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”?

  1. David BR said on 22nd September 2009, 21:36

    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

    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.

    Put the question this way: if Symonds was to tell one person of the plan at the post-quali meeting, and one person only, who would or could that person be?

    • Oooh, so the identity was concealed by Renault then? I missed that technicality. Hmm.

    • Toby Bushby said on 22nd September 2009, 22:56

      Alistair –

      That leads me to conclude that ‘Witness X’ is a major figure at RenaultF1. The logical choice (the only choice?) is Alonso.

      David BR –

      Put the question this way: if Symonds was to tell one person of the plan at the post-quali meeting, and one person only, who would or could that person be?

      Yet Alonso has been announced in the verdict by the FIA as having no knowledge of the incident. Simply put, “Witness X” isn’t Alonso. A bitter pill for some to swallow, it seems.

      • S Hughes said on 22nd September 2009, 23:32

        Why do you keep assuming that because the FIA have concluded that Alonso is innocent, that he actually is? He was asked a couple of questions to which he replied “It wasn’t me” or words to that effect and then told to run away. Hardly a thorough investigation. Why do you assume he was telling the truth; just as many or more assume he was lying?

        • Whatever happened to being innocent until proven guilty?

          • S Hughes said on 23rd September 2009, 0:11

            He may not have been proven guilty, but that doesn’t make him innocent. It just means he won’t be punished if he is guilty.

        • Come on, S, if anyone dared make such baseless assumptions about Hamilton, you’d have had a screaming hissy fit by now.

          • well said Andy!
            x’s info helped the FIA so unless there is a conspiracy by the fia that exonerated Alonso.
            “Mr. Alonso was not in any way involved in Renault F1’s breach of the regulations,”

            Interesting that this independent “witness” states that …[Witness X] was told of the idea suggested by Nelson Piquet Junior by Mr Symonds,…”

            So Nelson Jnr has come up with this idea to crash to get a new contract, and then implements the crash and then uses the incident as blackmail, and walks away with no penalty. That is just wrong!

          • S Hughes said on 23rd September 2009, 2:15

            They do all the time though don’t they?

          • Mike W said on 23rd September 2009, 8:04

            Witness X was told of the idea suggested by Nelson Piquet Junior by Mr Symonds,…”

            Note that’s Symonds saying it was NPJs idea…

  2. hmm like mentioned above, it sounds like the plan came from piquet jr. .. as Symonds said before…
    Weird :)

    • inc0mmunicado said on 23rd September 2009, 1:12

      It says Witness X was told by Symonds that NPJ suggested the crash…not that NPJ suggested it to Witness X

    • Mecheng said on 23rd September 2009, 15:12

      Regardless of everything else, it just disgusts me that NPJ, the person who actually committed the ‘crime’, and the person who allegedly thought up the ‘crime’ is walking away scott free.

      I hope he never gets hired by any other team, including daddy’s.

    • Hallard said on 24th September 2009, 20:06

      I cant imagine Piquet Jr being smart or creative or ballsy enough to come up with the idea himself. Not that it matters. He crashed on purpose either way.

  3. The Limit said on 22nd September 2009, 21:37

    Witness X was unavailable for comment today on yesterdays events, as he is in Maranello on business.

  4. Bigbadderboom said on 22nd September 2009, 21:42

    This makes Nelson Piquet jrs immunity look even worse now. When you have this much evidence why do you need to offer immunity to people, the FIA should have just treated it as a straight investigation.
    I cannot believe that Piquet has walked away from this free from punishment.

    • agreed

    • Definitely. He’s might be a young driver but, any idiot would know that if you crash a car, people can get hurt.

      It’s horrendous that he endangered lives just so his teammate could win a race.

      Fair enough, Pat Symonds and Flav wanted him to do it, but in the end it was Piquet’s decision. In the end he spun and crashed his car, Flav or Pat couldn’t do it for him.

      That makes Piquet a coward. He should have walked away from Renault when he realised his employer and manager was corrupt!

      Piquet should have been punished equally as much as Flav and Symonds!

  5. Giant21 said on 22nd September 2009, 21:46

    Col. Mustard or Professor Black?

    Sorry, couldn’t help it lol

  6. Witness X is still an employee of Renault, and therefore protected by whistle-blower provisions in English law. NPJ is no longer associated with the team, and therefore those provisions don’t apply. (Although NPJ was not strictly an employee anyway, but a contractor.)

    The FIA really need to learn how to black out lines not suitable for public consumption, like NPJ’s home address…

    • Nelsinho-Fan said on 22nd September 2009, 22:03

      You are totally right about the last point what you make. I was really surprised that this is still on the documents what everyone can read…

      And Witness X, It’s definitely not Piquet Sr. Jr. told it to his dad a few days after the crash and they didn’t speak with each other for about 2 months.
      I also don’t think that witness x is Phil Charles (Nelson’s former engineer). There was an engineer who asked Nelson after the race if the crash was ‘planned’. I guess that this was PC. But who Witness X really is, wait a few weeks and we will know!

  7. This excerpt is verty interesting:

    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.

    The point is: Who would be in a position to question that kind of strategy? The following suggestion that Witness X didn´t “know the plan” until Junior crash the car, suggests for me that Alonso is the man!

  8. ‘Witness X’….. these gentlemen of FIA are the kings of humour…

    Obviously is Alonso, that evil guy. And if he isn’t, he should be.

    • S Hughes said on 22nd September 2009, 23:37

      Well, they seemed at first to not know whether to call him (or her, a la ‘Life of Brian’) Witness A or Witness X. I suppose Witness X sounds more intriguing than Witness A.

  9. steph90 said on 22nd September 2009, 21:57

    Alonso cleared of any wrong doing, even if he did know he didn’t want to be a part of it. If he did know then he was just guilty of not revealing the crash and the meetings which is wrong but for me less wrong than what actually happened. Fernando also has so far only repeated that he knew nothing, if he is witness x of course he’ll have to say that and keep his identity protected but I still like to believe in the innocent until proven guilty otherwise I’m no worse than Mosley who uses the mask of justice to carry out vendettas as he has no regard for the morals and justice system.

  10. I’m really intrigued…

  11. The FIA lawyers interviewed the whistleblower. So they know who it is.

  12. Wasn’t there a statement from Piquet Jr. that one of the race engineers questioned him about the crash following his retirement from the race.I think I read it on Autosport.I will try to find it.

  13. Mike "the bike" Schumacher said on 22nd September 2009, 22:11

    why was this witness allowed to conceal their identity while Piquet’s identity was published?
    Ofcourse Piquets idenity is going to be published, he is the one who delibrately crashed, obviousy we all knew he was involved. As for witness “x” identity maybe sense he was not directly involved and didnt know it was going to happen he was allowed to keep his idenity secret but you would have thought he’d have said something straight after the race.

  14. obvious_innit said on 22nd September 2009, 22:11

    Bob Bell was at the Singapore G.P. He could be seen in many photos in the background. Who else would be at that high level before, during and after?

  15. What about Charlie Whiting ?

    • Concrete Cyanide said on 23rd September 2009, 18:26

      Yes, because Renault were really going to inform the guy in charge of enforcing the rules at the race what they were going to do. Would you go and tell the Chief of Police if you were about to rob the bank?

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