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Sponsors withdraw from Renault after race-fix probe


Two of Renault F1's major sponsors have decided to withdraw their support from the team ahead of schedule following the resolution of the 'race-fixing' scandal that saw team boss Flavio Briatore and director of engineering Pat Symonds forced out of Formula One.

Title sponsor ING and valued Spanish partner Mutua Madrilena both announced their decision on the eve of the Singapore Grand Prix, ironically the scene of the Nelson Piquet Jr crash in 2008 that sparked the situation. ING had been due to end its partnership with the team at the end of the season, as a result of the ongoing tricky financial climate, while Mutua Madrilena's involvement would have been called into question by Fernando Alonso's future plans, which link the Spaniard to Ferrari for 2010.

With Briatore and Symonds both voluntarily walking away from Renault F1 - before both being handed bans from the sport by the FIA World Motor Sport Council at Monday's hearing - the team was given a suspended sentence, with any future transgression leading to its own permanent ban, but will be on the grid in Singapore this weekend, with technical director Bob Bell likely to be at the helm.

"In light of the verdict of the World Motor Sport Council of 21 September 2009 concerning the events that occurred at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, ING will terminate the contract with Renault F1 with immediate effect," a company statement confirmed, "ING is deeply disappointed at this turn of events, especially in the context of an otherwise successful sponsorship."

The Dutch-based company is thought to have provided over 50 per cent of the team's total sponsorship, around $54m a year, and its withdrawal is likely to leave the team in a delicate financial situation. No replacement had been announced for 2010, and the marque's participation in the sport could again be thrown into doubt should funding to prolong the programme not be found.

Mutua Madrilena's decision, announced earlier on Thursday, will only add to the pressure on the Enstone team to shore up its sponsorship for next season. The company is thought to have contributed around $7m a season to the cause.

"Mutua Madrilena believes the conduct of the relevant people in the team was of extraordinary seriousness and not only compromised the integrity of the sport but also put the physical safety of spectators, drivers and circuit personnel at risk," the insurance giant said of the incident which saw Piquet Jr ordered to crash out of the inaugural Singapore event in order to allow team-mate Alonso to benefit from the ensuing safety car period, "This could affect the image, reputation and good name of the team's sponsors."

The Spanish company has said, however, that its decision to quit Renault would not effect its relationship with Alonso, who insists that he knew nothing of the plot - which ultimately allowed him to win the grand prix.



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Fernando Alonso [Pic credit: Renault]
Fernando Alonso - McLaren MCL32
(L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 with Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver and Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team.
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(L to R): Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver; Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1; Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner; Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver, with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
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(L to R): Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team; Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner; Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1, and the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
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(L to R): Andrew Green (GBR) Sahara Force India F1 Team Technical Director; Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1; Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team; Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver; Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Sahara Force India F1 Chief Operating Officer, with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
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(L to R): Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver; Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1; Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team,with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
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(L to R): Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver; Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1; Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team,with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
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(L to R): Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver with Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 and the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
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(L to R): Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver with Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 and the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
22.02.2017.
(L to R): Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1; Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team, with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
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(L to R): Andrew Green (GBR) Sahara Force India F1 Team Technical Director; Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1; Dr. Vijay Mallya (IND) Sahara Force India F1 Team Owner; Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 Team; Alfonso Celis Jr (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 Development Driver; Otmar Szafnauer (USA) Sahara Force India F1 Chief Operating Officer, with the Sahara Force India F1 VJM10.
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(L to R): Bob Bell (GBR) Renault Sport F1 Team Chief Technical Officer with Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director; Jerome Stoll (FRA) Renault Sport F1 President; Thierry Koskas, Renault Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing; and Louise Ekland (GBR).
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Renault Sport Academy Drivers (L to R): Max Fewtrell (GBR); Jack Aitken (GBR); Jarno Opmeer (NLD); Sun Yue Yang (CHN). 
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Sun Yue Yang (CHN) Renault Sport Academy Driver.
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Sergey Sirotkin (RUS) Renault Sport F1 Team Third Driver.
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Jarno Opmeer (NLD) Renault Sport Academy Driver.
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alex - Unregistered

September 25, 2009 9:44 AM

Read the Alonso Q&A from yesterday, he threatens to change the language ofthe interview is anybody carries on asking any questions about his cheating. It is very clear he knew all about it, how else did he go along with the bizarre strategy and fuel loads ? Mutual Madrilena are supporting a cheat but have pulled out of his team, Alonso is still a 2x unpunished cheat.



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