Rat Race. The greed and intrigue of Formula 1 is reaching new heights as the 2009 Grand Prix circus maximus moves away from its traditional European base to the remaining four fly-away races that will close the season.
Next stop? Singapore. The island nation hosted history’s first night race last year, but the dark ugly side of Formula 1 is only now emerging, thanks to a disgruntled dad whose son and namesake was sacked by British-based French team, ING Renault.
Innocent till proven guilty, despite leaks to the media, stands the Renault team. Tarnished forever is the reputation of the driver, Nelson Piquet Junior, thanks to comments on his professional and personal life by Flavio Briatore, the flamboyant Italian team principal at ING Renault.
Piquet senior drove for Briatore at Benetton in the last days of his glorious, three championships winning career. Briatore himself was a marketing guru for the Italian clothing retailer based in the hustle and bustle capital of the world, New York City. He is now in danger of his powers in Formula 1 being cut to pieces.
In the trial room stand Pat Symonds, ING Renault’s Cranfield University graduate and director of Engineering, and his boss, Briatore.
Symonds is one of the most respected Engineers in the Formula 1 paddock and worked with the likes of Ayrton Senna at Toleman, which became Benetton where he guided Michael Schumacher to his first two back-to-back championships.
Piquet Junior is off the hook after being given immunity by the FIA in return for his sworn statement to FIA few days after the Hungarian Grand Prix, where his illustrious father first approached Max Mosley with claims of race-fixing in the Far East.
The FIA has offered immunity to Symonds also, and if he catches the bait Briatore will be going to Paris solo to meet the World Motor Sport Council. The Piranha Pool is sharpening its teeth with evidence from race day telemetry, radio communications and others who have come forward with the knowledge of pre-race crash that some knew when and where it was coming.
Patrick Head, long time partner and technical man at Williams, is reported to have said that he was told in Singapore last September by a journalist that Piquet Junior had confided in him that he crashed deliberately.
Crime itself has been confirmed by both sides who are pointing fingers at each other. FIA’s WMSC will decide if the driver did come up with the idea and acted all on his own, which seems bizarre in these days when teammates hardly talk to each other.
Or could it be that in the next few days before the crucial Monday meeting Symonds will drop a bombshell on Briatore? If Symonds does not accept immunity offer from FIA he is taking the serious risk of engineering his own exit from Formula 1, possibly forever.
There are suggestions that like the Spy-gate scandal at McLaren, Mosley will use Crash-gate to settle personal agenda and go to the max in banishing Briatore from the face of Formula 1 world.
The boys from Enstone have sure given him the opportunity to dethrone another high profile team principal as the ex-lawyer ends his case and tenure at FIA and Marches on.
Qadbak Investments company has agreed to purchase the BMW Formula 1 team.
Pat Symonds been offered immunity from punishment by the FIA.
How Nelson Piquet Jr crashed at the Singapore Grand Prix
The telemetry of Nelson Piquet Jr’s car prior to his collision with a wall on lap 14 of the Singapore grand prix
Piquet crash graphic. Photograph: Public Domain
The diagram above is being used by the FIA’s technical department to help in the investigation into what Nelson Piquet Jr was doing in the moments before he collided with a wall on lap 14 of last year’s Singapore grand prix.
Piquet’s telemetry at the exit to turn 17 reveals that he applied throttle earlier than expected which caused his rear wheels to spin. He then eased off the accelerator before reapplying pressure to cause the car to lurch into a spin and hit the wall.
Piquet’s earlier laps in the grand prix did not feature such early acceleration on the same turn.
The following exchange occurred between the stewards investigating the crash and Symonds:
Investigator: "What do you recall being said to Nelson Piquet Jr at that meeting? This is shortly before the race?"
Symonds: "I don’t really remember."
Investigator: "You don’t really remember?"
Investigator: "Nelson Piquet Jr says he was asked by you to cause a deliberate crash. Is that true?"
Symonds: "Nelson spoke to me the day before and suggested that. That’s all I’d really like to say."
Investigator: "Mr Symonds, are you aware that there was going to be a crash on lap 14?"
Symonds: "I don’t want to answer that question."
Investigator: "Mr Piquet Jr says, having had the initial meeting with you and Flavio Briatore, you then met with him individually with the map of the circuit. Do you remember that?
