表題のクラッシュゲートは1970年代の政治スキャンダル、「ウォーターゲート事件」が語源です。去年のF1シンガポールGPで、チームが有利になるように、INGルノーF1チームのセカンドドライバーであったNelson Piquet Jr.がBay Grandstand前、Turn 17の少し先で故意にクラッシュさせたとする疑惑です。
去年、私はBay GrandstandのTurn 18に近い方で観戦していました。この事故が起きたとき、なんであんなところで？と思いました。事故発生場所はTurn 17の少し先ですが、フリー走行、予選を含めて、あんなところでクラッシュした人は他に誰もいなかったと記憶しています。Turn 18（トンネル手前）では何台かがクラッシュしていますが。ピケのクラッシュでセーフティーカーが出動し、その間に給油した車を、既に給油済みであったルノーチームメートのアロンソが事実上、追い越して、いつの間にか先頭を走ることになります。
以下に、Nelson Piquet Jr.本人が2009年7月30日にFIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile)に提出したとされる声明文の一部を引用します。この英文は非常にわかりやすく書いてあります。恐らくプロのライター（弁護士？）が作成したものと思われます。
- During the Formula One Grand Prix of Singapore, held on Sept. 28, 2008 and counting towards the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship, I was asked by Mr. Flavio Briatore, who is both my manager and the team principal of the ING Renault F1 Team, and by Mr. Pat Symonds, the technical director of the Renault F1 Team, to deliberately crash my car in order to positively influence the performance of the ING Renault F1 Team at the event in question. I agreed to this proposal and caused my car to hit a wall and crash during lap 13/14 of the race.
- The proposal to deliberately cause an accident was made to me shortly before the race took place, when I was summoned by Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds in Mr. Briatore’s office. Mr. Symonds, in the presence of Mr. Briatore, asked me if I would be willing to sacrifice my race for the team by ‘causing a safety car.’ Every F1 race driver knows that the safety car is deployed on a track when there is an accident which leads to the track being blocked either by debris or a stationary car, and where it is difficult to recover a damaged car, as was the case here.
- At the time of this conversation I was in a very fragile and emotional state of mind. This state of mind was brought about by intense stress due to the fact that Mr. Briatore had refused to inform me of whether or not my driver’s contract would be renewed for the next racing year (2009), as is customarily the case in the middle of the year (around July or August). Instead, Mr. Briatore repeatedly requested me to sign an ‘option,’ which meant that I was not allowed to negotiate with any other teams in the meantime. He would repeatedly put pressure on me to prolong the option I had signed, and would regularly summon me into his office to discuss these renewals, even on racing days–a moment which should be a moment of concentration and relaxation before the race. This stress was accentuated by the fact that during the Formula One Grand Prix of Singapore I had qualified sixteenth on the grid, so I was very insecure about my future at the Renault team. When I was asked to crash my car and cause a safety car incident in order to help the team, I accepted because I hoped that it could improve my position within the team at this critical time in the race season. At no point was I told by anyone that by agreeing to cause an incident, I would be guaranteed a renewal of my contract or any other advantage. However, in the context, I thought that it would be helpful in achieving this goal. I therefore agreed to cause the incident.
- After the meeting with Mr. Symonds and Mr. Briatore, Mr. Symonds took me aside to a quiet corner and, using a map, pointed me to the exact corner of the track where I should crash. This corner was selected because the specific location of the track did not have any cranes that would allow a damaged car to be swiftly lifted off the track, nor did it have any side entrances to the track, which would allow a Safety Marshal to quickly move the damaged car away from the track. Therefore, it was felt that a crash in this specific position would be nearly certain to cause an obstruction on the track which would thus necessitate the deployment of a safety car in order to allow the track to be cleared and to ensure the safe continuation of the race.
- Mr. Symonds also told me which exact lap to cause the incident upon, so that a strategy could be deployed for my teammate Mr. Fernando Alonso to refuel at the pit shortly before the deployment of the safety car, which he indeed did during lap 12. The key to this strategy resided in the fact that the near-knowledge that the safety car would be deployed in lap 13/14 allowed the team to start Mr. Alonso’s car with an aggressive fuel strategy using a light car containing enough fuel to arrive at lap 12, but not much more. This would allow Mr. Alonso to overtake as many (heavier) cars as possible, knowing that those cars would have difficulty catching up with him later in the race due to the later deployment of the safety car. This strategy was successful and Mr. Alonso won the 2008 Formula One Grand Prix of Singapore.
- During these discussions, no mention was made of any concerns with respect to the security implications of this strategy, either for myself, the public or other drivers. The only comment made in this context was one by Mr. Pat Symonds who warned me to ‘be careful,’ which I took to mean that I should not injure myself.
- I intentionally caused the crash by letting go of control of the car just before the relevant corner. In order to make sure I would cause the incident during the correct lap, I asked my team several times via the radio to confirm the lap number, which I would not normally do. I was not injured during the accident, nor was anyone else.
- After the discussions with Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds discussed above, the ‘accident strategy’ was never discussed again with either of them. Mr. Briatore discreetly said ‘thank you’ after the end of the race, without mentioning anything further. I do not know if anyone else was aware of this strategy at the start of the race.
- After the race I informed Mr. Felipe Vargas, a family friend and advisor, of the fact that the incident had been deliberate. Mr. Vargas further informed my father, Mr. Nelson Piquet, some time later.
- After the race several journalists asked questions about the accident and asked me whether I had caused it on purpose, because they felt it was ‘suspicious.’
- In my own team, the engineer of my car questioned the nature of the incident because he found it unusual, and I replied that I had lost control of the car. I believe that a clever engineer would notice from the car’s telemetry that I caused the incident on purpose as I continued accelerating, whereas a ‘normal’ reaction would be to brake as soon as possible.