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Briatore could be back in F1 in under three years
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Briatore could be back in F1 in under three years
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Apr 2010   |  10:33 pm GMT  |  114 comments

Flavio Briatore has struck an out of court deal with the FIA whereby the governing body withdraws its appeal against his successful challenge of a lifetime ban over the Singapore crash affair and allows him to return to F1 in 2013.

In return he accepts responsibility for the Singapore crash as the boss of the Renault team, but accepts no personal guilt. Former Renault engineering director Pat Symonds has a similar deal, even though he accepted guilt at the time. He has made it clear, however that the deal allows him to act as a consultant to a team in the interim.


A statement from Briatore this evening said that he had “Informed the FIA of his intention not to undertake any operational role in Formula One before the end of 2012, nor in any other FIA Championship, before the end of the Racing Season 2011.

“He confirmed his acceptance to bear his share of responsibility in the Singapore events in his capacity of Managing Director of the Renault F1 Team, at the time they happened, without any admission of a personal guilt in these events and without any recognition of the fact that the decision of the World Council rendered against him would have been well-founded. ”

According to the FIA, Briatore was, “Recognising his share of responsibility for the deliberate crash involving the driver Nelson Piquet Junior at the 2008 Grand Prix of Singapore, as “Team Principal” of Renault F1 where Mr Flavio Briatore is concerned, they have expressed their regrets and presented their apologies to the FIA. ”

The key to the breakthrough in the case possibly lies in the final paragraph of the FIA’s statement, where it says, “The FIA President has considered that it is in the best interests of the FIA not to allow the perpetuation of these legal disputes, which have received a great deal of media coverage and which, regardless of the outcome, are very prejudicial to the image of the FIA and of motor sport, and thus to accept this settlement solution, thereby putting an end to this affair. ”

This looks like another piece of Jean Todt pragmatism and of his light touch, in contrast to his predecessor as FIA President. As a long time survivor in the Piranha tank of F1 politics, Todt knows that, as it says in the Art of War, you only pick the battles you know you can win.

Although the FIA World Council mandated Todt to pursue justice in this case at its most recent meeting in March, clearly this was going nowhere and was only going to cause more damage, so both sides have reached a deal. The FIA has also agreed to drop the case against the pair in perpetuity, so even if new evidence comes to light in future there will be no further prosecution.

This is an unsatisfactory outcome in many ways as it means that no-one has been properly prosecuted for the worst piece of cheating in the sport’s history. The FIA has had to accept that this has more to do with the unusual way in which the FIA disciplinary system was structured under Mosley than anything else and take it on the chin.

The driver, Nelson Piquet walked away with immunity and the FIA could find no evidence of anyone else involved beyond Symonds and Briatore, who has always denied it. Symonds pleaded guilty in a statement during the trial and said that the incident had destroyed his reputation. But he has since benefitted from Briatore’s chutzpah and legal challenge. He is known to be keen to get back into F1 as soon as possible and one would imagine teams will be fighting over themselves in two years time to hire one of the most savvy operators in the sport.

Todt, hosted a press meeting in Bahrain, which I attended, at which he and one of his deputies, Graham Stoker, made it clear that the new regime planned to make the disciplinary process more transparent than it was under Max Mosley, who prosecuted Briatore in this case. The crucial separation now is that the president can call for a disciplinary process, but can have no part in the judging of it.

The timing of the end of Briatore’s exile is interesting and possibly significant, as the current Concorde Agreement runs to the end of 2012 and a new one will be in place by the start of the 2013 season. Quite how (and if) Briatore fits into that picture either on the team side or on the commercial side, will be interesting to see.

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114 Comments
  1. Darren says:

    if he come back i will not watch a race again, he DID fix the race and i dont want to be a fan of this.

    the man make me so angry ;-(

    1. absolutely agree, hope to never see him in F1 again!!

    2. John says:

      But you will watch schumi race? After he used to just run in to people so he could win the championship or park his car on the racing line to impeed others. Was that safe? No. Was it cheating? Yes.

      Just another story that kept everyone hooked to the best sport out there. F1 wouldn’t be the same without all the scandle.

      1. TriedTrue says:

        Agreed, cheating leaves a shadow over our beloved F1. Like when McLaren were caught with stolen design documents from Ferrari. Shameful acts all.

      2. samseal says:

        McLaren were proven innocent of taking any advantage of the document info but were still fined £50 million; Renault were guilty of race-fixing and have got away scot free.

        If they let Briatore and Symonds back then I’ll stop watching – after 38 years as an avid F1 fan. This is the Final Straw!

