Should the FIA have offered Pat Symonds immunity – and will he take it?

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Pat Symonds will go unpunished if he reveals further evidence

A surprising and quite telling development in the FIA’s investigation into the Renault Singapore crash came today as the governing body extended its offer of immunity to Pat Symonds.

The clear implication is the FIA believe Symonds know more than he has told them so far – and suspicion will inevitably fall on the next man up the chain, Flavio Briatore.

Already there have been various comments on this site and others suggesting Mosley has it in for Briatore. As James Allen wrote recently:

This situation offers the opportunity for outgoing FIA president Max Mosley to settle a few scores with Briatore before he leaves office in two months time. Briatore has been in Mosley’s cross-hairs for many years, since writing an open letter of no confidence in the FIA president in 1994.

Perhaps, but if this is the case then why did Mosley pass up an opportunity to exact his revenge two years ago when Renault were found guilty of using McLaren’s intellectual property, but went unpunished?

Further information about the timing to the investigation came to light today with the publication of a letter from Flavio Briatore to Nelson Piquet (Snr) dated July 28th. It included this passage:

I was extremely shocked to learn from Mathieu Michel, and from Bernie [Ecclestone], as a matter of confirmation, that you would have declared that Nelsinho was asked by Renault to cause an accident in the 13th lap in the Grand Prix of Singapore, 2008.
Flavio Briatore

Given the timing of the letter, should we be more doubtful of the Piquets’ position? Prisoner Monkeys offered an interesting alternative take in the comments yesterday:

The FIA may not be going after Briatore. They may no longer trust Piquet; his story changes with each re-telling. Firstly it was that they were going to stage an accident. Then they were going to stage an accident and even picked out a corner. Now Piquet Snr. has said Alonso had to have known about it.

Piquet is trying to bring Briatore down, to ruin him, and he’s trying to get the FIA to do that. If both Piquet and Symonds testify and their stories conflict, one of them is clearly lying. And Piquet has more reason to do so.

Whatever the FIA’s reasons for offering immunity in this fashion may be, the decision to do so raises difficult questions. Should Piquet and Symonds be immune from punishment just because the roles of others who may have been involved has not yet come to light?

While ‘plea bargains’ increase the speed of the process of gathering information and holding a trial, they may encourage guilty parties to work the system to their advantage in order to shift the balance of punishment towards innocent or, at least, less guilty parties. (I’m sure any lawyers who may be reading can enlighten us further on their benefits and shortcomings.)

We will likely only understand the FIA’s purpose in offering Symonds immunity when the details of the case become clear next week. Why do you think they have done it? And how should he respond?

Renault Singapore crash controversy

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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97 comments on “Should the FIA have offered Pat Symonds immunity – and will he take it?”

  1. wow all i can say is that piquet could have really messed up bad if he is not being honest. I dunno how the laws work over there but here in the USA he could goto jail for doing what he did if he is found to be lying in a document like that and its taken to court. Lets hope that the truth comes out and the people who are quilty are the ones that go down bc we all know alot of times its the other way around the little guy takes the dive for the big guys

    1. That’s why I think Piquet is telling the truth. No way would anyone lie about something this huge. I could be wrong, but my instinct says that Piquet Jr is telling the truth. Coupled with the answers Symonds was giving to the investigators – if Symonds/Renault were innocent, he would flat out and emotionally deny it. He actually refused to deny or confirm it. That smacks of it being true. The psychology adds up to crashgate being a reality. Briatore is using his bully boy tactics to wriggle out of it.

      If Renault et al are found innocent on Monday, the whole thing will stink to high heaven and F1 will be forever besmirched.

  2. guilty***

  3. The truth always comes out at some point. We might all be too old to care by the time it does, but it will.
    Now, can we let the lawyers take of this while we get back to watching and talking about the upcoming race or the new teams for next year.
    Please Keith, if you bring this up again, let it because it has been resolved by the courts and we know exactly what happened that day in Singapore. Right now, as Douglas Adams would say, the situation is an S.E.P. (somebody else’s problem)

  4. you are 100% right i wanna hear more about the new teams. Maybe hear something about the fact BMW has a person/person’s to get the team moving again and that the FIA wants 14 teams. That would be awsome i think! Go usf1 lets hope for something more then a few million dollar paper weight!

  5. As with the FIA’s decision for give Jnr immunity, I strongly disagree with Symonds being offered the same. If Piquet Jnr’s claims are upheld, Symonds played a very big role in this sad sequence of events, and as such needs to be punished along with the ultimate arbeiter of all Renault F1’s activities, Flavio Briatore.

    If they are innocent, both Piquets need to be punished by the FIA for trying to bring the sport into disrepute. Snr does has other motor sport activies, and these could be curtailed and Jnr could loose his superlicense for a similar number of seasons.

    Looks more and more like a kangaroo court action, with Briatore firmly the focus of all retribution.

    1. I couldn’t agree more. I think Piquet Sr. is too smart to go this far unless he really had something. He’s risking a lot more than just his son’s reputation. Symonds is complicit and shouldn’t get off just ’cause he sings.

