Nelson Piquet Jnr claims ‘Crashgate’ libel damages

2008 F1 season

Nelqon Piquet Jnr, Renault, 2008

Nelqon Piquet Jnr, Renault, 2008

The row over Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix may finally be at an end.

Renault have formally apologised to him and his father for claims made after the events of the race came to light.

Piquet crashed his car intentionally on the 14th lap of the race, bringing out the safety car. That helped his team mate Fernando Alonso to win, as he had already made a pit stop.

The team have paid “damages for libel as well as their costs” to them and published the following apology:

On 11th September 2009, Renault F1 Team Limited (??the Team??) issued a Press Release, which was repeated on our website, in which we suggested that Nelson Piquet Junior and his father had lied by making false allegations that members of the Team and Nelson Piquet Junior caused a deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. We also suggested that these lies were invented in order to blackmail the Defendant into allowing Mr Piquet Junior to drive for the Team for the remainder of the 2009 season, and he and his father were therefore guilty of a serious criminal offence.

The Team accepts ?ǣ as it did before the World Motor Sport Council (??WMSC??) of the FIA and as found by the WMSC in its decision of 21 September 2009 ?ǣ that the allegations made by Nelson Piquet Junior were not false. It also accepts that Mr Piquet Junior and his father did not invent these allegations in order to blackmail the Team.

As a result, these serious allegations contained in the Press Release were wholly untrue and unfounded, and we withdraw them unequivocally. We would like to apologise unreservedly to Mr Piquet Junior and his father for the distress and embarrassment caused as a result. As a mark of the sincerity of our apology and regret, we have agreed to pay them a substantial amount of damages for libel as well as their costs, and have undertaken not to repeat these allegations at any time in the future.
Renault statement

Dominic Crossley of Collyer Bristow LLP, acting on behalf of Nelson Piquet Jnr and his father, said:

Today the Renault Formula One Team apologised in the High Court for defaming my two clients the motor racing father and son Nelson and Nelsinho Piquet.

This marks the start rather than the end of the long journey they are both taking to correct many of the wrongs that took place during last year?s ??crashgate?? scandal.

They were both treated appallingly by Renault F1 when they dared to reveal the scandal to the governing body; and Nelsinho was abused terribly throughout his absurdly short career in F1. It is to the immense credit of both my clients that they have refused to be deterred from righting the wrongs despite the ferocity of the attacks and the size of the opponents they have had to confront.

Nelson Piquet dominated F1 during the early 80s and his reputation as a motorsport legend should remain untarnished by this saga. F1 has been deprived of the best of Nelsinho and it is to its
detriment that his talent is now being demonstrated elsewhere.

Whilst neither of them should ever have had to prove Renault F1?s allegations false they are both delighted with the successful conclusion of the case.
Dominic Crossley

Here is the text of the submission made to the Queens’ Bench court by the Piquets. They say they will now “let the matter rest”:

On 11th September 2009, the Defendant issued a Press Release in which they suggested that Nelson Piquet Junior and his father had lied by making false allegations that he and members of the team had caused a deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to benefit the Team?s other driver. The Press Release came at a time when, as the Defendant knew, the FIA were investigating the circumstances of Mr Piquet Junior?s crash at the Singapore Grand Prix.

The Defendant?s Press Release also suggested that the Claimants had not only lied in making these allegations but that they had deliberately invented them in order to blackmail the Defendant into allowing Mr Piquet Junior to drive for the Team for the remainder of the 2009 season, and they were therefore guilty of a serious criminal offence.

The Defendant fully accepts ?ǣ as it did before the World Motor Sport Council (??WMSC??) of the FIA and as found by the WMSC in its decision of 21 September 2009 ?ǣ that the allegations made by Nelson Piquet Junior were not false. Renault F1 Team also accepts that Mr Piquet Junior and his father did not invent these allegations in order to blackmail the Team.

As a result, these serious allegations contained in the Press Release were wholly untrue and unfounded, and the Defendant now withdraws them unreservedly. The Defendant is here through its lawyer in order to apologise to the Claimants unreservedly for this regrettable publication. As a mark of its apology and regret, the Defendant has agreed to pay the Claimants substantial damages and costs, as well as not to repeat these allegations at any time in the future.

