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.
Ollie, Globo certainly has nothing right now. I was watching their coverage and it was clear that Reginaldo Leme broke the story on his own, main commentator Galvão Bueno and Luciano Burti were very unconfortable with it (actually Bueno went into a tirade about how Renault should sue whoever started such rumors). Leme presented the story as ongoing investigation by FIA that his sources said was making everyone tense inside Renault. Leme is close to Piquet Snr, so his source is very obvious at the very least I doubt he would brake such a story before talking to Piquet. My bet is that at some moment during summer break the Piquets come to FIA with whatever evidence they had and choose now to make it public.
Thanks Filipe, I appreciate the background information. Your comment adds a fair amount of insight into how this came about.
This is one of the silliest conspiracy theories I’ve ever seen:
1) Why would a team ask one driver to crash?
2) How, exactly, could it be proven that Piquet Jr’s crash was more than incompetence at play, given his track record?
3) Even if 1) and 2) could be answered, what sort of driver would comply with an instruction to crash, even if it was asked?
4) If a driver had been instructed to crash and then done so, why didn’t that driver anonymously send the FIA word of the problem? Not only would the source not be revealed under the terms of a 2003 rule designed to encourage the reporting of technical infringements, but the driver would be £1m richer…
[…] the interesting news to come out of yesterday was the fact that events at Singapore last year will be investigated. We all pondered whether Piquet’s crash hadn’t been just a bit too convenient, and now […]
I agree, but it’s going to be interesting how it plays out. The FIA wouldn’t have started an investigation if it didn’t think it was worth it, unless Max Mosley wants to take Flavio Briatore down with him next month. At the end of this, someone is going to have egg on their face, either the accuser or the accused.
The FIA are attempting to reduce the number of manufacturers to increase their power. It strikes me that this is an easy way of getting rid of Renault. If it doesn’t work, they can always blame Brazillian journalists for rumour-mongering…
Piquet Junior is screwed. Regardless of the results he is damaged goods and few if any will ever take on a driver who has become what he has become. Having his old man so involved in the picture is also very bad and I rate him as one of my favorite all time Grand Prix drivers. Briatore and Renault are also in a mess. How will they ever get past the implication of what has happened. This is a classic case of “he said, she said”. Nobody wins. I am sure Bernie is enjoying it. This kind of F1 press is the “good” kind of press that he seems to relish. He gets rich off this mess and young Piquet gets to wash cars back in Sao Paulo,his racing days are now behind him.