    2. If Symonds takes the deal and his story contradicts Piquet Jr.’s, someone is going to pay a huge price. The offer of immunity made to both of these parties states that they will have immunity so long as they fully and completely truthfully disclose all relevant details. If Symonds contradicts Piquet, then one of them is lying. Whomever is lying therefore would no longer have immunity. It would come down to whom can provide the most evidence supporting their version of events. The loser will almost certainly be banned for life. Still the transcript of Symonds response to the stewards questions makes it clear that there is more to this claim than Flav & Renault would like to admit. Whether Piquet is completely in the clear, and whether events took place as he claims, remains to be seen.

      1. Could someone please highlight for me where the stories contradict each other. As far as I can see, Piquet has accused the Renault bosses of asking him to crash on purpose to ensure Alonso’s win under the safety car, and Flavio has completely denied it, and Symonds is reserving his comments. Either Piquet Jr is telling the truth, or Flavio is – Symonds hasn’t actually said anything definitive yet except that it “was discussed”. As far as I can see, that is more or less an agreement with Piquet Jr without elaborating on the facts.

      2. Nice point!

  6. Perhaps, but if this is the case then why did Mosley pass up an opportunity to exact his revenge two years ago when Renault were found guilty of using McLaren’s intellectual property, but went unpunished?

    Nice one mentioning this, it puts it into better context – I’m not sure this is all to get one over Flavio to be honest.

    Offering Symonds is immunity is not ideal by any means, but to be honest when it’s one guys word against another and there is no real ‘evidence’ from the meeting behind closed doors, I can understand the FIA going down this road.

    At the end of the day, getting to the truth is the important thing here.

  7. What’s the point of an immunity deal for Symonds? If the allegations are true, does it matter he gets a suspension or not? He wont be able to find a job in F1 or even motorsport. The same goes true for Piquet. It is all academic.

    1. Dont count on it. Even Mike Couglan and Nigel Stepney were working even before the ban on them by the FIA was lifted.

  8. William Wilgus
    16th September 2009, 1:35

    If what Symonds has been quoted as telling the FIA is true, then he cannot be totally innocent in the matter. I don’t like the thought of giving him immunity either, but I’d sure like to know whether Briatore is guilty or not. (I certainly suspect he is. What kind of a team principal wouldn’t want to have everything under his control or know everything that was going on?) It doesn’t make sense that Briatore wasn’t aware of what was going to, or did, happen. In either case, he’s at least certainly guilty of at failing to report the incident.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys
    16th September 2009, 2:13

    Oooh, I got a mention. Thanks, Keith!

    I honestly believe this is more than just a witch-hunt to get Briatore. Max Mosley has said that he’s had enough of the politics and is actually looking forward to retirement; why would he get invovled in a lengthy and bitter fight with Piquet and Renault? He’s taken a very hands-off approach to this, which makes me think somebody else – like the WMSC – is doing this, and they have no issue with Briatore insofar as I know.

    1. Or is that just the impression he wants to create?? This has S&Max’s fingerprints all over it. It would not surprise me in the least if this was not his ‘parting shot’ to F1 and Briatore. And working behind the scenes – which I admit, is not S&Max’s usual style – gives it the appearance of legitimacy.

      And Keith, as to your question as to why S&Max hasn’t focused on Flav for retribution until now, why that’s easy. Firstly he was too pre-occupied with his all consuming persecution of Ron Dennis to spare much of a thought for Flav. And secondly, he thought he’d be around forever, and therefore had plenty of time to plot the undoing of his enemy(ies). With him being shown the door next month, this is his last chance to get back at those who who have hastened his exit.

      I seem to recall Flav and Luca Di Monty being the main protagonists in the push for S&Max to ‘stand down’. Di Monty is too smart and too powerful for S&Max to win a pitted battle against. Flav is a far easier target, and to be honest may have brought some of this on himself.

      I remain unconvinced.

      1. My thoughts exactly, I think both himself and the FIA would have been hesitant to make a big deal after spygate with Ron Dennis. And he may have choosen at that time to deal with Flavio later, but Flavio and Max re-engaged their conflict over the breakaway/FOTA commotion earlie this year and now Max Knows it’s now or ever.
        Offering everybody else immunity is Max letting everybody know who he thinks is guilty. Personally I think it’s another FIA stinking to high heaven of personal vendettas being sought.

      2. Prisoner Monkeys
        16th September 2009, 9:57

        Mosley’s sentiments regarding Piquet don’t really matter. He might be one man who represents the whole of the FIA, but that doesn’t mean he does everything. Barack Obama represents the whole of America, but does he do everything that every American does? Of course not.

        My point in all of this is that we have three conflicting versions of events: one from Briatore, who claims that nothing was done; one from Piquet, who claims that Briatore and Symonds came up with the idea and basically coerced him into it; and Symonds, who is the only Renault person to admit a conversation took place, but says Piquet did it.

        Nelson Piquet has the motive, the means and the opportunity to bring Briatore down for what he sees as a grave injustice (I always got the impsression that he had the attitude of his mistakes always being someone else’s fault). The problem is that he’s confusing revenge for justice.

        Does Briatore really deserve to go? Well, no. He has his shortcomings, but all of us do. For all his outspoken comments, he’s really pretty harmless. And if the WMSC think that Piquet is lying to them to try and get Briatore banned for life, why shouldn’t they go to Symonds and offer immunity. After all, he admitted the metting took place whereas Briatore denied it all.

        And even if the FIA are fixated on outsing Briatore, at least they’re targeting him and him alone rather than risk having Renault leave. Formula One needs maufacturers just as much as it needs privateer teams, and the balance needs to be as close to 50/50 as can be.