It is an unfortunate but not surprising consequence of the sensational nature of these allegations and their appearance on the Defendant?s website whilst the FIA was investigating the charges against the defendant, that the allegations were widely republished throughout the press. It is hoped that through the making of this statement, the Defendant?s apology and unequivocal withdrawal of these allegations will also be picked up and repeated throughout the media.

In the circumstances, having achieved everything they set out to achieve through the commencement of legal proceedings, the Claimants are now prepared to let the matter rest.

Renault Singapore crash controversy

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71 comments on Nelson Piquet Jnr claims ‘Crashgate’ libel damages

  1. Cesar said on 7th December 2010, 15:00

    Well, I think Piquet Jr. was the worst driver of 2009´s season. Probably Briatore/Symonds requested him to ctrash but he was a professional and if he accepted it then he must shut up about the matter when he got fired.

    Honestly if I have a racing team no matter how good he is I will never hire him.

    • Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 7th December 2010, 15:05

      As arrongant and dislikable as Piquet is, I think he was a bit of a victim in all of this. Of course, he should have had the sense to say no to the crazy scheme, but Briatore really had him by the balls with the contract situation.

      • Franton said on 7th December 2010, 18:29

        Oh rubbish! He had the opportunity to either take what he knew to the FIA in advance or “follow orders” and crash.

        Instead he followed orders, then after he got screwed by Briatore “came clean” afterwards as a **** you too measure.

        He cannot have it both ways.

        • However I do have sympathy for the fact the the Other driver involved has got away with barely a blemish on his record. There is no way on earth that Alonso did not know about the plan as he was driving exactly right to benefit from it. It will never be proved but I can’t believe that the rookie and team bosses knew about the plan while the one person that would benefit and the number 1 driver in the team knew nothing at all.

          • jefemano said on 8th December 2010, 23:06

            Dear Lee, I am sorry to say but your latest rhetoric, assault and dig at FA and absurd comments are based on personal hatred, Nationalistic Bull, racism and sour grapes. Unlike your good-self, and some gullible few who believe every thing the Sun and Sport prints, FIA and most of the professional who know all about F1 agreed that Alonso was oblivious to what happened prior during and after the crash gate, obviously you don’t know nothing about Alonso, if you had bothered to find out his live and character ( and not from the English gutter press or Ron Dennis ) rest assured he would had walked out of the race and Renault beforehand, ( Briatore or Not) his young days at school and early racing days are full of similar examples.

      • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 7th December 2010, 20:49

        I’ve got no sympathy for him. Deliberately crashing like he did and justfying it by saying ‘but I really needed to impress my boss’ is absolutely pathetic. That’s not the action of a man, that’s the action of a 5 year old child.

        I hope we never hear anything from the Piquets ever again.

        • Wholeheartedly agree with you Mag.

        • Electrolite said on 7th December 2010, 22:53

          As much as I felt sorry for the guy throughout his time at Renault, I agree completely. Anyone with a backbone wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.

          • Stephen Jones (@aus_steve) said on 8th December 2010, 6:10

            yeah, i felt that he had more to give at renault, and of course the team wasn’t really behind him.. But crashing was stupid and dangerous.

            doesn’t deserve a drive

        • Frans said on 8th December 2010, 3:37

          You do know that he’s a rookie. Look, Massa was told to move over for Alonso and he did. Of course Piquet action is more extreme and I wish he had more backbone, but probably the decision was being made in a split second so the pressure on Piquet must be immense.

        • BasCB said on 8th December 2010, 7:01

          I fully agree. He should have just ignored it, or he should have spoken up immediately, not only after Renault did drop him.

          The facts were not made up (although we will probably never be sure who came up with the idea), but fact remains, that the Piquets surely did use their knowledge to push Renault in keeping Jr.

        • Fixy (@fixy) said on 8th December 2010, 16:34

          What else could someone think of this? I must agree.

