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Motor Racing

Motorsport legend Nelson Piquet and son Nelsinho accept damages from F1 team

Motorsport legend Nelson Piquet and his racing driver son Nelsinho today accepted substantial undisclosed libel damages from the Renault Formula One Team.

The pair had brought proceedings in London's High Court against Renault F1 Team Limited over a September 2009 press release.

Their counsel, David Sherborne, told Mr Justice Eady that it suggested that "Nelson Piquet Junior and his father had lied by making false allegations that he and members of the team had caused a deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix to benefit the Team's other driver."

He added that the press release came at a time when, as the defendant knew, the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) was investigating the circumstances of the crash.

"The defendant's press release also suggested that the claimants had not only lied in making these allegations but that they had deliberately invented them in order to blackmail the defendant into allowing Mr Piquet Junior to drive for the Team for the remainder of the 2009 season, and they were therefore guilty of a serious criminal offence."

Mr Sherborne said the defendant fully accepted - as it did before the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) of the FIA and as found by the WMSC in its decision of September 21 2009 - that the allegations made by Nelson Piquet Junior were not false.

"Renault F1 Team also accepts that Mr Piquet Junior and his father did not invent these allegations in order to blackmail the team."

Counsel said that, as a result, the serious allegations in the press release were wholly untrue and unfounded, and the defendant now withdrew them unreservedly.

"The defendant is here through its lawyer in order to apologise to the claimants unreservedly for this regrettable publication.

"As a mark of its apology and regret, the defendant has agreed to pay the claimants substantial damages and costs, as well as not to repeat these allegations at any time in the future."

He added that it was an unfortunate but not surprising consequence of the sensational nature of the allegations that they were widely republished throughout the press.

"It is hoped that through the making of this statement, the defendant's apology and unequivocal withdrawal of these allegations will also be picked up and repeated throughout the media.

"In the circumstances, having achieved everything they set out to achieve through the commencement of legal proceedings, the claimants are now prepared to let the matter rest."

Advocate Amber Melville-Brown confirmed that Renault F1 Team Limited fully accepted that the suggestion that the claimants had lied by making false allegations was wholly untrue, and apologised unreservedly for the hurt and distress caused.

Neither father nor son were in court.