Coulthard says Piquet should have been punished for F1 cheating

Friday, October 9, 2009

David Coulthard, a former driver for the McLaren and Red Bull Formula One teams, has said the sport's governing body should have punished a Renault driver for cheating. Nelson Piquet Jr. was granted immunity as a whistleblower.

The deliberate crash behind the scandal
Image: Benjamin Chia.

Renault ordered Piquet to crash his car during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, which he did. This benefited team-mate Fernando Alonso's race strategy, and he went on to win the event. After being fired midway through the current season, Piquet told the FIA, who oversee F1, that the team had been cheating.

Renault were banned for life, suspended by two years, just before this year's Singapore Grand Prix. At the same hearing, head engineer Pat Symonds was banned for five years and manager Flavio Briatore for life. Alonso is not thought to have been aware of the scheme. Coulthard expressed dissatisfaction at that result today during a Red Bull event in Mumbai.

The Times of India has revealed that Coulthard said today, "I think FIA should have punished Piquet too. He was equally guilty as any other." Coulthard, who drives an F1 car across a new sea bridge in Mumbai on Sunday, said, "I will be surprised if he gets an F1 drive again," and that the scandal had shaken him.

Another F1 driver in the news is Felipe Massa. Massa was seriously injured at the Hungaroring in Hungary when a spring came off a car ahead of him and struck his helmet at 160 mph. He spent ten days in intensive care at a military hospital and has a metal plate in his head to mend his fractured skull.

Now, on Monday he intends to drive a 2007 Ferrari F1 car in Italy, just over 11 weeks after the accident. Massa has already driven a cart in his homeland of Brazil and recently underwent simulator testing. He is set to wave the flag at the finish line of this year's race in Brazil.

Massa, whose injuries were considered life threatening, spoke out earlier this month about the fact that Alonso's Singapore win cost him points that would have meant victory in the drivers' championship had he topped the podium. "All of what happened was robbery... It changed the championship. I lost by one point."

He also said the sentences should have been tougher. He compared the case to a cheating football team. "The team responsible were relegated. Here they just sent Briatore home. I don't understand it and I don't think it was right."