction of that article – http://www.pitpass.com/fes_php/pitpass_feature_item.php. Very interesting indeed.

        Here is the passage in question:

        I guess that the reason why Ferrari has not announced its drivers for 2010 is that it wants to see how Alonso comes out of the hearing. He went along with a seemingly illogical decision to refuel after only 12 laps. The Spygate affair showed him to be utterly ruthless as did his threat of blackmailing Ron Dennis.

        Alonso was granted immunity over Spygate. There are many whispers and fingers pointed at him over Crashgate. I cannot be the only person who noticed how accessible Fernando was to the media at Monza, and how pleasant and modest he was. Martin Brundle even commented on this during the TV coverage.

        The driver market will not kick in until Alonso’s future is known and it is a fair bet that it will not be known until after the WMSC hearing. … What is under negotiation is not the conditions of [Kimi] leaving, but whether Kimi can be persuaded to stay should Alonso suddenly not look that good a prospect.

  3. Steph90 said on 17th September 2009, 16:23

    I doubt Ferrari would have announced Alonso now anyway but definately this will slow things down and make them more cautious.

  4. Steph90 said on 17th September 2009, 16:30

    Massa potentially partnering a man who may have been involved in a situation which led to the Ferrari mess and him leading the championship. And what would Ferrari think? Interesting
    That said I still don’t think Alonso knew at any point what happened or was involved in any way and from personal opinion can say that without doubt (though it is opinion), I’m just playing out scenarios.

  5. I’m sure Alonso had a good idea of what might have happened on that day. He has been racing in F1 for years and knows whats coincident and what isn’t. Its not his job to police the team. He is hired to drive and keep his scrutiny to himself. It would have been out of place for him to publicly speculate what happened. Now if he was directly in the loop then he should get burned for it as well.

  6. Clare msj said on 17th September 2009, 16:39

    Excellent article Keith!

    I think it would be a great idea for Alonso, and Renault, to renounce the win. It cant actually be taken away from them I don’t think, as last year’s results are set in stone now, but I think it would give both of them some credibility and would show that they don’t accept occurrences like that to just say they don’t count it as a true win. It would be a positive gesture more than anything but I think it would do them both a favour. The whole race result becomes a farce as well, not just Alonso’s win – those behind him would have benefitted/lost out from the safety car being deployed so even if you could, taking Alonso out of the result doesn’t make the classification any more real.

    I don’t believe that Alonso was in on it before the race, and although he may well have had his suspicions after the race, what was he supposed to do? Stand up and hand in his team? They are his employers after all.(I know he may have had a hand in the Mclaren incident the other year by handing them in but that was different – that wasn’t race fixing or endangering other people, plus that was an ongoing issue that could be stopped – this was an isolated incident that couldn’t be changed) If he had found out right after, admitting he had discovered what the team had done would still have created the same uproar we see now, and losing his win wouldn’t have changed the fact that the result was farcical. Alonso was just one of several who gained from the safety car, and as much as I would have loved Rosberg to take the win – he was one of those who gained and it wouldn’t have been a true win, just like Alonso’s wasn’t.

    Alonso may well not have known for sure until a couple of weeks ago – and whether he knew right after, or only this year, I don’t think either makes him guilty as he didn’t have a hand in the decision, nor do I think the Renault team is guilty as a whole – by all accounts it was down to just three people – there is no evidence that anyone else knew beforehand. Noone else had any control over it.

    I think the team should have a hefty fine, as some punishment does need to be handed out – but as the guilty parties are not at the team anymore it makes punishment very difficult to place I think. Fine and suspended sentence or summat as well as lifetime bans for Briatore and Symonds.

    I’m not sure what should be done with regards to Piquet though – yes he shouldn’t have done it, but part of me wonders what on earth kind of pressure was he under at the team to feel that he had to do that!! I kinda feel sorry for him in all this, because he isn’t going to come out of it with a good name at all, and you wouldn’t just drive into a wall if you weren’t seriously under pressure. It’s not a decision anyone would just accept for no reason. He must have really had a bad time at Renault, no wonder he kinda exploded with all these criticisms once he left, such a huge weight must have been lifted. That said he probably should get some kind of punishment, even if he was under pressure he should have just refused and taken the consequences. Although that’s easy for me to say, it wasn’t the job that I have worked my entire life to get that was on the line. Tis a confusing situation!

    • S Hughes said on 17th September 2009, 16:52

      Yes, I feel sorry for Piquet as well. He must be a broken man now. Where does he go from here? I hope his dad has enough cash to keep him going because he won’t be touched with a barge pole now.

  7. I Think Alonso is a member of Al-qaida

  8. adz2193 said on 17th September 2009, 17:08

    Renault should renounce the win, Alonso has no need to. If Alonso is to renounce this win, then Massa has to renounce his win in Spa, and maybe even Kovalainen should renounce his win in Hungary.

    Alonso can do no more than say he’s sorry for the fans and feels let down, unless he was in on it, in which case he should recieve a life ban from motorsport.

  9. massa might have won the race and championship.did anybody thought about that guys.i really feel.

  10. Steph90 said on 17th September 2009, 17:19

    yes I know ryan so it is a shame all this wasn’t sorted out at the time esp when plenty were suspicious back then!

  11. mp4-19b said on 17th September 2009, 18:02

    Just observe Piquet’s reaction in this video at 0.45 sec.


  12. steph90 said on 17th September 2009, 18:15

    Yep thanks mp4, I saw it live and watched it again on the DVD review, it made me think for a second but I just didn’t believe anyone would go to such extremes…

  13. Rikhart said on 17th September 2009, 19:16

    Obviously alonso knew all about this, or are people under the very false impression he´s mr. clean?

    Forgotten his lively chatter with pedro de la rosa about the “stolen” information from ferrari, did we? Of course he knew, and hes exactly the sort of chap that fits right along briatore.

  14. I think Alonso knew, and he was part of this plan, Otherwise how the hell he accepted that ridiculous strategy ??
    Briatore, Symonds, Piquet and Alonso should be punished !!

  15. Alonso im not sure he will see it like that “just letting the win go” because he knows he would of won the race if not for the incident to put him down the grid so his idea will be: “i had bad luck but i was the best on the circuit.” There will be 2 choices going though Alonso’s head “why should i give up my win that i worked just as hard as everyone else?” or “I didn’t deserve to win i will let it go but what about the other drivers in the past/present who have cheated but didnt do the same” but if he doesn’t let the win go he will look a bigger cheat then Micheal schumacher Ramming Damon Hill off and have a bad rep like Piquet jnr either way Alonso will have a finger pointed at him for something he probably never knew.

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