Briatore wins appeal against lifetime ban from motorsport

2008 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The lifetime ban handed to Flavio Briatore by the FIA has been overturned

The lifetime ban handed to Flavio Briatore by the FIA has been overturned

Flavio Briatore has successfully overturned his lifetime ban from motor racing.

The ban, handed down by the FIA after Briatore was found guilty of ordering Nelson Piquet Jnr to crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, was cancelled following Briatore’s appeal to the French Tribunal de Grande Instance.

The FIA has criticised the decision and is considering an appeal.

The FIA had achieved its ban by refusing to sanction events in which Briatore was involved, effectively banning him from motor racing indefinitely. Reuters quotes the judge saying “the sanction was illegal”.

But the Renault team largely escaped punishment by the FIA after Briatore and co-conspirator Pat Symonds left the team. But with Briatore’s ban now removed hardly anyone involved in the Singapore scandal has received a significant penalty.

Nelson Piquet Jnr also went unpunished but does not look like finding another F1 drive. As with him, you have to wonder if anyone in motor racing would now wish to be tainted by association with Briatore.

Briatore had demanded €1m in compensation, but received €15,000. Pat Symonds’ five-year ban was also overturned and he was awarded €5,000.

The decision is a rare defeat for the FIA which has usually triumphed when its verdicts have been challenged by external courts. It has already announced it will appeal against the decision by the court.

The FIA has issued a strong criticism of the decision:

The FIA’s ability to exclude those who intentionally put others’ lives at risk has never before been put into doubt and the FIA is carefully considering its appeal options on this point.

The Court’s decision is not enforceable until the FIA’s appeal options have been exhausted. Until then, the World Motor Sport Council’s decision continues to apply.

In addition, the FIA intends to consider appropriate actions to ensure that no persons who would engage, or who have engaged, in such dangerous activities or acts of intentional cheating will be allowed to participate in Formula One in the future.
FIA statement

Should Briatore’s lifetime ban have been lifted?

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Renault Singapore crash controversy

166 comments on “Briatore wins appeal against lifetime ban from motorsport”

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  1. It will be worth waiting to see the detail of the court’s decision. Was this down to process issues or the proportionality of the punishment or both?

    The terms of the Briatore’s punishment were extremely severe – effectively banning him from participating in any FIA-sponsored form of motorsport for life and forcing him to drop various lucrative business interests (e.g. driver management deals, GP2). Stopping someone from earning their livelihood is a very serious step to take, even if that person is a very rich man who who has other interests to fall back on. There are cases where it’s acceptable, but they tend to be very serious and the procedures surrounding them tend to be fairly complex, with room for appeals, etc.

    In the end, however, it may well all be entirely academic. The damage to Briatore’s reputation has already been done and was largely self-inflicted anyway. The verdict of a French court and 15,000 Euros won’t make it all better.

    1. Stopping someone from earning their livelihood is a very serious step to take, even if that person is a very rich man who who has other interests to fall back on.

      It is not only a very serious step. It is completely beyond the power of the FIA to impose such a sentence. A court of law might have been able to do so but not a sporting body. That is why Briatore has won this case – not because the French judge doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong, but because the FIA did not have the authority to administer such a punishment.

      1. Allen has new interesting post up. Perhaps team heads should have licences and then the FIA would have more control.

      2. I was talking in general terms – even if it’s done by a court of law it’s a very big step to take and usually subject to a complex and lengthy appeals process.

        I wouldn’t go so far as to say a sporting body like the FIA should (whether they could is another matter entirely) never be able to ban someone from participation in that sport for life – but the offence would have to be extremely serious, the evidence clear and the process much more robust than in the Briatore case.

  2. How have the f1fanatics turned into a bunch of softies. It’s not like this man’s income is entirely dependant on motor racing, he took part in one of the worst crimes in f1 which severly tarnished it’s reputation. How is a lifetime ban too severe? What example does this set if the fia can’t even procecute within it’s own sports? Agh so infuriating

    1. How have the f1fanatics turned into a bunch of softies

      That would be because Max wanted it. We as fans must deny max anything he derives pleasure from. This life ban was one of the many things he derived pleasure.

      It would have been more suave if the FIA had banned him for say 249 years or so :)

    2. It’s not that the ban was too severe it’s just that it wasn’t up to the FIA to give it out-the whole thing was a bit of a witch hunt in my view anyway. It had to be overturned because it was found not to be legal. The FIA have spent ages trying to nail Flavio just to have the suspension thrown out becuase it wasn’t legal. It wasn’t about Singapore and hopw punished he should be it was about how the FIA handled it.
      The whole thing is hurting F1’s image. First the scandal happens, then Piquet is given immunity while Flav gets slapped with a massive ban and then the ban is overturned. F1 doesn’t exactly appear stable or fair to casual fans does it? :(

  3. This guy knows nothing about what goes on out on the track. He doesn’t even know if his drivers have wet tyres on when it’s ******* down.

    He knows how to make money out of F1, and that’s what he’s been doing these last couple of decades. He knows how to ensure that one driver receives full attention, while the other pedals the ‘parts bin’ car. You wouldn’t want to be ‘number two driver’ in a Briatore run team, because ‘number two’ means ‘loser’ in Briatore’s language.

