Piquet Jnr reveals how ‘Crashgate’ was planned

2008 F1 season

Nelson Piquet Jnr, 2009

Nelson Piquet Jnr, 2009

Nelson Piquet Jnr has broken his silence over the conspiracy to cause a crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

In an interview with The Times the team’s former driver explained how Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds devised the idea to help Fernando Alonso win the race.

Piquet said:

I could see they were nervous. The room was hot and very tense. I was quite surprised because Flavio is a very assured guy and I had not seen him like that.

Symonds started talking first. “Look, both cars are at the back of the grid,” he told me. “We are in a situation where we are not going to get anywhere in this race unless something extraordinary happens.”

Flavio agreed with him. “It would be a disaster for the team unless something extraordinary happened.”

I just sat there listening because I couldn?t figure out where this was going. They were both very fidgety and the situation was incredibly tense. I don?t think I had said a word by this point.

It was only after five minutes that Flavio made his pitch. “Look, the only way we can benefit in any way out here is by getting a safety car on the course at the right moment.” he said.

I just sat there, looking at them. They both reminded me of what had happened in Germany when someone [Timo Glock] had crashed just after I had pitted and I came second in the race. “Do you want to help the team?” Flavio said. “If you crash at the right moment, it could change everything.”
Nelson Piquet Jnr

He admitted: “I did not even consider the morality of it.”

Piquet also claimed that a few days before the race Briatore urged him to sign a contract for 2009 which gave Renault the right to terminate the deal but prevented him from negotiating with other teams.

Piquet remained silent about the conspiracy until August 2009, after he had been dropped by the team. He settled a libel claim with the team earlier this week.

Renault Singapore crash controversy

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110 comments on Piquet Jnr reveals how ‘Crashgate’ was planned

  1. Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 10th December 2010, 11:21

    Wasn’t Piquet’s original story that the crash was planned before qualifying? Now he’s saying it was after – which is what Pat Symonds said all along, as well as adding that Piquet originally suggested the crash.

    Of course, no one can hold him to account on these inconsistencies because he was wrongly granted immunity by the FIA. Thankfully he’s only got himself to blame for the fact that no one in F1 will ever go near him again. Get out and stay out.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 10th December 2010, 11:54

      If I were the FIA, I’d have done exactly the same thing in granting him immunity from prosecution. Firstly, because if he didn’t come forward, the world would never know what happened, and secondly because I’d work the immunity in such a way that he’d only be immune from the charges levelled at all in the conspiracy. That way, if he was lying to get Briatore kicked out (as a lot of people suspected he was at the time), I could still charge him for the lie. Whilst Piquet was the most important person in the conspiracy, I think it’s pretty clear he didn’t plan it. I’d rather give him immunity and get his testimony to put away the real Big Bad – Braitore – than to try prosecuting all of them on the limited evidence available without Piquet testifying.

      • Maksutov said on 11th December 2010, 13:23

        Given the circumstances and how everything played out, I agree with that. But the only reason Piquet was given immunity was so that Max Mosley could play out his personal revenge on Briatore (possibly over the sex slave scandal). Fortunately for us the correct people were punished though it took a year or two… But the driver was not justice, it was personal revenge.

  2. cyanide (@cyanide) said on 10th December 2010, 12:08

    Flavio said. ‘If you crash at the right moment, it could change everything.’

    And it did…

    • Sounds like something somebody would do in F1 2010 (the game) to manipulate results, like crashing into lewis in qualifying to make sure he starts at the back of the grid :D

  3. The Limit said on 10th December 2010, 14:03

    What makes me curious is that if Briatore and Symonds had this conversation with Piquet Jnr, wouldn’t they have also had a word in Fernando Alonso’s ear about it aswell? It is no doubt interesting to here about this two year old conversation, but it does not tell us anything we do not already know. As for making Piquet Jnr look more honourable, then this article has failed miserably.
    F1 is better off without drivers of this ilk, and people like Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds. As others have already stated, someone could have easily been hurt or even killed due to the actions of these men who dared to call themselves sportsmen.

  4. Only time when he actually did what he wanted and succeeded in it.

  5. Disreputable as it all was, in hindsight I look at the whole sordid affair as a very tragic tale of human weakness – almost like Greek drama! Piquet Jr, bullied and battered, green and gauche in the brutal F1 world,, a psychologically frail youngster desperate to please his superiors, make a name for himself and make amends for all his earlier mistakes and failings, later turning veneful when scorned and almost bringing the whole rotten house down. Briatore, the bullying egotist greedy and impatient for the glory and riches of victory by any means necessary. And Symonds…I can only assume he could feel Renault’s support for the team he had been a member of for 25 years was waning and he felt desperate measures were needed to get the results that would maintain their support. Like many others I always had Symonds down as one of the few ‘good guys’ in F1 and was disappointed more than anything to learn of his collusion in this plot, but it makes you wonder – if he was so close to Briatore he must have known seen the shabby treatment Flav was dishing out to his young charges, yet he went along with it for all those years saying nothing! For me this raises questions about how innocent a figure he was down the years, particularly in those Benetton scandals, and whether that ‘good guy’ image was a result of his easy relationship with the F1 media. Even now, the likes of James Allen and Mark Hughes cannot muster a bad word about him and quote his every utterance with approval!

    As for Piquet Jr, I can find a little sympathy for him. Not much, but a little. It seems he was treated very badly by his bosses and placed under extreme pressure, and in those circumstances he went mad and felt the need to do something thoughtless and crazy to relieve the stress. But I think his bowing to that pressure proves he was simply too weak a character to be an F1 driver, let alone a championship contender, so it is for the best that he is now out of the sport. He never would have made it to the top, that much is clear. Others have been victims of the Briatore wrath – Kovalainen, for example – but they never felt the need to do something so stupid.

