Piquets accused of blackmail
Renault have launched criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet junior and Nelson Piquet senior for making false allegations and blackmail in relation to claims that the team conspired to fix the outcome of the 2008 Singapore GP.
Renault face an investigation by the International Motoring Federation (FIA) into race-fixing allegations and has been called to appear before the FIA's International Motor Sport Council in Paris on September 21.
These allegations claim that Piquet junior was asked to crash his car deliberately into a wall during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix and so facilitate a victory for his teammate Spaniard Fernando Alonso. In the race, Piquet crashed and Alonso went on to win.
Until Friday, following widespread overnight publication of what was reported to be a leaked copy of Piquet junior's statement to the FIA investigators, Renault and Briatore had declined to make any comment.
On Friday morning, however, Briatore denied all the accusations against him -- notably conspiring with his team management and Piquet junior to cause a deliberate accident -- and said that they were "outrageous lies".
In their statement, Renault said: "The FIA has announced that it is to hold an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council ('WMSC') on 21 September 2009.
"The ING Renault F1 Team is to attend that meeting and answer allegations that members of the team conspired with Nelson Piquet Jnr to cause a deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore GP, so that Fernando Alonso might benefit from the resulting safety car.
"The ING Renault F1 Team had not commented publicly during the FIA's initial investigation into this matter.
"However, today the ING Renault F1 Team and its Managing Director Flavio Briatore personally, wish to state that they have commenced criminal proceedings against Nelson Piquet Junior and Nelson Piquet Senior in France concerning the making of false allegations and a related attempt to blackmail the team into allowing Mr Piquet Jnr to drive for the remainder of the 2009 season.
"The matter will also be referred to the Police in the UK."
Renault's appearance in Paris later this month will not be the first for Briatore who was associated with various controversies during the 1990s when German Michael Schumacher drove for the team, then owned and named Benetton.
If the charges against Renault are proved, the team could face expulsion from the sport.
Piquet is reported to have claimed that he was asked to crash deliberately and these claims, as presented in a document that appeared to have been leaked on Thursday, caused uproar at Monza on the eve of this weekend's Italian Grand Prix.
A spokesman for the FIA described the leak as "a very serious matter" and said the sport's ruling body will investigate the entire affair thoroughly.
"Members of the World Council must be able to consider the evidence in the round and speak to those involved and then take an objective decision -- not one based on hearsay or leaks," the FIA spokesman added, according to a report in the Daily Mirror, a newspaper that has carried the story consistently for several days.