Brazilian TV Suggests Renault Cheated, FIA Investigating


What Happens When Rumors Circulate Regarding Singapore 2008

— Fernando Alonso’s brief resurgence late last season began with a win in the Singapore night race.  The race also saw Ferrari make some serious pit lane errors.  Mainly, though, what is remembered is the quick-thinking pit lane strategy that allowed Alonso to duck into the pits after then teammate Nelson Piquet crashed, but before the safety car came out.  Certainly not the only driver to crash (Felipe Massa spun, Adrian Sutil crashed and brought out another safety car, Kimi Raikkonen crashed), Piquet was widely regarded to have helped Alonso win the race.  Idle speculation ensued as to whether the Renault team requested that Piquet crash, but it was widely believed that they would not actually make that order, nor would a driver willingly crash into a wall.  Also, as Joe Saward (the first News Editor of Bernie Eccelstone’s F1 magazine) mentioned on his blog, “In all probability Piquet just screwed up – he has done that a lot this year.”

Still, this season’s split between Piquet and Renault has been particularly acrimonious, and now, as reported by grandprix.com and F1Fanatic.com, Brazilian TV station Globo and journalist Reginaldo Leme is claiming that they have received evidence that Piquet was, in fact, ordered to crash to help Alonso win, and that the FIA is investigating.  The FIA has confirmed its investigation. This continues the various investigations and punishments handed out to Renault this season (including the Valencia race ban that was overturned), which have inspired Pat Symonds, Renault Executive Director of Engineering, to joke with SPEEDtv’s Peter Windsor on the grid in Valencia that he has purchased an apartment in Paris, right next to the International Court of Appeal.

It is a most interesting claim, particularly depending on who offered this evidence to Brazilian TV. Presumably, someone involved with or close to Piquet.  Still, one has to wonder if Renault actually made that call, and if they did, if Fernando Alonso aware of the situation.  By his giddy display in the pit lane that night, it would seem as though he felt he won on his own merits, and there are few drivers with the honor the Spaniard has displayed (even assisting the FIA investigation against his team McLaren during the spy situation in 2007).

While the circulation of interesting Formula1 news out of Brazil (especially that involving Brazilian drivers) is generally on point, the entire situation seems to be a little too much, a little too late, particularly when examined with the time delay and generally bad aura surrounding Piquet’s departure from Renault.

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