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Renault handed two-year suspended ban

india Updated: Sep 22, 2009 02:32 IST

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The Renault Formula One team were on Monday handed a suspended ban from the sport by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) for ordering Nelson Piquet junior to crash in the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The FIA have told the French team that the threat of a permanent ban from the sport will hang over them until the end of the 2011 season and will only be activated during that time if they are found guilty of a similar charge.

The verdict was handed down by the sport’s governing body, the International Automobile Federation (FIA), after a one-and-a half-hour hearing at their Paris headquarters on Monday.

Renault were in the dock for conspiring with Piquet junior to cause a deliberate crash to help the Brazilian’s teammate, Fernando Alonso, win the race.

The team which won two drivers’ titles in the 1990s were facing permanent exclusion from the sport over ‘crashgate’ as the affair became known but escaped that ultimate sanction after owning up to the conspiracy and with the departure from the team of Piquet, team boss Flavio Briatore and chief engineer Pat Symonds.

Briatore himself was handed an “unlimited” ban from the sport while Symonds was suspended for five years.

Crashlanding: Renault suspended
Renault suspended
(From left): Head of Renault F1 team Bernard Rey, International Motoring Federation chief Max Mosley, and Formula One commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone leave the headquarters of the FIA in Paris. See more pics
Explaining its decision not to kick Renault out of the sport for life the FIA said in a statement: "The council considers Renault F1’s breaches relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity.

“They not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself.

“The WMSC considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship.

“However, 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 disqualification until the end of the 2011 season.”

The affair dates back almost a year to the Singapore Grand Prix of September 28 when Piquet and Alonso were the two Renault drivers.

Alonso began the race in 15th position, but after making a very early pit stop to refuel, Piquet crashed into a wall, prompting the deployment of the safety car.

As Alonso’s rivals then gradually disappeared into the pits to refuel, the Spaniard catapulted himself up into the virtual lead to go on and win his first race in a year.

Piquet subsequently fell out with Briatore and was dismissed from the team.

Crashed Renault car
Track marshals recover the crashed Renault car of Nelson Piquet during the Singapore F1 Grand Prix in this September 28, 2008 file photo.