Mike Stevens | Sep 17, 2009

RENAULT F1 has announced it will not contest charges of race-fixing following allegations by former team driver Nelson Piquet Jr.

Piquet claims that he was instructed to deliberately crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to bring out the safety car to assist team-mate Alonso's race.

Renault F1's two most senior employees, Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds, have now resigned.

In-car telemetry as well as interview and radio transcripts which were leaked in recent days, add weight to the allegations that Briatore and Symonds conspired to manipulate the race result by instructing Piquet to crash.

If true, the dangers such an instruction posed for Piquet, for other drivers and for track marshalls, is an astonishing scandal for Renault.

The resignations of Briatore and Symonds would seem to confirm there is a case to answer.

While Briatore has denied knowledge of any acts of deception and subterfuge, Symonds’ refusal to answer key questions posed by investigators indicated Piquet Jr was truthful in his initial statement to the FIA.

Symonds was offered full immunity in exchange for fully disclosing Renault’s intentions, but in an act of loyalty to his long time colleague, Briatore, chose to follow the Italian and also fall on his sword.

f1_renault_singapore_2008_01

His actions may spare the former World Champion from further punishment and may also save the Renault team from being thrown out of F1.

With the team now choosing to not fight charges it has 'brought the sport into disrepute under Article 151c of F1 regulations', Renault has effectively admitted its guilt and as a result, is expected to only receive financial penalties.

But it may cost Renault heavily. McLaren was fined $US100 million after it was found to be in possession of confidential Ferrari documents in 2007.

Reports in the British press suggest Renault can expect an even heftier punishment as its actions have harmed the sport’s credibility and more importantly, endangered the lives of Piquet Jr, Singapore track marshals and spectators.

In a statement, Renault said: “The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix."

"It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.

"Before attending the hearing before the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September 2009, the team will not make any further comment.”

There may be more yet to unfold in this story. Until it all comes out, Renault’s F1 future may remain in doubt.

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