Symonds: "I won’t answer. Rather not answer that. I don’t recall it, but it sounds like Nelson’s talked a lot more about it."
Investigator: "Mr Piquet Jr also says that at that meeting, you pointed out a specific place on the circuit where he was to have the accident and said it was because it was the furthest away from any of the safety or lifting equipment, and gave the most likely chance of a safety car being deployed."
Symonds: "I don’t . . . I don’t want to answer that question."
According to Autosport, the meeting then continued with the following exchange:
Investigator: "Was it you that did the talking at that meeting Mr. Symonds?"
Symonds: "I’m sure it would have been both of us but I don’t know for sure. Sorry that’s a contradiction. I would imagine it would be both of us that would be normal. Actually probably more often it’s Flavio that does the talking himself. I wouldn’t necessarily always agree with what he’s saying but the majority."
Investigator: "Because just to be absolutely clear here what Nelson Piquet Jnr has said is that at that meeting it was you that asked him to have a crash deliberately?"
Symonds: "I can’t answer you."
Investigator: "Can I say that if Mr. Symonds you’d been put in the position where you were made to ask Mr. Piquet Jnr to crash it’s much better, it would be much better for you in the long term to tell these stewards to hear that today?"
Symonds: "I fully understand that."
Symonds: "I have no intention of lying to you. I have not lied to you but I have reserved my position just a little."
Investigator: "And you’re aware that the stewards may draw conclusions from your unwillingness to assist them in relation to what went on in that meeting?"
Symonds: "I would expect them to. I would absolutely expect that."
Renault have strenuously denied the allegations made.
Pronto in Parco. Rubens Barrichello wins Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at the historic Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, located in a Royal Park near Milan. The Brazilian driver, most experienced in Formula 1 history, won this event twice before as a Ferrari pilot. His Brawn teammate, Jenson Button, finished second and Kimi Raikkonen was surprised to be on the podium, thanks to a last lap crash by the 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who started from pole, and was making a last ditch effort to grab second from Button.
Sitting pretty. Strolling in the park to GP2 Championship glory was Nico Hulkenberg. The German hot shoe from Emmerich became the first driver in series history to take the title before the final race-weekend of the season.
His previous Championship credentials include F3 Euroseries and Formula BMW which, like his GP2 title, he won in his rookie year. He was un-touchable in the A1GP competition for Team Germany, their franchise holder at the time is also his current manager, Herr Willi Weber.
Bogitty, Bogitty from Bogota. Juan Pablo Montoya is glad to be in Nascar’s Chase for the Cup. The Grand Prix winner from Monza and Monaco now trade paints with Dale E and Kyle Busch at Martinsville and Pocono. The fine Colombia drives a Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Wall of whodunit? The Piquets, father and son, are determined to take down Flavio Briatorre, Team Principal, and Pat Symonds, Director of Engineering, at Renault F1 team. The Senior, three times world champion and high exponent of low class throughout his career, approached Max Mosley at the Hungarian Grand Prix with allegations that his son, Nelsinho, high exponent of arrogance and low achievements in F1, was instructed to crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix and cause a safety-car to help teammate Fernando Alonso, who went on to win the event.
The World Motor Sport Council will decide on September 21 in Paris the fate of one of the most flamboyant team managers and one of the most accomplished engineers. Piquet Junior’s F1 fate was already hermetically sealed by his lackluster performance in Grand Prix racing. With allegations of intentional crashing and other mud slinging in the media about his personal and professional life, rest of his racing career will be left on Funk & Wagnalls’ porch.
Roman High Days. Fisichella, Ferrari & Tifosis at Monza
By Nasir Hameed
Dr. Vijay Mallya of Force India, despite all denials and rebuttal of his Commercial Director’s statement, performs the marriage made in heaven which will see his pole winning pilot from Spa to ride for the prancing horse.
The liquor baron said in a statement, "For any Italian driver, a Ferrari race seat is a long-held dream and for Giancarlo it was no exception. No one should stand in the way of this. Furthermore the agreement will secure Giancarlo’s long-term future with Ferrari and it would be incorrect to jeopardize this, particularly when Giancarlo has made such a vital contribution to Force India."
