What Happened At Singapore 2008 F1 Race? All You Need to Know About Crashgate Controversy

The controversy of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix will remain one for the books for years to come. Read on to find out what went down, causing this epic scandal.

Published on Jun 11, 2024  |  02:58 PM IST |  40.1K
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Key Highlight
  • What went down at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix?
  • The aftermath

The 2008 Singapore Grand Prix is one of the most controversial events in F1 history. Known as the "Crashgate" incident it involved a purposeful crash. Nelson Piquet Jr. from Renault engineered the crash, which had a major impact on the race's outcome. It eventually affected the 2008 world championship.


Former Formula One chief Bernie Ecclestone disclosed that important individuals were aware of the incident but did nothing. The scandal reappeared last year. After learning of this, former Ferrari driver Felipe Massa filed a lawsuit. He argued that the injustice had impacted the championship outcome.

What went down at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix? 

During the Singapore Grand Prix, Nelson Piquet Jr. intentionally crashed his Renault. This triggered the Safety Car. The collision occurred on lap 14 of the 61-lap race. Strategically, his colleague Fernando Alonso benefited from it; in the end, he won the race.

Renault was having trouble in the midfield in 2008. Flavio Briatore, the team leader, was under pressure to produce outcomes. That season, Alonso had failed to secure a podium position, and Piquet Jr. was also underperforming. The team saw the Singapore race as a critical opportunity to secure a much-needed victory. Alonso's strategic early pit stop, combined with Piquet Jr.'s crash, created the perfect scenario for Alonso to take the lead and win.


Nelson Piquet Jr.'s crash was not an isolated incident but a calculated move orchestrated by Renault to manipulate the race outcome. Piquet Jr. later admitted he had been instructed to crash by team bosses, including team principal Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds.

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The crash was intended to create a race advantage for Alonso. The Safety Car came out at a crucial moment, allowing Alonso to gain positions. He eventually won the race.

The Safety Car disrupted the race, leading to a botched pit stop for Felipe Massa, who was leading at the time. This mistake dropped Massa to a 13th-place finish, ultimately costing him crucial points in the championship race.

Massa lost to Lewis Hamilton by just one point in the 2008 drivers' championship. This occurred after Hamilton's spectacular pass of Timo Glock in the last turn of the season's last lap in Brazil.


Felipe Massa, leading the race from pole position, was severely affected by the Safety Car deployment. Ferrari called him in for a pit stop, but in the rush to get him back on track, Massa was released prematurely. He dragged the fuel hose with him down the pit lane. This error dropped him to the back of the field, ruined his race, and significantly impacted his championship bid.

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The aftermath

The deliberate nature of Piquet's crash came to light in 2009. Massa, feeling wronged by the orchestrated event, called for the Singapore GP result to be null and void. However, an investigation was unable to change the outcome due to FIA rules that prevent the revocation of a world title after the FIA Awards ceremony.


In 2023, Bernie Ecclestone alleged that during the 2008 season, he and FIA president Max Mosley were aware of the possible incident, i.e., the Piquet crash, but decided against taking any action. This revelation prompted Felipe Massa to explore legal routes to seek justice. Massa expressed his dismay at the situation, calling it an ‘injustice’ that the governing bodies knew about the breach and did nothing.


Earlier this year, Massa took decisive action. He filed a lawsuit in the London High Court against Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone, and the FIA. He seeks recognition as the 2008 world champion and financial compensation.

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According to court documents provided by Massa's representatives, he estimates his financial losses from missing the title at £64 million ($82 million USD). This amount includes the difference in salary for the remainder of his career, sponsorship commercial opportunities, and a bonus he would have received from Ferrari.

One of the most controversial periods in Formula 1 history remains the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix and the Crashgate incident. Massa believes the FIA violated its own rules by taking their time looking into the Singapore situation. In addition to monetary recompense for his losses, he wants to be acknowledged as the legitimate 2008 world champion.

ALSO READ: Why Is Sergio Perez Hit With a 3-Place Grid Penalty for the Spanish GP? Find Out

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About The Author

Ananya Kesh is a journalism student with a burning passion for the world of sports. Writing allows her

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