• Sep 21, 2009
The World Motor Sports Council took only 90 minutes to reach a verdict in the case of Crashgate – wherein former driver Nelson Piquet, Jr. intentionally chucked his car into the wall at last year's Singapore GP to hand the win to Renault teammate Fernando Alonso. Realizing that Renault was contrite and that the company's disappearance from F1 would be bad for a lot of people, the WSMC handed the company a two-year suspended sentence. If Renault – and its people – keep clean until the end of 2011, it will be free and clear again. As usual in these cases, Renault F1 will also be making "a significant contribution" to racing safety projects.

As for team head Flavio Briatore (above), he couldn't even go down shooting. Having walked away from Renault and not in attendance at the WSMC hearing, all of the doors to FIA-sanctioned motorsport were closed behind him. Not only is he barred "for an unlimited period," from any kind of involvement in any race series or team, no driver "who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore," can get a Superlicense. We guess that mean's he's left to hang his head at his Billionaire's Club... or with his model wife... or on his yacht...

Pat Symonds, Renault's executive director of engineering, fared a little better, getting only a five-year ban. It appears the difference is that Symonds admitted participation in the "conspiracy," while Briatore still denies he had anything to do with it. We wouldn't be surprised to see Symonds in racing again, but perhaps not on the wall in F1 even after the five years is up. Piquet was given immunity for his help with the investigation, but his career has probably been given a terminal blow to the head. Alonso was found not to have known anything about the plot, which cynics, like Nelson Piquet, Sr. have found hard to believe, but this could clear the way for Alonso to potentially head to Ferrari without issue. Hat tip to Bertland!

[Source: Formula 1.com | Image: Mark Thompson/Getty]



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  • 30 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm just about outraged at this. Renault makes one of their drivers crash into a wall at 140 mph in THE part of the circuit where spectators are about 15 ft away from the wall itself, putting the driver, the spectators, and the other driver's life at risk, and they get away with a retarded two-year ban that only takes place if they DO IT AGAIN???

      Massa almost ended his career with a spring against his helmet, and an F-2 pilot died when he drove into a tire that was bouncing around the track after an incident very similiar to that. Senna DIED in a similiar crash.

      This isn't something FIA should rule on, it should be the goddamn POLICE.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sorry champ, but sporting events have a clause for spectators, accounting for the "15 ft from the crowd" part of your comment.

        American baseball is the same way. It's INCONVENIENT that you took that broken bat to the face, but the team and ballpark are not liable.

        They typically patch you up as a courtesy. In banning Briatore for life, I think the FIA is trying to say "You gave the order. You resign your commission."

        It's like Col. Jessup in "A Few Good Men." He gave the order. Piquet jr. simply followed it.

        It's not Renault's fault that Briatore was a fool. So long as they don't repeat what Briatore did, they'll be fine.

        It all makes perfect sense to me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you're this passionate about Renault F1 crashing into the wall, I'm surprised you werent screaming bloody murder when Herr Schumacher pulled these stunts throughout this career.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Cut Flavio some slack. And old guy like that who isn't much to look at does pretty well for himself.

      Funny, Formula1.com reported this last week, maybe Thursday on their site but today it shows the current date on the press release...
        • 5 Years Ago
        Are you kidding? Read the article again, and if you still think there's no difference in the stories, give yourself an uppercut.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The hearing was today in Paris so f1.com could not have had the story posted.
        • 5 Years Ago
        http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2009/9/9940.html

        This is what I saw last week which essentially is the same as today's breaking news.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Geez...my heart goes out to Flavio and all the other douchebags in F1....poor bastards...what will they do while they pass their time on their yachts?
      • 5 Years Ago
      this is not the first time crashes have been used to /attempted to alter race / result look back a few years crashes in timed laps for grid places cars returnin to track after crashin to crash into main rivel
      • 5 Years Ago
      Im so peeved by this. I agree with all above who say that Mclaren got all their points taken away for an espionage case - this is much worse.

      Although with the FIA and F1, you have to follow the $$$ - the FIA know that losing Renault would be a huge blow to the sport - so they don't punish them. That combined with the fact that the two guilty parties - Flava Flav and Symmonds most likely called for the wreck, and they are out already - its not entirely inconcievable that no further punishment is awarded. Do I agree with it? No. But it is what it is.

      this is what really p's me off - Felipe Massa was leading that race before the crash, and ended up 13th as a result of having to change strategy after the wreck. He lost the championship by 1 point - If im Felipe Im so pissed at Renault right now - I read somewhere that he could potentially consider charges against Flav/Renault (why wouldnt he - he could maybe recoup some of the funds he lost out on as champ).