      3. TriedTrue says:

        Samseal, you need to get your facts straight. McLaren were fined $100mil and found guilty. If you’re going to rail against corruption in F1 then rail against it all. Every instance of corruption is bad for the sport. Whether your a fan of the team that committed the infraction or not.

      4. johnpierre rivera says:

        very and simply well said…

    3. Carl says:

      There is no proof he fixed the race. He has always denied it, and has not been found guilty by a court of law, only by Mosely’s bias

    4. Pierce89 says:

      Get’em Flava Flav. Show’em who’s boss around these parts. U Da Man. Here in America you don’t convict without due process(which Flavio did not recieve). Nelson PeePee Jr. is the real guilty party, to give him immunity….. pathetic

  2. rpaco says:

    Absolute disaster, cave in by Todt. This totally undermines the authority of the FIA, who loose credibility as a governing body.

    If Flav should never be allowed back.

    FIA now means Flimsy Indeterminate Authority.

    1. Henry says:

      Could not agree more.

      Absolute disgrace that he is allowed back in, absolute disgrace that no one has been prosecuted for not only the worst case of cheating in F1′s history but arguably one of the worst cases of cheating in sport, putting countless people at huge risk, it makes me sick.

      Flav should be banned for life, as should symmonds. Any team that hires either of them looses any credibility in my eyes.

      The irony is that the only man promised immunity, Nelson Piquet, really is out of F1 for ever. But the two people who most probably are responsible, will seemingly make a come back in some form.

      The sport is one of the most amazing on the planet but there is an attitude pervasive within the paddock that the rules, (whether it be about crashing into barriers, crashing into other drivers, lying to stewards, stealing technical information), are like the car regulations: open to interpretation.

      The FIA really need to clear these issues up, Todt was right that battling it out would tarnish the sport, but pulling a blanket over it and pretending it didn’t happen is even worse, setting a precedent that it is allowable. All in all an indefensibly dreadful outcome.

      1. jocker12 says:

        I couldn’t agree more….

    2. Seisteve says:

      Before we get angry that the FIA have done some sweeping under the carpets, lets remember that Mr Todt is a politically clever man.

      Setting up a licencing scheme will take time and cannot be completed quickly if resources are running appeals etc. Also the process does not need a constant reminder of the reason behind licences for team managers (and potentially other personnel)

      This way a licence system can be created that only allocates Team personal licencing if they can show that they have an absolute clear record of any wrong doing over say the last 5 or 10 years depending on how they set the criteria for the licences.

      This way neither of the guilty parties would be allowed a licences as they have both accepted responsibility for the incident.

      This to me is Todt taking the longer term route to team governance which will still ensure that only responsible people are allowed to work within the sport and not have to admit the Renault Two.

      Awesome move.

      1. rpaco says:

        You may have something there Seisteve.
        As long as the licences happen and Flav does not get one then a lot of us will be mollified if not satisfied.

  3. Cabby says:

    Does “no operational role” include driver management?

  4. tobi-wan says:

    As you say James, hardly a satisfactory conclusion to the worst cheating in F1. Bar the length of the ban, it gone punishment free. I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised given that this is F1, anything can happen, and probably will.

    IMO it makes McLaren’s $100m fine look even more vindictive and over-the-top.

    1. Michael C says:

      a point very well made

  5. Mr G says:

    This decision was always going to happen.
    The FIA has no clear legal position with employers of the teams and clearly they have no choice than abandon the legal pursue.
    However, deciding not ot waiste time against Briatore and Symonds, it might accelerate the process of implementing a Code of Conduct followed by a licensing process for the people involved in F1.
    If you think about it, drivers need to gain the Superlicense to race in F1, new teams need to go throught a process of due diligence to enter F1, old teams need to sign the Concorde agreement but the only people that they don’t need to go through a vetting process are the F1 team bosses.
    In a way, the FIA could have sue Renault for having let Briatore and Simonds do what they have been accused to have done.
    I guess the latter would have scared off more car manufacturer than the credit crunch

    1. Henry says:

      The FIA should definitely require that senior team figures hold some kind of license or permit to operate in F1. Even if it was just the team boss, head of technical, and the two driver managers; then the people responsible would be really accountable.

      As with most things in the FIA, and F1, they are miles behind the times, and unless they can find a way to change to make the teams and drivers accountable for some terrible examples of cheating over the years, they will loose fans fast.

      1. Martin says:

        A lawyer on this site made a point on this site, which I’ll try not to mess up. In many jurisdictions it would be illegal to implement a licence to exclude a person based on conduct that occurred before the licence existed. So if a licence was introduced the Briatore would have grounds to appeal an exclusion, and anyone else could say, “well you let Briatore in.” The legal principle could be wrong for all I know, but I throw it in.

