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. Briatore should get a job at Mclaren

  2. So… how exactly were Renault punished for their cheating now?

    1. They still have a suspended 2 year ban. Which I think is quite fair given the actions they took.

      1. Yeah, but a suspended sentence is not punishment it’s merely a threat.

  3. Here’s something that hasn’t been memntioned yet and I am very curious to see if the FIA take action on.

    Wether you like the courts decision or not, it seems like the entire overturn has to do with the simple fact the neither Biratore or Symmonds held an FIA license and therefore were out of the FIA’s jurisdiction.

    So I just wonder if the FIA will, in the near future, require ANYONE who enter an FIA sactioned paddock have some sort of FIA license, effectively allowing the FIA to saction whomever they like, how they like, providing it’s within the law.

    I’m very curious to see if the FIA take this action. I would think they are, at the very least, discussing it within the ranks.

  4. “stupid French court” .. “French justice”: those are nasty and unjustifiable racist comments.

    So here’s mine, and that will be all for today: F1fanatic filter failed.

    1. I don’t agree the comments are racist which I why I haven’t taken them down.

  5. I am disappointed and disheartened by this decision. Though, to tell the truth, not completely surprised.

    French court or a court in Wherethefugarewestan, it matters not. What has happened here is a terrible thing: Law has been upheld, while Justice has taken a terrible slap in the face.

    I am still shaking my head in amazement, that the Court cited as part of their reasoning for their decision that since Max Mosley had it in for Briatore and that Mosley initiated the investigation, that made it all trash. Truth is, it would be the duty of the President of the FiA to initiate such an investigation upon receiving credible information indicating such an infraction had taken place. Apparently the Court fails to realize that the President of the FiA at that time was Max Mosley, and that Mosley, regardless of his feelings toward Briatore, had no choice but to do his job.

    I believe the Court’s decision was given under the strictest interpretation of French law, and that the Court does not fully understand motorsport or Formula 1. It may be that is the position of the Court. In not having intimate knowledge of motorsport, they did not attempt to give a judgement call, they simply gave the strictest decision of the law. Still, it is a huge dis-service to Justice.

    As others have mentioned, this is a good time for FiA to look into additional licensing for participants. Which is a good idea, I think.

  6. Briatore escapes the long arm of the law. His infraction was a worse case than the only other man to receive a lifetime ban (at least in recent history): Bruno Sassetti.

    PM, were you thinking of Andrea Sassetti(Andrea Moda Formula 1), banned for bringing the sport into disrepute after his arrest in Belgium paddock for forging invoices?

    I admit, I’m drawing a blank on Bruno Sassetti. But then, the old man’s memory isn’t what it used to be.

    1. Me too. Andrea Sassetti would make sense though.

  7. I cannot believe that one of the very few RIGHT decisions by the FIA has been reversed by some stupid court.

  8. His knowledge and insight into F1 is invaluable for a new F1 team and although his reputation is tainted he would be a powerful asset to have pulling the strings and giving guidance in the background!

  9. The crucial issues are:-
    1) Did Flavio tell Piquet to crash or was it Piquet who offered to crash. Because from Symonds’ statement, it does appear like Piquet was the one who brought up the idea.

    2) Did Flavio play an active role in it after the suggestion had been made or was it simply Symonds and Piquet working things out.

    3) Why adidn’t Bernie want Flavio to take the matter to a civil court.

  10. Even if Flav returns to F1 – who would be willing to work with him, unless he/she’s planning a suicide and wants it to be covered well by the media :-)

    It will be much like Nelsinho – not guilty by law, but out of job and no big chances for one.

  11. This is possibly the worst day for Formula 1’s image ever. Forget breakaway rows, this takes things to a whole new level.

    So the judgement was legally correct. That’s about the only correct thing about it. Here we have the greatest, moat heinous act of cheating ever and it’s going unpunished. One of the biggest names in modern F1 nearly got banned because of the actions of the employees and not the team itself, whilst all three culprits have now got away scott-free.

    This stinks to high heaven. It angers me more than the incident itself. F1 is apparently incapable of preventing you from being associated with it if you cheat and you’re not a driver.

    Do you think Flavio will really care that people will shun him? All he cares about is making money, and he’ll be back doing so with his own team at some point.

