Saturday, September 19, 2009

Long time Renault F1 resigns amid Race Fixing charges by FIA

In a team statement, ING Renault F1 formally announced that the team's principal Flavio Briatore has resigned from the team he had long been associated with running in Formula 1 after an allegation of fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. It has been implied that the ING Renault F1 team instructed driver Nelson Piquet Jr to spin out in order to draw a safety car condition to aid teammate Fernando Alonso in winning the race. With ING Renault F1's executive director of engineering Pat Symonds also parting with the team, him and Briatore are cited as the two who masterminded the incident against Formula 1 and the FIA's strict rules forbidding team orders in effecting the outcome of races.

This event was brought to the forefront September 4th, very shortly following ING Renault F1 driver Nelson Piquet Jr. release from the team after the Belgium Grand Prix. The timing has led some to consider Piquet Jr. whistle blowing to the FIA was spiteful for his parting with the team. In a statement posted on the 11th of September on the ING Renault F1 website, it was alleged that the race fixing scenario could have been created by Piquet as a malicious attempt to defraud his former team. Showing signs of becoming personal, this announcement also expressed that ING Renault F1 and Briatore himself would seek advice on filing criminal charges against Nelson Piquet Jr as well as his father.

A hearing is planned for Monday September 21th in front of the FIA World Motor Sport Council which will certainly be far from forgiving if Briatore and ING Renault F1 are found to be involved in giving team orders. Rules against team orders inside the FIA were created in 1998 after McLaren-Mercedes made a clearly orchestrated swap for the lead.

Known trivially as the biological father of Heidi Klum's first child, Flavio Briatore contributions to Formula 1 racing was as the team director for Benetton (the company which would eventually morph into ING Renault F1) and the fostering of modern F1 legend Michael Schumacher. After leaving Benetton in 1997, Briatore rejoined the factory-supported Benetton-turned Renault F1 team in 2000 and would play an important part in Fernando Alonso's two championships.

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