The year was 2008. The location, Singapore’s debut as the now-iconic Formula One city circuit, and the first night race ever held in the sport.
On Lap 14/15 Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. oversteered coming out of a left-right chicane at Turn 17, slamming his car into a concrete wall. Given the location of the incident and the lack of a crane nearby to remove the hazard, the crash caused a mandatory safety car, essentially forcing frontrunning cars to stack up and lose their lead.
Piquet’s teammate, Fernando Alonso, coincidentally made an unusual fuel stop on Lap 12 after starting way back at 15th on the grid. Unusual, because most drivers who qualify in lower positions tend to opt for heavy fuel loads so they can go the distance and make places over the course of an entire race. Three laps later, when Alonso’s teammate spun out and forced a safety car, the Spaniard went on with stamina to take the race lead and eventually cross the finish line in first place.
Nearly an entire year had passed before the first reports of race-fixing began to surface. The conspiracy went right to the top of the French motorsport team. It was alleged that Piquet Jr. had been instructed to deliberately crash his Renault at Turn 17 on the predetermined lap by Team Principal Flavio Briatore and Team Technical Director Pat Symonds.
Watch the controversy unfold in the BBC’s short segment below. To read Piquet’s full testimony implicating his former bosses, check out The Guardian’s inquiry into the race’s sequence of events.