  4. Thinking about the return of Briatori may sound insane now, but he´ll be back and with his own team!
    FIA, must understand that Civil and Criminal Courts will always have the last word in this, so applying for a High Instance always compensates!
    Remember that, there are drivers, who didn´t turn back to Briatori and moreover, at least 2 teams on the grid are having financial problems, so Briatori will buy is way back, passing FIA.
    His foolish decision of sending Piquet to crash was stupid, but Piquet is not even a good driver and only thanks to his dad bought a place on the grid.
    Where is Piquet now, if he´s so inocent?

    1. but Piquet is not even a good driver

      Don’t tell me that. Show me one other driver who could purposely crash a F1 car & make it look totally unsuspecting. give the guy some credit hehe.

      This drama wouldn’t have come out if Piquet jr hadn’t been sacked after Hungary.

  5. It is not even as if motor sport is the man’s passion. I also find it a bit off that he gets compensation for effectively bringing the sport into disrepute!

  6. I for one am glad to see Flav back. Much happier than if I saw Piquet back, thats for sure.

  7. Can’t stand Briatore and his long-time cheating, so I was glad when he was banned.

    But I can’t stand the FIA either, so I’m equally glad that they’ve had their authority challenged by a real court (as opposed to the many partisan kangaroo nonsense WMSC hearings we have seen).

    Briatore will never manage another F1 team, and the FIA has no teeth. Excellent!

  8. F1 will never be able to drag itself away from sleaze and corruption. What a stupid decision. To Keith’s casual viewers of F1 (and to a few I’ve discussed this with today who are casual viewers), this will tell them that F1 is still mired in filth.

    What an utter injustice.

  9. Wow this sport has some govering issues.

  10. Go Flava !
    He´ll be back and proving skeptics wrong
    Having won 4 WDC and mentored Shu and Fred, he has the credencials

  11. How long before one of the new teams sign up Pat Symonds then? His ban was also overturned and all that experience is surely not going to go wasted. F1 after all is about winning and how many teams will put their morals before points? And that is also the reason Flavio will be back before long. It won’t matter how utterly wrong what they did was, they’re proven championship winners and that’s what they all want to be.

    1. I wouldn’t mind see Pat back in 2010.

      1. I second that motion, i’d like to see Pat back.

        1. Why is it OK for Pat to be back. I think he has sort of admitted that he was in the know. So he is no less guilty.

          Unless you guys mean you would just like to see him back, not that he is not guilty.

  12. The FIA – Futile, Incompetent, Arrogant.

  13. The FIA must tell everyone the bans on Briatore and Symonds have been lifted

    The decision [of the FIA World Motor Sport Council] is not annulled but declared irregular

    The French court have ruled that the FIA did not have the power to ban not that Briatore is innocent.

    They article also says

    The verdict also suggested there was a conflict of interest in the ban, as former FIA president Max Mosley was already in dispute with Briatore – and he played a part in both the investigation of the matter and the handing down of the penalty.

    The court judgement added: “The decision of the World Council was presided over by the FIA president, who was well known to be in conflict with Briatore, with Mr. Mosley having played a leading role in launching the enquiry and its investigation in violation of the principle of separation of the power of the bodies.

    I think all this means the FIA will have to look at how they handle cases in the future as I am sure some will say that Mosley had a conflict of interests in other cases.

    1. Does this open the Spygates for other decisions perhaps? I doubt Ron and co would go there anyway…

  14. What ever people say i like Falvio .Characters like him are required in F1 without that it would make it dull. Schumi is back and with flav also back.It will be great for F1.Wait for some time and he will head one of the new teams…

    1. Hi all. This is my first post, so please go easy ;-)

      Arun.India – Sorry mate, but that’s complete and utter b*ll*cks! F1 doesn’t need ‘characters’ (and I use the phrase loosely) it’s needs REAL drama on the flipping circuit! Schuey? He’s a serial cheat just like Flav and I for one will always remember his behaviour on the track (and his lack of class off it) rather than his records. Eddie Irvine was a character, Damon Hill was a character – both men spoke their minds and actually had something interesting to say! And going back further, drivers like Keke, Alan Jones, Depaillier – these men were REAL characters.

      Back to the verdict. I agree with Perisoft above. I think a lot of visitors to this site don’t know what F1 was like before technology and (IMHO) the sterilisation of the circuits. Watch F1 reviews or Youtube from races in the 70s/80s and early 90s to see what I mean. Back then, the drivers were true gladiators, risking their lives every time they went out on the track. Qualifying back then was something to be despised as you risked death (or serious injury) for a grid place. Anyone who disagrees with that point would do well to aquaint themsleves with the tragic death of Gilles Villenueve.