  6. Alistair Blevins says:

    Todt has done the right thing here, and I for one am pleased that he has taken this step.

    It draws a line in the sand, and marks the close-out of Max’s era (racing regulations aside). He can now concentrate on making the FIA a more transparent and consistent organisation.

    Whilst Briatore and Symonds are paying the price for their indescretions, so is the FIA – in the way the matter was handled and dealt with.

    It’s hard to find any winners in this case.

    Firstly, I believe the sport will have moved on too far in 3 years for both Symonds and Briatore to make a successful comeback. Neither are spring chickens, and the average age of team management seems to be heading the other way…

    Secondly, Piquet will race (in F1 exile) with a cloud over him for the balance of his career. Rightly so, I believe.

    Finally, the FIA must re-establish its credibility to the watching world. I get the feeling that Jean Todt is accutely aware of this…

    1. Coops says:

      I think you’ve got that spot on, Alistair.

      1. Carl says:

        Hear Hear

    2. raelene says:

      Spot on

      1. Karl Thomson says:

        Well said. I completely agree, although I think you may find both of these lads re-employed more easily than you think.

      2. Alistair Blevins says:

        I think you may be right. Pat Symonds appears to be allowed to work as a consultant:

        http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/82855

    3. David Jerromes says:

      I find myself agreeing with your logical points, even though it still irks me that not one single person has in reality been ‘convicted’ of this most terrible cheating event.

      I think Max made it tooooo personal and that actually worked against the FIA under his presidency, whereas Todt is very politically astute and wanting to put the Mosley era well behind him…

      I’m not sure we’d see Flavio as a team principal again, although Symmonds could well end up in one of the newer teams with all of his experience.

      Piquet should rightly be under that cloud forever, he sowed the seeds of that particular rain-cloud that had so many repercussions for F1 and the FIA.

      1. Alistair Blevins says:

        Each of the protaganists had an axe to grind, and led them all to act inappropriately – whilst maintaining a holier-than-thou attitude (although Symonds did repent and salvage some respect).

        It appears 3 wrongs do make a right!

  7. Jay ITFC says:

    It sickens me that these 2 muppets could (and probably will) be back in F1 in 2013. Motorsport is dangerous enough without idiots ‘arranging’ crashes.

    1. the corpse says:

      dangerous enough!!. It is so safe, it makes me sick.
      The hole crash gate thing was blown out of proportion by mosley, and many of you bought it.
      I don’t like briatore in the paddock, but for different reasons. He would make the week end a fashion show if allowed, with inverted grid positions, and two stint gp’s. Please mr briatore, for the good of the sport, don’t ever come back.

      1. Jay ITFC says:

        Go ask Massa if he thinks ‘it’s so safe, it’s sick’.

      2. the corpse says:

        of course he wants the sport to be the safest, so he can be there making millions for as long as possible, without risking anything. Schumacher’s comeback, wouldn’t be possible in the seventies, when there was a lot at stake. Who is better, the one that does a dangerous activity with or without risking anything?
        I am sure, but i watched the sport when it was dangerous, and sex was safe. You weren’t born i assume.

  8. BiggusJimmus says:

    If Briatore and Symonds weren’t responsible, then who was? If Briatore is lying in public about it then his return is disgraceful. If his denial is honest then we all need the media, the FIA and anyone else with balls to point the finger at the genuine culprit. I can’t believe it’s possible to get away with something like this…is it?

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      No one has gotten away with anything here. You may not like the final outcome of the punishment, but rest assured Briatore and Symonds have both paid a heavy price. Max is gone and he too has paid a price for all his evil over the years. You think Piquet got off scott free? His reputation is totally ruined and he will never be back in F1. There are no winners here. Let’s move on and enjoy the future of the sport. Briatore and Symonds have both given a lot to the sport over the years and this major mistake destroyed their reputations, but it didn’t destroy their ability to repent and give back more in the future.

      1. BiggusJimmus says:

        Very sensible, Zobra. However, it’s the repentence that is my concern; denial is not repentence. Acceptence of responsibility was Briatore’s job – in itself that does not imply guilt. But IF he IS guilty, and is denying it in public, the sport should not let him return in any capacity – that would constitute getting away with it.

