He is most famous for being the original 'Stig' from cult BBC motoring show Top Gear and for failing to qualify for any of the grands prix into which he was entered in Formula 1 with the abject Andrea Moda outfit in 1992 - and now Perry McCarthy has been sharing his typically insouciant views on 'Singapore-gate' with Crash.net Radio.

Should it be found guilty of the charge of race-fixing of which it stands accused, Renault will learn its fate in front of the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) today - after Nelsinho Piquet alleged that the Enstone-based outfit's former managing director Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds instructed him to deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, thereby enabling team-mate Fernando Alonso to fortuitously leapfrog the opposition and win the top flight's inaugural night race from a disadvantaged grid slot.

Both Briatore and Symonds have since left the team in disgrace, and for Renault the options available to the WMSC in the event of a 'guilty' verdict stretch as far as outright exclusion from the sport. McCarthy confesses that even in the wake of all the damaging controversies to affect F1 of late - from the espionage row to Max Mosley's tabloid sex ?xpos?, Lewis Hamilton lying to race stewards in Melbourne and the bitter FIA/FOTA war that very nearly led to a permanent schism - he has never come across anything quite like this before.

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"I'm astounded, to be quite honest," he revealed. "I hate to see this kind of thing happen to Formula 1; there's been too much happening to grand prix racing recently. I think people are losing faith in the sport. We've seen a whole bunch of things happen, and unfortunately this is the stuff that keeps grabbing the headlines.

"We really want to see the races speaking for themselves. Force India have been fantastic recently being at the front, it's been a topsy-turvy season and we never know who's really going to be where - that's really exciting, and the racing has been great. There are a lot of great things about Formula 1 presently, but this is detracting from it - and what you don't want to be doing is boring the people that follow it."

McCarthy was also forthright about what action the WMSC should take regarding Piquet, Briatore and Symonds and Renault itself, urging that in the wake of Honda and BMW's departure over the last ten months and dwindling support from the manufacturers, F1 simply cannot afford to let Renault head for the exit door too.

"If heads are going to roll, then I don't think Nelsinho should get away with this as well," the 48-year-old underlined. "I think he should be banned for his participation in this. If one is told to do something, you've got the choice whether to say yes or no. I never needed to be told to crash - I was pretty capable of doing it on my own!

"I personally don't think he really showed a lot of character, and then especially on top of that to now start talking about it when it suits. It doesn't make sense. I guess they thought it was safe because it was at that particular part of the street circuit, but that was a big crash. He says he was told to crash, and if that was correct then I must say that the way he did it was the best bit of driving I've seen Piquet do!

"Is Piquet finished as an F1 driver? I never knew he actually started. I know my career wasn't exactly glittering, but I'm sorry, I never really rated the boy that much, so good luck to him in whatever he wants to do. I hope he's not back in Formula 1.

"The departure [of Briatore and Symonds] does surprise me, because my understanding was that the action was against the Renault team, so obviously there's something going on that I don't know about, but that's nothing unusual! There's a lot going on at all times that none of us know about. It will come out in the wash shortly, I guess. Flavio is a fantastic character and Pat's a really good guy and highly intelligent. I just wish it hadn't happened, full-stop. I'd like to see the guys in the sport, but not making any more of those decisions.

"If one's talking about penalties being dished out for Renault, how much do you want to dish out, because they'll say 'bye-bye', I'm pretty sure about that. If there's consistency, this is every bit as bad as the alleged 'McLaren-gate' stuff with the plans, but if they try and hand out a $100 million fine, I wonder if Renault would choose to stay in the sport.

"People are having a bad time at the moment and we've lost Honda and BMW recently - we don't want to see any more major manufacturers pulling out. I really don't know. They've got to get their act sorted out, but if they hand out anything less, then it really makes a mockery of what they did to McLaren."