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Renault F1 sponsor ING terminates £40m contract

LONDON - The Renault Formula 1 team has lost two of its sponsors including ING, which is terminating its £40m a year title sponsorship contract with immediate effect in the wake of the 'Crashgate' scandal.

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The F1 team has also lost the backing of Spanish insurance firm Mutua Madrilena, although it will continue to sponsor Renault's Spanish driver, Fernando Alonso.

ING had planned to pull out at the end of the season but will now leave four races early. The move follows the race-fixing scandal that resulted in a suspended ban for the team.

ING said it was "deeply disappointed" at the turn of events, which has resulted in Renault receiving a two-year suspended ban for ordering one its drivers to crash deliberately in last year's Singapore grand prix.

The Dutch-based financial group, said: "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."

ING was the largest financial contributor on Renault's books, providing more than half their total sponsorship revenues. According to industry monitor Formula Money, ING contributed around £53m to F1 last season, with £40m going to Renault.

Mutua Madrilena said the fallout could affect the "image, reputation and good name" of the team's sponsors.

It said in a statement: "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."

Renault were handed a two-year suspended ban from the sport for their role in fixing last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

The FIA, the sport's governing body, also banned ex-Renault boss Flavio Briatore for life and handed a five-year suspension to former engineering head Pat Symonds for ordering Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr to crash.

This latest development raises the prospect that the team will struggle hard to find a new title sponsor prepared to shell out a large sum of money to be associated with the team's tarnished image.

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