Renault boss Flavio Briatore says that the race-fix claims being aimed at him and his outfit are "outrageous lies," after warning Nelson Piquet Sr. that he may take legal action against him over the matter.
Ahead of the FIA's World Motor Sport Council meeting in Paris on September 21, where Renault must answer claims that it deliberately caused a crash to help Fernando Alonso win, details of the case have been emerging.
AUTOSPORT reports that part of the evidence that has been submitted to the FIA ahead of the hearing is a letter that Briatore sent to Piquet Sr. on July 28 – two days after Max Mosley had been informed of the Singapore events but two days prior to Piquet Jr. making his official testimony to the governing body.
In the letter, Briatore rigorously denies any suggestion that Piquet was asked to crash on purpose – and suggests that the matter has been brought to light purely to blackmail him into renewing the Brazilian's driver's contract.
Briatore says he was "extremely shocked" to learn from Bernie Ecclestone and other Renault representatives that Piquet Sr. was going to reveal that his son had been asked to cause a crash.
"I was also extremely shocked to learn that you were threatening to make this contention before the FIA as a mean of pressure to obtain from Renault, against your silence, a continuation of the Driving Agreement relating to Nelsinho after the last Hungarian Grand Prix notwithstanding the option of termination set forth in favor [sic] of the team that was agreed upon between us at the outset of the Nurburgring Race."
Briatore added: "You can easily imagine that I can certainly not accept your contention that the Renault Team, myself, and your son entered into some sort of conspiracy that would not only have an impact on the result of the competition, but actually, that may put at risk the safety of all the contenders in the Grand Prix just to have Fernando Alonso obtaining a racing advantage.
"I am outraged that you could think that I myself, not mentioning your son and the other people in the Renault's Team, could have any part in such a strategy that may constitute a criminal offense.
"Secondly, I am forced to consider that your threat constitutes without doubt a blatant attempt of exerting blackmail against Renault F1 and myself to extort an illegitimate advantage by way of threats and outrageous lies on the basis of an alleged hear-say."
Briatore makes it clear that he reserves the right to take legal action over the matter if Piquet went public with his claims.
"I would not wish this to escalate and I will put your current attitude on the ground of the disappointment and grief caused by the results obtained so far by Nelsinho in Formula 1.
"Please be advised, however that, should you take any step in relation with your blackmail, or make any declaration in connection thereof, I shall have no choice but to introduce against you, and against Nelsinho as the case may be, any action that way be appropriate before any criminal and civil court having jurisdiction on the ground of defamation, false accusation extortion."
Renault has so far declined to comment about the matter and said it will not make any statement about the situation ahead of the WMSC hearing on September 21.