Did more foul play by Renault scupper Schumacher in the 2006 title decider?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fisichella and Schumacher collided in the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix
Fisichella and Schumacher collided in the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix

Following Renault’s admission that Nelson Piquet Jnr crashed during the Singapore Grand Prix last year to help Fernando Alonso win, you have to wonder whether anything similar has happened before.

In the 2006 title-decider at Interlagos, Michael Schumacher’s slim title chances were ruined when he made contact with Alonso’s then team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella.

Did Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have another one of their chats, this time with Fisichella, before that race and tell him to use any opportunity to hinder Schumacher?

Here’s a replay of the incident:

Schumacher passed Fisichella around the outside of turn one, but soon after his Ferrari lurched sideways and he had to crawl around an entire lap of the track. Fisichella’s front wing had made contact with the left-rear tyre, causing a puncture.

Although this ruined Schumacher’s race and virtually guaranteed his championship chances were over, it’s worth remembering how small his chances of winning the title were to begin with.

He went into the race ten points behind Alonso. Schumacher could only win the title by claiming victory in the race with Alonso finishing outside the top eight.

Of course, Schumacher was no saint when it came to championship-deciders, and as he went past Fisichella the next man up the road was Alonso. Briatore would have been wary of the possibility of Schumacher and Alonso tangling – after all, Schumacher won his first title for Briatore in 1994 by colliding with Damon Hill.

We’ve seen championship protagonists’ team mates get involved in title deciders before.

An incensed Jacques Villeneuve blasted Eddie Irvine after being held up by Schumacher’s team mate in qualifying for the 1997 European Grand Prix.

At Suzuka in 1999 a lapped David Coulthard made life difficult for Schumacher, who was chasing Coulthard’s team mate Mika Hakkinen. Schumacher was doing so in support of Irvine’s title bid.

We could go back even further to the 1964 title-decider in Mexico, when Graham Hill collided with Lorenzo Bandini. Bandini’s Ferrari team mate John Surtees claimed the title.

Was Fisichella briefed not to let Schumacher past without contact? I wouldn’t have given any credence to the suggest before. But in the light of what we’ve learned about last year’s race at Singapore questions like this will inevitably be asked.

On Monday the World Motor Sports Council will surely want to know if Singapore was a one-off for Renault, or whether it’s happened before.

Here’s my original report on the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix

Do you think this was another deliberate crash involving a Renault? Have there been any others? Have your say in the comments.

Renault Singapore crash controversy