Felipe Massa’s former Ferrari race engineer Rob Smedley has revealed that it became “pretty clear” at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix what Renault had done, in regard to Nelson Piquet Jr. crashing on purpose.
This is, of course, the infamous ‘Crashgate’, an event which is still causing controversy today.
Back at the Marina Bay Circuit in 2008, Renault instructed Piquet to crash on purpose to increase Fernando Alonso’s chances of winning the race.
Alonso was racing for the French manufacturer at the time and ended up winning the race after capitalising on the Safety Car which was required following Piquet’s shunt.
It was a truly bizarre crash, given that it was a low speed corner which Smedley admitted even he “wouldn’t crash there”.
At first, it wasn’t realised what exactly had happened; however, Smedley recently revealed that after Ferrari watched it back a few times, they understood that Piquiet had binned it purposefully.
“How you crash there, I have no idea. I wouldn’t crash there, and I don’t go over 30 mph,” Smedley said on The Race podcast.
“I’ve got no idea how young Nelson crashed there, well we have got an idea of how he did.
“But I watched it live thinking, that’s strange and then you watch the replay and by the third replay you’re like OK I understand what’s happened now, this is fairly simple to work out.
“So, it wasn’t obvious straight after what had happened, then what the ramifications and the repercussions and how you gain justice and all the rest of it but I mean I don’t think there was anybody with any element of doubt, especially within my close circle within Ferrari, within the guys that we talked to in the paddock afterwards.
“And we said, well yeah, it’s pretty clear what happened there, so interesting one.”
It wasn’t until 2009 when it was announced that Renault had told Piquet to crash, meaning they’d manipulated the results of the Grand Prix.
However, as the FIA prize-giving ceremony had already taken place, they refused to cancel the results from the 2008 Singapore GP.
Had the results been cancelled, then Massa would’ve won the 2008 title rather than Lewis Hamilton.
The reason it’s still discussed in such detail today is because last year, ex-F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone revealed that he knew about Crashgate when it happened but opted to say nothing to protect the sport.
Because of this, Massa is taking legal action against F1 and the FIA, as the FIA’s president at the time Max Mosley also knew what Renault had illegally done.