Renault F1's team boss, top engineer quit as team accepts cheating claim

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Renault F1 team boss Flavio Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds have both split ways with the team. The move comes as Renault announce they will not fight a charge of race-fixing.

Piquet's car is removed from the Marina Bay Street Circuit while Alonso moves towards victory.
Image: Benjamin Chia.

Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) accused Renault of ordering Nelson Piquet, Jr. to crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. The wreck brought out the safety car and most other competitors made refueling stops while it was out. However, Renault's Fernando Alonso had pitted unusually early and was able to move up to take one of just two victories that year.

The safety car during its critical appearance at the race.
Image: Benjamin Chia.

The FIA interviewed Piquet after an investigation was triggered by claims published by Globo TV. Piquet's interview was leaked, and he placed the blame squarely on Briatore and Symonds.

"The proposal to deliberately cause an accident was made to me shortly before the race took place, when I was summoned by Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds in Mr. Briatore’s office... When I was asked to crash my car I accepted because I hoped it could improve my position within the team at this critical time in the race season," Piquet said in the interview.

Piquet further stated that he received no assurances he would still be racing for Renault in 2009. Although he continued to race for Renault in 2009, he was sacked midway through the current season.

Renault will discover their punishment at a hearing before the World Motor Sport Council in Paris, France. They face the possibility of being banned from Formula One. Piquet has received immunity from the FIA for his testimony. Data showed Piquet accelerating into the wall instead of braking as he approached it.

Briatore has a long history with Renault. He started off with Benetton Formula in 1988 and was team principal for Michael Schumacher's 1994 and 1995 world title wins. He left in 1997 but Renault made him head again after he helped the French firm buy the team in 2000. He was there for Alonso's world championship wins in 2005 and 2006.


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