Singapore’s Formula 1 debut turned out to be a race that would get talked about for years afterwards. On Sunday 28 September 2008, the night sky above Asia’s answer to Monaco was lit up brilliantly for the first time (courtesy of a futuristic Italian illumination system) but the colour of the weekend looked set to be red. Ferrari red. Felipe Massa got underway from pole position alongside Lewis Hamilton, his rival for the world championship title.
Yet it turned out to be a memorable weekend for another infamous reason, which took the race in a different and darker direction. The Renault pit wall issued an order to one of its two drivers, Nelson Piquet Jr, to deliberately hit the wall and cause the grand prix to be neutralised. The person who took the biggest advantage from the accident was conveniently his team mate Fernando Alonso, who had just made his pit stop and put himself well on course for victory. Nonetheless, the team would eventually pay a heavy price for its wrongdoing. As soon as the fraud came to light, the full weight of punishment came crashing down: team boss Flavio Briatore and technical chief Pat Symonds were summarily expelled from Formula 1.