The 2008 Formula One Singapore Grand Prix was a watershed event, not just because it was the first race in the Marina Bay street circuit, but also because it was the first night race in Formula One history.
Watched by millions of viewers all over the world, Spaniard Fernando Alonso, racing in Renault colors, became the first winner of the Singapore GP. Renault had virtually no hope of winning this race, with their drivers Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr starting in 15th and 16th place respectively. However, in a bold move, Alonso started with an unusually low fuel load and attempted to overtake as many cars ahead as possible before making an earlier than expected pit stop. His gamble that someone would eventually crash in this unfamiliar new circuit paid off as Piquet Jr crashed in Lap 14, bringing out the safety car. With Alonso already fueled up and other cars forced to refuel after the pit lane opened, he went on to take the lead and achieved one of the most memorable victories in Formula One history.
But the 2008 Marina Bay race will now be remembered for other reasons. Nelson Piquet Jr., who was released from Renault in August 2009 for poor form, has sensationally claimed that he was asked to crash in order for Alonso to gain an unfair advantage. Renault initially reacted angrily to the accusation, but has subsequently decided not to contest the charges, a sign many take as guilt and an attempt to mitigate any future punishment. Their flamboyant managing director, Flavio Briatore and engineer Pat Symonds, have resigned, ending their long Formula One career on a low note.
What will happen to team Renault now? Many speculate that they’ll be thrown out of Formula One altogether, although that would mean the loss of jobs for thousands of innocent Renault employees. And what is the future of their other driver Fernando Alonso? Alonso has denied all knowledge of this plot and it remains to be seen if he’ll eventually move to Ferrari as speculated. Will Formula One recover from this latest setback? We all wait with bated breath.