Bizarre race, Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix. Force India very nearly won, thanks to the inspired efforts of Giancarlo Fisichella. Jarno Trulli qualified his Toyota on the front row. The BMWs finished fourth and fifth, while Jenson Button’s world championship prospects took another lurch down the rocky road to apparent oblivion when he crashed out on the opening lap.
Yet all these distinctly unusual elements were completely eclipsed by an announcement that the FIA was opening an investigation into events during last year’s inaugural Singapore Grand Prix which, if true, could lead to the most serious charges ever levelled at a competing F1 team.
The suggestion is that Nelson Piquet Jnr deliberately crashed his Renault on the instructions of his team in order to trigger a safety car deployment which would tactically advantage his team-mate Fernando Alonso who, indeed, did go on to win the event.
On the face of it, this seems probably the single most ludicrous accusation that I have ever heard during my time in the F1 business, but on a weekend where some people were even suggesting that the qualifying times for the Force India, Toyota and BMW teams were somehow ‘fixed’ to give them a commercially advantageous edge it’s clear that some people within the GP community spent a little too long out in the sun during the four-week summer break running up to the European GP at Valencia.
‘Nelson, now listen. We want you to crash into the wall on the next lap. Do it at a point where it will be difficult for marshals to get to you. Oh yes, and remember, don’t tell a soul!’ It’s not really the most likely of scenarios, is it?
And if it did happen, then perhaps you could let me know who you think were the bigger idiots. Renault for suggesting it. Or Piquet for being dumb enough to carry it out.