    2. How can you say hands off. He is the one who gave a pretty detailed, although impartial, interview at Monza. Thats where he brought many things to light, including the max punishment that could be given to Renault and also that Piquet Jr. had been granted immunity.

  10. Reading the various information published so far, I am now of the opinion that something is being covered up. The telemetry data and the transcripts from the radio communications raised serious questions, but the leaked transcript from the interview of Pat Symonds and subsequent immunity offer really did it for me.

    Presumably, the decision to offer Symonds immunity is because no-one’s found a definitive smoking gun, and unless one turns up any judgement would likely be leaning too heavily on word against word, and on data that could be interpreted either way with supporting explanations.

    While I would much rather everyone involved – including NPJ – is punished (aside from ruined personal and professional reputations) if it is proved the crash was staged, getting to the bottom of what really happened is going to be the highest priority if the FIA are planning on dishing out a serious wrist-slapping to the ultimate decision-maker – presumably Flavio unless it gets even crazier! – for putting lives at risk.

    I agree, Keith, that offers of immunity to NPJ and Symonds does risk them both simply pushing all blame towards Flavio in their evidence – it reminds me of most weeks in the boardroom watching The Apprentice! :-) It hopefully will encourage (force) Flavio to reveal more of his side of events in order to protect himself from a disproportionate amount of the blame, than would happen if he believed sticking together and denying it would work.

    As for what proportion of this investigation is because Mosley wants to get even… assuming the FIA had any choice in not investigating such a serious allegation… it could be easily argued the FOTA-slap-round-the-face that Mosley very publicly took has galvanised resolve to not pass up such a golden opportunity to ‘deal with’ one of the FOTA ringleaders.

    Saying all I’ve said, I really hope that the investigation finds that there was no conspiracy theory, just an upset, jilted driver. At a time in F1 with Mosley finally due to retire, new teams joining the grid, sensible decisions over track choices starting to be made again, things were – shock horror! – actually looking rosy! But I always have been an optimist!

    1. yeah the interview transcript on seems pretty damming.

      he’s got immunity but he refused to answer any questions or just pleaded ignorance.

      was a bit weird.

      1. He had not accepted immunity at that point

      2. But Symonds didn’t have immunity at the time of the interview with FIA stewards and Quest. And, as far as we currently know, he hasn’t yet accepted the more recent offer of immunity.

        Guilt is not the only explanation for Symonds’ behaviour during the interview – he may have been aware that Renault’s lawyers were preparing a formal defence and simply didn’t want to say anything that cut across that. He may not have been in possession of all the facts before the interview. There may be another perfectly valid reason.

  11. Immunity means absolutely nothing in this context. No one is being tried in a criminal court (as of yet), so what we’re dealing with here will be a de facto banishment of any guilty parties from international motorsports, regardless of whether or not the FIA has granted them “immunity”. No one will want to work with Briatore or Symonds if these allegations are substantiated, and the Piquets seem to have very little to offer either way. What a quagmire.

  12. If there was a deal to crash. Symonds should take the immunity & just lie. Problem solved

    1. immunity only stands up on the basis of truth

  13. Do not forget Alonso.He knew and was complice of this situation. Unfortunatelly, he act bad as he did in McLaren case.

  14. Granting immunity is good if it gets you higher up the criminal food chain, or allows you to roll up an entire conspiracy in one go. But, as you say, it’s dangerous if it allows miscreants to walk by throwing their lackeys under the bus. The difference is the investigator’s skill, or luck, in divining what the immunized person actually knows. Usually, you get a binding promise in terms of the information you need before offering the immunity and I expect Symonds didn’t get his deal without some specifics.

    In this case, the evidence—telemetry, NP’s statements, etc.—point toward a full on conspiracy involving at least also Briatore; and that Symonds knows all about it. Remember. Symonds is going to sing bird-style now and I believe it won’t be only Briatore going down—logically, this deal would not be happening if it were just FB on offer because the FIA is not looking to trade PS for FB. Symonds will be offering up a full net.

    I believe Ferrari will be keen to know what/who Symonds promised. And they will be keen to see Fisi’s true pace in the car.

  15. No one should have been offered immunity. If it turns out three different people were all well aware of whats going on, and conspired to cheat, then all three of them of get whatever punishment is due.

    That goes for Piquet. If all three really did take part in forcing a safety, to affect the teams overall race result, then all three should be out the door!

  16. HounslowBusGarage
    16th September 2009, 7:51

    It may be worth remembering that this ‘immunity’ being discussed is only in respect of the FIA. It has no bearing on any real courts in the real world.
    So whatever the outcome next week, the problem will not go away as someone is then going to take out a civil action for very large damages against someone else.

    1. Hmm… true.

      Symonds knows he might be civilly or criminally liable if he ordered the crash, so he might refuse to testify on that basis.

  17. I think they had to offer Symonds a deal as they don’t have enough evidence to prove beyond all reasonable doubt there was a conspiracy to stage the race by Piquet crashing on lap 14.

    So far they can prove that PIquet crashed on purpose, they can’t prove he was ordered to do it – it is his words against theirs. Without Symonds they only have evidence against Piquet jr. and his word (and no other evidence) of meeting where he was told do it.

