The Reuters global sports blog
Former champion Niki Lauda did not mince his words last year when he said that Formula One’s Singapore Grand Prix race-fixing scandal demanded the heaviest of punishments to restore credibility.
A Times headline called Brazilian Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash at the 2008 race “the worst act of cheating in the history of sport.”
Renault were handed a suspended permanent ban, with the authorities eager to keep them in the sport, while former team boss Flavio Briatore was barred for life and his engineeering head Pat Symonds for five years.
Piquet, the driver at the eye of the storm, walked away without sanction after being handed immunity for telling the governing FIA how he had obeyed orders to help team mate Fernando Alonso to win the race.
In the world of Formula One, it is very hard to keep a secret.
We’ve known for months that Fernando Alonso would be replacing Kimi Raikkonen at Ferrari, a move confirmed on Wednesday.
Insiders also reckoned he had signed a deal a while back, which Alonso himself has revealed, although he said it was originally for 2011.
The news has just come in from Paris, where Renault have been handed a suspended ban from Formula One, while their former boss Flavio Briatore has been banned from all F1 activities, including driver management, and ex-technical chief Pat Symonds is barred for five years.
So the immediate result of the inquiry into race-rigging at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix is that Renault can stay in the sport, provided they stay on their best behaviour for the next couple of years, even though the offence was described by the FIA as one of “unparalleled severity”.
There’s an extraordinary story breaking just now, with Formula One team Renault releasing a statement saying they will not contest the charge that last year’s Singapore Grand prix was fixed.
Renault also announced that team boss Flavio Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds have left the team.
Crashing a Formula One car is easy. Even I could do that, although fitting into the cockpit might be a bit of a squeeze. It’s the driving that is difficult.
In the old days, when there were fewer races in a season but more funerals, you crashed at your peril.
Formula One championship leader Jenson Button came up with a nice riposte to being likened (in terms of speed) to a kerbstone (‘paracarro’) by Renault boss Flavio Briatore:
“He also needs to remember that he tried to employ me for this year.”