Fernando Alonso has insisted he had complete faith in the Renault team ahead of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
Renault have been handed a suspended permanent disqualification from F1 after it was found members of the team ordered Nelson Piquet Jnr to deliberately crash his car during last year’s race, creating the opportunity for Alonso to take the win.
An aggressive race strategy mapped out by Pat Symonds, the team’s former executive director of engineering, was key to Alonso’s victory as it meant he had taken his first pit stop before the safety car was deployed following Piquet Jnr’s crash.
Alonso was called before the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Monday to state he was completely in the dark over the plan between Piquet Jnr, Symonds and former team boss Flavio Briatore.
And the two-time champion insists he saw nothing strange in the race strategy put to him by Symonds.
“I did not know anything about the incident,” asserted Alonso when questioned by FIA president Max Mosley.
“About the strategy, I completely believe and trust the engineers, who normally have a lot of computer simulations which tell you the optimum lap to stop.
“Sometimes it’s short fuel, sometimes long fuel, but I completely trust them.
“In that particular case it was no different. I completely trusted them with regard the lap on which I was told to stop, and I drove to my maximum as a driver.”
Mosley then said: “You didn’t say to them at any point, ’This seems unusual. Why are we stopping so early?’
Alonso replied: “Not really, because we had a fuel pump problem in qualifying on Saturday.
“I qualified 15th with more or less good pace, in a good car that weekend.
“We know if you have the same strategy as the others around you, and you are in position 13 or 14, it will be difficult to overtake them.
“So the team chose a strategy that was different. I was not really worried about anything.
“It was an aggressive one (strategy), and I was ready for it.”
In all, Alonso’s appearance before the Council lasted just two minutes, arguably a short and unnecessary detour en route to the return of the scene of Piquet Jnr’s ’crime’.
With Briatore and Symonds resigning from Renault prior to being given lifetime and five-year bans respectively from motorsport following the hearing, the team have acted quickly to replace the disgraced 58-year-old Italian.
Bob Bell has stepped up from his role as technical director to take on the position of team boss on a temporary basis until the end of the season.
With Renault determined to draw a line under what their counsel, Ali Malek QC, described as “a black day” in the manufacturer’s history, Alonso knows many will look to him to help turn the tide in Singapore this weekend.
Whilst a repeat of his race win is extremely unlikely, the Spaniard is not ruling out the possibility of finishing on the podium, saying: “The car is working well at most circuits so I believe we are competitive enough to get close to the podium, which has to be my target this weekend.”