    I don’t know will Symonds take the deal or hazard a trial, it is FIA court so politics have big influence on it but his and the reputation of Nelsinho Piquet is tarnished by this affair…

    They will both find it very difficult to find a job within F1 after all this. Ok, Stepney managed to find a F1 job after his affair but it is a very difficult decision for Symonds.

  18. i think like the Alonso thing, Jr. in bent out of shape for being tossed, treated (in his eyes) like crap, perhaps he was trying to blackmail his way back in, if so Breatori probably said ” give it a go mate’!, and it leaked out, once it was out both Piquet reputations (father & son) were on the line! But i would guess that winning in F1 is worth millions and millions of Euros, so crash Jr. and we win for sure, don’t crash him and it’s iffy if we win. Would you whisper “Oy Jr. pull over… HARD!” into your headset? if you thought (as standard fair in F1) that you won’t get caught? Happens more often than not when BIG money is involved!

    Thanks Keith for this excellent F1 forum, this topic is about racing to answer a rather blinkered punter’s protestations!

  19. Has anyone else noticed that when Alonso was interviewed about it on the BBC, he didn’t flatly and clearly say “I knew nothing about it”? He avoided answering all questions directly. If he didn’t know anything, you would have expected him to say something like “yeah, we were going for a three stop strategy, it was unusual but we had to take a chance on a safety car give the gird position, when Piquet crashed I was very surprised but was more focused on my race and the opportunity that it gave me, I never spoke to Pat or Flav about it” etc. None of those statements were forthcoming.

    Of course there might be an argument that on legal advice he was advised to say nothing, but he didn’t say that either “I can’t really answer your question right now as we’ve taken legal advise that says we should wait until the hearing before commenting on this”

    Sounds a little bit too evasive to me.

    1. Sounds a little bit too evasive to me.

      But Alonso had been told to avoid commenting – Renault’s press officer had intervened during the Thursday press conference to stop questions on the race fixing issue, saying that Alonso had been instructed to avoid the topic entirely.

      That he sounded somewhat evasive under those circumstances is not, in itself, significant.

    2. he didn’t flatly and clearly say “I knew nothing about it”?

      Yes he did. He said he didn’t know anything about that to the press, and to the FIA investigators.

  20. Flavio Briatore = Dodgy. He has been in charge of this team for a long time, and Pat Symonds has been involved with him for a lot of that time. There was alleged illegal traction control in ’94, fuel rig tampering, the evidence of McLaren technical drawings and that’s (my opinion only) not even mentioning one M Schumacher’s behaviour at the end of the 1994 season.

    My point is, Ol’ Flav has all the credibility of a junkie-burglar. I don’t see anyone screaming “No! They wouldn’t do it!”. The Piquet’s are being given the benefit of the doubt when, on face value, it really looks like a huge temper tantrum by a wealthy father and his over-privileged child.

    Timing is my grievance, and I think the Piquet’s should be punished for not revealing this at the time, even if they’re proven right. Either way, they deserve some sort of punishment from the FIA for bringing the sport into disrepute. Just as Ross Brawn should have in 2003 in my opinion….

    1. Right on the money!

  21. When I watch the fragment again, it seems to me that Flav is pretending/acting his emotion.

    To be honest, for sure, in hindsight this seems easy to say, but I remember that even at that time I found something conspicuous in his behaviour, something unreal

  22. I can’t get the what the point of Prisoner’s Monkey is. The story is not changing with each re-telling, it is just getting richer in details. Furthermore, even the notion of “re-telling” is wrong: Piquet did not tell the story several times – we are just getting the info in several instalments as the statements get leaked to the press.
    If that statement from Pat Symonds is really what he said (or rather refused to say), that gives a lot a credence to the whole story.
    But in the end, if this crash fix is true (and this is still an if), all of them should be punished – all of them, Piquet Jr, Briatore, Pat Symonds and everybody involved. In the case of Piquet Jr. it would be just a big disgrace – first you agree to cheat and then you wistleblow, not because you found your bearings, but on the course of a vendetta. If the story is false, well, then Piquet Jr. is really in troubles (well, either way he is).

  23. After reading all leaked information about this, the only thing that is pretty clear for me is:

    Someone suggested to do that. This is the only thing has been confirmed by N Piquet and P Symonds declarations.

    Race transcriptions can be read in both directions.

    Piquet’s car telemetry during the incident is not conclusive enough; despite it could be considere unusual, what is the “ideal patron” for an unprovoked accident to compare with?

    So, at the end, and taking in consideration this conversation took place there are three possible scenarios:

    A) Briatore suggested it offering Piquet a renewal for next year. Symonds planed all details and Piquet did it accordingly.

    B) Piquet suggested it as a way for trying to keep his seat. Symonds and Flavio rejected it, but they didn’t take any action after the incident happened.

    C) Piquet suggested it and Briatore told him something like: “I don’t want to be involved in something like that” (Pilato’s style) then, Symonds planned all with Piquet.

    D) Piquet is lying, Briatore is right and Symonds has lost his mind or he is conspiring against Briatore with Piquet.

    So, given D) is just absurd, for A, B and C cases, I can only say those three guys should be banned from F1 for the rest of their lifes.

    Well, Piquet and Symonds are more less banned in any case, so the only remaining should be Flavio.

