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 Tribune de Grande Instance.

Update: 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.

Update 1: Autosport reports the FIA must publish details of the bans being lifted on Briatore and Symonds within two weeks.

Update 2: 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. rampante said on 5th January 2010, 20:19

    The UK witch hunt is obviously on. Was the full moon not 5 days ago? Briatore was never innocent in this but the FIA (Max) had no legal reason to ban him for life. Briatore is a character that F1 needs and he has shown his desire to be there by this fight. F1 sickens me with corporate sh** and political yes men. Flavio is outspoken, offensive and willing to do what is needed to keep this sport going. F1 was never a “clean” sport, it has always been about getting the edge (not always by the right means). If you are shocked by this you should not be watching F1. It has always gone on and although we may not like it the sport exists because of if.

  2. Can the FIA now apply some sort of other punishment that cannot be overturned? For his alleged involvement he should be punished in some way.

    I’ve always thought that it was a conflict of interest being the principal of one team, whilst managing drivers who race for other teams. Maybe the FIA can introduce a rule that prevents such conflict of interests.

    F1 in general needs more senior people that are there for the competition, and not for the money. More people who believe in racing hard, but racing fairly and honestly.

  3. VitaRedux said on 5th January 2010, 20:39

    My two pennies worth.

    I know I’m really anti-FIA. Maybe a little paranoid. But I think Mosley and the FIA were out to get Briatore after the FOTA issues earlier.

    They compromised justice for the sake of revenge – doing deals with Piquet Jnr, and not pursuing Renault or looking further to who else might have been involved.

    Although Briatore would appear to be guilty they went beyond their remit in punishing him. As a result we now have the biggest scandal of the last decade unpunished.

    FIA disgrace. How many more times will those two words go together?

  4. HounslowBusGarage said on 5th January 2010, 21:27

    So, here we have a proper legal judgement that says Mosley had already decided that Fat Flav had to go before the FIA hearing – i.e. being judge, jury and executioner all at the same time.
    It also points out that the FIA were not empowered to ban Flav from all-FIA sanctioned sport.
    I confidently expect that Briatore will be in deep consultation with his lawyers concerning an action for humungous damages against the FIA.
    Perhaps the MacLaren $100 million will come in handy to pay off Flavio!

  5. Peter said on 5th January 2010, 21:55

    Find it funny how people make Flavio out to be the devil when I have seen just as worse actions from both other drivers and teams in the past.

  6. Alistair said on 5th January 2010, 22:10

    This is a sad day for F1. Renault committed arguably the worst instance of cheating in sporting history; yet not a single individual, nor the team itself, is given any real punishment. In fact, Flavio is awarded €15,000; Pat, €5,000! Ludicrous.

    ‘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

    If that’s indeed the case, the FIA had better ban Schumi and Alonso from next year’s championship.

  7. m0tion said on 5th January 2010, 22:17

    French justice!

  8. jochenrindt said on 5th January 2010, 22:58

    Welcome back Flav,

    It’s one law for them & another for the rest of us

  9. I am happy with the decision. the legal jurisdiction (or lack there of) for the FIA to implement such a punishment is an issue in it’s self, but my main gripe is how can he be banned for life, and yet the man who happily pulled the trigger was not punished in a similar if not harsher way? The whole think reeked of personal revenge against Briatore and the biggest scandal the sport has ever seen is effectively left unpunished? What a mess, not a surprise.

  10. Prisoner Monkeys said on 5th January 2010, 23:15

    It does’t matter that Briatore won his appeal – he won’t be coming back. He is persona non grata in the paddock; even if he is peritted to come back, no-oneis going to want to work. The simple fact is that Briatore’s time has been mared by endless controvrsies; he has been accused of cheating on at least thre occasions – uing traction control in 1994, possessing Ferrari’s documents in 2007 and now the Singapore affair. This last is the most serious one, because not only did Briatore cheat in order to win, but he endangered the lives of drivers, marshalls and spectators alike in doing it. No-one is going to want their name associated with him. If he comes back, there’s only going to be more trouble.

    I’ve long been under the impression tha the paddock is actully quite sick of Briatore. His relationship wth is drivers (as both their manager and team principal) is very unusual, to say the least, and Nelson Piquet isn’t the only one who has commented that he has no idea what he is doing when it comes to setting up the car. Briatore has screwed a lot of people over, from Eddie Jordan to Jenson Button, and all in the name of getting he best drivers signed to him as a manager and then into his championsip-winng cars. Briatore apparently takes as much as 20% of his drivers’ earnings, more than double what any other manager gets.

    Briatore’s single biggest problem is that he think’s he’s a bigger star than the drivers. The FIA were right to ban him.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 5th January 2010, 23:18

      It doesn’t matter that Briatore won his appeal – he won’t be coming back. He is persona non grata in the paddock; even if he is permitted to come back, no-one is going to want to work.

      I hope you’re right.

      • Prisoner Monkeys said on 5th January 2010, 23:41

        Would you recruit him into your team, Keith?

        Briatore no doubt wants to go back to the old ways, probably as a team principal. Except that there ae thirteen teams, and thiteen team principals. Who would Briatore replace?

        He’d probably want to go back to mnaging drivers as well, and he might get one or two – but the teams will be reluctant to sign anyone associated with Briatore given that he told one of his own drivers to crash.

