• Flavio Briatore was found guilty of fixing the 2008 Singapore GP.
• Fernando Alonso won the race after his team mate crashed.
• Briatore has subsequently been banned from F1.
• For more motoring stories, go to www.Wheels24.co.za
The year is 2008 and the Formula 1 circus is lining up for the Singapore Grand Prix. Driving for the Renault F1 team is Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr. Racing under floodlights, the cars were shimmering and showing off the true colours of their brilliant paintwork.
But sometime during the race, Alonso made a pit stop and rejoined the race unhindered. However, his team mate would lose control of his race car and crash into the wall at a compromising spot on the track.
This brought out the safety car, and all the drivers ahead of Alonso dived into the pit lane for fresh tyres. Alonso, who had done so just minutes earlier, was the big winner and by the time the race resumed, he was leading from the front. And given the Singapore GP's notoriety for difficult overtaking, Alonso took the chequered flag and the race win in what has been a challenging season.
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Fernando Alonso after winning the 2008 Singapore GP (David Davies / Getty Images)
It wasn't over
After the race, mumblings began taking flight as to the 'perfect timing' of Alonso's pit stop; how Piquet crashed at the one part of the track where it'd be difficult for the recovery truck to remove the stricken F1 car. Still, there was no real action.
Upon further investigation, Renault's team boss, Flavio Briatore, came under intense scrutiny over what has now been dubbed CrashGate. Ensuing court visits and countless explanations followed, and it came to light that Briatore had met with Piquet before the race and asked him to crash on a specific lap at that particular part of the track.
Alonso remained adamant that he knew nothing of the planned race-fixing and that he only executed an order to visit the pits. Piquet was dropped from the team sometime in 2009, but then dropped a bomb that would send shock waves throughout the sport: Renault fixed the 2008 Singapore GP.
On 16 September, just 12 days before the anniversary of Alonso's 2008 win at the Singapore GP, Briatore was forced to resign from the Renault F1 team and plead guilty to race-fixing. He was given a ban from F1 until the end of the 2012 season, but the Italian never saw reason to return to the sport. He is still a close friend and advisor to Alonso and was instrumental in the Spaniard's return to the sport next year.