      This whole situation stinks. F1 is a joke. I watch it still, because I won't watch NASCRAP, but cmon, for the pinnacle of motorsport this is the biggest soap opera ever.


      Side note - this is when WRC needs to be shown in America - while this crap continues, at least give us something that is a little less drama filled off the track (I think?). They could perhaps pick up some of us who still watch F1 regrettably.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good point - forgot about the damn UFO light.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree with what you're saying. His pit stop at that time was a result of Renault/Piquet. And yeah, it sucks. But for me, it's as much Ferrari's fault as it was Renault/Piquet's. Ferrari introduced the "revolutionary" light system lollipop and according to the sources at the time, all fingers point their mistake at the lights releasing Massa way too early. Singapore wasn't the first time that it's malfunctioned/failed. After this race, they promptly switched back to the regular lollipop man.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Look, don't get me wrong, I agree Felipe/Ferrari did some things wrong. But luck is built into the sport. We all just though Felipe wasn't "lucky" that day. Got caught behind the wreck - which we all know happens in a F1 race. He got flustered, and left the pit box early.

        The problem is that his "luck" (or unluck for that matter) was manipulated on purpose (not his directly, but as a result of Nelson's crash). If Nelson doesn't get the order to crash, does Felipe keep his #1 spot - does he have a perfect pit stop during a regularly scheduled time? Perhaps - we will never know. But Renault's action is a direct manipulation of the end result - which is why i would agree with Felipe if he did decide to go after Renaul/Flav.

        I understand that this is a big "what if". And I'm a tifosi, so I'm biased, I admit. The whole situation just sucks.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I didn't think Renault would suffer as severe of a penalty that McLaren did simply because Renault would have left the sport. I figured Flav and Symonds left to try and avoid a harsh FIA penalty.

      Piquet might could get hired by a cab company but I doubt it. I figure he and his father took this action to get back at Flav & Renault for sacking him.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Piquet will never race in F1 again. Part of me still thinks it was his idea. I will miss seeing Flav at the races, he was one of the few characters left in F1.
      • 5 Years Ago
      So McLaren yet a fined $100m and docked all their points in the constructors' championship for what is really a little industrial espionage because the FIA love's Ferrari, and Renault get a slap on the wrist and told to be good and sit on the naughty step for 2 years, for what could have risked injury to their driver and the marshals, plus bringing a huge black cloud onto F1.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I've long since resigned myself to the fact that I follow F1 for as much for the drama off track as on, but if there really is any justice Renault's "significant contribution" should be in the neighbourhood of the very significant $100m McLaren fine for spying, which everyone seems to think a lesser offence. At the very least they should also lose their championship standings for last year and pay back any monies awarded as part of that.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What the hell is going on? Why that's happening? I still remember what McLaren did two years ago and Ferrari before it!!

      Why suspend!?
      • 5 Years Ago
      Unrelated question: How much does an F1 car cost for it to be crashed on purpose?
        • 5 Years Ago
        millions when you look at time spent, people paid, costs of travel, PR related sectors. but just for the car I'd say approx 1-2million.

        ridiculous..im glad they got rid of this goon.
        • 5 Years Ago
        lets just say several millions.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "After that, the driver and his father, three-time world champion Nelson Piquet Senior, claimed Briatore and Symonds had conspired to fix the race.

      In response, Renault accused Piquet Jr of blackmail and announced they were launching criminal proceedings against him and his father."

      I wouldn't be surprised if this was all Piquet Jr attempting to get back at the team for firing him. How many times was that kid in a tire wall?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Piquet Jr. isn't a bad driver. He's just not a good enough driver in F1 in my opinion. I mean, if you have to "crash your car" to save your job, you're not cut out to be a F1 driver. Piquet's too weak in the head.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "How many times was that kid in a tire wall?"

        Well, an article over on GPUpdate states that he's stuffed it 17 times in his F1 career. I think some of those must have been in practice and maybe qualifying, but there's no sugarcoating 17 crashes in 2 years. That must be some kind of record.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This was worse than the McClaren spy scandal. A marshal or spectator could of been killed as a result of this staged crash, But I bet the "significant contribution" Renault are making will be nowhere near as much as the McClaren fine.
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