    I’m also very disappointed in some of my fellow fanatics on here, excusing or mitigating his crime and/or welcoming the decision to allow him back. You really hate McLaren and/or Max Mosley enough that you want such a vile character back in F1 just to make a point about Spy/Liegate and Mosley’s tenure? I don’t disagree it was a witch-hunt but Flavio has no place in the sport and two wrongs don’t make a right.

    If Flavio comes back to a team then, as much as it would break my heart, I would seriously consider never watching F1 as long as he’s there. A lot of sneering columnists have used what happened in Singapore as an excuse to say F1 is not a sport. The fallacies and hypocrisies of that aside, if Flavio (or Symonds, in the next five years) comes back to F1 ever again, they’ll finally have a leg to stand on.

    1. This is possibly the worst day for Formula 1’s image ever. Forget breakaway rows, this takes things to a whole new level.

      The Court’s Sentence is not about what Briatore is, or about what he has done in F1. The French court judged the capacity of FIA for imposing that kind of penalties as well as the process they ran when the FIA judged that affair.

      I heard all the recorded session and it was really very impressive how a man can manage that kind of issues: Max, “dictating” witnesses’ declarations, suggesting his own interpretation to the rest of the court members, taking his own conclusions when talking about people that was not able to make their own defense, offering to the main actor FULL IMMUNITY just for making the rest guilty… It seemed to me, I was attending to a “banana Republic” court.

      One of the worst days for F1 was when all of us took note about THREE guys making that kind of arrangement for wining a race.

      And if we want to talk about the persons, well, Briatore, despite he is not an hero for me (for those interested who can understand Italian, see this quite enlightening comment), is the only one of those three that has showed at least some character.

      I’ve seen some people here, excusing Symonds someway as if he were “a nice guy”, just a professional making his work.

      Well for me, he had a main role on this and after all was discovered: he kept silence during the investigation, he sold his aim to the FIA just to have a lower penalty and after that, he was part of the Briatore’s claim. Really a “model to follow”.

      I’m happy to see NONE of them re-joining F1 again, but I’m happy to see also a Real Court telling the FIA they cannot run the organization as a Kangaroo Court.

      I’m also very disappointed in some of my fellow fanatics on here, excusing or mitigating his crime and/or welcoming the decision to allow him back. You really hate McLaren and/or Max Mosley enough that you want such a vile character back in F1 just to make a point about Spy/Liegate and Mosley’s tenure?

      I’m still wondering why people who like Briatore have to hate McLaren. For me, the only answer to that is maybe you hate Briatore only because you love McLaren?

      1. IDR, I agree with you fully.

        If any prosecutor exceeds his authority in prosecuting a case, he can expect to have his entire case thrown out, regardless of whether the accused deserves to get away without charge or not. It’s not up to the French court whether Flavio did or didn’t get his just desserts for all his past wrongs here. I’m inclined to think FB was destroyed professionally by this anyway, and will never again walk the F1 pitlane in an influential role (I certainly wouldn’t want to be the corporate leader who dares to hire him), but that’s not the issue here.

        “Possibly the worst day for Formula 1’s image ever…” I beg to differ. It’s far from that and there have been plenty of days which are really, really bad for F1’s image (Spa’08, Monza’06, $100M and so on). At issue here is the authoritarian, dictatorial wielding of absolute power by Mosley and the FIA over many years and in a self-interested and partisan way, something which also goes back through the days of Balestre. Any day in which that authority is challenged or denied can never be a bad day for F1.

  12. Had the FIA effectively proved it’s case rather than made their own proceedings appear like more of an old boys meeting, then I might have some sympathy with them.

    As it stands the FIA has not proved to me that Briatore is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in this matter, and past transgressions or personal animosities are not something the FIA should allow to cloud their collective judgement. So because of that (and a perverse personal liking for Briatore that I have to admit to) I’m 100% on his side in this.

  13. The FIA can resolve this without appealling.

    They simply need to change the rules so that all key figures, including drivers agents, need an FIA license of some description to partake in the sport. Then they can choose who they weant to give them to.

    They have perfectly reasonable grounds not to issue Symonds and Briatore with a license and therefore they still would no be able to partake without officially being banned!

