Whatever the conclusion of the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) on the salacious 'Singapore-gate' scandal currently engulfing Formula 1, the two men arguably at its centre – Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds – will find a way back into the top flight one day, reasons 13-time grand prix-winner David Coulthard.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Briatore and Symonds had sensationally left their respective positions of managing director and executive director of engineering at Renault F1 [see separate story – click here
], with the former claiming he did so 'to save the team'.
That has prompted fevered speculation inside the paddock that there must be some truth behind Nelsinho Piquet's assertion that he was instructed by his two bosses to deliberately crash out of last year's Singapore Grand Prix, thereby enabling team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph in the sport's inaugural night race – and likely also prevented Renault from pulling the plug on its F1 project at season's end.
Whilst the WMSC is due to rule on the Enstone-based outfit's fate on Monday (21 September) – with the potential ramifications should the team be found guilty of the charge of 'race-fixing' stretching as far as expulsion from the world championship altogether – both Briatore and Symonds are gone. Coulthard contends that they may not be absent for long.
“I think it's been well-documented,” the Scot told Crash.net Radio
of the latest controversy to rock the top flight. “Singapore last year was the catalyst; Nelson Piquet Jnr obviously left the team and then decided to share some information with the FIA. They did an enquiry, and the end of that enquiry is that before the hearing on Monday where Renault have to step forward and explain themselves, both Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left the team.
“You have to presume that that's because there are some grey areas or something that wasn't discussed with Renault beforehand. We'll find out in time. I think they will both have their opportunity to say something publicly on it if they want to, for sure the FIA will enlighten us as to what happened and there will be some information that comes out of the event on Monday. People don't leave organisations unless there's a reason – either they did act inappropriately or they just felt it was for the greater good.
“Pat I'm sure will end up somewhere else, because he's got a very long and successful history in motorsport. Flavio I'm sure will have a finger in some pie in Formula 1 – he's been a great entrepreneur and had a great deal of success, and he's never claimed to be passionate about the sport individually. It was more about the business side, and if he's made an error of judgement then obviously he's taken the penalty for that, but I think we have to keep in perspective that these guys are all under a great deal of pressure – and sometimes that makes them make bad decisions.”
Other 'victims' of the fall-out look set to include Piquet – who Coulthard's BBC F1
colleague Martin Brundle has described as being henceforth 'unemployable' [see separate story – click here
] – and Renault itself, which has suffered considerable losses in terms of car sales since the onset of the global credit crunch last year and whose CEO is known not to be a particular motor racing aficionado. If the French manufacturer was ready to leave before, so goes the school of thought, then nothing will be able to convince it to stay now.
“I can't possibly know,” the Twynholm native stated of Renault's future. “I hope [they don't leave], but we just need to be patient and see what happens. It would be very bad for the sport if Renault pulled out – they've been a great supporter of Formula 1 and motorsport and have used it to good effect for the promotion of their vehicles, but these are difficult times and, if they are on the edge, something like that could push them over. Time will tell whether [Piquet] pops up at another team or not. You can't write the final chapter in the book; we just have to wait and see.”