        There are darker rumours about Briatore, as well. When he was in charge of franchising at Bennetton (before they became a team), the company had a very odd structure. If you wanted to set up a Bennetton outlet, you paid an exobriant amount to the company for the rights to use their name. They’d give you your first shipment of stock, and nothing else. You were on your own from thereon in, and company policy was that you had to setup in a section of town that would give you maximum exposure – which usually ment paying the highest rent in town. It was not uncommon to see two outlets three blocks away in a town where one would struggle, because how many people did you ever see going into them? A lot of people thought that Bennetton as a scam, or some sort of front. Whatever the case, their franchising policy was incredibly unusual – it virtually guaranteed an outlet would only survive with a hell of a lot of luck. And it was engineered – masterminded migth be a better word by Flavio Bratore.

        I guess the reason why I’m bringing this up is because Briatore has a criminal record after the events in Singapore. The problem is that he won’t face justice for it – Singapore does not have an extradition treaty with Italy. Pat Symonds could be charged in a Singaporean court, because they do have an arrangement with England, but 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. And yet he gets his ban overturned? Who cares if it was a witch-hunt by Max Mosley; the Law of Averages says that sooner or later, the hunters will find a witch.

        I was reading an article on Autosport where Briatore says he hasn’t made up his mind about whether he’ll come back. That, I hope is the realisation that he is neither wanted nor welcomed in the paddock. Because given his track record, Briatore should have been kicked out of the sport years ago. He’s a disgrace – to his drivers, to his team, to his sponsors and worst of all, to the sport.

        Throw him to the wolves. We’ll all be better off for it.

        • Would you recruit him into your team, Keith?

          You know, for years teams have been using Marelli electronics, to the disbelief of most electronics/software engineers in the business (including people who had to use it). Nothing surprises me in this business anymore…

        • His infraction was a worse case than the only other man to receive a lifetime ban (at least in recent history): Bruno Sassetti.

          I’m assuming you mean Andrea Sassetti, former team principal of Andrea Moda. Sassetti’s main offence was running one of the worst F1 teams known to man and that’s what he was banned for.

          But I think that one instance, where the team sent Perry McCarthy out to qualify at Spa knowing the car had a faulty steering rack which promptly locked going into Eau Rouge, was worse than Briatore’s actions. Piquet may have been put at risk but he did at least have some control over his actions, whereas McCarthy knew nothing about the faulty steering rack until it failed…

    • yes i think you are right pm. I agree with the decision, but i don’t think he should be unpunished by any stretch of the imagination. The most expensive loss to him was his reputation and respect and you are right, who will want to work with him and what sponsor would want him parachuting into a team they are funding.

    • Toby Bushby said on 5th January 2010, 23:35

      It was McLaren documents, not Ferrari.

      I still think it was rotten that Piquet got away with it in the first place – and also the fact he used the crash as a personal vendetta. Forget about Mosley. I hope Briatore doesn’t come back to F1 – it doesn’t need a cheat like him skulking around. As for Symonds, I think that once the original ban is lifted, he should be a free man. He spoke of remorse and sent letters of apology. He’s effectively a man in gaol. When he’s served his time, he should be allowed to go about his business.

      Also, what does this verdict mean for the bans against Coughlan and Stepney? That must be a can of worms…

      • David - BR said on 6th January 2010, 12:07

        You’re right about Symonds. But Briatore has stuck by the dictum of those who abuse power the world over: deny everything, admit nothing, even when it’s ‘obvious’ you were involved. Unfortunately the legal systems (judges) in many countries respond to this position favourably – only when the wealthy are involved, obviously – since it forms the basis of most ruling economic and political elites. It’s ‘how the system works.’ Eventually the fuss dies down, the power (money) remains in the same hands – and people like Briatore can sneak back in again.

        Alonso seems to have learned this lesson well from his mentor too.

  11. Mike "the bike" Schumacher said on 5th January 2010, 23:28

    So everyone involved has got off with no punishment. It’s an absolute disgrace.

  12. manatcna said on 5th January 2010, 23:43

    The FIA screwed up (why doesn’t that surprise me?)
    FB should have been banned for life, don’t forget, him telling PK to crash could have got someone killed.

  13. hmm, many good points here. Why has this turned out to be such a complicated issue? After PK Jr. gave up everything on a plate, and Symonds and co confessed, this should not have turned into such a complicated mess.
    PK jr- finned and banned for life. He may have been under pressure, but he was the main man, the one who pulled the trigger. he could have stopped even at the last minute but choose not to. He did put lives in danger, was it Monza 2000 when a martial died?
    Symonds and Briatore – Same again. They were in senior positions of power, but how can they be punished like that when Jr can still seek a drive?

    :( what a mess.

    • Daniel said on 6th January 2010, 0:42

      That’s the problem of offering, in exchange for a delation, any benefit to the delator… it’s not uncommon in Criminal Law, it might solve some misterious cases, but it’s pretty unfair, when it means immunity for the one who effectively behaved illegaly, like Nelsinho…

  14. Until the FIA have exhausted all their appeal rights, the ban will remain inforce. Which should give them ample time to come up with legislation that only allows ‘fit and proper persons’ to take part in F1.

  15. wasiF1 said on 6th January 2010, 3:10

    Forget about the ban,will you want him in your team?

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