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

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

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

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  1. Mailman said on 18th September 2009, 10:58

    Coulthard lifting off on the racing line in front of Schumi at Spa 1988 comes to mind…

    • djdaveyp said on 18th September 2009, 11:06

      Coulthard wasn’t racing in 1988! Neither was schumi!

    • Loved the quote from Coulthard I heard recently when talking about the confrontation in the pits afterwards where Coulthard said that he thinks he could have taken Schumi if it came to blows cos he still had his helmet on..!!

    • IIRC the telemetry showed DC had done nothing of the sort, it was all in Schumi’s mind, he screwed up and as usual blamed someone else, wonderful how he endeavored to keep his reputation as flawless by always pinning the responsibility somewhere else.

      • Maksutov said on 18th September 2009, 20:01

        well I remember this race very well. We all saw exactly what happen. Coulthard clearly did not respect the blue flag since he was being lapped. This in itself tells us that Coulthard was up to something. this went on for two laps or so. When Shumacher got frustrated, he prepared to overtake Coulthard and got really close to pass him on the next turn (gotta remember it was wet drenching down with rain). Coulthard then decided to lift off on the most unusual of places.

        DC is not stupid he knew that Schu would not see jack having all that rain.. anyway that incident can be disputed indefinitely but, I think DC was bit at wrong there…

        • and you suppose David saw Schumacher in conditions where schumacher didn’t see David? Hm…did Rosberg last year help Hamilton get the title by slowing down on the racing line in front of Kimi in Spa so he had to avoid him by running of track?

          Schumacher knew David was there, he was 2-3 seconds faster, he coul have waited and pass him safely. and it was a straight and he could have passed him on the left side.

          Webber talked **** about Kimi in Silverstone quali. Kimi moved to the left and Webber wanted him to stay on the right and it was tha same situation, except for the rain.

        • http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/low/motorsport/formula_one/3047680.stm

          The 32-year-old revealed his fears as he admitted for the first time that he may have been at fault in his infamous incident with Michael Schumacher in Belgium five years ago.


          “The stewards looked at the data and I hadn’t braked, so it was just all brushed under the carpet. The reality is that I lifted to let him pass me, but I lifted in heavy spray on the racing line. You should never do that. I would never do that now.”

      • i agree, well at least he tried to keep his reputation flawless :D

        Like i said, Schumacher was 2-3 seconds faster in that lap, he smacked into the back of David and blamed him for lifting.

        as for team mates helping out – you forgot one of the most obvius helpers in the past 10 years. it was 2003 german GP where Rubens Barrichello caused an accident and took out Kimi Raikkonen. After the race he admited he was told by Todt to do anything to stop Kimi for getting ahead and if you remember, the Finn lost the title by 2-3 points, a lot less than he would have got in that race!

        not to mention all the help Schumacher got from the FIA..banning McLaren’s perfectly legal third brake pedal, allowing Ferrari to run TC, changing Michelin tyres mid season, banning Berlilium,…

  2. Keith, one fears it is an Pandora’s box that has just been opened. If it was true, with the emphasis being on if, then it would be very ironic that fisi is now in red, especially since MSc cldnt b.

  3. This is sad thing about “Crashgate”. Now not even the diehard F1 fan can believe any past results without this sort of speculation going on.

    We all know teammates will make life difficult for opposing drivers, up to the letter of the law. But, now we are looking further back at previous races doubting the true intentions of drivers, when we should be reminiscing on the wonderful on track battles that were fought out fairly.

    Did Fisi make deliberate contact? I don’t want to know to be honest.
    Next thing, you’ll be telling me Santa Claus doesn’t exist. :D

  4. Telling Fisi to hold Schumacher up is perfectly fair game, isn’t it?

    It’s rather different from the Norbert Fontana allegations in 1997.

