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Motor Racing

Renault may leave F1 over probe fears Ecclestone

Allegations about race-fixing at last year's Singapore Grand Prix could prompt Renault to walk away from Formula One, the sport's commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned today.

"This is not the sort of thing we need at the moment," the 78-year-old Briton told the Times newspaper.

"I think it will p*** off Renault for a start. Them leaving the sport is a danger, obviously. I mean, I hope that it isn't like that, but it's the sort of thing that might happen."

Honda quit Formula One in December due to the global financial crisis while BMW have announced they are leaving at the end of the season.

The governing International Automobile Federation said at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday that they were investigating "alleged incidents" at an unnamed previous race.

The FIA gave no details about the incidents and did not say who had made the allegations.

However media reports originating in Brazil said the focus was on the sport's first night race staged in Singapore last September.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso won that race, his first in more than a year and from 15th place on the starting grid, after Brazilian team mate Nelson Piquet crashed and brought out the safety car.

Alonso had just refuelled at that point, a lucky break for the Spaniard who was able to come through and lead to the finish.

Renault, whose team boss Flavio Briatore co-owns English soccer club Queen's Park Rangers with Ecclestone, have made no comment on allegations that Piquet might have crashed deliberately to help his team mate.

"All I know is that Flavio is insisting that he knows nothing about it," Ecclestone told the Times, adding that the Italian was "well and truly upset".

"I think the FIA are looking into everything. They are trying to find out the reality. I suppose they would be upset if they found out that what people are assuming is true, is in fact true," he added.

"The only way you could say there is a case to answer is if there is any real evidence."

Alonso has not commented on the reports and neither has Piquet, whose father and namesake was a triple champion and won the title for Ecclestone's Brabham team in 1981 and 1983.

Renault replaced Piquet junior in August after he failed to score a point in 10 races, a parting that triggered an angry reaction from the driver who accused Briatore of being his "executioner".

"If it's just young Piquet saying this because he wants to say it, that's one thing. If, on the other hand, there's some reality to it, then it's all different," said Ecclestone.

"It will be difficult to prove. If there is something on the radio that said, `Er, Nelson, you'd better crash now,' then what the hell can they (Renault) do? It depends exactly what comes out of the investigation."