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GP Week : Issue 64
4 RENAULT F1 has been handed a two-year suspended ban from the Formula 1 World Championship by the FIA World Motorsport Council for its xing of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. Renault announced last week that it would not dispute the claims levelled against it by former driver Nelson Piquet Jr and consequently investigated by the FIA, and the meeting of the WMSC in Paris yesterday saw the Renault F1 Team confess its guilt from the outset. "The ING Renault F1 team admitted that the team had conspired with its driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, in breach of the International Sporting Code and F1 Sporting Regulations," an FIA statement read. "Renault F1 stated at the meeting that it had conducted a detailed internal investigation, which found that: (i) Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr. had conspired to cause the crash; and (ii) no other team member was involved in the conspiracy. "The FIA has conducted its own detailed investigation and its ndings correspond with those of Renault F1." With Briatore and Symonds leaving Renault F1 in the week before the case, the duo could not be found guilty of any o ence by the WMSC. Instead, it was Renault F1 which as the duo's employers was found guilty of breaching Article 151c of the International Sporting Code. Nelson Piquet Jr had already been given immunity by the FIA following his collaboration with FIA investigators and total disclosure of the facts. His team-mate Fernando Alonso was adjudged to have had no knowledge of the plot to x the race. "The World Motor Sport Council considers that o ences of this severity merit permanent disquali cation from the FIA Formula One World Championship. However, having regard to the points in mitigation... and 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 disquali cation until the end of the 2011 season. The World Motor Sport Council will only activate this disquali cation if Renault F1 is found guilty of a comparable breach during that time." Renault's apology also included an o er to pay the costs of the FIA's investigation, and an o er to donate an undisclosed sum of money to help the FIA's safety projects. These o ers were both accepted. Pat Symonds was handed a ve year ban from all FIA motorsport competitions, a punishment which the World Motorsport Council admitted had been tempered by Symonds' admission of guilt and compliance with FIA investigators. By far the harshest punishment of all was saved for Flavio Briatore, for what the WMSC said was not only "the severity of the breach in which Mr. Briatore was complicit but also to his actions in continuing to deny his participation in the breach despite all the evidence." The Italian was told that "for an unlimited period, the FIA does not intend to sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any Team or other entity engaging Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever. It also hereby instructs all o cials present at FIA-sanctioned events not to permit Mr. Briatore access to any areas under the FIA's jurisdiction. Furthermore, it does not intend to renew any Superlicence granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Mr. Briatore." Briatore has thus been handed what amounts to a lifetime ban from any association with motorsport. He may also be forced out of his co-ownership of British football club QPR. A spokesperson for the Football League con rmed that "The Football League chairman, Lord Mawhinney, has today written to the FIA to request further details of its decision. Thereafter, the League will consider its position on the matter." Briatore gets life, Symonds 5 years Renault gets off relatively lightly THE decision of the World Motor Sport Council in handing the Renault F1 Team a two year suspended ban from Formula 1 is likely to cause as much controversy as the original scandal which created the punishment. Quite simply, the feeling is that Renault has been let o incredibly light. McLaren, for its part in the 2007 spying scandal, was handed a similar suspended ban but also had to plump up the $100 million ne the FIA managed to concoct. Outside the FIA's Paris o ces yesterday, Max Mosley told waiting reporters that the Renault punishment was the harshest the body could hand down to a team. Try telling that to Ron Dennis. When we read the statement from the FIA outlining the reasons behind the Renault penalty, there's a surprising opinion WILL BUXTON GPWeek Editor NEWS UPDATE