      And what’s my point? Back to what Perisoft wrote, BRIATORE ORDERED his driver to risk his own life, the lives of his fellow drivers, the marshalls and (perhaps most importantly) the paying spectators. Yes, F1 is immeasureably safer than in the past, but imagine if one of the Renault’s wheels had become completely detached… or simply talk to John Surtees. Honestly, those of you that don’t see the seriousness of the offense really worry me…

      And finally (this is my like a rather rambling blog than a post!), I have a something of a rhetorical question for those who say that Flav deserves to be bacl because they hate the FIA/hate MM/think the paddock is dull etc. – what are you tuning for? Surely it’s the RACING? If that’s the case, what we need is less downforce on the cars and proper circuits with camber and elevation, not sleaze. If the drama on the track isn’t cutting it for you, why not watch Eastenders instead? There’s plenty of intrigue there…

      1. I think a lot of visitors to this site don’t know what F1 was like before technology and (IMHO) the sterilisation of the circuits. Watch F1 reviews or Youtube from races in the 70s/80s and early 90s to see what I mean. Back then, the drivers were true gladiators, risking their lives every time they went out on the track. Qualifying back then was something to be despised as you risked death (or serious injury) for a grid place.

        Yes the drivers back then were risking their lives. That doesn’t make them “gladiators” – in most cases it made them victims. A lot of teams and drivers in the 70’s and 80’s weren’t actually competent enough to be there – running ancient 2nd hand chassis and putting them in the hands of men who weren’t able to drive them but had the money to buy their way in. Qualifying was to be avoided because it was a mad 10 minute scramble with every driver on the track at the same time. That’s for those that made it through “pre-qualifying” – ie weeding out those that were so slow they were dangerous.

        It was not a golden time, as the tone of your post suggests, it was embarrassing. I remember it well.

        1. Hey there!

          I remember the early 80s and onward well but not so much the 70s (born 70s) ;-) I take your point re. victims to a certain extent and definitely agree that there were many teams on the grid that really shouldn’t have been there. As for the drivers buying their way in, that’s always been the case and still is, unless I’m very much mistaken?

          Pre-qualifying was more prevalent in the late 80s/early 90s as I recall. Funnily enough, at the time I just saw the likes of the Coloni et al as embarrassing – but you’re quite right: had they been on the circuit during the race they really WOULD have been dangerous, given their relative lack of pace. Saying that, back in those days, back markers seemed to ignore the blue flags!

          As for a ‘golden time’, I guess it’s a matter of perspective. As I wrote in my previous post, I want to see RACING (not going around in circles waiting foe the next pit stop) on exciting circuits. Due to a combination of sterile, stop-start circuits and an over reliance on aero grip, I’m rather disenchanted with F1 at the mo’, and bemused by talk of ‘show’ and ‘characters’ and so on. I want SPORT.

          In conclusion, I agree (to a greater or lesser extent) with a lot of what you say, and surely that means that what Flav and Pat santioned was just wrong, wrong, wrong?

          1. No one is saying that what occurred was not wrong on many levels.

            I am just pointing out that a. because the matter was not heard in a ‘real’ court and subject to due diligence, it was never conclusively proven who suggested what, and who ordered whom to do what. It may be your opinion that Flav ‘ordered’ Piquet to crash, but that is all it is. Your opinion. The facts of the matter have never been established, so your comment is wrong to assert sole blame, when none has been proven.

            and b. the punishment handed out to Flav was flawed because it was the result of a vendetta from S&Max against Flav. I see the French Courts agree with me on that score. As I said earlier, justice should be transparent and not to wielded about by someone harbouring a vendetta. So S&Max was the judge and jury – sound fair and impartial to you? Furthermore, as the French Court points out, the FIA does not have the power to impose such sanctions.

            As stated earlier, I am glad that the ban has been rescinded because *legally* it was unjust, and invalid. I have never said that Flav does not deserve some form of sanction for his actions (although IMO Piquet certainly deserves all Flav gets and more).

      2. @ John Heath – It is contradictory to say that we need real drama on the race track and blast the most successful driver in the history of the sport based on a couple dramatic past (on-track) incidents.

  15. I for one am happy to see that he is allowed back, his charisma and humour, is one that stands out in what is becoming a very dull a dreary paddock.

    Although the fact that he is getting compensation for what he did is a bit ridiculous, I still dont understand the way the FIA works, how they hand McLaren a stupid $100 million fine, and Renault get a slap on the wrist for something far more worse is beyond me..

  16. This is a friggin joke! I think the ban was excessive anyway but I also think Renault have effectively got away scot free. The FIA have brought this further embarrassment on themselves, as it should not have been executed in the first instance. If I was Ron Dennis I would be feeling almost murderous and cheated etc. This is F1 joke justice. Perhaps FIA should pay back the McLaren fine…

    1. Let’s place bets as to which race we expect to see Flavio at first…

  17. Is Piguet lite on suicide watch? Because apparently he’s the only one who is going to suffer any real consequences from this. That’s the message I’m getting from this decision.

  18. Phew! For a while there it seemed F1 would be mistaken for a credible sport! Thankfully normal service resumed. Shouldn’t he be paid heaps of money too? Just 15,000 Euros is a real insult given his fantastic contribution to the global image of F1 in helping fix a race.

  19. What A Joke. He’s a disgrace to Formula 1 and he doesn’t get punished for it. Shocking.

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