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Renault face Singapore race fixing charges

September 05, 2009 18:41 IST

RenaultRenault will face charges of fixing last year's Singapore Grand Prix by staging a crash that helped Spaniard Fernando Alonso win, Formula One's governing body said on Friday.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that Renault representatives had been summoned to an extraordinary meeting of its World Motor Sport Council in Paris on September 21, the Monday before this year's Singapore race.

The charges were that "the team conspired with its driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso."

If found guilty the team could be kicked out of the championship they won in 2005 and 2006.

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone has already warned the allegations could prompt Renault to walk away from the sport.

Renault, whose team boss Flavio Briatore co-owns English soccer club Queen's Park Rangers with Ecclestone, said in a brief statement it acknowledged the request to appear in Paris and would make no further comment before the hearing.


The team were accused of breaching article 151c of the international sporting code, which covers "any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any competition or to the interests of motor sport generally."

McLaren were fined a record $100 million (61 million pounds) and stripped of all their constructors' points for breaching it in 2007 in a spying controversy involving Ferrari data.

Renault and Piquet, whose father and namesake was a triple world champion, parted in August and Brazilian television reported allegations about the Singapore Grand Prix last weekend.

Double world champion Alonso won the sport's first night race, his first victory in more than a year and from 15th place on the starting grid, after Brazilian Piquet crashed and brought out the safety car.

Alonso had just refuelled at that point, a lucky break for the Spaniard who was able to come through and lead to the finish.

Ecclestone told the Times newspaper on Tuesday there is a danger of Renault following Honda and BMW out of the sport.

"All I know is Flavio is insisting he knows nothing about it," Ecclestone said, adding the Italian is "well and truly upset."

Renault replaced Piquet Jr in August after he failed to score a point in 10 races, a parting that triggered an angry reaction from the driver who accused Briatore of being his "executioner."

"If it's just young Piquet saying this because he wants to say it, that's one thing. If, on the other hand, there's some reality to it, then it's all different," said Ecclestone.

"It will be difficult to prove. If there is something on the radio that said, 'Er, Nelson, you'd better crash now,' then what the hell can they [Renault] do? It depends exactly what comes out of the investigation."

Photograph: Reuters

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