Renault handed suspended race ban for F1 race fix

September 21st, 2009 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, Sep 21 (DPA) Renault was Monday handed a suspended ban from Formula One racing by motorsport ruling body FIA for ordering its driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.
The Renault team admitted to the federation’s World Motor Sport Council that it conspired with Piquet to cause a deliberate crash designed to benefit team-mate Fernando Alonso.

The council said it was disqualifying Renault but suspended the disqualification until the end of the 2011 season.

The FIA council said it took into account last week’s departure from the team of principal Flavio Briatore and chief engineer Patrick Symonds.

“The World Motor Sport Council considers Renault F1’s breaches relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity,” a statement said.

“Renault F1’s breaches not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr himself.

“The World Motor Sport Council considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship.

“However, having regard to the points in mitigation mentioned above and in particular the steps taken by Renault F1 to identify and address the failings within its team and condemn the actions of the individuals involved, the WMSC has decided to suspend Renault F1’s disqualification until the end of the 2011 season.”

FIA also effectively severed Briatore’s links with motorsport by refusing to sanction any events or issue a licence to any driver associated with the Italian for an unlimited period.

The Renault team in a first reaction said: “Today, we fully accept the decision of the Council. We apologize unreservedly to the F1 community in relation to this unacceptable behaviour.

“We sincerely hope that we can soon put this matter behind us and focus constructively on the future. We will issue further information in the next few days.”

Both Piquet and Alonso appeared at the hearing of the council, the highest-ranking body within motor sports’ governing body.

Alonso, who was in a position to be able to take advantage of Piquet’s crash and subsequent safety-car phase to win the Singapore Grand Prix, had denied any knowledge of the crash plans.

Renault had said last week in a statement it would not be disputing the crash allegations, and by parting company with Briatore and Symonds hoped to escape possible exclusion from Formula One.

Any exit by the French team would have been a further major loss of a big-name manufacturer from the series. Honda quit last December and BMW announced in July it was pulling out at the end of the season.

The Renault team admitted at the hearing that it had conspired with Piquet to cause the crash in breach of the international sporting code and F1 sporting regulations, FIA said.

The team’s internal investigation had shown that Briatore, Symonds and Piquet had conspired to cause the crash; and that no other team member was involved in the conspiracy, the statement said.

Renault in its mitigation said that it had accepted the offence, cooperated fully in the investigation and ensured that Briatore and Symonds had left the team.

In addition it had apologized unreservedly to FIA and to the sport and was committed to paying the costs incurred by FIA in its investigation. Parent company Renault will also make a significant contribution to FIA safety-related projects.

Piquet, who was granted immunity from individual sanctions in return for his evidence, also apologized unreservedly for his part in the conspiracy.

Alonso “was not in any way involved in Renault F1’s breach of the regulations,” the council ruled.

Noting Briatore’s part in the affair, the World Motor Sport Council said that for an unlimited period “the FIA does not intend to sanction any international event, championship, cup, trophy, challenge or series involving Mr Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any team or other entity engaging Mr Briatore

in any capacity whatsoever.”

FIA will not permit Briatore access to any areas under the FIA’s jurisdiction and “does not intend to renew any superlicence granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Mr. Briatore.”

FIA said it had taken account “not only to the severity of the breach in which Briatore was complicit but also to his actions in continuing to deny his participation in the breach despite all the evidence.”

A similar ruling will apply to Symonds for a five-year period. The council said it had taken into account Symonds’ acceptance that he took part in the conspiracy and “to his communication to the meeting of the World Motor Sport Council that it was to his ‘eternal regret and shame’ that he participated in the conspiracy.”

The FIA ruling has come ahead of this season’s Singapore Grand Prix Sunday.

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