The FIA have announced that they are launching an investigation into the inaugural 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, in which Fernando Alonso sensationally won for Renault having had a key element of the race fall into his lap at just the right time. The news of the investigation comes after a Brazilian TV station – Globo – has apparently made a claim that Nelson Piquet Jr. was ordered to crash his R28 shortly after Alonso had pitted for fuel. The accident meant that the safety car was deployed and this part of the race greatly helped the double world champion take victory in the race.
At the time there was a wild conspiracy theory that went along similar lines, the fact that Piquet had his accident just after Alonso had taken on fresh tyres and fuel seeming to be quite a coincidence. At the time, Piquet stated that he had just been pushing too hard and that he clipped the barriers a little too hard. However, the allegation that it was a deliberate act comes after the young Brazilian was unceremoniously fired from the team in August.
Piquet Jr. has not kept quiet since he was let go, and has himself made accusations towards the team and most notably, Flavio Briatore. In a long statement on his website at the time, Piquet claimed he received little encouragement from the team boss and his own manager, and that he often found himself on the receiving end of threats moments before qualifying sessions and races.
However little had come of this, until now it seems as there is supposedly fresh evidence to back up the allegations made by the Brazilian TV station. It is unclear whether or not Piquet himself is involved in anyway, but the only evidence that a TV station could possibly think it has is possibly a recorded interview with the man himself. The TV station would not be privvy to telemetry or radio communications, so unless they have caught wind of such a thing but not seen/heard it themselves, or in fact Piquet or a team member has spoken to the station, it seems a very strange allegation to make.
The FIA have been relatively vague in a statement made to the press this evening, just saying that “an investigation is underway regarding alleged events at a previous world championship race”. However, Singapore hit the headlines on a few news sites moments earlier breaking the story about Globo, so one can only deduce (at the moment) the two are indeed related.
Needless to say, if any wrongdoing by the Enstone team is discovered, Renault would be in a whole heap of trouble and could possibly face a ban of several races. Of course, it could just be a storm in a teacup, which in all honesty, is exactly what it sounds like at the moment. Unfortunately, I’ve said that before only to find the world of Formula One wrapped up in controversy for months down the line. Like you, I await further details and the inevitable statement from Piquet Snr.