Singapore 2008 investigation

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. 🙂

7 thoughts on “Singapore 2008 investigation

  1. BBC reports:

    • Former team boss Flavio Briatore has been banned from FIA sanctioned events for an unlimited period
    • Ex-engineering director Pat Symonds has also been excluded for five years
    • Renault have been given a two-year suspended ban
    • Alonso was cleared of any involvement in the race-fixing scheme
  2. The BBC also reports that the Football League is talking to the FIA about Flavio Briatore’s ban; apparently “According to Football League rules, nobody can be a director or hold a majority interest in a club if they are banned from a sport’s governing body.” “Briatore is co-owner of QPR along with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone and steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal. He is also chairman of the holding company that owns the club and a director on the board of the Championship side. “

  3. The poison dwarf really needs to learn when to keep his mouth shut!

    Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone says he thinks Flavio Briatore’s indefinite ban for race-fixing is too severe.
    […]
    “I don’t think it was necessary, but I was on the commission so I’m probably just as guilty as anybody.”

    [BBC]

    So he didn’t even recuse himself from the Renault hearing despite his business dealings and personal friendship with Flav. Wow.

  4. It’s a shame (sham?) that Piquet was granted immunity – the hearing should have got to the bottom of whose idea it was, and this snippet from Pat Symonds is intriguing:

    “I would like to acknowledge my role in this incident,” stated Symonds.

    “I was the one who, when the idea was first suggested to me by Nelson Piquet Jr, should have dismissed it immediately.

    “It is to my eternal regret and shame I did not do so. I can only say I did it out of a misguided devotion to my team and not for any personal gain whatsoever.

    [BBC]

  5. Renault have lost two major sponsors today: Spanish insurance firm Mutua Madrilena pulled out this morning and now Dutch-based financial group ING have withdrawn their sponsorship. (ING alone was worth $65m (£40m) to Renault.)
    [BBC]

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