Nelson Piquet Jnr, Renault., Singapore, 2008

Crashgate corner could disappear from Singapore Grand Prix track

2019 Singapore Grand Prix

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A four-corner stretch of Singapore’s Marina Bay circuit could be altered for future races due to planned construction work in the city.

Turns 16 to 19 pass around and beneath a temporary grandstand which overlooks a floating platform, ‘The Float @ Marina Bay’, which is used for the country’s National Day Parade. The Float is due to be demolished in January 2022 and replaced with a new structure, NS Square, by 2025, according to The Straits Times.

The current circuit turns right off Raffles Avenue at turn 16, loops around and under the grandstand, then rejoins the road at turn 19. The area could be bypassed while the construction work goes on, directing cars straight to the current turn 20, potentially reducing the track layout from 23 turns to 19.

This would bypass turn 17, which became notorious the ‘Crashgate’ scandal during the circuit’s inaugural race.

Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jnr deliberately crashed at the corner during the race in order to trigger a Safety Car period which would put his team mate Fernando Alonso in the lead. Alonso went on to win, but the true circumstances of his victory were only uncovered the following year.

The truth of the matter came to light 10 years ago today. Renault, facing an FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing on the controversy, confirmed it would not contest the charges and that managing director Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds had left the team.

Although the scandal rocked the sporting world at the time, the development came as little surprise to Renault’s rival teams according to then-Brawn GP CEO Nick Fry in his forthcoming book, ‘Drive. Survive. Win.’ Fry said “most of us involved in the sport suspected something odd had happened’ after the combination of an unexpectedly early pit stop for Alonso and Piquet’s timely crash handed Renault its first win for almost two years.

“An incident like that – a crash out of nowhere in isolation on the track – doesn’t happen fortuitously,” Fry added. “There was a general feeling in the pit lane that night it was all a bit too coincidental.”

Current Singapore Grand Prix track layout

Singapore Marina Bay circuit
Singapore Marina Bay circuit

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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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53 comments on “Crashgate corner could disappear from Singapore Grand Prix track”

  1. Looking back at Crashgate, all the central characters were successfully reformed and reintegrated:

    Renault sold the team, then bought most of it back.
    Flavio never stopped managing drivers.
    Pat is now apparently an authority on how to lead Formula 1 into the future.
    Fernando still has this “win” in his stats.
    And Nelsinho is still racing cars, and probably crashing them.

    Lovely, isn’t it?

    1. @proesterchen All of it, not ‘most’ of it.

      1. @jerejj Nope, Renault only bought a 90% stake in the team, while Genii kept the remaining 10%. (hence the continued presence of their branding on the car, btw)

        1. @proesterchen Yes, there might be the Genii-logo on the very back-edge of the PU-cover, but still a fully-fledged works-team of the French car-manufacturer nevertheless, so effectively the same as if 100% of the stake in the team belonged to Renault.

          1. @jerejj The simple fact is your quip was likely well-intentioned, but factually wrong.

          2. Wrong, you are wrong. Stop the arguing.


    2. @proesterchen

      Fernando still has this “win” in his stats.

      You missed three:

      Massa then deservedly owns the title in 2008.

      Schumacher got to keep his titles whilst cheating with these same guys. (At least the money he earnt from it is coming in handy)

      Nothing will bring Senna back who died trying to keep up with these guys’ illegal car.

      Or are they too taboo even for you?

      1. No, Massa still loses, because Hamilton won Spa 2008.

        Oh what a tangled web we weave when we retcon.

    3. To me what’s most appaling is how many wins might have been crashgates back in the late 00’s. The sc rule was changed, forcing drivers to start on race fuel helps, though an sc can still be very useful.

  2. “An incident like that – a crash out of nowhere in isolation on the track – doesn’t happen fortuitously,”

    *sad Grosjean noises*

    1. It wasn’t isolation. It was Ericsson :)

      1. Indeed!)

  3. Good. I’m glad that silly little detour is going. Hopefully the track will go straight on from 16 to 19 with no silly chicanes or water splashes in the way. It will create an excellent overtaking spot at 20 and shorten the lap time considerably.

    1. @nickwyatt my fav part to watch on tv, it’s fun on the games as well.

    2. Yep…this will help a lot. Hopefully the new design takes the f1 race into account. That stretch is too narrow to be any good.

  4. I’d love it if they also took out the 7,8,9 corners and just went further up Raffles Boulevard, then took a left onto Beach Road and joined back to the circuit that way, would make for a faster, simpler track when combined with bypassing The Float section, which was just adding corners for adding corners sake IMO

    1. @sam3110 That wouldn’t be a bad idea. Continuing through current T7, then turn left from the next intersection to rejoin the existing part of the circuit would make both the longest-straight of the track, as well as, the one between T9 and T10 a bit longer, thus maybe increasing overtaking opportunities slightly combined with this potential change the track would suddenly become more flowing albeit still not quite power-sensitive.

    2. This might increase speeds heading into T10 to an unacceptable level, giving the complete lack of run-off at that corner.