This once in a lifetime opportunity was made possible after the legendary
Italian team decided, after two very lackluster drives by Luca “Look, how bad you are,” Badoer that enough is enough. Last thing the other Luca, as in Ferrari Chairman di Montezemolo, wanted to see in Parco Monza was a Ferrari strolling in last place.
Giancarlo Fisichella, who was reported to be out of a drive next season, suddenly found motivation and speed at Spa to capture his team’s first pole position. An even more determined performance in the race saw him shadow Kimi Raikkonen all race long. Fisichella felt the curse of KERS as Raikkonen used the extra horse power to keep the force of Fisichella in a Force India behind him to score his first win since Spain last year. It has been a long siesta for the Ice Man.
"I’m in seventh heaven," rejoiced the Roman racer. "I still can’t believe it – that the dream of my life comes true. Over the last week some really incredible things happened to me: the pole position and then second place at Spa and now I’m called by Ferrari to race the last five races of the season for them.
“This is the best thing that can happen to an Italian driver, to drive a red car in front of our fans,” said Fisichella who last won a race three years ago in Malaysia as a Renault driver. His other two victories were scored in Australia in 2006 and Brazil in 2003.
Three Grand Prix wins in 226 starts do not get you a seat in Maranello. But, as they say racing, “sometimes it is better to be lucky than good.”
As luck would have it next round is the final race of the European leg of the Formula 1 season, of all the places at the mythical Monza Autodromo. Coming only two weeks after Ferrari’s first victory of the season, and Fisichella’s pole and spirited second place finish. Tifosis are sure to be more than their usual passionate to see one of their own in one of the beloved red cars.
Bio on Fisico
Giancarlo Fisichella was born in Rome on January 14, 1973. He was a major force in the world of karting. He was runner-up in the European Championship in 1989 & ’91.
He also placed second in the 1990 Karting World Championship.
In 1994, Fisichella dominated the Italian F3 Championship winning half of the 20 races, and also reached the top of the podium in the prestigious Monaco F3 race.
He graduated to Formula 1 in 1995 as a test driver for Minardi, and also raced for Alfa-Romeo in the International/German touring car series. He made his Grand Prix debut in the 1996 Australian season opener and raced in further seven Formula 1 races, while continuing his duties for Alfa-Romeo in tin tops.
Fisichella joined Jordan for 1997 and two podium finishes; third in Canada and second in Belgium. He finished a respectable 8th. in the championship with 20 points. Managed then by Benetton team boss Flavio Briatorre, a legal battle between him and Eddie Jordan saw Fisichella leave the flamboyant Irishman’s team and spend the next four seasons at Benetton. Highlight of this association was his first pole position in 1998 and 6th. place in the 2000 Championship.
Back to Jordan in 2002 for two seasons. This was rewarded by his maiden victory in the rain shortened and chaotic 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix, though “Fisi” had to wait till the next round in Imola, the San Marino Grand Prix, to receive the race winning trophy from Kimi Raikkonen who had been awarded the victory at the finish.
After a solitary season at Sauber in 2004 Fisichella returned for two seasons at Renault and the wonderful company of Signor Briatorre. This was the first, and so far the only, time Fisichella was outpaced by a teammate.
A young Spanish upstart, Fernando Alonso, would seal “Fisi’s” fate with Flavio by dethroning seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher to become F1’s youngest world champion in 2005 and successfully retain the title the following season.
Fisichella would capture a win in Australia in 2005 and Malaysia in 2006. A frustrating and winless season in 2007 would see his arrival at Force India in 2008.
The Royal Park in Monza will see him turn a new leaf in his career, albeit at the tail end of his Formula 1 career. The fruit and taste of victory at the Autodromo in a Ferrari will be sweet for the rest of his life.
Fisichella is married to Luna, they have two kids, Carlotta and Christopher.
Podcast number 375 in post production.
Adrian Sutil goes to the top of the time sheets in Final practice.
The Renault team and its boss Flavio Briatore have begun criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet Junior and Senior.
Di Montezemolo, Fernando Alonso will drive for Ferrari one day.
Michael Schumacher has signed a three-year contract extension with Ferrari.
Briatore reportedly in Paris meeting with Renault board and CEO Carlos Ghosn.