Nelsinho Piquet at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix
The FIA is always sticking its nose around, sniffing around for some trouble. So, when the motorsport governing body opened a new investigation into the Renault F1 team, frankly we weren't all that surprised or interested. The probe centered around claims that the team instructed its since-departed driver Nelson Piquet, Jr. to crash on purpose at the Singapore Grand Prix last year in order to help his wing-man Fernando Alonso win the race.
Now, however, the probe appears to be deepening as the FIA claims to have discovered "other issues above and beyond Singapore" during their investigation into Renault's alleged wrongdoing. In a recurrence of the "Stepney-gate" investigations held during his brief but highly controversial tenure at McLaren, Alonso was reportedly questioned at length by the FIA's lawyers, along with technical chief Pat Symonds and team principal Flavio Briatore, to name just a few of the most prominent team figures implicated.
The team is naturally denying any wrongdoing, and tellingly, several individuals who've since left the team, including former engine chief Denis Chevrier and former test driver Franck Montagny, have expressed serious doubt that Renault was up to any underhanded business. For our part, we have a feeling this isn't the last we've heard over what we'll tentatively refer to as "Renault-gate."