Friday, 4 September 2009
Formula1:Renault called to face fix charge
Formula One's governing body has summoned Renault to a hearing to answer charges that they fixed the outcome of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
The French team are accused of plotting with driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in the race to deploy the safety car.
The incident aided Piquet's team-mate Fernando Alonso, with the Spaniard going on to claim victory.
If found guilty, the team face severe sanctions which could include expulsion from the current F1 world championship.
"Representatives of ING Renault F1 have been requested to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Monday, 21 September 2009," read a statement on the FIA website.
"The team representatives have been called to answer charges, including a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, 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."
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Renault said they would not make any comment until after the hearing.
The FIA first started investigating the matter after the initial claim of fixing was made by a Brazilian TV station during the Belgian GP in August.
Alonso won the Singapore GP in 2008 when Piquet crashed two laps after the Spaniard had come in for a routine pit stop.
That meant that when race officials sent out the safety car to clear up the debris from Piquet's car, Alonso was alone among the front-runners in not having to stop for fuel and tyres.
At the time, Piquet attributed the crash to a simple error, but he was dropped by Renault after July's Hungarian Grand Prix and has since been outspoken in his criticism of Renault team boss Flavio Briatore.
F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said earlier this week that both Renault and Piquet Jr would be in serious trouble if the investigation uncovered any type of race-fixing activity.
He said the negative publicity might lead Renault to pull out of the sport, following the departures of manufacturers Honda and BMW Sauber.
The Brazilian specifically cited unequal treatment between himself and two-time world champion Alonso as the source of his discontent.
Former world champions Renault have already been in the FIA dock this season.
They were banned for one race after a wheel flew off Alonso's car at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
However, the suspension, which would have ruled Alonso out of his home race in Valencia in August, was lifted on appeal.