Symonds accepts blame for Crashgate

SHAMED former Renault engineering chief Pat Symonds says he will always regret his role in the Crashgate scandal, insisting he was blinded by loyalty to the team he helped to establish.<br /><br />Symonds was banned from the sport for five years on Monday after Renault were found guilty of fixing last year&rsquo;s Singapore Grand Prix by asking their then-driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash. As well as rocking F1 in what has already been a hugely turbulent season, the controversy leaves Symonds&rsquo; reputation in tatters, and the episode has left the Englishman sounding a contrite note.<br /><br />&ldquo;I was the one who, when the idea was first suggested to me by Nelson Piquet Jr, should have dismissed it immediately. It is to my eternal regret and shame that I did not do so,&rdquo; he wrote in his submission to governing body the FIA. &ldquo;I can only say that I did it out of a misguided devotion to my team and not for any personal gain whatsoever. <br /><br />&ldquo;In a single action I have destroyed the high reputation I have built up during a 33-year career in motor sport. I am a competitive person who worked in a high pressure environment. This can, at times, cloud one&rsquo;s judgement. On that night in Singapore last year I made a mistake the consequences of which I could never have imagined at the time.&rdquo; Renault yesterday named technical director Bob Bell as acting team principal, following the departure of Flavio Briatore, the most high-profile victim of Crashgate.<br /><br />Ferrari, meanwhile, have admitted former world champion Kimi Raikkonen could be replaced by Fernando Alonso next season.<br /><br />Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said: &ldquo;We are mulling the best choice but we still have time. We will decide in a few weeks.&rdquo;