    The other thing I can take as a conclusion is or N Piquet is a lier with no dignity (if everything he said is not true) or is a man with no character and dignity (if his declaration is true) so at the end he is a poor man with no dignity whatever result come to light.

    1. so the only remaining should be Flavio.

      I wanted to say: the only remaining would be Flavio.


    2. Why are Symonds and Briatore at fault if B is correct?

      If Piquet chose to crash despite his team rejecting the plan, only Piquet is at fault.

      It’s not an impossible scenario. Piquet may have deliberately wanted to behave as though he’d been told to crash so that he could then threaten to implicate the team if they refused to give him a contract.

      Wacky but possible.

      1. If B is correct, then Briatore and Symonds should have acted accordingly, given the gravity and risks taken by him, mainly when he was asked by them to not to do it.

        In that scenario, the provoked crash woudn’t been their fault, but doing nothing after that happened is as serious as Nelsinho fault. They, as top managers of a team cannot just look to other side when, at least for them, was pretty clear what had happened.

        In a court the would be condemned as accomplices.

    3. E) Alonso told Briatore and Symonds and then “A”. :-P

  24. Trying to get Symonds on board is a forced move from the FIA: they have no choice.

    Why? Because Piquet Jnr is a hostile witness giving circumstantial evidence. On the basis of Nelsinho’s evidence alone, the FIA would probably have to exonerate both Symonds and Briatore.

    But Symonds can’t be sure of that, so he may come on board. But does he have a smoking gun against Briatore? The FIA are gambling that he does, but I’m not sure.

  25. Um…if one peruses the transcript of Symonds interview with the FIA it seems to me by refusing to comment and offering little information and not flatly refusing he was aware the FIA may offer him immunity. I do not think it would have been good for the FIA to charge renault with espionage a couple of months after mclaren. This would not be a good look for F1. Now with some distance to the mclaren espionage case, the focus can be put back on Renault. I never liked Nelson Snr but I do not believe he would go this as it would clearly not reflect well on his son either. To me this may not be a briatore witch hunt, but it perhaps is about the biggest player having to fall to account for what may prove to be the most damaging case of cheating to have ever come out of this sport.

  26. The constant drip of small pieces of information, most likely leaked on behalf of the people who wish to influence public opinion, makes it easy to jump to conclusions, much more difficult to know whether those conclusions are correct. It is possible to conclude that Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet have been offered immunity because this is a clear attempt to get at Flavio Briatore personally, not just Renault. It is equally possible to conclude the opposite.

    Piquet Jr has been given immunity, based on the precedent set during the “Spygate” affair when all three McLaren drivers were offered the same deal for providing information to the FIA. In some ways, this doesn’t feel right – Piquet Jr has made some very serious allegations against his former team and should be prepared to live with any and all of the consequences of making those allegations. Much like unsuccessful claimants taking possible liability for costs in the civil courts – putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak. There should not be a perverse incentive for drivers to make malicious and false allegations against their former team, i.e. on the basis that there will be no comeback and so they have nothing to lose.

    However, the flipside of that argument is that Piquet’s F1 career was probably over before these allegations came to light and that even if it wasn’t then it certainly must be now. After all, what sane F1 team boss is going to take on a poor performing driver who turns on his team when things don’t go his way? Immunity or no immunity, Piquet is now an ex-F1 driver and probably beyond the FIA’s reach. Could/would the FIA really look to take punitive action against a former F1 driver? Granting Piquet immunity therefore makes no real difference to his situation, but may have encouraged him to share information about a potentially serious charge which has implications for the credibility of the sport.

    Symonds has been offered – but not yet accepted – immunity. One interpretation of that is that the guiding motive behind this investigation is a personal vendetta against Briatore. Alternatively, it could mean that the FIA has legitimately concluded that Briatore probably has the most serious case to answer and is going after him. Or it could simply be that Symonds appears to have more information than he has provided so far and the offer of immunity is intended to try to get him to provide it. Whether the offer is well founded or not, Symonds must know that by accepting it he risks tainting his future career prospects in F1 – much better to go down with a sinking ship (if indeed it is sinking) then sell out your former team mates. On that basis, I’d be surprised if Symonds accepted immunity.

    1. But if Symonds is found guilty his career prospects will be worse than “tainted” – they may well be killed off by a life ban from F1.

      He might take immunity to escape that.

      1. A guilty verdict wouldn’t absolve Symonds of any wrongdoing (if indeed he has done anything wrong) if he’s accepted immunity – it simply means he can’t be formally punished for it. It doesn’t mean he would escape with his reputation and future prospects intact.

        Indeed, it would be difficult for Symonds to accept immunity and continue in his position in the long term – even assuming that Renault continues in F1. Very few senior whistleblowers remain in their post for long. Accepting the FIA offer would be tantamount to Symonds writing his resignation letter from a team he’s worked for since it was known as Toleman in the early 1980s.

        A guilty verdict sans immunity is unlikely to result in a stronger punishment than was handed out to Coughlan and Stepney over Spygate, both of whom are now free to be employed in F1. Being guilty and deserting the sinking ship would probably be looked at more harshly by future employers than simply being guilty, I suspect.

