Fernando Alonso, the driver who benefitted most from Nelson Piquet’s deliberate accident in Singapore last year, has been summoned by the FIA to give evidence to the World Council on Monday.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, former team principal Flavio Briatore has also been summoned, but not Pat Symonds, whom the FIA investigators found to be centrally involved in the conspiracy. Symonds is believed to be on holiday in Spain.
Both men have left the team and Briatore is thus under no compulsion to attend and is unlikely to do so. Whether he does or he doesn’t there is a feeling that he is likely to be banned from attending the pits and paddock at motor races in the future, which would make his life difficult in terms of the driver management company he runs and with GP2, of which he is one of the main architects.
A ban from the FIA might also disqualify him from holding on to the chairmanship of Queens Park Rangers under Football League rules.
As it seeks to get to the bottom of how this situation was allowed to develop, it’s likely that the FIA will look into whether a team principal should be allowed also to be a driver manager, especially of drivers in his team. They may find that the compromising position this put his driver Nelson Piquet Jr in was a contributing factor to the accident plot happening.
Although he delegates much of the responsibility for looking after Mark Webber, Heikki Kovalainen and others, Briatore has a big hand in advising his drivers and a very good eye for a move.
Alonso has no choice but to attend the hearing as the holder of an FIA superlicence. Although the FIA investigators drew the conclusion that he had no knowledge of the plot, the World Council will ask him about it, but Gazzetta suggests that the risk for him is that he will be under pressure to answer questions relating to this and possibly other incidents in the past with the aim of condemning Briatore.
Ferrari has a seat on the World Council and has apparently decided not to attend. It’s a delicate situation for the team, as Luca di Montezemolo would not want to be put in the position of being part of the firing squad against his staunch FOTA ally Briatore.
Meanwhile Spanish motorsport figurehead Carlos Gracia has said that the FIA was wrong to offer Piquet immunity from prosecution, something which the majority of readers of this blog seem to believe,
“This kid, if it was up to me, wouldn’t be allowed to walk blind people on the sidewalk,” Gracia said on Spanish radio. “It’s such yobbish behaviour from which he has also benefited, because, like he says in his sworn statement, he did it so he would get a contract renewal for 2009, and he will be paid until the end of the year. In that case this is a person should not only be sanctioned by the Council and the FIA, but he should also be prosecuted in an ordinary court.
“I found out through the press that Mr Nelsinho was going to get immunity. It would be a total shamelessness if this happened in the FIA.”
Gracia is part of Jean Todt’s ticket for FIA president, he was announced recently as a Vice president for sport.