The Singapore Grand Prix, which is held in the Marina Bay Street Circuit, started the trend of night races in Formula 1, hence earning the title of being the “original night race” of the league. But back in 2008, when it made it debut as a Grand Prix host, it made history–not for its novel “nighttime racing” idea, but because of a huge “Crashgate” scandal that went down which involved the Renault F1 Racing Team.
Thus, it might very well be said that the Singapore GP has got one of the most memorable debuts in the history of F1.
The race weekend during the Singapore GP 2008 went on like any other race does, and noone expected the “Crashgate Scandal” that took place during the Main Race on the final day. Ever since that incident, the F1 fans have mostly remembered the Marina Bay Circuit for the terrible foul play which involved current Alpine racer Fernando Alonso, who was driving for Renault at the time.
Over the years, the memories have taken a backseat, but fans have wondered what actually went down on that fateful Sunday. Read on to find out the whole story about the F1 2008 scandal that occured at the Singapore Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso, Nelson Piquet Jr, Flavio Briatore–partners in crime for the Crashgate scandal or just a little too ambitious?
What went down in the first-ever Singapore GP still baffles a lot of fans as 2005 and 2006 World Champion Alonso was also partly responsible for the Crashgate Scandal. When Renault saw that Fernando had good pace at the 2008 Singapore GP, they wanted to push him for the race win–but trouble came in the form of a fuel problem in Q2, due to which the two-time World title-holder came 15th in the ranks. That way, he missed out on the pole position.
During the Main Race, Fernando Alonso had made a pitstop during lap 12 to rejoin at the back of the pack, and this got Renault worried. And that is when Nelson Piquet Jr had a crash at Turn 17 which summoned the safety car, and Alonso was able to creep back up the ranks. And after some penalties and retirements for the drivers in front of him, Fernando Alonso soared to victory.
Later, it was found that Piquet’s crash had been carefully orchestrated by Renault after the Brazilian approached the FIA with his testimony against Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds.
Both the accused were found to be involved in the Crashgate scandal and Briatore got a lifetime ban from being in any authoritative position in an F1 team. Symonds got handed a 5-year ban for the incident, and Renault lost its main sponsor ING. Later, both Briatore and Symonds got their bans overturned.