Media says Renault admit to race-fixing
(GMM) The media read between the lines of Renault's short media statement issued on Wednesday.
Announcing that the bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds "have left the team", Renault said it "will not dispute" allegations they conspired with Nelson Piquet to rig the outcome of the 2008 Singapore grand prix by faking an accident.
The German press agency DPA said the team had "effectively admitted to race-fixing" ahead of the September 21 hearing of the World Motor Sport Council.
There, in Paris, the Council has the power to impose a range of penalties, including the team's lifetime disqualification.
"Renault will almost certainly plead for clemency ... as they will claim the actions of two men should not affect the employment of nearly 700 other staff within the team," said the Daily Telegraph.
The Times of London agreed: "(The) governing body is likely to accept that, by admitting its guilt and by removing the conspirators, Renault has gone a long way to clearing this matter up."
The Telegraph said it "unclear whether the pair have fallen on their swords or been pushed" by the French carmaker parent, Renault SA.
Ed Gorman, writing for The Times, made the same conclusion about Renault's guilt, explaining that Wednesday's events had turned "one of the worst examples of pre-meditated cheating in the history of professional sport ... from ... lurid allegations to fact".
Even the wire services made no bones about interpreting Renault's statement. Reuters said "Renault admit race-fixing charge", AFP said the team "partly admit some role in the controversy", while PA said Briatore and Symonds have "fallen on their sword".
There are also other ramifications to consider, such as Briatore's co-ownership with Bernie Ecclestone of the London football club Queens Park Rangers, and - depending on the carmaker's reaction or the WMSC sanction - Renault's significant role in GP2 and other motor racing categories.
Former team boss and owner Eddie Jordan told the BBC: "Will the FA (Football Association) allow him (Briatore) to continue to run a club?"
"As a normal person on the street I think this is a clear-cut admission and I am surprised," he added, explaining that after decades in motor racing, he "can't comprehend" ordering a driver to crash.