Former F1 driver and BBC commentator David Coulthard has rubbished the current allegations that Renault F1 fixed the 2008 grand prix in Singapore by purposefully asking recently-sacked driver Nelson Piquet jr. to crash so that teammate Fernando Alonso would win by a strategic safety car period and pit stop strategy.
The parallel is something similar to what happened in Australia this year with Lewis Hamilton in my mind. Now I am not suggesting that Hamilton fixed a race but he was caught lying to the race stewards regarding his pass on Jarno Trulli under a yellow flag situation. He then said the team asked him to lie and he did.
I believe it is similar because in McLaren’s case Hamilton was asked to lie and if the Renault rumors are true, the same could be said of Nelson Piquet jr. The big question I have is that why would the driver actually choose to lie or do something insidious to effect the outcome of a race even if the team asked them to do it. It is their integrity on the line and reflects poorly on the moral scale.
If Renault had asked Piquet to purposefully crash so that his teammate could win and Piquet refused; what would have happened? Would they fire him? I doubt it as he simply could have went to the FIA and said he refused to fix the race as requested by the team and they fired him for it. The issue would have blown up in Renault’s face.
On the other hand, if there was no radio communication asking Piquet to ditch the car, then what evidence is there? How would Renault have known that Alonso would end up in the cat bird seat and which corner to ask Piquet to crash at? All of this sounds very specious to me and if it is proven false, Piquet’s stock will sink to new lows almost guaranteeing him that the only ride in F1 he will get is with a team his father would buy.
DC told the Telegraph via red Bull:
The Renault allegations are far more credible, although once again I find them very hard to stand up. From a driver’s perspective, it is certainly technically possible. It’s not hard to crash a car and if you hit the barriers side-on, as Nelson Piquet did in Singapore, then it would be fairly low impact and not too dangerous for him.
Morally, though, it is off the scale. In order to keep the safety car out for any length of time Renault would have needed to choose a place on the track where the marshals could not get to quickly.
It would also have needed the complicity of a number of people â€“ the only evidence I can envisage would be radio communications, which are openly available to the FIA and the team. Someone would surely have said something by now. As I say, I don’t buy it.