Renault escaped severe punishment for ordering former driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to deliberately crash, receiving only a suspended two-year ban from Formula One’s governing body.

Flavio Briatore, who quit as team principal last week, was banned indefinitely from any F1 activities by the World Motor Sport Council. Engineering executive director Pat Symonds, who also left the French team last week, was banned for five years.

FIA described the scandal as being of “unparalleled severity,” but the departure of Renault’s top two men meant the team avoided being thrown out of F1 or handed a heavy fine.

“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,” FIA said. “The World Motor Sport Council considers that offences of this severity merit permanent disqualification from the FIA Formula One World Championship.

“However, having regard to the points in mitigation mentioned above and in particular the steps taken by Renault F1 to identify and address the failings within its team and condemn the actions of the individuals involved, the WMSC has decided to suspend Renault F1’s disqualification until the end of the 2011 season.”

Renault team president Bernard Rey gave no response to a question about whether Renault would stay in the sport next season.

“We apologised in front of the World Motor Sport Council,” Rey said. “We took full responsibility and we hope that we will enjoy better days in the future.”

Piquet was ordered to crash at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix to help teammate Fernando Alonso win. Alonso, who attended the hearing in Paris, was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Piquet hits out at Briatore

Nelson Piquet Jr. launched a scathing attack on Flavio Briatore after the former Renault team principal was permanently banned from Formula One for ordering the Brazilian driver to crash in a race.

“I was simply being used by him then to be discarded and left to ridicule,” Piquet said in a statement. “I am so sorry to those who work in Formula One (including the many good people at Renault) the fans and the governing body.

“I do not expect this to be forgiven or forgotten but at least now people can draw their conclusions based upon what really happened.”

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