  27. What about that? extracts of the radio communication,18954,3213_5562506,00.html

  28. Thanks roser, well if the key workd for Piquet was ‘push’ then Flav is involved. I don’t trust Symond’s at all in the trannscript, I know they may not have accepted bringing Fernando in early unless there was a good reason (Symond’s ‘the reason being we’ve got this worry on the fuel pump’) but it sounds like he’s always in control (Don’t worry about fuel because I’m going to get him [Alonso] out of this traffic earlier than that.’).
    FIA must really have steam coming out their ears over whoever has leaked this stuff.

    1. OK, but maybe they just wanted Piquet to push… the problem is that we cannot know the mind of the people, just what they say and they do, and this can be interpreted in many views…

  29. There is one point most people are ignoring: in any serious sport the Singapore results would be invalidated. Do you know what that would mean in the final driver standings?

    1. Hamilton finished 3rd in Singapore and got 6 points. Massa was 13th, no points.
      So if the results were discarded, Massa would be crowned 2008 champion…

      1. i believe this has been answered elsewhere, there is a cut off date for all grievances for any particular season, and i believe its around november or december of the end of that year, so in essence, even if they decide the whole race was to be shambled, the results for 2008 would remain. Perhaps this is why it was left so long before it came to light??

  30. I have no firm idea of whom is telling the truth without seeing all available evidence, and not just a few leaks.

    But I find it incredible that Symonds is given immunity. what if it transpires that Briatore is an innocent party and it was chiefly Symonds idea? However unlikely that may seem, without seeing all the evidence, it’s entirely possible. If the Piquets are being truthful – and it’s still an if – then I suspect not enough heads will roll.

    On a side point, interesting the amount of fuss over this form of alleged cheating because it was seen as endangering lives (which I totally concur with) compared to the relatively small fuss and minor punishment dished out back in the Benetton days, when they risked the lives of a whole pit crew and set Jos Verstappen on fire by (proven) tampering with the fuel rigs…

  31. If you read the stewards report of the Spa hearings, it’s clear they feel that Briatore is responsible, but that Symonds is covering for him by not giving testimony.

    There is no witch hunt going for Briatore from the FIA. They simply want to punish the biggest fish in the chain.

    Sure Piquet has it in for Briatore, but he only came forward because he KNEW that Briatore was behind it. What point would he have to only implicate Symonds?

    Piquet never changed his story. Dont know where Prisonar Monkey got that from. I’ve never seen another story than that he was told to crash. The testimony that leaked gave more insight and Symonds added to that. But Piquet always said the same thing. Nonsense to assume that he is lying.

    So forget all the silly conspiracy stories, apply Occam’s razor and simply read the facts as they are.

    Briatore looks guilty => FIA wants him punished and needs proof that Symonds can provide

  32. Probably FIA doesn’t have strong evidence to accuse somebody 100%.

    But this strategy could be done in order Flavio to feel abandoned and threatened since the others will be able to say things about him at FIA under immunity.
    This could trigger him to tell things that he wouldn’t say otherwise against Symonds and Piquet. Have in mind also that this could happen even if Symonds, doesn’t say any bad thing about Flavio. Flavio wouldn’t know this and would accuse Symonds if there is anything to accuse him for.
    So some truths may come in light that wouldn’t come otherwise…

  33. I definitely think Alonso knew the plot. Maybe a lie-detector test would put to rest any speculation. But again the point is that Max wants Flav’s head, not Alonso’s. He’ll naturally be offered immunity. Poor Flav, i dunno what sort of humiliation he’ll be subjected to come next Monday. I can safely assume that its the end of the road for Flavio. I really don’t know how Pat will be able to get away with this. Maybe he, along with Alonso will come up with some incriminating evidence against Flav to save their own skins. When I first heard of the decision the provide PK Jr & Pat with immunity, I was reminded of the erstwhile german secrect police Gestapo & their way of doing things. FIA & Max operate in the same way as them. First take into confidence the victims themselves by offering them “immunity”, round up more victims with the help of the “immunized” victims. Exterminate the lot & finally exterminate the “immunized” victims themselves. I’m sure, once Max gets rid of Flavio, he’ll see no use & purpose of having pat & PK Jr. He’ll have them removed from the sport. As for Alonso, He’ll maintain his diplomatic stand on this issue, atleast in the eye of the public & getaway with this. I really dunno why Max let go of Flav during the J-Damper spying case. the fact that Renault had been using Mclaren’s patented design itself is reason enough to have punished them.

    Professor Malcolm Smith’s “inerter” device and concept has been deployed in Formula One racing (A genius idea, and why McLaren hasn’t tried to stop others using it”). McLaren signed an agreement with the University for rights to exploit the technology in Formula One. After a rapid and confidential development process the inerter was raced for the first time by Kimi Raikkonen at the 2005 Spanish Grand Prix, who achieved a victory for McLaren. The inerter had been used for the first time in practice by McLaren at the previous race at Imola.

    During development McLaren invented a decoy name for the inerter (the “J-damper”) to keep the technology secret from its competitors for as long as possible. The inerter featured in the 2007 Formula One “spy scandal” when it was reported that the Renault engineering team failed to understand the purpose of the device from a McLaren J-damper drawing they had acquired

    Here is a LINK to that article.

    Symonds is as guilty as Flavio or Piquet or for that matter, Alonso(if he knew of this plot). This is all Max’s doing. I really hope all this ends once and for all. Flavio’s “Head” is what Max wants, let him take it. I dunno what max is going to do with Flavio’s head. Always though of him to be a dimwit, especially after Singapore 2008 . Let this be Max’s final act of madness. I’m sick of this revengeful attitude of max Mosley.

