Backers pull the plug on Renault


SINGAPORE, September 24- Disgraced Formula One giants Renault suffered another devastating blow on Thursday when the team's main sponsors severed their contract with immediate effect in another twist to the Singapore GP race-fix scandal.

RENAULT_ING_583601527.jpgDutch banking group ING said that their three-year deal will be terminated after Renault were handed a two-year suspended ban following former driver Nelson Piquet’s claims that he had been ordered to deliberately crash at the 2008 Singapore race.

Former team principal Flavio Briatore, who quit the team in the aftermath of the crisis, was also handed a lifetime ban when the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council met in Paris on Monday.

"ING announced today (Thursday) that 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 Formula 1 with immediate effect," said an ING statement.

"ING is deeply disappointed at this turn of events, especially in the context of an otherwise successful sponsorship.

"As announced on 16 February of this year, ING decided not to renew the three year sponsorship (2007-2009) contract with Renault F1 and to end its presence in Formula 1 after the 2009 season."

Fellow sponsor Mutua Madrilena also announced they were ending their agreement with Renault, blaming the team’s "substantial breach" of the sport’s regulations.

Like ING, the Spanish company will remove its name and logos from the cars.

Meanwhile, Renault attempted to start drawing a line under the cheating affair by announcing they would withdraw their threat of legal action against Piquet and the driver’s father Nelson Piquet senior, a former world champion.

Briatore had launched legal proceedings against the Piquets accusing them of blackmail.