Crashgate scandal hits Formula One racing


The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix was to be admired for its spectacle. For the first time ever, Formula One broke new ground as the sport ventured into the night, holding its first ever race under floodlights amidst an array of fanfare and excitement. Instead, a scandal reared its ugly head and brought with it a lack of credibility as well as calling to attention the actions of Renault and allegations that Nelson Piquet Jr. deliberately orchestrated a crash in order to help teammate Fernando Alonso win the 2008 showcase.
Known as Crashgate, the con- spiracy centered on the lap 14 crash caused by Piquet Jr.
From the start of the race, things were complicated and I had a lot of graining and the situation got worse and worse, said Piquet Jr. after the race. The team asked me to push, which I tried to do and finally I lost the rear of my car. I hit the wall heavily but I’m okay. I am disappointed with my race but obviously very happy for the team this evening,
While both Renault and Piquet Jr. were adamant that the crash was just an unfortunate turn of events, a closer look would reveal a mali- cious attempt on behalf of both parties to sabotage the race, ensur-
ing Alonso a podium finish and Renault the accolades of yet anoth- er victory over rival Ferrari.
With the credibility of Formula One already at its weakest and most vulnerable point, the FIA, the sports governing body, began their investigation a year later in August of 2009. With initial reports and an investigation already heavily underway, it wasnt long — September 4 — before the true events of that day became public knowledge.
The investigation concluded what many in the sport had already feared. The World Motor Sport Council ruled that Renault were guilty of breaches relating back to the events in Singapore in 2008, citing them to be of unparalleled severity.
They not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself, said the WMSC in a statement. The WMSC considers that offences of this sever- ity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship.
The penalty imposed on Flavio Briatore, Renaults team principal, is a lifetime ban while ex-Renault engineer Pat Symonds has been handed a five-year period of exclu- sion. Renault Racing was also given a two-year suspension.
This scandal has left a fresh mark on a sport desperate to erase their troubles from previous scan- dals still fresh in the minds of F1 enthusiasts. From the Nazi-themed sex scandal that engulfed FIA pres- ident Max Mosley to the current shortcomings, the sport of Formula One must continue to push forward and prove that it can survive yet another dent on their credibility and character.
But for former F1 World Champion Damon Hill, the escapades embroiling the sport must be worked out so order can once again be restored.
There are clearly a lot of issues and have been in the past. Formula One has a lot of soul searching to do. Its a huge sport, there’s a huge amount of interest and sometimes controversies actually add to the interest. But you want it to be for the right reasons, said Hill.
In a sport notorious for its com- petitiveness and worldwide allure, Formula One must dig deep to rewrite their wrongs and regain a position of prominence to bring the sport back to its glory days, where the attention was focused on the track and not off it. But in a sport where results matter most, it is the prime-time players who must realize that when cheating and indignity are present, nobody wins, no matter how fast theyre going.