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Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Monday, 21 September 2009 15:31 UK

Renault handed suspended F1 ban

Nelson Piquet Jr

Report - Renault given suspended penalty

Renault have been given a two-year suspended ban from Formula 1 for their role in fixing last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

The team were called before governing body the FIA to answer charges they had asked driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win.

Former team boss Flavio Briatore has been banned from FIA-sanctioned events for an unlimited period.

Ex-engineering director Pat Symonds has also been excluded for five years.

Briatore and Symonds parted company with Renault last week at the same time as the French car giant said they would not contest the charges.

The FIA agreed not to pursue action against Piquet in return for his role in uncovering the details of the scandal.

We apologise unreservedly to the F1 community in relation to this unacceptable behaviour

Renault team statement

Alonso, who attended the hearing in Paris, was also cleared of any involvement in the race-fixing scheme and the FIA thanked him for "cooperating with enquiries".

The World Motor Sport Council ruled that Renault was guilty of breaking its sporting code, finding; "breaches relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity.

"They not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself.

"The WMSC considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Renault ruling is right decision - Mosley

"However, 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 president Max Mosley said: "The penalty for Renault is disqualification, but suspended for two years, which means if they don't do something silly in the next two years, they don't have any problems."

He added: "The blame has been placed where it should be placed and it's the right decision.

"The penalty that we've imposed is the harshest one we can but because Renault have demonstrated that they have no moral responsibility for what took place, it would be wrong in the circumstances to impose an immediate penalty."

ANDREW BENSON BLOG

The hearing was an attempt to attribute responsibility for the Singapore scandal despite the departure of Briatore and Symonds.

Renault explained that its internal investigation found that Briatore, Symonds and Piquet Jr had conspired to cause the crash with no other team member involved.

After conducting its own investigation, the FIA agreed with Renault's findings and decided to hand the French team a more lenient suspended sentence.

Renault, who will pay the cost of the FIA investigation, as well as contributing to its safety-related projects, said it accepted the council's decision.

Renault's F1 president Bernard Rey

"We are very sad to find ourselves in front of the World Motor Sport Council," a team statement said.

"We apologise 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."

The FIA imposed further sanctions on Briatore, who ended his nine-year reign as Renault team principal last week in the wake of the scandal.

The Italian has been banned indefinitely from attending any FIA events. A route back into F1 was made more difficult for Briatore as the FIA declared it would not grant a licence to any team he was involved with or renew an F1 Superlicence granted to any driver associated with him.

Renault's double world champion Alonso and Red Bull's Mark Webber are both managed by Briatore while McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen also has ties with the Italian.

Symonds was banned from all FIA events for five years but the FIA noted his communication to the hearing "that it was to his 'eternal regret and shame' that he had participated in the conspiracy".

The fateful conspiracy was brought to light by Piquet after he was sacked by Renault following July's Hungarian GP.

The 24-year-old Brazilian said after the hearing: "I bitterly regret my actions to follow the orders I was given. I wish every day that I had not done it."

During last year's Singapore night race Piquet crashed on lap 14, two laps after Alonso had stopped for fuel and tyres, and a safety car was deployed to control the field while the debris from the accident was removed from the track.

Having already pitted in the race, the timing of the safety car - necessary while Piquet's wrecked car was removed from the track - was critical to Alonso's victory in Singapore.

It meant that when the safety car came out, he was alone among the front-runners in not having to stop for fuel and tyres and it promoted him into a position from which he was able to win.

The FIA's ruling on the race-fixing behind the Spaniard's victory has been reached in the same week that Formula 1 returns to Singapore for this season's race, with first practice at 1100 BST on Friday, 25 September.

Renault have got off lightly - Jordan

While the majority of the Renault team flew out to Singapore over the weekend, the long-term future of the French team remains in doubt.

The team's main sponsor, Dutch bank ING, had already decided to withdraw its support at the end of the season while Renault itself reported losses as a result of falling car sales in the first half of the year.

Two major car manufacturers have pulled out of F1 in the last nine months, with Honda quitting last December and BMW announcing in July they would stop at the end of the year.

There have long been rumours that both Renault and Toyota, who have said it will not sign off its 2010 F1 budget until November, could follow them out of the sport.

F1 needs to clean up its act - Brundle

If Renault and Toyota pulled out, the only two car companies left in F1 would be Mercedes and Fiat through its Ferrari brand.

As the car companies supply engines to the entire grid this year, that could be a major problem, notwithstanding the return of privateer engine company Cosworth next season as supplier to the new teams Lotus, US F1, Campos and Manor.

"Formula 1 can't afford another major manufacturer with such a proud history to walk away," said the BBC's James Munro in Paris.

"So some may accuse the FIA of that having influenced their decision."



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see also
Piquet Jr 'sorry' for race-fixing
21 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Renault blames Briatore & Symonds
17 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
Briatore out over Renault fix row
16 Sep 09 |  Formula 1
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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