As I speculated in post before the World Council meeting, part of Renault’s submission was that it planned to commit itself to Formula 1.
“Renault F1 and its parent company have given serious consideration as to whether it should remain in the sport following the prejudice caused to its corporate image by the conspiracy, in addition to the existing background of financial pressures that have caused car manufacturers to withdraw.
“But it has concluded that it would like to remain in Formula 1 and continue to make an important contribution to the sport.”
This is a positive thing for the sport, Renault has played an important part in F1 for many years. In addition to the works team they provide engines to Red Bull and next year Williams are hoping to use their engines, in conjunction with their own KERS system.
In fact another piece of evidence published yesterday is a letter of support of Renault from Williams to the FIA, sent on September 14th. Williams argued that Renault is not an anti sporting company and that any punishment which put their participation at risk would be a punishment against other teams and fans as well.
There have been suggestions, especially in the Italian media, that the verdict in this case was pre-negotiated between the FIA and Renault. It’s been interesting to see how the different nations’ media have interpreted the verdict, with the British press quite dismissive of Briatore and upset by the leniency of the Renault sentence, while the Italian media is sticking up for one of the country’s most successful F1 managers.
The question now is what Briatore’s next move will be. Again in the Italian media there is talk of him preparing a lawsuit against the FIA for restraint of trade, with him not having been given the chance to defend himself in court on Monday, although the FIA maintains he was. They say he wrote them a letter saying he wouldn’t come because he wasn’t the licence holder, Renault was.
He has the right of appeal but according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he has no intention of submitting himself to an FIA court, he wants to take his case to the high court in Paris.
Spain’s FIA representative Carlos Gracia said yesterday that he thought this option would be open to him, “Briatore’s penalty seems to me excessive,” Gracia said. “There was no clear proof against him and he was not able to defend himself, either. Morever, I wouldn’t rule out him going to ordinary justice because he has been left without his means of earning a living.”
Renault’s lawyer said this week that the company was withdrawing its blackmail complaint against the Piquets, but understood that Briatore would not,
“I’m told that French counsel wrote to the public prosecutor last Friday seeking to withdraw the criminal complaint on behalf of Renault F1. It’s my understanding that the second complainant, Briatore, has not withdrawn the complaint, but it is our intention to draw the line and to do everything we can to put this sad history behind us, ” he said.
Meanwhile the question remains of whose idea the crash plot was. Pat Symonds in his letter to the court maintained the line that it was Piquet’s idea. But close examination of the passage in the court report suggests that the FIA believes that the idea must have been Symonds’ because it says the subject was raised with Witness X present on Saturday after qualifying, whereas in Piquet’s testimony the first time he mentions the subject was on Sunday, before the race.
With the F1 circus now in Singapore, the hope is that this story will not dominate the weekend and that the racing can, but how ironic that this race should be the next one up after the saga involving last year’s event.