Who is Renault’s “Witness X”?

A fourth member of the Renault team knew about the conspiracy

A fourth member of the Renault team knew about the conspiracy

The FIA has formally published the widely-leaked evidence relating to Renault’s Singapore trial, along with various other documents including a 76-minute recording of the discussion at yesterday’s World Motor Sports Council meeting.

The material can be downloaded from the FIA website.

Although there isn’t much in the documents that hasn’t already been made public, there is one interesting revelation about a fourth person at the team who knew what was going on:

In those additional submissions, Renault F1 referred to the existence of another member of the Renault F1 team (??Witness X??) who, although not a conspirator himself, knew of the conspiracy at the time of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Renault F1 stated in its submissions of 17 September 2009 that Witness X had confirmed that Mr Briatore had known of the deliberate crash plan before it had been put into effect.

30. Renault F1 submitted that Witness X was a ??whistleblower? within its team and that if his identity were to be revealed it may discourage other similarly situated persons to come forward in relation to this or other matters. The FIA considered this argument to have some merit, given that Witness X was said not himself to be a conspirator. However, the FIA considered that this argument had to be balanced against the requirements of the FIA?s investigation and the requirement to put the full facts before the WMSC. The FIA therefore agreed with Renault F1 that the identity of Witness X would be made known to the FIA?s President, and certain of the FIA?s legal advisers only. Renault also agreed to put forward Witness X for interview by one of the FIA?s external counsel, Mr Paul Harris. To protect his identity Witness X is not identified in this decision.

31. With Renault?s cooperation, Witness X was subjected to detailed interview and examination. The interview established to the satisfaction of the FIA?s legal advisers that Renault F1?s description of the evidence of Witness X in Renault F1?s written submissions of 17 September 2009 was accurate. As a result of the interview, the FIA put a number of additional questions to Renault F1?s lawyers.

On 19 September 2009, Renault F1 made a third and final set of written submissions. In those submissions, Renault F1 stated as follows: ??Renault F1 has concluded that the following had knowledge of the conspiracy to cause a safety car: Nelson Piquet Junior, Pat Symonds, Flavio Briatore and [Witness X]. [Witness X] was told of the idea suggested by Nelson Piquet Junior by Mr Symonds, whilst in the presence of Mr Briatore. [Witness X] objected to the idea. He did not know the plan was to be carried into effect until the crash happened. As a result of the evidence, including Mr Piquet’s admission, Mr Symond’s responses and [Witness X?s] evidence, Renault F1 concluded that they and Mr Briatore must have known about the conspiracy.??

32. When the FIA?s advisers interviewed Witness X, he expressly confirmed that Mr Briatore was involved in the conspiracy because Witness X had been personally present at a meeting shortly after qualifying on Saturday 27 September 2008 when Mr Symonds had mentioned the possibility of a crash plan to Mr Briatore. The FIA?s advisers were confident that Witness X himself played no active role in the conspiracy and that, indeed, he had objected to it and sought to distance himself from it.

This raises several questions – first of all, who is the mystery ‘Witness X’? A race engineer? A mechanic? One of the people who questioned Alonso’s strategy of Pat Symonds on the pitwall during the race? (see pages 46-63 of the evidence dossier).

Furthermore, why was Nelson Piquet Jnr’s evidence needed if this witness had already come forward and the FIA had access to the incriminating Renault telemetry? And why was this witness allowed to conceal their identity while Piquet’s identity was published?

Please share your thoughts below on this or anything else in the evidence supplied by the FIA. If you’re listening to the WMSC recording you can hear Fernando Alonso’s testimony at 15:48 and Nelson Piquet Jnr’s from 17:59.

Update: FIA vice-president for Mohammed bin Sulayem has described the Renault verdict as being ‘negotiated’. He said: “We did our negotiations before and everybody is happy with the result. The verdict is fair and everyone is a winner.” Is he admitting the FIA verdict was a sop to Renault? Incidentally, Sulayem crashed a Renault F1 car at a demonstration run earlier this year.

