Symonds claims Piquet suggested crash idea
23 September 2009 – Pat Symonds, former Executive Director of Engineering for the Renault team, has explained that driver Nelson Piquet Jr. developed the infamous 'Crashgate' plan ahead of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. The statement from the Englishman was read at Monday's FIA hearing in Paris before being made public on Wednesday.
With Symonds, Piquet and Team Principal Flavio Briatore all having now left the team, only the driver was present in Monday's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing due to holding immunity providing that full and honest evidence was delivered. However, when read by FIA representative Paul Harris, Symonds' statement explains that it was Piquet who suggested the scheme to cause a deliberate crash.
The statement from Symonds read as follows:
'I would like to acknowledge my role in this incident. I was the one who, when the idea was first suggested to me by Nelson Piquet Jr, should have dismissed it immediately. It is to my eternal regret and shame that I did not do so.
'On that night in Singapore last year, I made a mistake - the consequences of which I could never have imagined at the time; for that mistake, I can only offer all of you (FIA WMSC) and all those touched by the action I was involved in my profound apology.'
Piquet strongly dismisses this, however, claiming that he had 'maybe ten, fifteen seconds to go through it very quickly' once the idea had allegedly been suggested. "I did not come with this idea," Piquet said plainly at the hearing. "This was something that started up on Sunday when I arrived at the track and I've heard what Symonds said, not only by the statement that just arrived - it was something that has been said before, but there was nothing much to say or to do about it.
"If you understand I had my manager, team boss (both Briatore), senior engineer (Symonds) and I was in a difficult state of pressure and my mind was obviously not as clear as it should be - it was just a very difficult even to believe that this was in front of me."
When hearing the entire 77-minute recording of Monday's hearing, it is evident that a fourth member of the Renault team - labelled as 'Witness X' - was present during the pre-race meeting (for either its duration or a shorter time) and was aware of the scheme before the crash. It is believed that this witness played a key part in revealing to the FIA the full extent of Flavio Briatore's chief role in the arrangement.
The full recording of Monday's hearing, along with the complete dossier of evidence and official decision, can all be accessed on the FIA website.