  5. Hhhhm tin foil hats stuff this I think. There was no need for Renault to try this the title was nearly guarrenteed anyway for Alonso. Also if Fisi had misjudged it and ploughed into the back of Schumi he would have blown the whole plan by making it obvious. I think thats a conspiracy theory we can dismiss.

  6. I don’t believe in coincidences, but I don’t think Fisi gave Schumacher a puncture deliberately. If it was deliberate, all he had to do was lock up at turn 1 and slide into him.

    Speaking of not believing in coincidences, I’ve always thought the three identical qualifying times in the ’97 race at Jerez were extremely suspicious…

    • I have also always wondered about that too LewisC…odds are nigh on impossible and yet in a title decider the three protagonists all qualify with the same time???? As far as Fisi doing it to Schumi…possibly but its in the past…let it lie there.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th September 2009, 16:21

      That was just downright weird. But hard to see what anyone had to gain from it.

      • “The Science of Discworld” investigated the Jerez 1997 and concluded there was a 1 in 1000 chance of it happening in any given race under probability theory, given a few (broad) assumptions. There have been 816 races in the F1 World Championship so far and only one has featured such an eventuality, so it’s within the realms of probability, if a rather amazing coincidence of timing.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th September 2009, 23:50

          Congratulations, Alianora – thanks to you I’ve managed to get my girlfriend, who’s a fan of Terry Pratchett but not F1 – to read a comment on this site!

        • 1 in a 1000 if two cars recorded identical times. It is 1 in 1000*1000 for a third car to join.

          Uncle Bernie controls the timing, ha?

          That is nothing compared to last year robbing of the title from Massa with two Toyotas doing almost similar times on the last lap while half a lap apart with variable conditions and variable driving styles.

          And YES Colthard did lift off to let Schumacher pass in 1998 as per team order but on the racing line which is more dangerous than what NPJ did by huge margin. Schumacher said then “Do you want to kill me?”


          God > infinity

          • mp4-19b said on 19th September 2009, 5:37

            God > infinity

            Can you possibly prove it mathematically?

          • The book didn’t say 1 in 1000 for two people to get the same time. It said 1 in 1000 for three people to get the same time (i.e. what happened in Jerez 1997).

            Keith, pleased to see your girlfriend is reading your blog :) and I like her taste in reading material. If you (or she) wants to look it up, it’s Chapter 31 of Book 1, Chapter 31 (“Nine Times Out Of Ten”).

          • I don’t think “God > infinity” is mathematically provable, incidentally. Infinity, according to logic (of which mathematics is a subset), must include everything. (The definition of everything varies according to which version of infinity is in use – see “The Science of Discworld III” for more on this).

            “Everything” in logic includes all things.

            God is a thing (unless you’re an atheist, in which case it’s an idea, which would make its comparison with infinity beyond the scope of mathematics).

            Therefore, the following must be the case in a non-atheist universe:

            God >= infinity (where >= means “less than or equal to)

            I also wonder how we managed to get to this point from the antics of Nelson Piquet Jr. and co…

          • ConcedoNulli said on 20th September 2009, 10:09

            Surely the onus should be for the overtaker to make the pass? Is it not more sensible for the backmarker to stay on his line. The overtaker will then know exactly where the backmarker’s car placement will be, his braking points etc. I have always thought it more dangerous for aslower/less experienced car/driver combination to spend time checking mirrors and going offline!

        • just now in Bulgaria the same loto winning number was drawn twice in a row. i think there is a far smaller chance for that and i doubt it happened anywhere in the world in all these hunderds of years of lottery drwing.

    • This was one Qualifying That I will never forget in my life… I was watching and was Like WOW…… 3 people to the dot……

    • I don’t see how it is suspicious.

      Even if teams were to plan amongst each other and set the exact same time, to get it right to the thousandth of a second is beyond any mastermind’s capability.

  7. considering MSCH’s chances at the very beginning of the weekend, it just doesn’t make sense for me, however, after all the scandals and background activities damaged F1 recently, you just can’t ignore things like this.

