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Renault faces FIA probe for race fixing

NEWS STORY
30/08/2009

The FIA has confirmed that the Renault F1 team is to be investigated following claims that it deliberately fixed the result of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The investigation follows claims made by Brazilian TV station Globo that Nelson Piquet was ordered to crash during the inaugural event.

It will be remembered that Piquet's crash, which resulted in the deployment of the Safety Car, came moments after Fernando Alonso had pitted, a move which turned the race on its head and effectively allowed the Spaniard to claim a surprise victory.

In the wake of the event there was speculation that the French team might have ordered Piquet to crash but much of this was mischief making rather than a serious suggestion that the French team had fixed the race.

Globo has not said what it is basing its claims on, but obviously many will point to Nelson Piquet's acrimonious departure from Renault, a move which has already seen the Brazilian launch a stinging attack on team boss Flavio Briatore.

Tonight, the FIA admitted that it is to investigate the claim, an spokesperson saying: "The FIA can confirm an investigation is under way regarding alleged incidents at a previous Formula One world championship event."

In recent years Renault has enjoyed more than its fair share of controversy, what with the row over its damper system and the subsequent investigation following claims by McLaren that the French team had what was claimed to be "the entire technical blueprint of McLaren's 2006 and 2007 cars".

Although the World Motor Sport Council subsequently found that the Enstone based outfit had breached of Article 151(c) of the International Sporting Code, no penalty was imposed due to the lack of evidence that the championship had been affected.

This year, the team faced being banned for the European Grand Prix in Valencia - Fernando Alonso's home race - when Race Stewards in Hungary claimed the French outfit had released the Spaniard following his pit stop knowing that a wheel had been incorrectly fitted.

Whether there is any truth in this latest claim remains to be seen, however, at a time when the future of the French team is said to be in doubt, any further controversy could be enough to cause Renault to pull the plug on its F1 operation.

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