        • jefemano said on 8th December 2010, 23:17

          Nelsino contributed at least 99.99% (most in the Renault Team claimed that it was his idea in the 1st instance to crash to ensure continuity in the team) why he did not report it to FIA right away?? why waiting after he was sacked? the spoiled kid was sure that he was sacked, and fabricated this tale to get at Briatore for telling his father he was having it off with a 50 year old from London or so they say…..

    • Jack Holt said on 7th December 2010, 15:51

      Piquet Jr was a pretty poor F1 driver, but that’s no excuse for Briatore’s actions. Had he kept quiet who knows what Briatore would have done in future in order to make it possible for one of his drivers to win. For that reason alone I’m glad Nelsinho spoke out.

      • fyujj said on 8th December 2010, 17:22

        About him being a ‘poor’ driver.
        F. Alonso was seen as a ‘genius’ by ‘winning’ in Singapore with that car.
        Nelsinho, with an even worse car, got a second place in Germany thanks to McLaren’s team play, otherwise he would’ve won.

        Anyway, time will tell the ones that look only to the surface how good a driver he is.

    • Patrickl said on 7th December 2010, 20:29

      Symonds and “Mr X” claimed that the idea came from Piquet after qualifying. To me this makes more sense than Piquet jr’s story that it was planned already ahead of qualifying.

      • Really? You think a rookie would have enough confidence to suggest this sort of thing? He would have to be absolutely confident that the people in a team that he has only just joined would not sack him for suggesting throwing a race like that? It is much more plausible that this was a more involved plan.

      • jefemano said on 8th December 2010, 23:24

        Common sense atlast

    • He would have crash himself anyway sooner or later, he was an specialist crashing in every GP.

    • Well, I think Piquet Jr. was the worst driver of 2009´s season

      He had a slower car, with fewer updates, and even so he managed to outpace Alonso in qualifying once or twice (The one I remember now is Nurburgring 2009). And Romain Grosjean had worse results.

    • jefemano said on 8th December 2010, 23:18

      Well said, Ditto.

  2. Ned Flanders (@ned-flanders) said on 7th December 2010, 15:01

    So, is this “the start rather than the end of the long journey they are both taking”, or are they going to “let the matter rest”?

    Hopefully the latter.

  3. AlanP said on 7th December 2010, 15:06

    Is Piquet Jr still doing Craftsman Trucks or what is he up to now?

  4. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 7th December 2010, 16:02

    Doesn’t change my view about Piquet Jr.

    He still was rubbish. And he was also annoying.

  5. Piquet can’t have been treated that badly at Renault, I doubt they treated him badly at all. If it was that bad, he would have left Renault much sooner on his own accord.

    Piquet needs to accept that he couldn’t cut it as a Formula One driver. He can’t blame the team for his countless spins and overall lack of pace, but he is obviously too cocky and arrogant to accept that.

    • Flavio can be pretty hard on his drivers and if Piquet was willing to crash then who knows what abuse he was willing to put up with from his boss to keep the drive. I’m not excusing Nelson as I still hold him accoutanble as he was the one with the steering wheel and so he made the whole thing happen.

      I don’t think Nelson was that bad really. He did get Renault’s first podium that season and managed a 4th at Japan and beat Alonso at France to 7th. He wasn’t good enough to keep his drive and he crashed more than even Sutil but he had some ok moments.

      • Piquet’s 2008 was similar to Petrov’s 2010, there was some promise, but overall a poor season. But his 2009 season was shocking he showed no signs of improving and everytime he looked to be on for a good result, he would spin out.

  6. Well done Piquet, do the justice!

  7. All I can see is that at some time in the future the truth will out, and then the ‘doggy do’ will really hit the fan.

  8. Piquet was about as rubbish as Massa is. And I’m not saying Massa is rubbish, what Massa is is demoralised by a political nightmare which can be described in 2 words: Fernando Alonso!

    Massa proved in 2008 that he is a fantastic driver on a level playing field with his team mate. Alonso has now ruined his career and couldn’t give a ****.

    Piquet was put under enormous pressure to keep his drive and was given performance targets that are impossible for a number two driver. How could you motivate yourself if you had to play second fiddle to somebody constantly?

