Track marshals recover the crashed Renault Formula One car of Nelson Piquet of Brazil during the Singapore F1 Grand Prix, September 28, 2008
This morning, the World Motor Sport Council convened in Paris to hand down the thunder to the ING Renault F1 team. Apparently, an exhaustive internal investigation conducted following Renault F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr’s crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix revealed that the maneuver had been a deliberate one. Piquet, Renault director of engineering Pat Symonds, and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore were charged with purposefully orchestrating the crash in order to propel fellow Renault driver Fernando Alonso to the victory. In the face of the overwhelming evidence both Piquet and Symonds admitted to their guilt, but Briatore is remaining stoic.
Say what you will about the French, but when it comes to their motorsports they don’t dick around. In light of the discovery, the Renault F1 team was sentenced to a two-year suspended ban which will immediately be activated if the WMSC discovers anymore foul play between now and 2011. For his flat denial of any involvement, Briatore earned himself a prime spot on the blacklist. For an unlimited period (read: “Until he comes clean”), the FIA will not sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any team or other entity engaging Briatore in any capacity whatsoever. To ensure that he is not even granted the privilege of spectating, the WMSC has also banned Briatore from any FIA-sanctioned events, and racing officials have been instructed to deny him access to any areas under the FIA’s jurisdiction. Although somewhat of a non-issue given Briatore’s convenient “retirement” recently, the FIA has also announced it will not renew any Superlicence granted to any driver, entity, or individual who is associated with Mr. Briatore in any personal or professional capacity.
For admitting his participation in the conspiracy, Pat Symonds’ punishment was meted with considerably more leniency and although his ban from the sport is similarly all-encompassing, it is only ordered for a period of 5 years. Piquet apparently sang like a bird and was subsequently pardoned from any disciplinary action in return for his cooperation with the investigation.
Image Cred: Reuters Pictures