Nelson Piquet Jr has given a full account of how he deliberately crashed his car in order to help Fernando Alonso win the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
His damning description of the events have also put Flavio Briatore, the Renault team principal, and Pat Symonds, the engineering director, in the spotlight.
In a statement dictated to FIA officials, the Brazilian driver described how Briatore and Symonds asked him to crash, with Symonds taking him to one side before the race and pointing out the exact section of the track in which to carry out the “accident strategy”.
In his statement, Piquet said, “Mr Symonds … pointed me to the exact corner of the track where I should crash. This corner was selected because the specific location of the track did not have any cranes that would allow a damaged car to be swiftly lifted off the track.
“Mr Symonds also told me which exact lap to cause the incident on, so that a strategy could be deployed for my team-mate Fernando Alonso to refuel at the pit shortly before the deployment of the safety car,” he continued.
Having started from 15th on the grid, Alonso went on to win the Singapore Grand Prix. He took an early fuel stop in lap 12, two laps before Piquet hit the barriers and forced almost all of the Spaniard’s rivals to pit to refuel during the six-lap safety car period.
Describing the crash itself, Piquet told the FIA that he kept his foot on the throttle coming out of the previous corner, when normally he would have lifted, and that the engineer of his car noticed this when he had a look through the telemetry readings.
“The engineer of my car questioned the nature of the incident because he found it unusual, and I replied that I had lost control of the car," he stated. "A clever engineer would notice from the car’s telemetry that I caused the incident on purpose as I continued accelerating.
“A ‘normal’ reaction would be to brake as soon as possible.”
In spite of the threat that the team could be thrown out of the sport, Renault has refused to make any formal comment on the situation, although both Briatore and Symonds are said to have claimed it was Piquet who devised the ‘accident strategy’, not them.
The case against Renault will be heard at an extraordinary meeting of the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September.