      2. Zobra Wambleska says:

        Briatore has taken the position that he, as team leader is responsible for everything that has happened, but has denied any personal involvement. Now, I know some here find this to be a nonsensical position, but it’s perfectly logical, to me at least, for a team leader to take the blame for something that happens on his watch, simply because he is in charge, but in fact knew nothing about what was going to happen in some part of the team. He may be team leader, but he is not omnipotent. Piquet implicates him, but he’s not really credible in this story, nor is Mosley, because of this I’m willing to cut Flav some slack.

  9. Robert McKay says:

    “He confirmed his acceptance to bear his share of responsibility in the Singapore events in his capacity of Managing Director…without any admission of a personal guilt in these events”

    Brilliant. I’m responsible, but I’m not guilty. Good one Flav…

    1. Freespeech says:

      And your point is?
      Let’s not forget that Renault who are ultimately responsible got away scot free :!:

      1. Robert McKay says:

        Oh, I’m not saying Renault aren’t guilty…I just think it’s oxymoronic to admit you were a part of it but not to blame…

        Either you accept you were part of it and were thus deserving of guilt and appropriate punishment…or you say “no, I’m innocent, let’s fight this and clear my name”.

  10. Spark says:

    James,

    I am wondering what happened to the idea of the “team boss license”. I mean that is something that Todt still has in the bag to put forward before 2013. This means Briatore will not be banned anymore by then but won’t receive a license to run a team.

    I am guessing that is something that was in the back of Todt’s mind when he struck this deal with Briatore and Symonds.

    1. JF says:

      That is my guess (and hope) as well. The FIA said it wouldn’t pursue any further prosecution but surely they would deny a license to these guys, effectively maintaining the ban.

  11. Freespeech says:

    Remind me who’s his best friend again?

    The above said no proper trial was conducted as such how can he be found guilty? Mosley’s vindictive nature and the FIA’s lack of balls to stand up to him is why this was thrown out by the French court (who did not look at the substance of the case just the procedures involved), there was no way the FIA would have won in a proper court.

    I know not whether Briatore is responsible for the crime but I do know because of Mosley we’ll never know one way or the other for certain.

  12. James W says:

    Will Briatore really return though? By then he’ll be getting fairly old, 63 or 64? Peter Sauber is of a similar age and has said that he isnt too keen on being the owner before having to save it following BMW’s pull out.

    I can see Symonds trying to come back, but I’m not sure what is in it for Briatore now, unless he’s after Bernie’s job…

    1. tobi-wan says:

      True, I read somewhere ages ago that FB wants to take on Bernie’s job. Not sure what CVC would have to say about that.

      1. Michael C says:

        Although FB the man is a character (of sorts) it seems incredible that he would be conceivably be allowed to replace Ecclestone after this incident. It would do the reputation of Formula 1 no good whatsoever

      2. the corpse says:

        i hope the crashgate stops his political ambitions within the sport. But it’s so smart, and the sport so weird, that you never know.

  13. Rich C says:

    I’ll bet Flav and Symmonds are back loonnnng before whats-his-name Junior.

  14. Stefanos says:

    The FIA plan to change their disciplinary proceedures and deal with issues of conflict of interest between people who manage drivers and a team, as well as making it mandatory for team managers to obtain a personal superlicense, then perhaps they will end up putting too high a hurdle in place, for Briatore-like characters to enter the sport. So, yesterday’s agreement may be immaterial. Is this likely to be the case, James?

    On the superlicense, I do not see the point, as a company’s director/CEO already does bear responsibility for a company’s actions and can be personally prosecuted for several legal infractions (i.e. financial fraud). Nonetheless, the FIA seem to want this added safety in place.

    1. James Allen says:

      I’ve always thought it odd that team principals and senior engineers aren’t subject to a licence, same as the drivers. That appears to be on its way

      1. guy says:

        Yes and who said Flav will be granted a licence when he aplies in 2012? Also a lot of the comments here seem to overlook the fact Flva be be innocent!

      2. Hiward Hughes says:

        Really? I’ve always thought it was perfectly understandable… For example, a pilot needs a licence, presumably those who work on planes need various checks, but if someone is a sufficiently successful businessman to buy controlling stock in an airline why should that individual be subject to licensing by a regulatory body provided he has no criminal record?

  15. Steve says:

    The FIA have a history of letting cheats off, thats why Schumacher is a 7 times world champion.

    1. Freespeech says:

      Correct and let’s not forget the many times that the FIA have manipulated the championship for their own ends (is this not cheating)?

    2. JF says:

      Someone always has to mention Schumacher. Get over it already.

