Renault face hearing to answer race-fixing claim

Renault have been summoned by Formula One's governing body to a hearing into allegations that the team deliberately caused a crash to win a race last season.

The FIA said yesterday that the French team had been called to appear before the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on 21 September.

The French team are accused of ordering former driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash during last year's Singapore Grand Prix in order to deploy the safety car, which aided team-mate Fernando Alonso. The Spanish driver went on to win the race.

Renault could be fined, banned or even excluded from the world championship if found guilty. FIA started the investigation after the claim was made by Brazilian television station Globo during Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone said earlier this week that both Renault and Piquet would be in serious trouble if the investigation uncovered any type of race-fixing activity.

Piquet crashed heavily on the 13th lap in Singapore, 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.

Piquet said at the time that his crash was a simple mistake. He was fired by Renault last month after one-and-a-half seasons with the team. The Brazilian driver complained about unequal treatment by team principal Flavio Briatore compared with his two-time world champion team-mate.