On the eve of what would have been his son's second home grand prix had he not been unceremoniously sacked by Renault earlier in the season, Nelson Piquet has dropped the latest bombshell in the ongoing 'Singapore-gate' saga in alleging that 'everyone' at the team knew about the race-fixing conspiracy in F1's inaugural night race last year.
Shortly after recovering Ferrari star Felipe Massa outspokenly revealed his 'absolute' conviction that his future team-mate Fernando Alonso had been in on the greatest scandal to rock the top flight in recent memory [see separate story – click here
], Piquet Snr – at Interlagos with the aim of 'reconnecting with friends and looking for work for Nelson,' he told Globo TV
– has added further fuel to the fire in asserting in no uncertain terms that the double F1 World Champion was indeed privy to the plot as well, despite the Spaniard's fervent protestations to the contrary and clearance of any knowledge or involvement by the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) last month.
“[Flavio] Briatore convinced Nelsinho to provoke the accident,” the 1981, 1983 and 1987 title-winner told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
ahead of this weekend's potentially championship-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix, “and Alonso knew about it. Everyone knew. Do you think that Alonso would start from 15th on the grid and stop shortly afterwards to refuel [if he had not been aware of the plan]?”
Alonso benefitted from his then team-mate's collision with the Marina Bay street circuit's unforgiving concrete walls to go on to triumph in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, taking advantage of an early first pit-stop as his rivals all dived in to refuel en masse
following the appearance of the safety car – vaulting him into the lead from outside the top ten, having been held back in qualifying by an engine failure.
Whilst Piquet Jnr, as the effective whistle-blower, was granted immunity from prosecution by the sport's governing body for divulging all that he knew, disgraced ex-Renault F1 managing director Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds were both banned from involvement in any FIA-sanctioned form of motor racing – indefinitely, in the case of the former – for having been the key architects behind the plan. The French manufacturer itself was handed down a two-year suspended ban from competition at the highest level.
Alonso, however, continues to profess his innocence, adamant that he was in the dark all along and was just as shocked as the watching world when the incident was brought so dramatically to light. The 28-year-old added that Massa's comments do not in any way damage his relationship with the Brazilian.
“In the World Council it was clear in the statement that I had nothing to do with the Singapore 2008 [events],” the 21-time grand prix-winner is quoted as having said by Channel 4 News
. “I was not involved in anything and I did not know anything, so there were no doubts.
“There is nothing wrong with [Massa]. Last year we built up a good relationship, a friendly relationship; I was supporting him in the last part of the championship because I really thought that Felipe had a chance to win it. I am sure it will be okay – a good relationship like with any other driver.”
Piquet Jnr, meanwhile, is currently eyeing a comeback in NASCAR circles, having arranged a test in the United States with Camping World Truck Series squad Red Horse Racing [see separate story – click here