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GP Week : Issue 62
THE Renault F1 Team has been called before an Extraordinary Meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, to answer charges that it cheated its way to victory at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix by telling Nelson Piquet to crash, bringing out the safety car that allowed Fernando Alonso to record the team's rst win of the season. "Representatives of ING Renault F1 have been requested to appear before an extraordinary meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Monday, 21 September 2009," an FIA statement read. "The team representatives have been called to answer charges, including a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, that the team conspired with its driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the Safety Car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso." Article 151c is the same regulation under which McLaren was found guilty of cheating in 2007 and handed a record fine of $100 million. Should Renault be found guilty in this instance, it is thought their fine could be of a similar level. With motor manufacturers currently re- evaluating their long term involvement in Formula 1 on the back of both Honda and BMW pulling out of the sport, there are fears within the sport that any decision against Renault could lead to them walking away from F1. "This is not the sort of thing we need at the moment," F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told The Times. "I think it will piss off Renault for a start. Them leaving the sport is a danger, obviously. Although Renault has officially declined to comment since this story broke in the aftermath of the Belgian Grand Prix, team chief Flavio Briatore's words immediately after the Singapore Grand Prix last season seem to suggest a fudge, as he blamed Rubens Barrichello for triggering the Safety Car rather than his own driver, Piquet, despite the fact that Barrichello's electrical failure occurred one lap after Piquet's crash. "It was Barrichello," the Italian said in an interview with Speed TV. "The Safety Car was out for Barrichello." It seems that it is not only the FIA which has issue with the incident, as Ferrari's Felipe Massa is reported to have confronted Briatore over Piquet's crash. TV Globo commentator Reginaldo Leme is quoted as saying: "It struck me when I was talking recently with Felipe Massa. Felipe had gone to Briatore and said, 'This crash was not right, it happened because you wanted it to'." Renault called before World Council GP2 championship leader Nico Hulkenberg has told GPWeek that he believes he will "de nitely" be racing in Formula 1 in 2010. The 22-year-old German, who could become the first GP2 driver in history to wrap up the title before the final event of the season in Monza this weekend, has been strongly linked with promotion to the Williams F1 team, for whom he currently acts as official test and reserve driver. Williams gave Hulkenberg's countryman and 2005 GP2 champion Nico Rosberg his F1 debut in 2006, and the expected 2009 champion is known to be popular with the team and, in particular, Sir Frank Williams. Hulkenberg however, says that Williams is not his only option: "I think definitely," he told GPWeek when asked if he would be in F1 next season. "The way things have gone have been pretty positive for us and Formula 1 people have seen that as well. My manager Willi Weber is I think talking to a few teams and things are looking good. But as always nothing is decided yet." Hulkenberg believes he would be a valuable asset to any Formula 1 team, and that in spite of his inexperience is ready to step up to the challenge. "[I would bring] a lot of motivation and a lot of determination. It's just my dream. What I love doing is racing cars quick around corners, around circuits and just enjoying to work with teams, to improve teams and improve myself and just work as hard as I can." Hulkenberg: F1 2010 a certainty 8