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The Circuit

Renault escapes with suspended ban after race-fixing hearing

  • Story Highlights
  • Renault given suspended 2-year ban in 2008 Singapore Grand Prix race-fixing saga
  • Ex-team boss Flavio Briatore banned indefinitely from F1
  • Former engineering supremo Pat Symonds suspended for five years
  • Both men accused of ordering driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to crash deliberately
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(CNN) -- Renault's Formula One team was handed a two-year suspended ban by the sport's governing body Monday after a hearing into their part in fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Flavio Briatore

Nelson Piquet Jr. during practice for the Singapore Grand Prix in September last year

The 26-strong World Motor Sport Council of the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), met for 90 minutes to discuss allegations by former Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr. that he was ordered to crash deliberately during last year's race.

As a result, former team boss Flavio Briatore was banned from FIA-sanctioned events for an unlimited period, while ex-engineering director Pat Symonds was excluded from the sport for five years.

Both men quit the team last week after Renault decided against contesting the allegations.

A statement on the FIA Web site said: "The World Motor Sport Council considers Renault F1's breaches relating to the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to be of unparalleled severity.

"Renault F1's breaches not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also endangered the lives of spectators, officials, other competitors and Nelson Piquet Jr. himself."Video Watch analyst of the ruling »

Renault, one of the strongest teams in Formula One, could have faced expulsion from the sport, but the council revealed it took into account Renault's willingness to "address the failings within its team and condemn the actions of the individuals involved."

The individuals in question were identified by Renault at the hearing as Briatore and Symonds.

Blog: Renault punishment not enough

Renault said in a statement releaded after the verdict that they full accepted the decision of the council and had not defended the charges.

"We apologize unreservedly to the F1 community in relation to this unacceptable behaviour.

"We sincerely hope that we can soon put this matter behind us and focus constructively on the future. We will issue further information in the next few days."

Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone had previously hinted that the resignations might be enough to avoid the ultimate sanction of expulsion.

"I think we need to show balance," said the 78-year-old

"What they did was very serious. There can be no excuse, but they have acted quickly to get rid of the culprits, and that must be borne in mind."

Renault president Bernard Rey gave evidence at the hearing as well as Piquet Jr.

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who went on to win the Singapore Grand Prix for Renault after the alleged fake crash, also addressed the council.

The saga comes in the wake of last year's "spygate" scandal which saw McLaren fined a record $80 million and a row between leading teams and world governing body FIA (International Automobile Federation) over a budget cap for next season.

The first grand prix held under lights in Singapore last year proved an eventful affair and Alonso won the race -- the first for Renault in two years -- despite starting from 15th on the grid.

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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, but subsequently changed his story after falling out with the French team and being sacked.

All About Fernando AlonsoNelson Piquet Jr.Flavio BriatoreRenault SASingaporeFormula One RacingMotorsports

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