      1. johnpierre rivera says:

        hard to get over it, for the simply fact that it is true. for over 10 years it appeared to many, including the pundits of the time, many team principles, and drivers, and most in the racing-viewing community, that despite his driving ability, micheal got away with some very questionable behavior, which then seemed to encourage more of the same questionable behavior. throw in the fact that he won the championship so many times in a row, and one can not have this kind of discourse about the FIA and its inconsistent and erratic governing without micheal being use as an example.

      2. JF says:

        Aside from a few notable incidents (you know what these are): Schu was not any worse than other highly aggressive drivers. Senna, Montoya, Hamilton are a few good examples of people taking rules to the very edge and maybe a little over. The main reason he was held to such scrutiny was because he was so sucessful, people held a grudge and blew everything out of proportion. Apparently that grudge is still well in place, and remains misguided.

    3. tank says:

      yeah, disqualified from 97 championship, kicked to the back of the grid for ’06 monaco… sure they let him get away with it.

      1. Gary C-G says:

        He should have got a lifetime ban for Monaco 06.

    4. jocker12 says:

      add senna to this….

  16. Andy3E says:

    Flavio i could care less about, end of the day a blowhard team boss who may or may not have suggested a crazy outlandish strategy, but for me the real crime and the real insult is that Nelson Piquet Jr got away scott free.

    if he really felt bad about it, he should never have done it, if it really played on his conciseness he should have spoken up right after, instead he did an Alonso and tried to use it as leverage against a team boss when things didn’t go his way.

    Mosley should never have offered him immunity when he stepped forward, he should have thrown the book at PK Jr for crashing AND for not coming forward until it suited him, and then gone after the rest.

  17. Kedar says:

    In a way this is sheer pragmatism. The driver who actually crashed and witness “X” was allowed to get away scott free whereas the strategists were punished. Now everyone has a light punishment. I guess thats life.
    Its like the government bailing out banks with tax payers money!!

  18. MacGraw says:

    How do you know it is the worst piece of cheating in the sport’s history? Other pieces of cheating might have gone unnoticed.

    Think this is the right decision. Flav and Pat should never have been tackled by the FIA.

    The rules and its governorship led to what happened . . . you have to change things at the top.

    1. Adrian says:

      One meaning of ‘history’ is the **record** of what has occurred. I suspect that this is the meaning which was intended.

  19. Scotty says:

    There was a third party involved in this don’t forget, who was the most guilty party in this sorry episode by actually carrying out the deed. But was given immunity by Max, who seemingly wasn’t interested in a transparent fair and just punishment, but was simply out to get Flavio. Whatever Flavio or Pat did, the whole disciplinary process was biased and partisan, and shrouded in secrecy – That was the most unsatisfactory aspect to all this!

    I think its clear that despite my reservations, Jean Todt IS changing the FIA for the better, making processes fairer and more transparent, no obvious favouritism or bias, and you hope in the future if similar situations occur that punishment would be proportionate, just and transparent!

    1. TM says:

      Yes but surely 3 years banned from the sport isn’t proportionate to the crime of rigging a grand prix, and more importantly putting drivers, marshals, and spectators at risk. I totally agree that Piquet being let off was a horrendous mistake but that doesn’t make Briatore’s and Symonds’ punishment proportionate to the crime.

  20. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    Absolutely disgusting. Briatore coldly planned and fixed a race and brought the sport into disrepute.

    This was not him throwing a fit at an umpire in the heat of the moment. This was calculated deception that should have sent this criminal to prison.

    If this was just Pat Fry (who at least admitted his guilt) then he would have been left hung out to dry. Bernie managed to wangle his mate Briatore back into the sport but at a very high cost in terms of credibility for the sport.

    1. neil murgatroyd says:

      **correction, Pat Symonds
      Pat Fry isn’t guilty of this, and didn’t admit it

    2. the corpse says:

      has the sport any credibility left? Not to me.

    3. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Sorry – don’t know why I wrote Pat Fry!!

      Sorry Pat. I meant Symonds.

  21. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    James, a separate question for you on engines having just read that Alonso will not use a fresh one this weekend.

    How is engine condition assessed? Are these sealed units that cannot be opened? Is it on the basis of telemetry? Can they use an endoscope?

    Thanks

  22. Erico says:

    This is sickening. Briatore represents the exact worse kind of character to have made its way into F1 over the past decades and now all is set for him to be back. What message does it convey?

    “F1 – We accept your cheating, lying and proven guilty [mod]“. Is that it?

  23. shortsighted says:

    Well, F1 is full of cheating and unsporting behaviour. Many of them have gone unpunished or only punished lightly. In this case, one can see that one of the most important figures in the Singapore incident (Nelson Jr.) has gone off unpunished. Why are people so concerned about Biatore and not a bit about NP Jr? Is it because they are just ecohing the FIA presidents?

