Symonds claims Singapore crash was Piquet's idea

Symonds claims Singapore crash was Piquet's idea

In a document published by the FIA earlier today, former Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds claims is was in fact Nelson Piquet himself who proposed to crash his car, thinking he would do the team a favor. Symonds: "The idea for this ...

In a document published by the FIA earlier today, former Renault's director of engineering Pat Symonds claims is was in fact Nelson Piquet himself who proposed to crash his car, thinking he would do the team a favor. Symonds: "The idea for this incident was entirely conceived by Nelson Piquet Jr. It was he who first approached me with the idea. At the time I naively believed that it was something he wanted to do for the good of the team". "I was not aware of the position of his contract negotiations although with the benefit of hindsight I now consider that he believed that his actions would have a favourable effect on these negotiations."

Pat Symonds, former Executive Director of Engineering of Renault.
Photo by xpb.cc.

"In mitigation I would like to acknowledge my role in this incident. I was the one who, when the idea was first suggested to me by Nelson Piquet Jr., should have dismissed it immediately. It is to my eternal regret and shame that I did not do so."

Piquet, who was given immunity by the FIA, denies the allegations and said on his website: "I bitterly regret my actions to follow the orders I was given. I wish every day that I had not done it. Listening now to Mr Briatore's reaction to my crash and hearing the comments he has made to the press over the last two weeks it is clear to me that I was simply being used by him then to be discarded and left to ridicule".

In his letter Symonds, who did not attend the WMSC hearing on Monday, also explains and defends the race tactics of Fernando Alonso. "Secondly much has been made of the fact that I employed an unusual strategy for the other car [Alonso] and hence people must have been suspicious or knowledgeable before the event. I would counter this by saying that it was not an unusual strategy but instead a novel strategy.

It must be remember that our other car was fuelled for 14 laps (23% of the race distance). The only other competitor started on the softest tyre refulled after 15 laps albeit haven started six places higher on the grid".

"Throughout my career I have been credited with being the first of many what are now the classic strategies (and indeed have developed much of the methodology used to determine them). We had first seen the effect of extreme degradation of very soft tyres in Canada in 2007 and I'm sure everyone will remember the sight of [Takuma] Sato in a Super Aguri driving round the outside of the World Champion in a McLaren as a result of differing tyre performance."

Symonds continues his explanation: "I was determined not to repeat this mistake and equally I felt that on a circuit that looked difficult to pass on (and of which we had no prior knowledge as it was a new venue) I saw little point in running a long strategy. The strategy I employed is no longer unusual and indeed we saw an extreme example of it this year in Australia (where the tyre problems were similar) when [Lewis] Hamilton started from the back row of the grid with the softest tyre and stopped after only 11 laps out of a 58 lap race (19% of the race distance).

In other words, Symonds denies that the race strategy of Alonso was based upon the knowledge that Nelson Piquet would crash on lap 14, after Alonso had pitted for the first time.

Symonds further apologized about the mistakes he made: "I can only say that I did it out of a misguided devotion to my team and not for any personal gain whatsoever. The last thing that I ever wanted to do was to jeopardise that team [Renault] and the many people to whom I had an overwhelming responsibility". "On that night in Singapore last year I made a mistake the consequences of which I could never have imagined at the time. For that mistake I can only offer all of you, and all those touched by the action I was involved in, my profound apology."


See also: Renault escapes ban, Briatore banned for life
See also: Suspended race ban for Renault

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Fernando Alonso , Nelson Piquet , Nelson Piquet Jr.
Teams McLaren