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. Team CDN said on 23rd September 2009, 21:25

    The Scotsman sent to Coventry….food for thought,though what would be the incentive? He’s too low on the F1 food chain to gain any visible advantage although any sudden change in employer could be edibly voluminous….. a lot of people on knife edges at the moment..one false move and the ticking time bomb could go off.
    No word so far from the inevitable American purview.Perhaps they are doing the usual shuffle and waiting for the smoke to clear before they go on the offensive?

  2. Team CDN said on 23rd September 2009, 22:01

    About time too! Mine are Canadian as it happens. Had the German,(Piquet) come to me and asked for immunity from prosecution,I’d have quoted an American with a purview,from the past.”Nuts”

  3. Chris Reynolds said on 23rd September 2009, 23:40

    Bravo to Renault- I like how they handled themselves and what they said at the hearing. Even in the face of utter humiliation they have earned my respect. I never liked the team prior to this incident largely due to blabby flavy, now I hope they prevail in the seasons to come- of course not in front of my Ferrari’s ;-0

  4. Team CDN said on 23rd September 2009, 23:48

    #!*$#!*g-*#!^!! Yeah! You are well right Mr Reynolds,they have been just a paragon of virtue since caught with their pistons and big ends around their ankles.Necessity is the mother of invention some say!

  5. Harv's said on 24th September 2009, 0:07

    ok its obvious that the fia’s renault’s “punishment” was more of a business move than a sporting justice move, so my thoughts of witness x is that alonso is witness x. I still find it inceredibly hard for him to know nothing.

    Labeling him “witness x” is a wayof protecting him imposed by the FIA to protect him and the money he brings to the sport, (expecially in Spain).

    Actually im pretty sure that Eyebrow man is the “Witness X”

  6. sato113 said on 24th September 2009, 1:59

    was ‘Witness X’ made up by the FIA? (to reinforce their accusation?)

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

      I wondered that myself! I had been thinking it was Alonso (which may still be true), but this whole revelation is leading people to point the finger at Alonso. If they wanted to keep him out of it, they wouldnt have mentioned witness X at all. Its all very theatrical isnt it? “Witness X”? Starting to sound like an inside joke between Bernie and Max.

  7. manatcna said on 24th September 2009, 3:12

    Let’s face it – what’s the difference who he/she is – The Flab’s gone.

    Oh, and by the way, who were/are they trying to protect Mr X from? Don’t forget, Briatore knows who was there at the time.

  8. Pete, Shanghai said on 24th September 2009, 8:45

    Witness X……Imaginative :) I would think, knowing the was F1 is these days that the secret identity will not last as long as Stigs.

    Arun.India says:
    September 23, 2009 at 12:11 pm I know your identity for sure ;)

  9. nelson sr said alonso knew about it. And i imagine not very many people knew, so only alonso and may be a senior engeneer at renault could be.
    Regarding what the fia said that alonso was not involved, it can be a smoke screen.
    Briatore knows, and we will see if his relationship with alonso changes in the next few months.
    We will know for sure. If it was alonso, it would be his lowest act up until now.

  10. Just read this:

    Daily Mail

    Sportsmail can reveal Alan Permane was Witness X, the Renault employee whose crucial evidence contributed to Briatore’s conviction.

    Currently chief race engineer, he is a respected stalwart.

  11. That has been printed in order to be denied and therefore finger fernando. Clever journalism if Permane bites. Not sure if Fernando is Witness x but he may have smelled a rat before and almost certainly after. The body language, reaction of people in the know would surely have sugguested something was up. Fernando is actually very bright.

  12. mike mcdermott said on 25th September 2009, 12:07

    Sadly its becoming more apparent of late that F1 is a show and not a sport… Where is Renault’s 100 million dollar fine ? ( at least )
    Renault should have been banned and fined

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