Flavio Briatore said he quit as Renault's leader to "save the team" as it deals with a scandal involving a crash during a race last year. The team, however, could still be thrown out of Formula One.

Briatore and engineering executive director Pat Symonds left the team Wednesday in a move that appeared aimed at reducing the penalty Renault faces at a World Motor Sport Council hearing Monday.

"I was just trying to save the team," Briatore said in Thursday editions of the Daily Mirror. "It's my duty. That's the reason I've finished."

The hearing in Paris will deal with a crash that helped Nelson Piquet Jr.'s teammate, Fernando Alonso, win last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

Piquet Jr., who has since left the team, has said he was ordered to crash. The safety car entering the race on the 13th lap helped Alonso, who had just made a pit stop and had a full fuel tank, win the race.

The resignation of Briatore, the 58-year-old team principal, and Symonds means they won't have to attend the hearing.

Meanwhile, former world champions Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill say F1 needs to clean up its image after a series of scandals.

Stewart, a three-time champion, said there was something fundamentally wrong at the heart of Formula One. Hill, who won the title in 1996, told BBC Radio that F1 needs to take a long look at itself.

"There are clearly a lot of issues, and have been in the past, and it has a lot of soul searching to do," said Hill, whose father, Graham Hill, also won the world title. "It's a huge sport, there's a huge amount of interest, and sometimes controversies actually add to the interest. But you want it to be for the right reasons."

Hill said he had never heard of a driver deliberately crashing.

"I think there have been suggestions in the past that, if one driver from one team were to collide with another driver of another team, that might enhance the first team's chances of success," Hill said. "But to actually cause an accident. We're not talking about a spin here. We're talking about quite a large accident, which is quite extreme. It would go against every instinct you would expect a driver to have."