  8. The most upsetting thing about this is…. how damn good those pre-2009 cars looked… :(

    Thanks for rubbing it in!

  9. Okay.. but this also raises questions about 1994 when Flavio was in charge of Schumi who took Hill out of the final race to claim the championship

    • And in 1994 pit-to-car radio was not recorded, as far as I know.

      Flav would have known that Hill was only a few seconds behind, and what are the chances that he’d have asked Schu to see whether he could drive the car out of the wall and just far enough…

    • Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 18th September 2009, 12:09

      Oh come on, we’ve always known Schumacher cheated that day, he even tried the same trick with Villeneuve all those years later. He didnt need any help from Flav on those occasions.

    • or the hidden software option 13 that activated Traction Control, or the fire at Hockenheim caused by Benetton illegally removing a fuel filter from the refuelling rig …

  10. It is very possible and we can only continue to guess how many times, but this surely is more oppurtunistic needing for the situation to arise.

    The Singapore crash was totally premeditated and makes it far more heinous.

    Lastly whilst I am not Alonso fan I fully believe he was in on Singapore. I can’t believe a double WC would race on such a fuel strategy without wanting to know why let alone agree to it without knowing what he stood to gain.

    • If you read the documents, they fuelled him so that he could stop around lap 15, then either take a big load on and two-stop, or a smaller load and three-stop. He wouldn’t necessarily have known why they switched him to a two-stopper.

    • sato113 said on 18th September 2009, 12:34

      doesn’t it make sense to fuel light? as you’d be the first to pit before a possible safety car.

  11. mp4-19b said on 18th September 2009, 11:41

    No, it was perfect legal racing.

  12. Richard Evans said on 18th September 2009, 11:48

    I think we should try and not speculate about maybe’s that are that far in the past, we can only take that it has happened and may do again, and we must prevent it from happening again.

    Many a sporting event has been contraversially won, and it will be no different in the future, but as long as the FIA just investigates possiblities in the future then we can move on.

  13. i just don’t want to know about things we “don’t know” yet…
    i guess that in a sport where such tremendous loads of money is present, the singapoure-gate is just the top of the iceberg. and the “game” of the powerful oligarch in f1 is best to keep in secret until everyone gets disillusioned from F1…

    • Maksutov said on 18th September 2009, 20:21

      as Donald Rumsfeld once said,

      There are things that we didn’t know. But there are things now that we know that we “DONT KNOW”!

      lol damn classic that one

      • At least get it right then.

        “because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know”.

        • Bernification said on 19th September 2009, 5:00

          And the one thing we can all know from this is- Donald Rumsfeld is trying to deceive us.

        • Maksutov said on 19th September 2009, 10:24

          im pretty pretty sure that amongst one of the briefings he concluded: “there are things that we now know we don’t know.” I remember it clearly so stfu.

          anyway in relation to the questions that he was asked, it was a duuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhh type of a reply, and an excuse to never answer the question

          and most importantly it was funny, as it always will be.

  14. Mussolini's Pet Cat said on 18th September 2009, 12:11

    Do you think Flav had anything to do with starting the second world war?? Let’s just blame him for everything.

  15. Steph90 said on 18th September 2009, 12:19

    Well autosport reports Piquet snr has said his son told the FIA about Singapore last year but they couldn’t do anything until he made a statement. All this could have been sorted ages ago!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 18th September 2009, 16:22

      Given their penchant for offering ‘immunity’ these days, why didn’t they offer it to Piquet Jnr straight away?

      • We didn’t know Nelson was the source of the investigation until the point when the investigation information started getting leaked. It’s entirely possible that Nelson had immunity all along and the FIA was using the “anonymity” part of its whistle-blowing procedure correctly. If the whistle-blowing procedure had been followed correctly, we should never have known who was giving the information which caused Renault to be investigated and therefore be in the dark as to why Piquet Jr. was suddenly granted immunity.

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