    1. TM says:

      No I think literally everyone was and is angry about Piquet getting off. But the latest story here is about Briatore and Symonds getting off.

  24. Vic says:

    Does anyone really see any teams taking Flav on? Big teams especially?

    I can see maybe the mid table teams taking Symonds on

    Maybe Todt took this into consideration

    Thoughts?

    Vic

    1. the corpse says:

      the real loser is jr, he is allowed to come back to f1, but nobody is considering him for a drive. He is the one not returning to f1.

  25. Ali Unal says:

    If you are playing with the mud, no one can stay clean.

    This is nothing but corruption for both sides. How can a person who admitted the responsibility identify himself as not “guilty” or how can a regulatory body go against its own lifelong ban decision for the sake of pragmatism? You scratch my back and I scratch yours. Disgusting.

  26. Carlm21 says:

    Keep him banned for good. This doesn’t look good for formula 1. Banned for life then suddenly only a few years. F1 needs to be strict on cheats

  27. Peter Freeman says:

    I do not agree that this was the worst case of cheating in the history of the spot. The presence of Allen Donnelly and the match fixing that was done by Ferrari and the FIA over so many years and at so many races out strips this by so many miles I am astounded that you would even begin classify this single crash in the same category!

    And quite frankly denial that this match fixing took place is even more preposterous than Briatories denial of orchestrating Jnr’s crash in Singapore.

    nad lets not forget the $400 000 000 secret deal between Bernie and Ferrari that saw 5 chamionships come Ferrari’s way…

    1. Michael C says:

      Let’s have more details please!!!

      1. Peter Freeman says:

        Are you unaware that Allen Donnelly was both the owner of the PR company representing Ferrari as well as the FIA’s permanent steward? Did you not see the publicity surrounding many very controversial decisions at numerous races during this period of time all of which went in favour of Ferrari and its drivers? To many observers this was simply match fixing. In 2008 some media reports counted as many as 25 points that were awarded to Filipe Massa as a result of the outcome of controversial decisions.

    2. tank says:

      Whot?

      How does ecclestone have the power to throw championships? and with such a limp dollar figure? Engage the brain, mate.

      1. Peter Freeman says:

        You only reveal your own ignorance. Ferrari agreed to sign with FOM and not stand with the manufacturers break away in exchange for $80 000 000 paid to them over and above the standard prize money IF they won the championship. What good would this agreement be if they did not know that they win? Amazingly it just happened to turn out that they won 5 in row, a complete coincidence and nothing to do with the money or being in partnership with the FIA/FOM.

        Sorry what was that you wanted me to engage?

      2. tank says:

        still have no idea what you’re talking about. Ferrari came to the agreement in 2005 to get paid out, which effectively ended the breakaway threat at that time (that had to do with teams’ discruntlement with revenue distribution).

        following your “reasoning”, they were being paid, giving their assurance to ecclestone that they would win championships they already won.

  28. Steve Rogers says:

    Despite all the blemishes on Briatore’s and Symonds’ characters, Piquet was the man who deliberately risked lives and the greatest share of the blame should fall on him. But I personally was quite happy with all three of them receiving a lifetime ban and disappointed when the FIA was not able to achieve that. Whether this was in some way Mosley’s fault I don’t think is clear, especially since Todt has shown himself even less capable. I also suspect that, considering the number of dodgy events which occurred in 1994-6 at Benetton, Briatore is a confirmed and shameless cheat and I will not enjoy seeing him back in F1 in any capacity.

  29. Andy C says:

    This sorry affair just keeps rolling doesn’t it. I don’t agree with this let off.

    What sort of a message does it send? It was deliberate cheating and I don’t think for a minute those people should be allowed back in. Personal opinion but I feel very strong about it.

  30. F1 Kitteh says:

    Quite a U-turn from Todt, did he not say that the perpetrators cannot escape unpunished a little while ago? I’d imagine Bernie was twisting some arms behind the scenes and this looks like setting up Flav to be playing some significant role, or even replacing Bernie the man himself in a few years time?

  31. Frenchie says:

    Am I the only one here missing the Flav and Pat?

    F1 has always been about pushing the envelop to the extreme. I consider strategy to be part of it.

    I really do miss the cunning tactics of Symonds injecting a bt of uncertainty in the races.
    I miss Flav’s big mouth. Martin, Stefano and Ross aren’t as charismatic enough. Only Christian Horner seems to have a not so corporate approach to F1 these days.

    The only thng I am disappointed with is that they did not foresee Piquet Jr would open his mouth once sacked. Schoolboy error, really.