    How many guys on here seriously would do almost anything to drive a F1 car? I certainly know I would. If they told me I had to lose 3 stone to get in I wouldn’t eat until I had!

    So Piquet gets put in the predicament he was put in, and
    although I don’t condone it he was in a total catch 22! He was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t! He basically had 3 choices:

    1. Do it and hope Briatore is good to his word and he keeps his drive.

    2. Don’t do it, keep quiet and lose his drive.

    3. Don’t do it and whistle blow, lose his drive and be completely tainted as all team IMHO have “little” secrets.

    You only have to watch Piquet pre-F1 to see he is made of better stuff than what he showed. You only have to watch his face progressively from race to race to see how demoralised he got from race to race driving what was a pig of a car in the first place.

    Controversial it may be, but I completely sypathize with Nelsinho. And now Mr. Alonso (who has been involved in almost every serious scandal somehow in the last few years) is going to do the same to Felipe Massa.

    IMHO the whole problem was caused by Fernando Alonso, who will do anything to win – even destroy somebody, cheat and break the rules. I’m of the opinion that “Crash-gate” was his idea. The guy is a Genius, in the most frustrating of ways, always coming out smelling of roses.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 7th December 2010, 17:37

      Massa proved in 2008 that he is a fantastic driver on a level playing field with his team mate. Alonso has now ruined his career and couldn’t give a ****.

      Whatever you think of Alonso, it was never proved he was responsible or even involved.

      Ultimately, it was Piquet’s decision to crash the car.

      • I agree Keith, it was Piquet’s decision. As for Alonso, we will never be able to prove it just my opinion thats all!

        There’s no doubt that Alonso is a great driver, but why does he need to destroy his teamate polically instead of just on the track, which against most drivers he is fully capable of?

      • Valentino said on 7th December 2010, 17:46

        It is funny how every world champion or the best driver on the track has the tendency to bend the rules,..is that what makes a champion, except the best car on the track,..?
        I am not talking about Nelson, he was stupid to do somthing like that,..I am talking about Schumacher (vs Hill), Senna (vs Prost), Alonso (vs Hamilton, but ALO got it wrong (Hungary 2007)), Prost (vs Senna),…
        They are so close when it comes to track times, so they have to use a different approach,..

        • You raise an interesting point! I think they have a greater desire to win than the other drivers. I just feel some take it a little too far.

          • Well everyone seems to think that Senna was so great, but he was a bad as Schumacher and Alonso when it came to bending the rules.

            In Formula One, you have to be selfish to succeed. Alonso and Schumacher didn’t dream of winning constructor’s championships, they dreamt of winning the driver’s championship, that where all the glory is. It’s possible that one of the reasons why Coulthard never won the driver’s title, or why Brundle and Heidfeld have never won a grand prix, is because they lacked the selfishness needed to do so.

        • I just wonder. I started to follow F1 in late 70′s and I do not recall the likes of Lauda, Andretti, Scheckter, Jones etc. behaving unsportingly towards their competitors. My impression is that the attitude “winner at all costs” came with Senna and reached its pinnacle with Schumacher and for me this was probably the single most important factor why I cooled off towards F1 at the time.

          So I think it is possible to become a world champion and stay a gentleman at the same time.

      • DannyJ said on 7th December 2010, 18:14

        Agreed Keith, but (and it’s a big but) we all know Alonso is a cheat… this stuff follows him around like a bad smell. The man stinks, for all his obvious driving talent.

        No-one likes a cheat… But I’m prepared to forgive Nelson his one mistake, but not prepared to forgive Alonso for his ongoing and disgracefully arrogant behaviours.

        • I’m prepared to forgive Nelson his one mistake, but not prepared to forgive Alonso for his ongoing and disgracefully arrogant behaviours.

          Spot on.

    • David A said on 7th December 2010, 18:38

      Piquet was put under enormous pressure to keep his drive and was given performance targets that are impossible for a number two driver.

      If I remember correctly, it was to score 50% of his teammate’s points, something Massa and Barrichello acheived in the periods when they were up against Schumacher and Alonso.