Renault Singapore crash controversy

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233 comments on Who is Renault’s “Witness X”?

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  1. Is it Alonso?

    Why does it say ‘suggested by Nelson Piquet Jr.’? Makes it sound like it was his idea.

    Witness X didn’t like the idea, maybe that and the discouraging others from stepping forward is why they remain anonymous.

  2. nelson piquet snr???

  3. I can’t believe Piquet Snr. would have been in that meeting. Alonso, I can believe that though. I can believe that a lot.

    Questions the FIA still need to answer include ‘Is X still with the team ?’

  4. My guess is Witness X could be NPJ’s race engineer.

    • What would NPJs race engineer do with this info? What do Flavio and Symonds gain by sharing this info with NPJ’s race engineer ?

      IF he does get to know this information from Flavio and co, he will be doing the following nothing of which I believe is any good to the team.

      1. The race engineer can enjoy the previous evening and the whole sunday because he know very well that this race is compramised and that the car needs to run just 12 laps. So just make sure it can run 12 laps.

      2. Make the Right side of the car stronger than left provided the side has also been decided so that NPJ will have no physical injury.

      3. Become another unhappy employee of Renault F1 along with NPJ becasue no one respects the car he is working.It is just used to crash to make the other car win.

      With these in mind it is very Unlikely that Flavio and Co will call that guy and let him know the idea.

      OR MAY BE I am missing something completely here :)

    • Tynesider said on 23rd September 2009, 17:31

      You are dead on, the only person that would of been in that meeting!

  5. Obviously it is Alonso. Remember McLaren in 2007. He is that kind of sportman, without moral limits.

    • Ronman said on 23rd September 2009, 7:15

      Sportman you say??? surely that is an overstatement…

      • Oh you’re so right the both of you – he’s evil, and talentless to boot.

        • Aquatic Mammal said on 23rd September 2009, 13:45

          He’s neither of those things. He is ruthless and supremely talented.

          • Well, if u r not ruthless. you cant survive. Did anyone read vettel’s comments in f1 racing. “A racer needs to have a big ego and F1 reminds him of his schooling days.” One got to put himself over others.

  6. Why would Alonso be involved in another big problem like this? If he was involved with McLaren and Ferrari’s issue back in 2007, I’m sure he would learn his lesson and not get into things. He is pretty smart.

    • S Hughes said on 22nd September 2009, 23:25

      Not that smart as he claims he didn’t smell a very obvious strategy rat.

      • S Hughes said on 22nd September 2009, 23:41

        … or so he says…

        • mp4-19b said on 23rd September 2009, 6:01

          Hughes I really wish you were on that WMSC panel. I’m sure you would have forced the truth out of Mr X aka F.Alonso’s mouth ;)

          I’m really surprised that the dumbo panel members let go of Alonso so easily!! If I were on that panel I would have bombarded him with questions!!

          • S Hughes said on 23rd September 2009, 10:02

            I know, what a great investigation that was.

            WMSC panel: Mr Alonso (bow, scrape, genuflect), did you know anything about crashgate?

            Mr Alonso: No.

            WMSC panel: Well that’s alright then, you may go.

            THE END

          • That’s the funny part, that might have happened for real.

          • Oh get over yourself S Hughes. Wasn’t it your precious ‘Lewis’ that was actually caught lying only a few months ago..?

          • Did u bombard Lewid with questions in hungary 2007 when he declined to let alonso pass ? Is Ron Dennis ur dad ?

  7. Wow, interesting… Yesterday, Reginaldo Leme said that he have other revelations to do in the next few days.
    So, Lets wait…

  8. Alistair said on 22nd September 2009, 21:31

    Alonso? Past history would suggest that he’s more than capable of this. If ‘Witness X’ knew what was going to happen beforehand, and decided not to come forward, then he’s a key part of the infamous year-long race-fixing conspiracy. Ergo, he should be punished. The FIA are a complete joke. I very much hope that the next FIA President can restore some much needed credibility to his organization; though, I won’t hold my breath…

    • But we don’t know who it is yet, so how about putting a break on drawing conclusions from total speculation?

