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Page last updated at 17:43 GMT, Saturday, 26 September 2009 18:43 UK

Piquet Jr the villain

Flavio Briatore

Report - Did Renault get off lightly?

David Couthard
By David Coulthard
BBC Sport in Singapore

In the wake of the Renault race-fixing scandal, a lot of people have got on their high horses about the safety of the driver, the marshals and the spectators.

It remains unclear whether Nelson Piquet Jr came up with the idea of crashing his car to help Renault team-mate Fernando Alonso win last season's Singapore Grand Prix, or whether it was a direct instruction from the team.

Yes, if you crash a car you are increasing the chance of someone being involved in that incident.

But motor racing is dangerous. Anyone who enters the track knows there are dangers around.

The most difficult thing for me to understand is how you could knowingly crash

The most difficult thing for me to understand about the whole incident is how you could knowingly crash.

Moving over and allowing your team-mate to gain a position, or similar, is something I'm familiar with.

Jacques Villeneuve, in Suzuka in 1997, held up the whole field as an act of defiance against F1's governing body the FIA for a penalty they had imposed on him.

But to knowingly crash - I can't get my head around it.

It goes against the very instincts of a racer, which are not to crash, to get to the end, and to get to the chequered flag.

Even if you get a team order that means you're finishing second and your team-mate is winning, second is better than nothing in a championship battle, there are still points on the board.

It is so difficult to get inside the mind of Piquet. Maybe he felt under so much pressure that it was the only way he could survive in F1.

Nelson Piquet Jr
'Piquet is not a kid, he's a man. He's should know it is wrong'

That has been put forward as an argument and I know Eddie Jordan feels that is the case.

But he's not a kid, he's a man.

He's old enough to make his own decisions. He should know it is wrong and he should never have done it.

At the time I didn't think it was suspicious, but BMW's Nick Heidfeld now says he felt it was.

If so, why didn't he raise it with the stewards at the time?

Lots of things happen in races. Is it suspicious that Kimi Raikkonen crashed later in the same race?

Did Rubens Barrichello crash today to stop the final qualifying session? Where do you draw the line?

Whoever's idea it was, I don't believe this is the blackest moment in Formula 1's history.

I know that is the view of BBC F1 pit-lane reporter Ted Kravitz, but I think designing a car outside the regulations is much worse.

To do that involves designers, engineers, and manufacturing.

Even if the driver doesn't know, one or two people cannot implement a double fuel cell, as we saw on the BAR-Honda car in 2005, or an illegal brake system, for example.

I don't believe this is the blackest moment in Formula 1's history

That is a team decision and involves a number of team people. What we believe we saw in Singapore last year was the action of three people within a team.

Three people in any organisation is not many. Should the people further down the food chain be held accountable?

It's shocking, but in my book it's not as bad as setting out, at the beginning of the season, to design an illegal system and go racing.

As to whether the punishment fits the crime, the only reference we have is what's been applied before, and that was $100m for having technical information from another team - with no real proof whether they used it or not.

Now, was that worse than Renault, who have not been fined, influencing a grand prix? The penalties do seem somewhat inconsistent.

But those penalties have been dealt out, whether people agree with them or not.

The FIA is the governing body, and it makes that decision. I'd like to see it put behind us and move forward.


David Coulthard won 13 Grands Prix in a 15-year F1 career. He is a BBC Sport pundit and a consultant for Red Bull. He was talking to BBC Sport's Sarah Holt.



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see also
Singapore Grand Prix starting grid
14 Sep 09 |  Results
Button rues disastrous qualifying
26 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Singapore GP qualifying as it happened
26 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Boss relieved at Renault verdict
25 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
F1 returns to scene of the crime
24 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Renault handed suspended F1 ban
21 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Briatore out over Renault fix row
16 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Piquet Jr dropped by Renault team
04 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
F1 on the BBC
01 Dec 11 |  Formula 1


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