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A F1 scandal that made Timo Glock famous, courtesy Renault F1 team
Read the article to understand what the title means, Why and How did Time Glock become famous. Most importantly how did Alonso and Renault play the most crucial role in make this man famous.
The year is 2008 and the sport is F1. Spoiler alert, Hamilton wins WDC this year.
But why are we talking about 2008 and Hamilton winning the WDC? and why is Timo Glock mentioned in the title? Well its because this weekend is the Singapore GP and here is where things changed for Hamilton in 2008.
Important bits of information:
Lets rewind a bit. By a bit I mean head to the qualifying for the Singapore 2008. What you need to know is:
Felipe Massa, who drove for Ferrari, took pole position. Starting at P1.
Fernando Alonso, who drove with Renault, had to retire from Q2 due to his car suffering a fuel feed problem before he could set a lap time. Starting at P15.
Fernando’s teammate was Nelson Piquet Jr.
You also need to know some safety car rules. Back then, when the safety car came out the pit lane was shut for 1-2 laps before the cars can come in for fuel or tyres. So during this time, the whole field would bunch up together.
Sunday - Race day:
When the Richard Nixon administration attempted to cover up its involvement in the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building, it had no idea that the ‘–gate’ suffix would enter common parlance when describing scandalous acts.
(the above words are from an article on Autosport)
The Crashgate scandal is born.
Renault fuels Alonso very light. A super crazy strategy, given that they were starting towards the end of the grid, but whatever. Maybe they were trying to mimic the current day Ferrari. Lets not get into that. So they pit Alonso super early again and as a result he falls back of the grid.
But at Lap 12, comes a big dramatic move. Nelson Piquet Jr crashed into the wall at turn 17, bringing out the safety car. With the safety car out, Alonso was able to shuffle his way towards the pack at front. Additionally, with following pitstops and penalties for other drivers, the Spaniard saw himself in the lead and eventually winning the GP.
Yes, someone had to lose that day. Ferrari in 2008 ended up behaving like Ferrari in 2022. Massa, who started his race from the front, ended up finishing outside of the points. On another note, Hamilton finished P3. At the end of this GP, Hamilton was 7 points ahead of Massa. Remember this, you’ll understand later why this mattered.
Where is the Scandal???
You’ve been warned that I am just going to drop names. To quench your curiosity, Google them!
From the start of the race things were complicated and I had a lot of graining and the situation got worse and worse. The team asked me to push, which I tried to do and finally I lost the rear of my car. I hit the wall heavily but I'm OK. I am disappointed with my race but obviously very happy for the team this evening.
This was the official statement from Piquet Jr. at the time. Everything still seems like a normal Sunday.
But given his performance through the year, he was dropped mid-year in 2009 from the team and thats when dead bodies woke up from their graves. He then came out saying he was asked to cause an accident in Singapore 2008 and bring out the safety car on Lap 12 so that Alonso could win the race.
This probed an investigation from the FIA on the Renault team. The conclusion → It was all a very well orchestrated move. One where Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds asked Piquet Jr. to crash and help Alonso win the race. The guilty conscience Flavio and Pat left Renault in Sept 2009, making the allegations seem all the more right.
The results of the probe:
Pat received a 5-year ban
Flavio received a life-time ban.
`ING` - Renault’s title sponsor broke up with them.
Although the bans were later overturned, Flavio never returned back in official capacity to the sport.
How did Timo Glock get famous in all of this?
After the end of the second-to-last race in the 2008 season - the Chinese GP, 7 points separated Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, with Hamilton in lead. Cut to last lap of the last race - Brazilian GP. Massa crosses the finish line P1 - gains 10 points. Hamilton was currently in P7 which would have given him 2 points and would mean that Massa would have been a WDC for 2008. Everyone’s celebrating.
In the final corners of the last lap, both Vettel who was P6 at the time and Hamilton who was P7 overtake Timo Glock who was P5. The commentrators when crazy, shouting “Is that Glock, Is that Glock, Is that Glock”. Hamilton crosses the finish line at P5, takes 4 points and WON the WDC by 1 point over Massa.
Remember how a few races back, at Singapore, Hamilton was 7 points ahead of Massa? Had Crashgate not happened, Hamilton would currently be a 6 time world champion and Massa would have won his one and only world champion title.
Thanks to the games played at Renault, the ghost of Massa will haunt us forever.
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