      • bosyber said on 8th December 2010, 9:19

        But they were in race winning cars, so they had to be expected to get into the points at every race. That renault couldn’t do that, it depended on the rigth circumstances and luck to get near the podium for most of the season, so it is a lot harder to be a consistent scorer then.

  9. TED BELL said on 7th December 2010, 17:41

    You are all nuts. In the right situation he could have easily won the drivers championship. Look at the facts , Renault wasn’t able to build a car that could challenge, Briatore wasn’t able to create the right environment and if you look at the overall picture of the team and its potential, there was little hope for anyone faced with such a dismal situation. His career and reputation ruined by accepting a ride from such a poor team. How many drivers ruin their careers from taking a chance with a lousy team in being desperate to get into F1? How different would the story be if he had waited for the Red Bull or McClaren??

    • DannyJ said on 7th December 2010, 18:16

      I agree Ted… I hope you don’t think I’m nuts for doing so! :-)

      • I agree partly.

        “In the right situation he could have easily won the drivers championship.”

        Well, it’s very dificult to say. He was strong in GP2, but Alonso was often much faster. So Alonso is Alonso, the team probably favoured him and Piquet was a rookie, so it’s difficult to really say he was bad. 2008 was ok, but 2009 was bad. Still, who knows if he struggled with the tyres or anything like that? After all we’ve seen drivers like Räikkönen, Massa and Schumacher really struggle. All in all, he might have been good enough to win the championship one day in the right car, but we cannot be sure. And I’m afraid we’ll never find out.

    • judo chop said on 7th December 2010, 20:16

      The different story would be that Piquet Jr would be waiting until the next ice age if he wanted a seat at McLaren, Red Bull or Ferrari. A seat at Renault, hooked up by daddy and Flavio, is a prize in F1 and huge coup for a rookie (Alonso started at Minardi!). Piquet Jr probably had more talent for F1 than what he showed – more than Petrov has now – but didn’t have the mental wherewithal to deal with being daddy’s boy and one of Briatore’s charges.

  10. Ralph said on 7th December 2010, 21:28

    Still the sole source is and still will be Flavio Briatore!
    Team Principal, the one responsible for all.

    Mass damper in the Renault, Alonso’s Year?

    Hidden ‘TC’ in the Benetton electronics?

    Tampered fuel nozzle at Benetton, Verstappen fire?

    No matter to who you pin it down, Flav was bad.
    On the ruthlessness… it’s F1 guys.
    Make or break!

  11. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 7th December 2010, 22:31

    Does this mean Crashgate is finally over? Good. May this be the last we ever hear of him.

    • Hamish said on 8th December 2010, 2:41

      Crashgate is over, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Witness X appeared at a convenient time in the future.

  12. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 8th December 2010, 1:57

    Funny he embrass the whole of F1 fans around the world & eh will get the money as “damage”, it should be paid by Flavio Briatore & Pat Symonds who caused all this why will Renault under new leadership will pay that money?

    • BasCB said on 8th December 2010, 7:08

      In that aspect their blackmail gave them some “rewards” (with Renault all to happy to put the story to an end) from coming out with it over a year to late.

  13. Kris H. said on 8th December 2010, 3:13

    Like its been said already, my problem with Piquet is that he wanted it both ways. He obeyed a crazy team order and then tattled about it. Either do it and shut up or don’t do it.

    Same with Massa this year. He obeys the silly team instruction and then looks all upset about it afterwards. Pick one or the other.

  14. Flavio Briatore and the F1-Renault gift that keeps on giving.

    You all have to remember that the Renault comments that were challenged by the Piquet’s were no doubt authored under the auspice’s of the Big Fixer himself.

    Yes, Piquet should not have complied with the team request, but none of this would have come to pass without Flavios’ consent or authorship. And please don’t try and convince me Flavio wasn’t in on it.

  15. Alejandro said on 8th December 2010, 20:10

    Nelson Piquet = looser … No place for him in Formula one or in any other racing …. He is trying in the Us … No luck so far … He is just a crying baby … And an ugly baby ….I’m wonder what’s in his little mind when he thinks what if … I was not a such a looser ….

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