Renault have announced that they have opened legal proceedings against the Piquet family, after their former-driver and his father allegedly attempted to “blackmail” the Enstone-based outfit.
The French manufacturer will face a World Motorsport Council hearing later this month where they will answer charges of race-fixing during last year’s Singapore Grand Prix. It has been been proposed that Renault asked Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash out and allow his team-mate, Fernando Alonso, to gain an advantage.
These allegations were earlier denied by team-boss Flavio Briatore, who claimed that they were nothing more than “outrageous lies”. The Italian also threatened Piquet with legal action, a warning which materialised on Friday within Renault’s first press-release since the enquiry began.
“The FIA has announced that it is to hold an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (‘WMSC’) on 21 September 2009,” read the statement.
“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.”
The statement comes after a week which has seen a significant amount of information about the case leaked to the Formula One world. This has included documents within the WMSC’s dossier on Renault and the full version of one of Nelson Piquet’s statements to the FIA.
As a result, the Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) also released a statement on Friday criticising those who had leaked such information, a factor which has overshadowed the build up to this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix.
“FOTA today express concern at the leakage of information, which may or may not be relevant to the FIA current enquiry into the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.” said Friday’s statement.
“All parties to the dispute should have the right to a fair hearing carried out in private and not in the public arena, which is producing adverse publicity damaging to the corporate image and credibility of Formula 1.
“FOTA believes that differences within the sport should be handled in professional manner and condemns the habit of intentionally releasing confidential documents to influence public opinion. Confidential documents should remain under the control of the competent authority.”
Max Mosley has also expressed his regret over the situation, confirming that a full enquiry will now be held to prevent such a disclosure of information from happening again.
“That is actually very unfortunate because it is just one side of the story.” the FIA President told Autosport on Friday.
“We are quite genuinely curious at to how that happened. Next time, when we send out to 20 or 30 people, we will probably arrange it in such a way that we can tell who is leaking stuff.
“We don’t know how it happened. But none of that means anything. What means something is when we get their defence, which will not be until next week.”