    So – an appalling PR disaster for F1, but it would make a great film!! Though which actors would play the leads?

    • verstappen said on 10th December 2010, 14:46

      Something like…

      Sylvester Stallone: Symonds
      Arnold Schwartzenegger: Flavio
      Piquet: Macaulay Culkin

      with Piquet sr played by Rowan Atkinson

  6. Limit, let’s not beat around the bush. The question tha bears scrutiny is how was the man who has such involvement and control in his team that he controls the strategy of both cars from the cockpit during the race not aware of a pre-race plan to have his teammate crash at a specific time for his express benefit? A plan hatched or implemented by his own manager, by the way. You don’t have to be a fanatic of Occam’s Razor to find the story as we know it very strange and completely implausible. Tehre is no evidence Alonso changed his stripes after his team-blackmailing, dossier-hoarding ways the year before, so why should have the benefit of the doubt in a very incriminating set of facts?

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 10th December 2010, 15:09

      Tehre is no evidence Alonso changed his stripes after his team-blackmailing, dossier-hoarding ways the year before, so why should have the benefit of the doubt in a very incriminating set of facts?

      Um, because that’s the principle on which every legal system in the civilised world is based? Innocent until proven guilty.

      Unless direct evidence is provided to demonstrate Alonso’s involvement, we cannot conclude that he was. It’s not about Occam’s razor, it’s about the rule of law.

      • In some legal systems, evidence of character can and is put before finders of fact. My country is pretty civilised, and that’s how we do it.

  7. DavidS said on 10th December 2010, 14:29

    The truth is always somewhere in the middle, it would be interesting to gather Alonso’s take on the whole thing, as he was there, but isn’t a direct participant (he is indirectly involved though, but that’s not his fault, and he did nothing wrong).

    So far he has been silent on the issue, as he would want to distance himself from all of that.

    My hypothesis for what actually happened is that they were discussing all kinds of strategies and someone (probably Piquet trying to remind Flav of his achievement) made mention of the German GP where he benefitted from a safety car and came 2nd. Another person pointed out that it was luck, because no-one knows when a safety car is deployed. At this point, someone suggests the deliberate crash.

    If that is the case, Flav, Symonds and Piquet are all sharing the blame. I don’t buy the story Piquet tells which apportions blame completely away from himself.

  8. Patrickl said on 10th December 2010, 14:54

    This is the same sobstory he gave before. What’s new? He only added some demeaning “evidence” portraying Briatore as a weak man.

    Other witnesses say that Piquet approached Symmonds immediately after qualifying. Suggesting a deal for his contract renewall if he crashed to help Alonso.

    I’m assuming the real story is somewhere in between. Perhaps Piquet joked about crashing and Symonds took it seriously and came back the next day.

  9. dyslexicbunny said on 10th December 2010, 15:00

    I think the dumbest part of the whole thing was that they assumed that Piquet didn’t have them by the balls either. You essentially force a driver to do something illegal and then assume he’s got nothing on you? Really? That’s just stupid and a lack of any real thinking.

    If they wanted to do this without any liability, they should have hinted it to Piquet’s engineer and have him bring it up to him. And if they got caught, they could have acted surprised and fired him and paid him off if need be. And if Renault had just kept him around, this would have never come to light. Or at worst until many years down the road.

    Sure, he was a kid in a bad situation but he was still a bad kid. No sympathy deserved.

    • Maksutov said on 11th December 2010, 13:32

      You essentially force a driver to do something illegal and then assume he’s got nothing on you?

      It is not possible to force a driver to do something illegally.

  10. Israel.Nunez said on 10th December 2010, 15:50

    In my town people said: ‘Tanto peca el que mata la vaca como el que le agarra la pata’ (as bad to steal a horse as it is to stand by and look on). As simple as that. Regards to all!!

  11. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 10th December 2010, 16:08

    WHY DID YOU AGREE? Are you a child that can’t differentiate between a bad a good?

  12. Those who say he should not get any sympathy at all make me laugh. Who are you ? What have you achieved in motorsport ? How can you know how it feels like under that kind of pressure ?

    Of course he should have stood up from that meeting as soon as he understood and ask those two mafiosos if they were totally mental and walk away. Of course he did a very bad thing and behave incredibly naively/stupidly. Of course we should not have much sympathy but a little bit of it would be fair, not much, just a little. He’s a kid and who has not done stupid things as a kid ?

  13. The Limit said on 10th December 2010, 19:33

    @DAVE W.

    I agree with you if your point of view is that Alonso knew about Renault’s strategy beforehand, I thought I made that plain in my earlier comments. The problem is there is no evidence to support this theory, but that doesn’t mean that we are wrong or that Alonso is innocent does it? How many cases get thrown out of courtrooms the world over through lack of evidence, even when the accused is as guilty as a fox in the henhouse etc etc.
    But, as others have said already, there is no evidence concerning Alonso.

  14. It seems that most of the paddock was angry at Piquet for exposing Briatore and Symonds, and less for what he actually did. It cost him his career. He (and his dad) did the right thing. They’re heroes in my book for getting rid of two rotten apples from the sport. I wish Junior had that kind of courage before he wrecked in Singapore.

    • Maksutov said on 11th December 2010, 13:40

      It seems that most of the paddock was angry at Piquet for exposing Briatore and Symonds, and less for what he actually did.

      No.

      It cost him his career.

      No.

      He (and his dad) did the right thing.

      No.

      They’re heroes in my book..

      No.

      getting rid of two rotten apples from the sport.

      Yes.

      I wish Junior had that kind of courage before he wrecked in Singapore.

      Not applicable. Piquet never had courage, before or after.

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