F1 News: The Ongoing Renault Race-Fixing Debacle

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis...er, Flavio has left the building.

Ladies and gentlemen, Elvis…er, Flavio has left the building.

Following Nelson Piquet Jr’s allegations that Renault directed him to purposely crash out during the Grand Prix of Singapore last year in order to position Fernando Alonso to win the race for the team, the World Motorsports Council announced that they would hold a formal hearing on Monday, 21 September 2009. At first, Renault denied all allegations vehemently, and along with team principal Flavio Briatore, filed a lawsuit against Nelsinho alleging that not only was he lying, but that he’d attempted to blackmail the team as well. Nelson Piquet Senior was also named in the suit.

With me so far? Good. Ahead of Monday’s hearing, official team radio recordings from the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix were released—recordings which, honestly, sound very much like they could be taken either way. (You can listen for yourself at the link provided and make up your own mind, but they sound very much like bog-standard team radio transmissions.)

These recordings are, naturally, expected to play a large role in the hearing on Monday. What may also play a role is that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have both quit the team due to Renault deciding not to contest the allegations.

Are they frustrated that Renault has chosen to back down from defending itself against these allegations? Or is it that they feel chagrined and guilty and would prefer not to drag the team down further? No one yet knows all the facts, and it’s possible no one ever will.

However, it seems obvious to this writer that you’d have to be a very particular combination of arrogant and incredibly stupid to think that, in this age where everything is recorded (and sometimes in multiple forms, and from multiple angles), you could possibly have the involvement of a large group of people in such a case. To me, that idea beggars belief to an incredibly untenable level.

Whether it was just Flavio and Pat is another matter—and it still seems suspect to me. Obviously I don’t know the man personally, but it’s always seemed to me that while Flavio’s a lot of things, “stupid” isn’t really one of them. It’s also possible that someone’s out for Briatore’s blood since if you’ll recall, he was the one leading the efforts to form a breakaway series back when the FIA’s proposed rules changes for 2010 looked impossible for some existing teams.

Finally, here’s a handy BBC review of the events in question: