Head - FIA must be firm
Williams co-owner Patrick Head has said the FIA must take a firm stance on the race-fixing allegations surrounding Renault.
Last Updated: 19/09/09 2:33pm
Williams co-owner Patrick Head has said the FIA must take a firm stance on the race-fixing allegations surrounding the Renault team for the sake of the sport's credibility.
The Anglo-French outfit have been called before the governing body's World Motor Sport Council on September 21 to answer charges that they asked Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash in last year's Singapore Grand Prix in order to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race.
Although eyebrows were raised following the race on September 28 last year, the governing body only announced last month it was investigating the outcome - not long after the 24-year-old Brazilian had been sacked by the team following a string of poor results.
Renault announced on Thursday that have commenced criminal proceedings against Piquet and his three-times world champion father, accusing them of making false allegations as well as attempted blackmail.
"If (cheating) proved to be happening in a consistent way I think rightly that nobody would have any interest in Formula One racing because you couldn't believe what you were looking at," Head said at the Italian Grand Prix.
"Equally, if someone has used operational procedures to gain an advantage as has been suggested, then it needs to be dealt with quite firmly."
Piquet Jr., whose evidence to the FIA was leaked during the week, has alleged that team boss Flavio Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds asked him to crash and, fearing he might lose his drive, he agreed.
Head, who confirmed there had been considerable speculation at the time of the race, added that if that had indeed proved the case then Briatore and Symonds should accept the lion's share of responsibility.
"We thought it was a pretty extraordinary thing to put Alonso 15th on the grid with only 12 laps of fuel on board," he said.
"It seemed an extraordinary decision...there were all sorts of rumours at the time.
"If young Nelson was asked to deliberately crash or spin his car, regardless of his contractual position, in my view he should have said no at the time.
"If that did happen, then the people responsible should be dealt with pretty firmly.
"Young people when they are under pressure do make mistakes.
"I would put 99 percent of the blame on the people that asked him (Piquet) to do that, if that's what happened."
He added: "It's a complex sport. Some people say it isn't a sport.
"But if all the cars are designed to the same rules and the engines are to the same rules, for all the shenanigans that go on beforehand and all of the commercial deals and everything, when the lights go out at the start one would like to think that was a straightforward race."
In response, Briatore and Symonds have apparently said that although a meeting with Piquet Jr. took place to discuss tactics, it was the driver who suggested he might crash.
Head said Williams would be "pretty horrified" if any driver made such a suggestion to them.
He said the same thing applied to the media, revealing that he had been told by one journalist that Piquet Jr. informed him shortly after the race what had happened.
"I think if a journalist was told that by a driver he should have said 'Look, stop. If you carry on with this I will have to...'," added Head, whose team took Piquet Sr. to his third world title in 1987.