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. For some reason this makes it even more sordid. Surely the Piquet’s don’t need the money? I understand wanting to clear your name etc, but if it was all about the principle of the thing couldn’t they have donated the money to a worthy cause?

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