The whole F1 world has been very nearly turned on its head. Today, Renault F1 announced that they would not contest the charges brought against them that they told Nelson Piquet Jr. to intentionally crash his car in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Additionally, team principal Flavio Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds resigned from the team effective immediately.
This move is essentially a confirmation that Nelson Piquet’s claim that he was ordered to crash his car was, at least in part, the truth. Renault’s statement on the matter read as follows:
The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.
Before attending the hearing before the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009, the team will not make any further comment.
The question remains, though, what will the World Motor Sport Council do when the hearing rolls around on Monday? The two main instigator of this incident have left the team and are highly unlikely to get a job in F1 anytime in the near future. That’s not to say that the team won’t face some punishment. It’s very likely that the team and Fernando Alonso will be stripped of the win. If the WMSC chooses to change the order, the 2008 champions won’t be changed but it will mean that Nico Rosberg will win his first F1 race. Further punishment is very possible. Rumoured punishment ranges from a substantial fine (in the neighbourhood of $100 million) to a one-year ban.
As for where Renault goes from here, it appears that a plan is quickly coming in place. Prodrive boss David Richards was spotted at the Renault F1 factory. His Prodrive group was granted a spot on the 2008 F1 grid before backing out because of a battle over customer cars. They were denied entry into the 2010 championship and their purchase offer for the assets of Honda F1 was declined. It remains to be seen if Richards will take over Renault as team principal or if he is planning on buying out the team.
The Daily Mail has also leaked a good number of the FIA documents that it’s using as evidence. Click the links below to read.
Statement of Nelson Piquet Jr. to FIA
Supplementary Statement of Nelson Piquet Jr. to FIA
Letter from Lars Osterlind to Max Mosley
Report of Stewards’ investigation into the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix
2008 Singapore Grand Prix Renaul Radio Transcript Extracts
Partial track map
Recovery vehicle locations
Letter from Flavio Briatore to Nelson Piquet Snr
Letter from Pierre de Coninck
Invitation to an extraordinary meeting of the WMSC