For the past week or so, I’ve been saying Piquet’s accusations that Renault told him to crash so his teammate would win were ridiculous, implausible and just the ramblings of a recently-fired driver. Well, apparently I was wrong – Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left Renault just days before the FIA hear the case! (The World Motor Sport Council hearing will be in Paris on Monday.)
I’ve read newspaper columns and listened to interviews of past & present F1 drivers, and most of them said it was inconceivable for a team to direct a driver to deliberately crash because of the repercussions if they are caught, the danger to the driver (and marshals etc.), and just plain disbelief that a driver would agree to such an instruction.
With the departure of managing director Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, Renault are presumably trying to put some distance between the team and the two people accused by Nelson Piquet Sr and Nelson Piquet Jr. I’m not convinced this will save them from incurring some penalty, but it does try to steer the wrath of the FIA towards those individuals.
Renault only have 20 points (they’re 8th in the Constructors’ table) so even if they were to be thrown out of this season it wouldn’t affect their Championship hopes too much. (There would be a further financial penalty next season as the FIA reward teams based on their position in the previous season, as do sponsors.)
I can see Briatore and Symonds being barred from working with any team involved in any FIA-sanctioned event / formula, but then I think they’ll have a hard time finding another job in motorsport anyway.
The other question is how this affects the plans for teams to use Renault engines next season – I suspect they will stick with that plan unless Renault are barred, because I think the dust will have settled by then and we’ll have moved on to the next scandal. 🙂