Renault split with team principal Flavio Briatore on Wednesday and said it would not contest a charge that Nelson Piquet Jr. was ordered to crash during a Formula One race.
Renault, however, still must attend a World Motor Sport Council hearing on Monday in Paris to discover its punishment for the crash that helped Fernando Alonso win last year’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Renault could be thrown out of F1 because of the incident, but the dual departure of Briatore and engineering executive director Pat Symonds appears to be a move aimed at reducing the expected penalty.
“The ING Renault F1 team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix,” the team said in a statement. “It also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore, and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team.”
Piquet Jr., who was fired by Renault last month, crashed on the 13th lap of last year’s race and Alonso’s gamble of running a short 12-lap strategy before pitting paid off. The Spanish driver secured an unlikely victory as other cars came in to refuel while Alonso had enough fuel to move ahead of the field.
Governing body FIA began investigating last month, and offered Piquet Jr. immunity against prosecution in return for his testimony. Data showed Piquet Jr. accelerating into the crash, rather than braking as a driver would ordinarily do.
Last week, Briatore denied any wrongdoing and started legal proceedings in France against Piquet Jr. and his father, three-time world champion Nelson Piquet, for making false allegations and attempted blackmail.
Briatore, a 58-year-old Italian, started out at the Benetton F1 team in 1988, overseeing Michael Schumacher’s world title triumphs in 1994 and 1995 as team principal. He left Benetton in 1997 but helped Renault buy the team in 2000 and he was appointed managing director.
In 2005 and ‘06, Briatore helped the French manufacturer and Alonso become world champions.