Symonds will 'always regret' his actions
|By Jonathan Noble||Wednesday, September 23rd 2009, 08:59 GMT|
Renault's former director of engineering Pat Symonds has said it will be to his 'eternal regret' that he ever took part in the race-fix plans at last year's Singapore Grand Prix.
Symonds resigned from Renault last week when it became clear that he was involved in the conspiracy for a crash by Nelson Piquet to bring out a safety car in last year's race to help Fernando Alonso win.
Although Symonds was not present at Monday's FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing into the matter, which resulted in him being banned from international motorsport for five years, he did provide a written statement where he expressed his regret at going ahead with the scheme after it had been suggested by Piquet on Saturday night.
"The idea for this incident was entirely conceived by Nelson Piquet Jr. It was he who first approached me with the idea. At the time I naively believed that it was something he wanted to do for the good of the team," stated Symonds.
"I was not aware of the position of his contract negotiations although with the benefit of hindsight I now consider that he believed that his actions would have a favourable effect on these negotiations."
Symonds denied that Alonso's starting strategy to stop after 14 laps was based on the race fix plans - and claimed that it was not that unusual because of the problems with the soft tyres.
He cited as evidence that fact that in Australia this year, Lewis Hamilton started from the back row of the grid with the softest tyre and stopped after only 11 laps.
However, he expressed deep remorse at pushing ahead with Piquet's plans - which started off a chain of events that brought an end to his distinguished and successful career with Renault.
"In mitigation I would like to acknowledge my role in this incident. I was the one who, when the idea was first suggested to me by Nelson Piquet Jr., should have dismissed it immediately. It is to my eternal regret and shame that I did not do so.
"I can only say that I did it out of a misguided devotion to my team and not for any personal gain whatsoever. I consider the role I have played in bringing the team to where it is today to be my life's work. I started the nucleus of the team 28 years ago with only 19 other people. Today it has grown to an organisation that directly employs over 500 people and supports innumerable local and international businesses.
"The last thing that I ever wanted to do was to jeopardise that team and the many people to whom I had an overwhelming responsibility.
"In a single action I have destroyed the high reputation I have built up during a 33 year career in motor sport. I am a competitive person who worked in a high pressure environment. This can, at times, cloud one's judgement. I have always tried to be an honest person, a fact I hope you will give me credit for by witness of my statements to the stewards in Belgium.
"On that night in Singapore last year I made a mistake the consequences of which I could never have imagined at the time. For that mistake I can only offer all of you, and all those touched by the action I was involved in, my profound apology."