The Crashgate saga grows more peculiar on a daily basis. According to reports in The Times today, Renault have fired a retaliatory initiating legal action against the Piquets, Nelson Jr. and Sr. both, for “the making of false allegations and a related attempt to blackmail the team into allowing Piquet Jr to drive for the remainder of the 2009 season.”
The Piquets have been steadfast in their claim that Nelson, Jr. was ordered by tech director Pat Symonds to deliberately crash his car to force a safety car deployment. Symonds and team boss Flavio Briatore have insisted it the whole thing was Piquet’s idea. What’s wrong with this picture? Neither side is denying participating in the conspiracy. Everyone admits complicity. The only point of contention is whose idea it was to begin with.
While Piquet’s allegation initially seemed fantastic, does it really seem likely that he would volunteer to throw himself on his sword just to make Alonso look good? He’d been suffering from comparison to Alonso all year. It hardly seems credible that he would go out of his way to do him any favors, especially anything so extreme.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume it was Piquet’s idea. As improbable as it sounds, let’s say he approached Symonds and Briatore on Saturday morning, and said, “Hey guys, how about if I crash tomorrow to bring out a safety car? If you time Fernando’s refueling right, he just might win the race!” If Symonds and Briatore were both on the right page, ethically speaking, wouldn’t they have told Piquet to go take a flying jump through a rolling Bridgestone? So their pointing the finger at Piquet doesn’t really seem to accomplish much. They’re still culpable.
The same can be said for Piquet, of course. If his charges are true, then he was in the same situation that many a young boxer faces when asked to take a dive. You eiher make the ethical choice, or you go along with the mob. In this case, even if it wasn’t his idea, Piquet went along.