    The best thing for Flavio to do is to just tell the truth. Even if he’s not found guilty, Max will manipulate & fabricate & have his head. Flav must exit with some dignity.

  34. No, because he is one of the very guilty parts and will be punished accordingly.

    What Piquet did is stupid as many say, OK, but remember he was an employee following order from his boss.

    Put ourselves in his shoes – would you like a race position for next year? So do this. – What would you do?…

    And since it was one thing that didn’t put anybody in jeopardy, only him, kind of, I understand the immunity given to him by FIA, but if they give immunity to all involved, after the truth is known the guilty parts can’t be punished.

    I feel sorry about Renault the company, but whoever put Briatore in charge must have known the possibilities…

    And there they are…

    If they are expelled from Formula 1, it will be a blast even a big car company like Renault will find very hard to overcome… Sales will drop, stands and garages will shut down, people will loose their work… Very bad.

    Only hope the punishments given to the guilty ones will be as bad. And also hope FIA really check is Alonso wasn’t in on it, because this is something just like something he could do… The hunger to win is bigger in him than in Briatore, so… better check really good who had the idea. Because even if he wasn’t on that meeting were Piquet was told to do what he did, it’s very hard to believe the Spaniard didn’t know what’s was going on….

    1. Perfect user name!! F1 is really nonsense.

  35. to be honest, the way im looking at this is that there is no smoke without a fire, and i dont think that piquet being sacked is a big enough fire to have caused this much smoke, plenty of drivers have been angry because of sackings in the past, with bordais coming to mind recently, but nothing like this has ever happened to the best of my knowledge which makes me think that something must have taken place behind the scenes.

    this, coupled with the telemetry, symonds resonse and also the fact that piquets statement clears up alot of weird things from that singapore race, like why would alonso start in 15th with only 12 laps of fuel, and why piquet crashed on such an easy corner (where conveniently there was no crane).

    although i really dont want it to be true i think that it is looking ever more likely that piquet is telling the truth, but i just cannat get my head around symonds immunity offer, because if piquet is telling the truth then symonds is just as guilty as flav.

  36. I wonder Renault would have bothered already taking Piquet to court outside of the FIA case, if they thought Piquet really had a case. I also wonder whether if Piquet is found guilty of blackmail in the UK, whether he will ever be extradited from Brazil. Piquet must have known his F1 career was over, whatever the outcome, unless he really is the spoilt brat, living off his father’s legacy, that he has so far shown to be.

    This is very much like the recent bloodgate scandal in Rugby union. In this case, the player being asked to fake a blood injury in order to get their kicker back onto the field. Later, the player asked the team doctor to inflict a real blood injury to be shown to the doctor of the opposing team.

    Piquet is no different than this player, only in his case, he endangered many more people by crashing his car mid-race, than a player getting his own lip cut with a scalpel.

    I’m sure every F1 team has cheated at some time in the past. To me though, I still have to wonder whether this is something that NPJ imagined up all by himself, rather than with real instruction from the team. I can easily imagine it being discussed, but I still doubt that it was something a team would actually ask a driver to do. Perhaps knowing that he was not going to get a good result from the race, he decided that ditching it in the wall was the best thing to do, seeing as they’d previously talked about it being a way to get a good result in the race. He could probably use it as contract leverage in future too.

    I’d also be surprised if Symmonds takes immunity. As mentioned, he’s been with that team for ever. It’s his team. And if Renault are satisfied that they can prove NPJ wrong, why should he bother with their offer.

    What a difference there is between the two sons of former F1 drivers that started in F1 recently… Rosberg, reliable, fast, great character, then Piquet Jr, unreliable, slow, spoilt brat.

  37. Breaking: “Briatore and Symonds leave Renault”

    Renault has announced that team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering chief Pat Symonds have parted company with the team and that it will “not dispute” the allegations of race-fixing when it appears before the World Motor Sport Council next week.

    1. OMG! What does this mean? Will there being a hearing at all?

      1. From that article:

        As the Renault team – rather than Briatore and Symonds themselves – has been charged over the allegations, today’s announcement by the team is unlikely to have any bearing on next week’s hearing.

      2. There will be a hearing but Renault will surely escape sanction unless others are implicated.

    2. Amazing! The latest leaks must have put the nail in the coffin. It seems Briatore and Symonds no longer had the benefit of the doubt at Renault.

    1. Wow, this is a big leak from FIA!!!

      1. My question is could these two go to jail for having put its own employee & the public at mortal danger. Can this case be treated as Culpable homicide?

        1. It’s not homicide unless someone dies.

  38. So, Briatore and Symonds admit thier guilt. The question now is will Renault avoid expulsion now that the two rogues have left the team. What would have happened in Singapore without the safety car? A victory for Massa no doubt and with it the world championship. Ironic that Alonso winning by the team cheating lateer handed Lewis Hamilton the championship by 1 point. This is a new low for Formula 1, but you know what they say. “There is no such thing as bad publicity”

    1. I don’t think Renault should go unpunished. With Symonds and Flav leaving, Renault are in a similar position to McLaren when they got rid of Coughlan. Renault’s case is more severe because of the safety issues of deliberately causing a crash.