      1. @proesterchen @markzastrow
        I wouldn’t be that worried because the stretch between that corner and the intersection about 180 meters after T7 wouldn’t be a full straight. The current T9 would automatically become a chicane albeit a relatively high-ish speed one.,103.8542464,292m/data=!3m1!1e3

        1. @jerejj Ah yes, you’re exactly right—the current T9 was what I meant to write!

    3. That platform has a seating capacity of 30,000.

      It’s a nice diversion for the cars so that more revenue can be generated. Not really adding corners for the sake of doing so.

    4. @sam3110 @jerejj @proesterchen I’ve often thought that would be a nice tweak to the layout as well. Not sure what the logistical complications would be though, as it would mean completely enclosing War Memorial Park inside the circuit, which is used for grandstands and entrance gates.

      In terms of the speeds entering T10, you could install a chicane at St Andrews and Stamford (current turn 7).

      It would be interesting though to see how the nature of the circuit would change if you got rid of both of these sections (T7/8/9 and The Float). That eliminates some major rhythm sections, and potentially some of the challenge and uniqueness of Singapore.

      1. You could ask Herman Tilke to redesign the track and lose another special track.

    5. @sam3110 I’d leave it as it is as we tend to see some good racing through the turns 7/8/9 section as it’s just about possible to stay on the outside of T7 & then come back at T8 with you then been offline/slow through the exit giving the driver behind another go at T9.

    6. @sam3110 I’d actually prefer extending the straight up to North Bridge Rd, contouring Raffles City Convention Centre, rejoining at current T9. Besides, it wouldn’t have the issue at T10 end speed @proesterchen pointed out.

  5. More like a piquet-corner, and BTW, that particular grandstand isn’t temporary, though. That one is an exception along with the pit-building, which also stands there all-year-round.

    1. Though if they are removing the current floating platform, are they also removing and/or reworking the grandstand that looks out over it (seems a bit, well useless w/o the thing it looks at, year round) @jerejj

      1. @bosyber Maybe yes, but at present, the grandstand is there all-year-round.

  6. The turn right at T16 starts a sequence of fiddly nonsense corners really, so that way well be a positive change.

  7. You know what else should disappear? The result from that race, and yet…

    1. @johnmilk

      ….Lewis still keeps the championship…..

      1. @bigjoe do you think that I care?

  8. I really like and respect this website, but it always makes me cringe when any sort of journalist takes a word associated with anything slightly controversial and sticks the word ‘gate’ on the end of it. All news outlets are guilty of this and I suspect the name for this is more inherited from other outlets using it.

    Anyway, rant over, keep up the good work guys!

    1. “Crashgate” is the widely accepted moniker for the events of Singapore 2008.

      1. That doesn’t make the overall use of the “-gate” suffix for any scandal less atrocious and annoying. You’re right that it’s not the fault of this site; the blame just shifts back to whomever first used that moniker when the scandal first broke.

        “Watergate” was the name of the hotel involved in the US scandal involving President Nixon, which is how that scandal earned its name. It had nothing to do with water. But now, annoyingly, seemingly every scandal gets the “-gate” suffix slapped onto it by some journalist who thinks they’re being clever or funny.

        1. What happens if there is a scandal involving a gate? ‘gate-gate’? I’m not sure how you get a gate scandal. Someone leaves one open somewhere I guess.

          1. @bernasaurus

            Would have been better if piquet had crashed into a gate. Or maybe he still will in the future…

    2. @danstimo I know what you mean and I don’t like it either. My only defence is, I didn’t start it!

      And yes, as @partsguy20 points out, under this convention ‘Watergate’ should really be referred to as ‘Watergategate’…

      1. @keithcollantine @danstimo

        I still want to know who spied on who, during ‘spygate’

        and thought teams spied each other all the time.

        1. They probably used the equipment form antennagate.

      2. Yep, already assumed that. Appreciate your work, don’t let my rant make you think otherwise.

    3. Commentgate right here

  9. Now we just need to remove the other corners and the straights, and race somewhere else.

  10. The ironic thing about Crashgate was that it was all completely unnecessary as Fernando won the next round as well

    1. call NASA

  11. Or just remove the entire circuit from the calendar. Together with Paul Ricard, Catalunya, Sochi, and Monaco, while you are at it.

    1. We’re removing Monaco now? Why? It’s alright. The rest are boring i’m sure, but Monaco is a laugh at least

  12. Well I’m sure that piece of track was added so they could say “hey, the track goes under the grandstands!”

    Because it doesn’t add anything. The only good thing was the very tight nature of the bit of road under the grandstands which sometimes caught people up. But if an uninterrupted straight could be used to bypass this section leading to turns 20 and 21, then great!

    1. @fer-no65 Button/maldonado was fun. When the tyres go, that section can be exciting. Drivers mistakes end in crashes and looks good on tv.

  13. Losing such a big grandstand will most probably just be a temporary thing. Also the run from T14 to T20 would be around 750 m with little run-off at a tight T20.

  14. Gonna miss drivers over cooking turn 18 and going into the barrier. Keen to see how this effects overtaking into 20.

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