    This gives them an opportunity to clean up the sport and screen everybody who enter nots just drivers.

    Everybody who makes major decisions in a team should have to have them and also driver agents who can influence their drivers.

  14. I hope Pat Symonds get’s a job in F1 soon. He’s a good guy and if he had anything to do with the crash fixing he would have been dragged/bullied along by Flavio.

  15. And so it begins, Flavio is now making himself out to be the victim and innocent party in all of this…

    …what he fails to see is that the French Court ruling doesn’t say that he’s not guilty, just that the punishment imposed by the FiA was “irregular”…

  16. Hopefully the FIA will appeal, which means that the ban stays in place. Hopefully the FIA will also bring into action legislation that needs each member of every team to be ‘fit and proper persons’ before the appeal process ends.

  17. if renault , alonso , and piquet can escape without a penalty , i think flavio and pat can go to ..

    It is 100 % sure that all the above parties involved in scandal :) ..oh well , its about money …and more like personal ego of big boss’s playing the game

  18. IIRC there was no actual proof to link Briatore to the crash. They tried to pressure Symonds into blaming Briatore, but he never did. Only thing they had was Piquet’s say so that Briatore was present at a meeting on raceday.

    Most likely scenario (corroborated by 2 witnesses) was that Piquet came up wih the idea after qualifying on saturday. He and Symonds then worked out the details. Briatore probably knew about it, but is that enough to ban someone for life?

    The one that should have been banned for life is Piquet.

    1. That is my position exactly.

      The *only* person shown to be irrefutably culpable by documentation, their own admission and by any proceedings by the governing bodies involved in this was Piquet.

      The FIA showed themselves to be corrupt to the point of ignoring the issue when it suited them, and being willing to rail road punishment through for convenient scape goats when it became expedient to do so.

      The one person who was actually at the sharp end of this and willing to ultimately take the risk of perhaps killing himself, spectators or other drivers was Piquet. And the smoking gun which supposedly hanged the other alleged conspirators was Piquet again – a kid who has shown how far he is willing to go to further his career. Risking lives, and committing blackmail

      And yet Piquet can still try to use his Dad’s influence to get a drive.

      The transcripts of radio comms suggested to me personally that Briatorie was not actually fully aware of what was going on. His comment when Piquet crashed was either fantastic theater with foresight that it would come to a FIA investigation, or a genuine reaction to a ****** driver’s apparently stupid mistake. I am not saying he is innocent, but there was not one shred of evidence given at any time that damned him during the so called proceedings. And there was a whole host of surrounding theater that made it look like a stitch up.

      That in itself should give enough grounds for a REAL court to tell the FIA that it should do better and overturn it’s ruling.

    2. I agree with you completely. Piquet and Symonds seems to be the key characters in the fiasco.

  19. Flavio is the FIA’s monster. He got away with blatant cheating in 1994 (traction control, fuel filter), the McLaren-like espionage and various other indiscretions over the years and as Mosley himself said, he got the benefit of the doubt.

    The FIA giveth and taketh away but sadly for them, they don’t have the power to really taketh away. They gave Renault two free passes in the space of two years (espionage and Singapore crash) and Flavio has been riding his luck since 94.

    So while the FIA continually gave him the benefit of the doubt (they didn’t cut McLaren any slack for what was the SAME OFFENCE) they didn’t realise that Flavio doesn’t count that as credit in the bank. Then they hand out an arbitrary, child-like punishment (you’re not my friend anymore!) that just wouldn’t wash and Flav did what anyone would do and take the to court.


    1. So why were Renault not punished?, why only a single individual. I think this is a case of selective justice.

      1. Renault were punished. They received a suspended ban.

        1. I.e: They got nothing but a threat of possible future punishment for any future infractions.

  20. I do not think he wants to get back into running a team. He will be content to manage his drivers and posture on the grid and all the party’s similar to Nicholas Todt. However the FIA and J Todt particularly needs to stamp on this now and accept the decision for what it is and move on, before it ruins what should be a fantastic season in F1. If they allow Moseley to change the rules to suit his personal case, they will be a laughing stock and lose all respect from both the teams and the public. Of course Moseley just cannot take a defeat in court and by the very manner of his statements you can see his twisted past!

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