Piquets win libel action against Renault F1

Nelson Piquet, Singapore GP 2008

Nelson Piquet, Singapore GP 2008 

 © The Cahier Archive

Nelson Piquet senior and son Nelson Jr have won substantial damages and costs from the Renault F1 team over libellous comments made in the aftermath of the 2008 Singapore 'crashgate' scandal.

A plot hatched by the team saw Piquet Jr deliberately crash his car in order to initiate a Safety Car period which worked to the advantage of team leader Fernando Alonso, allowing the Spaniard to win the race. Renault then put out a statement saying that the Piquets had lied about events and were trying to blackmail team chiefs.

After an action in the High Court, Renault has admitted that the comments were not correct - and has agreed to compensation and costs.

A statement from the Piquets' lawyer, Dominic Crossley, read: "Today the Renault Formula 1 Team apologised in the High Court for defaming my two clients, the motor racing father and son Nelson and Nelsinho Piquet.

"This marks the start rather than the end of the long journey they are both taking to correct many of the wrongs that took place during last year's "crashgate" scandal. They were both treated appallingly by Renault F1 when they dared to reveal the scandal to the governing body; and Nelsinho was abused terribly throughout his absurdly short career in F1.

"It is to the immense credit of both my clients that they have refused to be deterred from righting the wrongs despite the ferocity of the attacks and the size of the opponents they have had to confront.

"Nelson Piquet dominated F1 during the early 80s and his reputation as a motorsport legend should remain untarnished by this saga. F1 has been deprived of the best of Nelsinho and it is to its detriment that his talent is now being demonstrated elsewhere.

"Whilst neither of them should ever have had to prove Renault F1's allegations false they are both delighted with the successful conclusion of the case."

Renault, meanwhile, issued the following apology: "On 11th September 2009, Renault F1 Team Limited ("the Team") issued a Press Release, which was repeated on our website, in which we suggested that Nelson Piquet Junior and his father had lied by making false allegations that members of the Team and Nelson Piquet Junior caused a deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.".

"We also suggested that these lies were invented in order to blackmail the Defendant into allowing Mr Piquet Junior to drive for the Team for the remainder of the 2009 season, and he and his father were therefore guilty of a serious criminal offence.

"The Team accepts - as it did before the World Motor Sport Council ("WMSC") of the FIA and as found by the WMSC in its decision of 21 September 2009 - that the allegations made by Nelson Piquet Junior were not false. It also accepts that Mr Piquet Junior and his father did not invent these allegations in order to blackmail the Team.

"As a result, these serious allegations contained in the Press Release were wholly untrue and unfounded, and we withdraw them unequivocally. We would like to apologise unreservedly to Mr Piquet Junior and his father for the distress and embarrassment caused as a result.

"As a mark of the sincerity of our apology and regret, we have agreed to pay them a substantial amount of damages for libel as well as their costs, and have undertaken not to repeat these allegations at any time in the future."

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