  39. Breaking News!!

    Briatore and Symmonds have left the team. Surely that means Renault cannot get banned now? But what of Renault will they try and run the team next year?

    1. Maybe they will get banned. Just because they get rid of Briatore and Symmonds does not stop the FIA imposing any punishment if they find them guilty.

      The FIA have accounted Renault Team responsible and not those two individuals.

  40. Max has won the war!!

  41. All those doubting the tactics of the FIA in leveraging Briatore admission by offering Symonds immunity, please stand up!

    1. I must admit that I for one was against that immunity tactic. I think this is more of a result of Renaults own interpretation of the information presented to them by the FIA. There must be some damning evidence there. Does this mean that the case against the Piquets is dropped, because by persuing them will do them no favours at the hearing on th 21st.

    2. I also think that immunity to only one is not fair, because they could have also offered immunity to Flavio, or to someone else… if someone is guilty, has to be punished.
      I still don’t get why only Flavio would be the responsible of the strategy, since according Piquet words, he doesn’t know anything about F1.

  42. Robert Silvestre
    16th September 2009, 12:54

    Does anyone know whether the 13th team slot announcement was due this week? I’d find it suspicious if not… same with the BMW Sauber situation… now the FIA will ask the other teams if OK to have 14 participants next season? Got the feeling that the outcome of this whole thing is already known… Renault will be banned for a few years and the involved parties sent to a civil court. That way we start 2010 fresh with 26 cars on the grid and (almost) everyone is happy.

  43. its irrelevant. renault will leave f1, this is the perfect excuse. glad to see the back of Briatori though, what an oily tick he is. Its a shame for Pat Symonds but he must’ve known.

    Seems ALonso is trying to out Schumacher Schumacher off the track as well as on. How now will ferrari view him after he has been around blackmail, deception, cheating….actually he sounds perfect for them!

    1. yes, renault wanted to leave F1 already some years ago…

    2. Yes the perfect match! Montezemolo must have the horn so much right now.

  44. I wonder if public opinion will be on the side of NPJ as the poor driver bullied into doing the wrong thing, or whether they will think even less of him for only coming clean when shopping the team that cut him loose?

    The irony would be if NPJ was such a bad driver that Britore and Symonds only wanted him to “crash”, whereas he couldn’t do that properly and it ended up as “…CRASH!” :-)

    It doesn’t dilute my honestly-felt seriousness about what they did, it’s just part of me imagines Briatore seeing the footage and slapping his hand onto his forehead as he realised NPJ had done even that wrong!!

    Anyone want to open the book on whether Alonso knew?

  45. I’m sure Alonso must have realised something went on at some point, but there has been no evidence that he was complicit in the actions of Flav & Symmonds at the time.

    They needed to get a result to keep Renault in F1. Alonso already had a contract with Ferrari. None of us know if he was aware at the time, but his motivation would have been very minor compared to Flav & Symmonds – for him another win – for them continuation of their team.

    Please leave out the anti Alonso remarks
    until we know more about this!

    1. You need to look at the history following this guy to understand the ant alonso comments. He was in the middle of the mclaren debacle, and he is in the middle of this and who knows what else. The fact he was given immunity to help bring down mclaren shows he is a cheater also. I belive that if they dig deep enough that he will be implicated as well. I am not an alonso hater but I am no longer a supporter either.

  46. Robert Silvestre
    16th September 2009, 13:14

    Irrelevant? Well, that’s your opinion. Maybe you are right and Renault was planning to leave anyway. Just interested in knowing if the announcement was scheduled for this week. FIA bracing for impact? Life goes on… we are still good with 13 teams for next season, etc.

  47. It’s official – Pat and Flavio have parted company with Renault…

    1. Yep, though parted company is probably a nice way of putting it! Wise decision by Renault.

  48. I find it strange that Alonso is so close to yet another scandal…

    The guy is a cheat, and encourages those around him to do the same.

    He is only going to Ferrari because of the McLaren scandal. Driving for Ferrari is his reward for nearly bringing down McLaren team.

    Just think about this, Ferrari is the team that has lied and cheated it’s way to many a world championship, and now it will have Alonso driving for it, I feel bad for the other drivers and teams… you wait!!!

    1. I echo your sentiment.

  49. it certainly puts a new spin on the whole immunity thing the FIA offered Symonds. If he comes clean next week, he may be out of a job at Renault, but at least he has a wealth of potential new employers with the boatload of new entrants lining up. That is, if he isn’t considered tainted goods. but hey, even stepney got working again for some time, even if it was only for that rather dubious serbian F1 venture.

  50. A few lessons:
    1. Don’t spoil the carreer of a spoiled guy to make another spoiled guy look good (remember: Piquet Jr. gave Lewis a hard time, Lewis gave Alonso a hard time, thus, supposedly, there would be no reason for Jr. not to give Alonso a hard time – other than being given a quite different equipment).
    2. Don’t cheat. If you can’t resist doing the former, yield when blackmailed – a few years getting the results Piquet Jr. was having and his carreer would be finished anyway and you wouldn’t lose your job.
    3. Never be on the wrong side of Piquet Sr.

  51. Alonso out right cheat yet again botton of other scandle he is the one that should be booted to “he knows nothing about it ” MY ASS

  52. It seems like this issue is dead now but I don’t think they ever should have. It’s unfair to target one man (Briatore) we all moan when it’s Hmailton

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