Briatore, Symonds step down from Renault
There’s an extraordinary story breaking just now, with Formula One team Renault releasing a statement saying they will not contest the charge that last year’s Singapore Grand prix was fixed.
Renault also announced that team boss Flavio Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds have left the team.
Briatore and Symonds were both due to appear before the governing International Automobile Federation to answer charges that they ordered Brazilian Nelson Piquet to crash in Singapore a year ago to help Spanish team mate Fernando Alonso win.
If found guilty, the team could be kicked out of the championship.
Piquet, 24, was dropped by Renault in August and has testified to the FIA that he was told when and where to crash during the sport’s first night race in Singapore.
Renault and Briatore had in turn accused the Brazilian and his father, a triple world champion and namesake, of false allegations and attempted blackmail.
Italian Briatore led the team to two Formula One constructors’ and drivers’ championships with Alonso in 2005 and 2006 after also winning titles with Benetton and Michael Schumacher in 1994 and 1995.
A business partner of Formula One’s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, with the two co-owning English soccer club Queens Park Rangers, Briatore was also a leading figure in the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA).
PHOTO: Renault Formula One team principal Flavio Briatore walks in the pits during the qualifying session for the Italian F1 Grand Prix in Monza September 12, 2009. The Italian F1 Grand Prix will take place on September 13. REUTERS/Luca Bruno/Pool