Briatore wins appeal against lifetime ban from motorsport

2008 F1 season

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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166 comments on Briatore wins appeal against lifetime ban from motorsport

  1. Duncanuaz said on 5th January 2010, 17:13

    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.

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

      • Ads21 said on 6th January 2010, 0:53

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

        • NomadIndian said on 6th January 2010, 7:23

          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.

  2. David A said on 5th January 2010, 17:14

    The FIA – Futile, Incompetent, Arrogant.

  3. 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.

    • Charlie said on 5th January 2010, 18:36

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

  4. Arun.India said on 5th January 2010, 17:28

    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…

    • 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…

      • Hairs said on 5th January 2010, 22:12

        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.

        • 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?

          • 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).

      • David A said on 7th January 2010, 15:59

        @ 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.

  5. 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..

  6. 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…

  7. verasaki said on 5th January 2010, 17:45

    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.

  8. John H said on 5th January 2010, 17:54


  9. David - BR said on 5th January 2010, 18:20

    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.

  10. Rob Wilson said on 5th January 2010, 18:20

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

  11. matt90 said on 5th January 2010, 19:14

    Surely he can at least be banned from F1 for life.

  12. Jim N said on 5th January 2010, 19:18

    This decision is possibly strictly legally correct, but bizarre to natural justice – reading the little detail available, the court seems to be saying not that Briatore was not guilty, but that the FIA has no jurisdiction over him because he has no licence (which actually is what Briatore claimed immediately after the ban)…… but take that to it’s logical conclusion that means that if say a mechanic deliberately set fire to all the cars on the grid or deliberately laced a drivers drinking water with drugs then the FIA couldn’t ban them either….because they don’t have a licence…..

    What this seems to mean is that the FIA will have to now issue licences to just about anybody that has anything to do with any form of FIA sanctioned motorsport so that they have the authority to issue punishment….. that to me seems a huge pity and very wrong …. and probably very expensive at grass roots motorsport….

    For me this is a very sad day for motorsport…. I very much hope that the FIA do appeal and win.

  13. The Limit said on 5th January 2010, 19:20

    It seems to me that Bernie Ecclestone may have played a role in this, it seems very timely that just six months after being banned Briatore has this go in his favour. Just enough time for the dust to settle!
    If I were Ron Dennis, I would be coming out asking for my $100 million back but I doubt he would get it!

  14. Daniel said on 5th January 2010, 19:46

    Unlike Nelsinho, at least Briatore is a proven winner… he might find someone rich enough and not bothered by his past…

  15. Hahaha, I can’t stand it. FIA seems to be confused in this situation. They have lost rest of theirs honour. Piece of big s…t.

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