  9. steph90 said on 22nd September 2009, 21:32

    Jorge if he is witness x then he didn’t want it to happen; it says therefore has some morals. Piquet’s engineer may have known after and been suspicious but before? And why has this eebn released now? To drag someone else into this mess?

  10. Who “is” Renault’s “Witness X”? :)

  11. Maksutov said on 22nd September 2009, 21:34

    Witness X = NP Snr, or Alonso …

  12. David Smith said on 22nd September 2009, 21:34

    BBC’s top gear Stig?

  13. I would bet it’s Alonso. There’s no way a driver like him would accept such a stupid strategy without knowing that Piquet would crash for him. Therfore, if the FIA say he was not involved and didn’t punish hime, I rekon that its because he also got imunity.

  14. steph90 said on 22nd September 2009, 21:35

    Looks like this isn’t over just yet then…

  15. I have listened to a good portion of the hearing. Am I right in reading that the FIA know the identity of Witness X and thus we can safely discount Alonso from this?

    Also, what are the implications for Witness X? Surely, by him knowing about the plan, he is therefore a co-conspirator in some fashion, if only by the fact that he knew what was going on and did nothing about, regardless of his ability to affect the plan?

    • Alistair said on 22nd September 2009, 21:53

      ‘Also, what are the implications for Witness X? Surely, by him knowing about the plan, he is therefore a co-conspirator in some fashion, if only by the fact that he knew what was going on and did nothing about, regardless of his ability to affect the plan?’

      Exactly my point! It follows, from this, that ‘Witness X’ has failed to meet the FIA requirement of total honesty, openness, and disclosure that was so important in ‘Lie-gate’. Witness X is a co-conspirator and should be punished.

      What puzzles me somewhat is why the FIA don’t just reveal who ‘Witness X’ is? If he were just a race-engineer or other ‘minor’ figure at RenaultF1, his being named surely wouldn’t harm him? In fact, it seems to me that it would benefit him: it shows that this person has some moral fortitude, patently lacked by the top management. I don’t think that a ‘minor’ figure at RenaultF1, such as a race-engineer or technician, would need to be protected with anonymity. That leads me to conclude that ‘Witness X’ is a major figure at RenaultF1. The logical choice (the only choice?) is Alonso. He is, presumably, being given anonymity to disassociate himself from the scandal: which he would want, given his involvement in ‘Spygate’, etc. How can anyone seriously believe that a person as intelligent, strong, and experienced as Alonso, a man who has a very central role at Renault, would be unaware of the Piquet plot to give Alonso a win?!

      • Mecheng said on 23rd September 2009, 15:07

        Firstly, there is a difference between being a conspirator in an incident, and simply having knowledge of it. A conspirator had an active role in developing the plan. Not justifying the Mr X, because going along with the knowledge of said plan is also very wrong.

        Regarding the identity of Witness X, I do believe that no matter what, if his identity were revealed, it would harm him no matter how big or small of a figure he was. Any future employer would know that he allowed the incident to happen, despite the fact that he was aware of it, this alone condemns his judgement. Not to mention that he is a whistleblower. Whether people like it or not, F1 is all about taking every advantage you can get, bending the rules, etc. therefore every team, at one point or another has likely done some things that they didnt want the FIA to know about. Would you want a known whistleblower on your team, know he would have no problem ratting you out one day for ‘bending the rules?’.

        Finally, I am a huge Alonso fan, anyone that dethroned Schumacher will have my eternal praise. However he is a true F1 driver through and through, and will no doubt do allot of things to help him win (Spygate, Hamilton pit-lane hold-up, brake tests, etc.). Given his past, I definitely would not put this kind of thing past old Fernando.

        Either way, all of this is exciting and is what makes F1 so entertaining, theres so much drama and controversy. I find the WRC just as entertaining as F1, but it lacks the off-track drama of F1.

    • UnicornF1 said on 23rd September 2009, 9:31

      like NPJ, the X guy got immunity

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