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DATE News (chronologically)
09/01/09
f1
Ecclestone speaks as 'crash-gate' erupts  (GMM)  Amid the deafening silence from the Renault and Piquet camps, F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone went on an overnight media offensive as his sport's latest scandal erupted.

"It is not good for the sport.  It all seems very strange to me but I do not know the truth, I have no idea," said the 78-year-old, who gave quotes and seemingly also information to multiple British newspapers. [Editor's Note: Could this be the next pre-planned F1 controversy to keep the sport in the daily headlines?  After Schumacher did not return to the cockpit, F1 needed an alternate story to grab the daily headlines.]

The new reports indicate that the source of the accusation is Nelson Piquet and his famous father and namesake, furious that the 23-year-old driver was ousted by the French team after the Hungarian grand prix last month.

It is also suggested that the saga, which might go all the way to a hearing of the World Motor Sport Council, could prompt Renault to quit the sport no matter the outcome and end Flavio Briatore's F1 career.

"I think it will piss off Renault," Ecclestone said.  "Them leaving the sport is a danger, obviously."

Ecclestone is a friend and confidante of the irascible Briatore, with whom he owns the London football club Queens Park Rangers.  He said the Italian is "well and truly upset".

It has been reported that Fernando Alonso may be implicated if he knows anything about Piquet's Singapore crash, and Ecclestone warned that Piquet also risks finding himself in hot water by making such serious accusations.

"If it is true, then I would have thought Nelson was in just as much trouble.  If I tell you to go and rob a bank and you get caught, you can't say, 'Bernie told me to'," the Briton said.

"But it could just be a rumor and Nelson is just pissed off that he has been fired."

Ecclestone described Piquet as "an angry young man" and suggested that, no matter what, his F1 career is over.

"You can safely say that he's sort of in trouble now.  You'd have to wonder what next, wouldn't you?" he said.

"All I know is that Flavio is insisting that he knows nothing about it," added Ecclestone, who nonetheless admitted the FIA would likely react strongly if there is any truth to the rumors.

The FIA is looking into the claims, but the Paris federation confirmed that an investigation is underway without referring specifically to the Singapore GP nor Piquet or Renault.

"It will be difficult to prove," Ecclestone continued.  "If there is something on the radio that said, 'Er, Nelson, you'd better crash now', then what the hell can they do?

"(But) we would have copies of those conversations and someone would have come forward in the interim," he added.

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