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Page last updated at 12:42 GMT, Sunday, 13 September 2009 13:42 UK

Head wants firm 'fix' punishment

Nelson Piquet Jr crashes in Singapore

Analysis: Renault race-fixing controversy

Williams co-owner Patrick Head says Renault should be punished "pretty firmly" if claims they fixed the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix are proved true.

The French team are accused of asking driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in the race to deploy the safety car which aided team-mate Fernando Alonso's win.

"It is extraordinary," said Head. "If that did happen the people responsible should be dealt with pretty firmly."

Renault deny the allegations and have launched legal action against Piquet.

Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has summoned Renault to an extraordinary meeting of its world motor sport council in Paris on Monday 21 September to answer the charges.

FIA president Max Mosley confirmed to BBC Sport on Sunday that Renault could be thrown out of the F1 championship if they are found guilty.

But Mosley also stressed the team must be considered innocent until they are proven to be guilty.

FIA President Max Mosley

Renault have a case to answer - Mosley

"There were all sorts of rumours at the time, but to me it's a pretty extraordinary situation," said Head.

"Young drivers, before they have established their name in F1, are in quite a difficult position," added Head, referring to Piquet's claims that he crashed to protect his position within the team.

"But if young Nelson was asked to deliberately crash or spin his car, regardless of his contractual position, in my view he should have said no at the time.

"Young people, when they are under pressure, do make mistakes, but I would put 99% of the blame on the people that asked him to do that, if that's what happened.

"Ultimately, if that is what happened and that is what he did, then in my view he made a mistake to agree to do it.

"But young people under pressure do make mistakes and I don't necessarily think they need to be crucified as a result."

Piquet drove for Renault throughout 2008 but was sacked by the team after 10 races of this season.

The 24-year-old has been outspoken in his criticism of Renault team boss Flavio Briatore since he was dismissed after July's Hungarian GP.

On Friday Piquet Jr said in a statement, he said: "Because I am telling the truth I have nothing to fear."

Renault announced they were launching legal action against Piquet Jr and his father Nelson Piquet over the race-fixing allegations made against the team.

The French team deny claims they asked Piquet to crash to facilitate Alonso's win and have accused the Brazilian pair of making a blackmail attempt in relation to "allowing Mr Piquet Jr to drive for the remainder of the 2009 season".

Renault team boss Flavio Briatore

Renault accuse Piquets of blackmail (UK only)

Piquet has been promised immunity from being punished in return for giving evidence, as was the case when Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso gave evidence in the McLaren 'spygate' scandal in 2007.

McLaren were excluded from that year's constructors' championship and fined $100m (then equivalent to £49.2m) after being found guilty of illegally possessing confidential Ferrari technical data.

If Renault are found guilty in Paris they would have the right to appeal, but if that appeal failed they could face severe sanctions.

"It has in the past been that one car has deliberately held up another car in order to give favour to the team-mate and that isn't very sporting. But it's hardly something on which one would impose a $100 million fine, said Head.

"I've got no knowledge of what information is available and how well the various parties will stand up under questioning. The thing that's emotive about it is actually a car crashing.

"First of all, if the thing comes down to the word of one man against another, it might be quite difficult to provide sufficient proof to impose those sorts of penalties," he said.

"When you start going as far as requesting that one car does something that brings out the safety car, it goes to another level."

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see also
Renault to launch Piquet lawsuit
11 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Alonso 'surprised' by fix claim
10 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Renault called to face fix charge
04 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Piquet Jr dropped by Renault team
04 Aug 09 |  Formula 1
Alonso wins as Hamilton prospers
28 Sep 08 |  Formula 1
McLaren exposed by spy evidence
14 Sep 07 |  Formula 1

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