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September 21, 2009

FRANCE: Renault given suspended F1 ban

Renault’s Formula One team has been given a two-year suspended ban for its role in fixing last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

Renault’s Formula One team has been given a two-year suspended ban for its role in fixing last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.

The team were called before governing body the FIA in Paris today (21 September) to answer charges they had asked driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash to help team-mate Fernando Alonso win.

Former team boss Flavio Briatore, who resigned at the end of last week, has been banned from FIA sanctioned events for an unlimited period. Ex-engineering director Pat Symonds, who also left the team last week, has also been excluded for five years.

Renault did not contest the charges and the FIA agreed not to pursue action against Piquet for his role in uncovering the details of the scandal. Alonso, who attended the hearing in Paris, was also cleared of any involvement in the race-fixing scheme.

The FIA concluded that Alonso “was not in any way involved in Renault F1’s breach of the regulations”.

However, the World Motor Sport Council found Renault breached 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. “However, noting 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.”

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

The FIA agreed with Renault’s findings and handed the French team a more lenient suspended sentence.

A team statement said that Renault was “very sad to find ourselves in front of the World Motor Sport Council. “We apologise unreservedly to the F1 community in relation to this unacceptable behaviour.”

Briatore, who was team principal for nine years, has been banned indefinitely from attending any FIA events. The FIA said it would not grant a licence to any team he was involved with or renew a Superlicence granted to any driver associated with him.

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

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