Crashgate SCANDAL: When Nelson Piquet Jr. ‘intentionally’ crashed to give an unfair advantage to Fernando Alonso

Crashgate SCANDAL: When Nelson Piquet Jr. ‘intentionally’ crashed to give an unfair advantage to Fernando Alonso

While Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed out of the 2008 Singapore GP, Fernando Alonso went on to win.

Over the many years, Formula 1 has had its fair share of controversies – Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna collided 7 laps from the end in 1989, handing the title to Prost, Spygate, when McLaren got hold of confidential information regarding Ferrari’s cars When Michael Schumacher tried to take Jacques Villeneuve out of the final race in 1997 – resulting in his disqualification from the championship, and Crashgate – the topic of our discussion today.

The year was 2008, a year when Lewis Hamilton would edge Felipe Massa for the championship in one of the most thrilling (heartbreaking for some) finales of all time. It was the Singapore Grand Prix. The main crux of the matter? Nelson Piquet Jr. crashed intentionally, on team orders, in order to help Fernando Alonso‘s race.

Team orders are already considered distasteful by many fans, but this was distasteful (also illegal) on an entirely different level. Safe to say, it created a lot of controversies – and there were definitely some consequences. But the incident did not even come out (and blow up) until a year later after it had already happened.

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What happened?

Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso

In 2009, Nelson Piquet Jr. did not have a good time at all. Renault were not very competitive with the upper echelons of the grid, but Piquet Jr. got completely decimated by Fernando Alonso and scored no points at all. This ended in him being sacked following the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix. After this happened, he came out with some very, very interesting allegations.

Back to Singapore 2008. Piquet Jr. alleged that in the race, he had been asked by the team to crash deliberately in order to help his teammate, Fernando Alonso’s race. These were grave allegations, and it would become one of the most controversial moments in all of sporting history.

As for the incident itself, it went this way: Renault put Alonso on an alternate low-fuel strategy for the race. He came into the pits on lap 12, and as expected, went straight to the back of the grid. But then, three laps later, Nelson Piquet slammed into the wall at turn seventeen, and the crane could not reach it and it was generally an awkward location, which meant one thing: a safety car.

As per the 2008 regulations, the pitlane was closed until the safety car bunched up the grid and eliminated all the advantages. As the limit lifted, most drivers dived into the pits, prompting utter chaos. Alonso stayed out, gained the lead in the final third of the race and eventually won it.

Fast forward to 2009, Piquet later also revealed that he had been deliberately asked to crash at a specific corner by Flavio Briatore (managing director) and Pat Symonds (Exec. director of engineering) Following an investigation by the FIA, Renault were charged with controversy. Later, they announced that they would not be contending the charges, and Briatore and Symonds left the team.

Neither Fernando Alonso nor Nelson Piquet. Jr received any sanctions. It was ascertained that Alonso or his mechanics had no knowledge of the plan. Renault got a slap on the wrist for the huge controversy and a suspended two-year ban that would have been enforced if they committed a comparable breach within that time frame. Nothing came of that.

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