  32. Calum says:

    Do you think McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes or Renault would touch Pat Symonds?

    Personally I think it’s a shame that he’s out the sport as his guile added something to the teams he worked at; but surely given his confession along with the sponsorship sensitive nature of the sport would rule him out of ever working for a top team again?

    1. Zobra Wambleska says:

      He may not start out with a top team, but he is capable of bring ing a lower level team up into the top league.

  33. neil murgatroyd says:

    I think Todt has taken pragmatism too far. Briatore is allowed to deny he had any part of it? Despite 3 witnesses (Piquet, Symonds, “unnamed engineer”). Surely a lack of an admission of his active role should preclude his return to F1. Otherwise, what’s next?
    A little research on Briatore reveals a ‘colourful’ past, and not just in F1, can it really be worth the risk of letting him back in? And Pat Symonds’ punishment is now the same as Briatore’s, clearly his previous candid statement has counted against him, that’s not a good portent for the future.
    One can only hope that openness and a consistent application of rules across all teams in the future can drag F1′s reputation back towards respectability. It’s looking pretty shabby right now, vindictive (to some), partial (to some), and viciously inconsistent. Todt must be thanking Moseley for that inheritance.

  34. Race9089 says:

    Who knows whether there will be an “F1″ series in its current format after 2012??

  35. Phil C says:

    Bad? Yes, this is a bad decision. However, it is also the right one.

    Think about this – Flav won his case, the FIA appealed. If the FIA won, Flav would have appealed again. If they lost, it would have made a mockery of the FIA justice system, and Flav would be allowed back in now.

    This way, both men still receive a punishment, a blot on their records. The main instigator according to both Symonds and witness X was Piquet, who suggested the crash. However this was the man who went unpunished.

    Now the FIA, under Todt, can get it’s house in order and get the system in place where punishments can be handed out and enforced. This settlement also draws a line under the scandle. The media won’t report on it anymore, and it won’t drag F1 into a dark spot again.

    Yes it’s not a great ruling, but for the future of the sport, and the limit to the damage it can cause, it’s the best solution.

    But if this had happened while Todt was in charge, instead of Max, i don’t think we’d be here now.

  36. TM says:

    This is a case of Todt not seeing the wood for the trees.
    In other words; sure, not dragging the whole thing through the courts again will mean it’s probably not covered much outside of F1 press right now, but what impact is it going to have on the sport if Briatore comes back in 2013? That’s when it’ll hit the mainstream headlines and cause the damage.

    Todt looks decidedly weak from this, it’s definitely a victory to Briatore.

  37. Graeme says:

    Think Todt had no choice, legally they were never present to defend themselves. The FIA would need to try them and it would be a legal mess.

  38. Bill Day says:

    James, thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis, as always.

    Todt did the right thing by putting an end to the fight on the best terms possible. The previous regime made such a mess of the process, there was no better outcome possible.

    I was always amazed that a team principal could also manage drivers. The conflicts of interest are outrageous: consider how much money Briatore made for himself by sending Alonso from Renault to McLaren — in the process giving away the star driver of Renault, the team whose interests he is supposed to be defending in every way possible. Can this happen in any other sport worthy of the name?

    Anyway, I think it took guts to Todt to make it go away, and I’m glad. Let’s put Max behind us, ASAP. I wanted Vatinen to win but now I’m feeling better about Todt.

  39. Brace says:

    James, please.
    There were far worse examples of cheating in F1 than this.
    It’s just that, back then, it was all “just part of the game.”

  40. Andrew says:

    But there are still legal disputes between the Piquets & Briatori pending so, won’t the whole incident be debated in (open court) with evidence & cross examination, for the first time?

    The FIA say that they want to call a halt to negative publicity but I kind of sense that this is far from over as a media story… may be real truth behind the planning of this incident will come out in these libel cases…

  41. Raul Costa says:

    and what about Alonso?

    How come he didnt knew!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    CMON!!

    1. Thalasa says:

      Did he need to know?

    2. Torrent says:

      and how come alonso & dela rosa knew they were using FERRARI data while at mclaren & lewis hamilton testified he didn’t know

    3. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Alonso is too intelligent not to have known.

      His team put him on a crazy strategy for that race and he would have had to have wanted to know why.

  42. Torrent says:

    I am shocked at some reactions where most people seem to blame BRIATORE much more than SYMONDS. Both are guilty and equally guilty I would add. So it is a disgrace that both of them get back to F1 later on.

