F1 awaits Renault's race-fixing verdict

Formula 1's attention will be focused on events in Paris today, with the FIA's World Motor Sport Council due to make a decision on race-fixing claims against Renault that will affect both the future of the team and grand prix racing itself for years to come

F1 awaits Renault's race-fixing verdict

Renault is to answer charges that it deliberately caused an accident in last year's Singapore Grand Prix to bring out a safety car that would help Fernando Alonso win.

The French car manufacturer has announced that it will not contest the charges, having seen the men involved in the alleged plot - team principal Flavio Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds - leave the outfit last week.

The decision to not contest the charges by Renault makes it likely that the car maker will approach today's hearing at the FIA pleading for leniency in any punishment - with the worst possible outcome a total exclusion from the world championship.

However, there has been fresh intrigue over the weekend about what will take place, with reports in Gazzetta dello Sport suggesting that Briatore and driver Fernando Alonso have been summoned to appear. Neither the FIA nor Renault has yet confirmed this.

It could be that the FIA wants to get to the bottom of exactly who knew about the alleged race-fixing plans - or whether what took place in Singapore was a one-off event or part of wider activities that need investigation.

Which members of the Renault team will be present at the hearing has not been confirmed either, but there are suggestions that team president Bernard Rey, and head of communications Jean Francois Caubet will be part of a delegation that is joined by legal representatives.

It is highly likely that talks have taken place between Renault representatives and the FIA in recent days ahead of the hearing to work out which course of action would be best to minimise the chances of a severe penalty.

The fact that Briatore and Symonds have left may be part of such a process the team has been going through to show that it is not simply denying what took place and instead has taken action to show it accepts what took place was wrong.

Although total exclusion from the world championship is a possibility, it is far more likely that the team will either be excluded from last year's points standings, plus perhaps face a major sanction of many millions of pounds.

The FIA may also recommend that Briatore and Symonds not be employed in international motorsport for a lengthy period of time if they are found guilty of involvement in the race-fix plot.

Interest in the case stretches beyond just Renault, however, with many drivers and teams also having their futures depending on what happens to the French car manufacturer - and it is possible that even if the team is not excluded from F1 it could still choose to quit in light of the bad press surrounding the case.

Williams has been hoping to switch to Renault power next year, and could face being forced to rethink its engine plans if the French car maker is forced out of F1.

At Red Bull Racing, if Renault does not supply engines in 2010 it could leave the team with an anxious few weeks as it has no fall back option if its plans to switch to Mercedes-Benz cannot be seen through.

The driver market too has been put on hold because of the Renault events - with the futures of Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica all hanging on what happens to the Enstone-based team.

Although Alonso is still favourite to join Ferrari in 2010, if there is no space for him at the Maranello-based team then Renault was his obvious fallback option.

Raikkonen is understood to have been considering an option to join Renault as Alonso's replacement if the Spaniard takes his place at Ferrari. The Finn's plans are obviously awaiting news of the FIA case - as he also ponders options he has at McLaren and Brawn GP.

Kubica is also believed to have an outline agreement with Renault already in place, but he may well believe his future is best placed taking an option he has at Williams if the outcome of today is too negative.

AUTOSPORT will keep you fully up-to-date with all the events from the FIA hearing today.

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