The Renault Formula One team have commenced legal proceedings against former driver Nelson Piquet Junior over allegations made by the Brazilian that he was asked by the team to deliberately crash his car in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.
It has been claimed that Renault boss, Flavio Briatore, in order to maximize the chances of Fernando Alonso winning the 2008 race, planned the crash of teammate Piquet Jr. Renault have hit back against the allegations concerning the event made by Piquet Jr in an official statement on their Web site. “Managing Director Flavio Briatore personally wish[es] to state criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet Junior and Nelson Piquet Senior [have commenced] in France concerning the making of false allegations,” the statement read. The statement added the three-times former world champion and his son had also attempted to “blackmail the team” into allowing Piquet Jr to continue to drive until the end of the 2009 season. Renault, who dismissed Piquet Jr as their driver in August, confirmed they have referred the matter to the British police. The French car constructor face being thrown out of Formula One if the allegations are proved by an investigation being conducted by the governing body of world motorsport, the FIA. The team will go before the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council in Paris on September 21 to hear the findings of the probe.
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Double world champion Alonso won the race — the first for Renault in two years — despite starting from 15th on the grid. Intriguingly, Renault ran a light fuel load on Alonso’s car — thereby increasing the driver’s speed. Just two laps after Alonso came in early to take on more fuel, Piquet’s crash forced the deployment of the safety car and the subsequent pit stop of nearly all other drivers, an action that promoted Alonso to fifth from where he went onto to secure victory. Piquet attributed the crash to a simple error at the time. Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone recently warned “there is going to be a lot of trouble” if the allegations are found to be true. The FIA proved with the spygate saga only circumstantial evidence is required for them to impose strict penalties. On that occasion they fined McLaren $80 million for breaching the same article that is now now faced by Renault.