The FIA has issued their full verdict on the Renault ‘Piquetgate’ scandal and the arbitrary hand of FIA justice has fallen.
Leading up to this mornings WMSC hearing, Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore left the team and Renault made it known that they would not dispute any of the FIA’s findings. On top of that they issued an unreserved apology to the FIA for the actions of members of their team.
The FIA found that Nelson Piquet Jr., Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds conspired to have NPJ crash during last years Singapore race at the optimum time for teammate Fernando Alonso to win the race. In the weeks leading up to today’s hearing, Nelson Piquet Jr. came forward and made a sworn statement to this effect which started the FIA’s investigation into this matter.
The FIA also found that no other member was aware of this strategy, including Fernando Alonso. But under article 123 of the International Sporting Code, Renault F1 is still accountable for their employee’s actions.
Here is the punishment:
Renault F1 has received a 2 year suspended ban. If any comparable breach is found against them in the next 2 years, this ban will become active. Renault has agreed to pay the costs associated with the FIA’s investigation into this matter. Further, they have agreed to pay an undisclosed “significant contribution to the FIA’s safety work.”
Nelson Piquet Jr., per the terms of his agreement with the FIA, will receive no penalty. However, Nelson may never drive again in F1 given the amount of ignorance he displayed when he agreed to go along with this plot. On top of that, there is this little matter of driver talent. NPJ may find himself featured at one of the better F1 sites on the internet very soon.
Pat Symonds has received a 5 year ban from all involvement with FIA sanctioned motorsport. The FIA simply has said that they will not sanction any event in which Mr. Symonds is involved in any capacity. Further, the FIA will not allow Mr. Symonds access to any area at any event that is under FIA jurisdiction.
But the crown jewel in this verdict is their punishment of Flavio. Flavio has been banned for an “unlimited period”. Similar to Symonds, Flavio will not be allowed to be involved with any FIA sanctioned form of motorsport and will not be allowed access to any area under FIA jurisdiction.
On top of that, no driver who currently has a management contract with Flavio’s FFBB company will be permitted to have renew their superlicense. We will await the full ramifications of that statement, but with drivers like Alonso, Webber, Kovaleinen, Trulli, Fisichella and of course Piquet Jr. currently under contract with Flavio, there are lots of possible legal ramifications to this. Flav could try to hold on to those contracts to spite the FIA or sell them to other companies for crazy money.
The future of F1 is now Flavio free. Hopefully we can now close the book on this dark period in the history of F1, but I have a feeling that the legal wranglings in front of actual courts of law has just begun.
For your edification, here is the text of the FIA’s findings:
At an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council held in Paris on 21 September 2009, the ING Renault F1 team (“Renault F1”) admitted that the team had conspired with its driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, in breach of the International Sporting Code and F1 Sporting Regulations.
Renault F1 stated at the meeting that it had conducted a detailed internal investigation, which found that: (i) Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr. had conspired to cause the crash; and (ii) no other team member was involved in the conspiracy.
The FIA has conducted its own detailed investigation and its findings correspond with those of Renault F1.
At the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, Renault F1 made the following points in mitigation:
– it had accepted, at the earliest practicable opportunity, that it committed the offences with which it was charged and cooperated fully with the FIA’s investigation;
– it had confirmed that Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds were involved in the conspiracy and ensured that they left the team;
– it apologised unreservedly to the FIA and to the sport for the harm caused by its actions;
– it committed to paying the costs incurred by the FIA in its investigation; and
– Renault (the parent company, as opposed to Renault F1) committed to making a significant contribution to FIA safety-related projects.
Nelson Piquet Jr. also apologised unreservedly to the World Motor Sport Council for his part in the conspiracy.
The following decision was taken:
The World Motor Sport Council finds that Renault F1 team members Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr. conspired to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. The World Motor Sport Council therefore finds Renault F1, which, under article 123 of the International Sporting Code, is responsible for the actions of its employees, in breach of Articles 151(c) and point 2(c) of Chapter IV of Appendix L of the Code, and Articles 3.2, 30.3 and/or 39.1 of the Formula One Sporting Regulations.
The World Motor Sport Council considers Renault F1’s breaches relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity. Renault F1’s breaches not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself. The World Motor Sport Council considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship. However, having regard to the points in mitigation mentioned above and in particular the steps taken by Renault F1 to identify and address the failings within its team and condemn the actions of the individuals involved, the WMSC has decided to suspend Renault F1’s disqualification until the end of the 2011 season. The World Motor Sport Council will only activate this disqualification if Renault F1 is found guilty of a comparable breach during that time.
In addition the World Motor Sport Council notes Renault F1’s apology and agrees that the team should pay the costs of the investigation. It also accepts the offer of a significant contribution to the FIA’s safety work.
As regards Mr. Briatore, the World Motor Sport Council declares that, for an unlimited period, the FIA does not intend to sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any Team or other entity engaging Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever. It also hereby instructs all officials present at FIA-sanctioned events not to permit Mr. Briatore access to any areas under the FIA’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, it does not intend to renew any Superlicence granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Mr. Briatore. In determining that such instructions should be applicable for an unlimited period, the World Motor Sport Council has had regard not only to the severity of the breach in which Mr. Briatore was complicit but also to his actions in continuing to deny his participation in the breach despite all the evidence.
As regards Mr. Symonds, the World Motor Sport Council declares that, for a period of five years, the FIA does not intend to sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Mr. Symonds in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any Team or other entity engaging Mr. Symonds in any capacity whatsoever. It hereby instructs, for a period of five years, all officials present at FIA-sanctioned events not to permit Mr. Symonds access to any areas under the FIA’s jurisdiction. In determining that such instructions should be effective for a period of five years the World Motor Sport Council has had regard: (i) to Mr. Symonds’ acceptance that he took part in the conspiracy; and (ii) to his communication to the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council that it was to his “eternal regret and shame” that he participated in the conspiracy.
As regards Mr. Piquet Jr., the World Motor Sport Council confirms the immunity from individual sanctions under the International Sporting Code in relation to this incident, which the FIA had granted to him in exchange for volunteering his evidence.
As regards Fernando Alonso, the World Motor Sport Council thanks him for cooperating with the FIA’s enquiries and for attending the meeting, and concludes that Mr. Alonso was not in any way involved in Renault F1’s breach of the regulations.
The World Motor Sport Council would like to thank the Stewards and legal investigation team (in particular Dorothy Cory-Wright of Sidley Austin LLP who conducted the interviews at the Belgian Grand Prix).
The full reasons for this decision, in addition to a complete recording of the proceedings before the World Motor Sport Council, will be made available shortly.