    As for the little ban, the point is MAX MOSLEY banned them from FORMULA 1 without having any right to do so. Team principal, engineers and any employee of any formula 1 team are employees of the FORMULA 1 team and not employees of the FIA so how could the FIA ban them from working for these teams !?
    The FIA has only the right to penalise RENAULT and they didn’t do so to keep FORMULA 1 from loosing too many teams under a global economical crisis plus an engine supplier. Add to that that a lot of jobs could have been lost as a consequence and the FIA found itself in a situation where it had to make RENAULT stay on the grid and yet punish the culprits… The FIA decision is morally very sound but legally completely rubbish.

    As James pointed out, Jean TODT pragmatism and smartness is showing up here because he finds himself (as the FIA chairman) in a no win situation. Carrying on the legal dispute would have only added salt to the injury without the certainty of any success plus the bad publicity.

    So he did what he had to do look forward and take a lesson from what happened by applying licenses to senior staff members (the decision makers) in the teams. By doing so, the next BRIATORE and SYMONDS won’t escape the penalty.

    Right now, their reputation is damaged but I won’t rule out the return of any of them in the future. It won’t be easy because they are senior figures in the team and their reputation might harm their sponsors and that’s what FORMULA 1 is all about…. But time erases a lot of things and 3 years are a long deal of time….

    …To be continued.

  43. Adrian says:

    It’s a bit of a joke for Todt on the one hand to promulgate the idea that the disciplinary process should all be independent and then on the other hand preclude any present / future attempt to discipline Briatore for these alleged offences. It’s like saying, ‘look at these great new independent Courts’ but adding a rider ‘but we’ll decide who appears in them’.

    More specifically, the whole thing smacks of an unprincipled whitewash … and the fact of Bernie’s long-standing friendship with Briatore does not help the idea of transparent justice a jot.

  44. “This is an unsatisfactory outcome in many ways as it means that no-one has been properly prosecuted for the worst piece of cheating in the sport’s history. ”

    Well said.

    I believe also Piquet’s license should be permanently revoked.

  45. PeteJ says:

    How is this any worse than Senna deliberately driving Prost off the road? Or Schumacher’s similar attempt? At the end of the day, even if Flav or Pat asked Piquet to pull that move, he’s a bloody grown man with his own mind (or is he?), and the vast majority of blame should fall on him. He committed the crime. (I wonder did Nelson Snr know?)
    Everyone here denigrating Briatore and Symonds as the worst criminals in history need to quit the faux indignation that seems to be endemic on the internet these days.

    1. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

      Yes. What Senna and Schumacher did was open and obvious. Briatore and Symonds covertly defrauded everyone.

  46. George says:

    What a sham, such a total failure by the FIA to stand up to such a shoddy opperator; how can the fans and media have any respect for this organisation? Let alone the other teams who competed along side Flav at the time?

    Very disapointing.

    We need the FIA to get this feedback from the fans – what effect does this have on the viwers at a time when there a such questions of sustainability etc going arround…

  47. Mike from Medellin, Colombia says:

    What does Ari Vatenen have to say about all of this now?!!

  48. Hiward Hughes says:

    I miss Flav – I’d have him back today.

    And I don’t see where people are coming from attacking Todt’s decision – finally some common sense and deftness of touch are being employed at the helm of the FIA, and not yet more heavy-handed bullying. Let’s not forget, if Flav had successfully fought the FIA in the civil courts, Todt could conceivably have faced the genuine nightmare of McLaren seeking recompense for a certain $100m.

    This was Mosley’s fight, and every time it reared its head in the papers F1 took another image battering. Todt’s done the sensible thing and moved everyones’ agenda on.

    1. Michael C says:

      So wouldn’t it be worth McLaren fighting their penalty retrospectively? – Or as usual are there hidden agendas (conspiracy theories don’t you love em?)

      1. Howard Hughes says:

        Honestly I’d love them to! They should never have been fined it, and for them to challenge it now, in light of the crash episode, would be a thrilling piece of political theatre….

  49. john g says:

    a good call by todt in my opinion. this was the best thing he could have done following the biased proceedings of mr mosely. if anything, pat symonds should have been dealt with a little more harshly, as one who admitted guilt to being complicit with the plans of NP Jr. Flav has always protested his innocence, and his involvement has never been proven. NP Jr was granted immunity by mosely in his delight at the possibility of getting rid of flav, so this could not be retrospectively overturned by todt, but it looks like we’ll never see him in any top flight form of motorsport again anyway.

    i don’t especially like flav but i think justice has now finally been done, and todt has allowed F1 to draw a line under this whole sorry episode.

  50. Michael C says:

    Go on Martin and Ron we are behind you!

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