FEDERATION INTERNATIONALE DE L' AUTOMOBILE
World Motor Sport Council
Decision Re: 2008 Singapore Grand Prix – ING Renault F1
21 September 2009
Purpose of meeting
1. The World Motor Sport Council (“WMSC”) met on 21 September 2009 to consider charges that, at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, ING Renault F1 (“Renault F1”), in breach of Articles 151(c) and/or point 2(c) of Chapter IV of Appendix L of the International Sporting Code, and/or in breach of Articles 3.2, 30.3 and/or 39.1 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations, conspired with its driver, Nelson Piquet Junior (“Mr Piquet Jnr”), to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso.
2. At the time of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations provided that when the safety car was deployed, drivers were prevented from pitting until all cars had lined up in formation behind the safety car.
3. Prior to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Renault F1's drivers, Mr Alonso and Mr Piquet Jnr, had amassed 28 and 13 points respectively in the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship for Drivers, and Renault F1 lay joint fourth with Toyota in the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship for Constructors on 41 points.
4. Having shown good pace in the practice sessions for the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Mr Alonso qualified in 15th place on the grid after suffering a fuel pump problem at the start of the second qualifying session. Mr Piquet Jnr qualified 16th on the grid. This rule has since been changed.
5. Mr Alonso began the race with a very light fuel load (enough for only 14 or 15 laps). This meant that his car would be substantially lighter than most of the rest of the cars during the early laps but that he would have to pit and refuel very early in the race.
6. Renault F1 called Mr Alonso into the pits on lap 12. Mr Alonso's car was refuelled and his tyres changed. Mr Alonso emerged from his pit stop in last place, some distance behind the second-to-last car. Mr Piquet Jnr then crashed on exiting Turn 17 of Lap 14, spreading debris across the track. The crash was considered at the time to have caused a safety risk and the safety car was deployed while the track was cleared. Once the track had been cleared, the majority of the drivers remaining in the race duly entered the pits to refuel. The time taken by those other drivers to stop in the pits meant that Mr Alonso rose up to fifth position in the race, with the only drivers in front of him either on one-stop strategies (and so required to make a long pit stop in the forthcoming laps) or subject to penalties for having pitted whilst the safety car was on the track.
7. After the race, the sequence of events described above, giving rise to such an obvious benefit for Renault F1 and Mr Alonso, had raised suspicion and there was a degree of speculation that Mr Piquet Jnr's crash had been deliberate. Rumours continued to circulate in the weeks that followed the race. Mr Piquet Jnr's father, Nelson Piquet Snr, indicated privately to an FIA official that the crash may have been deliberate, though at that time Mr Piquet Jnr was still under contract with Renault F1 and it was understood that he would not be prepared to make a statement to the FIA. The FIA considered its position and concluded that it did not have sufficient evidence at that time to launch a detailed investigation.
Mr Piquet Jnr's evidence
8. On 26 July 2009, the FIA was contacted by Nelson Piquet Snr who stated in clear terms that Mr Piquet Jnr had crashed deliberately at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix and would be prepared to make a statement confirming the circumstances in which this crash occurred, save that he was concerned for his own future if he were to come forward.
9. The FIA considered its position, including that it had no other direct evidence of a deliberate crash, and concluded that the interests of the sport were best served by the truth coming out, even if it meant foregoing the opportunity to take action against one of the perpetrators. It therefore indicated that it was prepared to consider offering Mr Piquet Jnr immunity from individual FIA proceedings under the International Sporting Code in exchange for his full cooperation with an FIA investigation.