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Mystery Renault insider confirmed Briatore was in on crash plot
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Mystery Renault insider confirmed Briatore was in on crash plot
Posted By: James Allen  |  22 Sep 2009   |  10:44 pm GMT  |  134 comments

The full explanation of how the World Motor Sport Council reached its decision has just been published and the really interesting point is that Flavio Briatore was betrayed by a Renault insider who demanded anonymity in return for detailed information about Briatore’s involvement in F1’s most notorious cheating scandal.

After their initial investigations, neither Renault nor the FIA were sure of the extent of Briatore’s involvement. As a result, according to the report,

“The FIA considered that it was imperative to conduct further enquiries in order
that all available facts could be presented to the WMSC. The FIA’s further
enquiries led to an additional set of Renault F1 written submissions dated 17
September 2009. In those additional submissions, Renault F1 referred to the
existence of another member of the Renault F1 team (“Witness X”) who, although
not a conspirator himself, knew of the conspiracy at the time of the 2008
Singapore Grand Prix. Renault F1 stated in its submissions of 17 September 2009
that Witness X had confirmed that Mr Briatore had known of the deliberate crash
plan before it had been put into effect. ”

Witness X, it turns out, was present at a meeting where Briatore discussed the crash plot with Pat Symonds,

“Renault F1 submitted that Witness X was a ‘whistleblower’ within its team and
that if his identity were to be revealed it may discourage other similarly situated
persons to come forward in relation to this or other matters. The FIA considered
this argument to have some merit, given that Witness X was said not himself to be
a conspirator. However, the FIA considered that this argument had to be balanced
against the requirements of the FIA’s investigation and the requirement to put the
full facts before the WMSC. The FIA therefore agreed with Renault F1 that the
identity of Witness X would be made known to the FIA’s President, and certain of
the FIA’s legal advisers only.”

It goes on, “When the FIA’s advisers interviewed Witness X, he expressly confirmed that Mr Briatore was involved in the conspiracy because Witness X had been personally present at a meeting shortly after qualifying on Saturday 27 September 2008 when Mr Symonds had mentioned the possibility of a crash plan to Mr Briatore. The FIA’s advisers were confident that Witness X himself played no active role in the
conspiracy.”

So who is the mysterious witness X? The FIA report goes on to say that Fernando Alonso did not know about it, so it cannot be him, but it could be one of the other senior Renault engineers, like Alan Permane or James Allison. Whoever it is, Briatore will know their name because he will recall the meeting.

Another interesting point is that Renault has its own internal whistleblower policy, to try to weed out problems. But it failed in this case, for obvious reasons,

“It appears that Renault F1 had policies in place, including internal whistleblower policies, which would normally have prevented the occurrence of these events. These policies were not effective in this case because the very people to whom the events would have been reported under those policies, had anybody known, were themselves conspirators. ”

The conclusion to the report highlights Briatore’s conflicting roles as team principal and manager of drivers working for that team, something that F1 people had got used to, but which newcomers to the sport always found puzzling,

“Not only did he hold a responsibility to the team, he had a responsibility to guide and assist Mr Piquet Jnr in his career and to offer advice as needed. The WMSC regard it to be unsatisfactory that any Team Principal should manage any driver as it can lead to the kinds of conflicts of interests that plainly arose here. In this case Mr Briatore manifestly did not guide Mr Piquet Jnr appropriately and indeed allowed and
seemingly encouraged him to engage in potentially ruinous and life-threatening
activities.

“Taken together, the above factors, and the complete absence of any mitigating
factors, lead the WMSC to conclude that Mr Briatore is not a person suitable to
participate in any way in any motorsport activities under the FIA’s control.”

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1

So here is yet *another person that knew of the plot and failed to speak up at the time! How can such people be condoned to remain in F1??

2

Witness X – Some say he has 3 testicles, some say he has no eyebrows and once got arrested for stealing ducks from a lake…..all we know is hes called the Stig!!!

3

Of course!

4
Jorge Moreira da Costa

Can someone explain me the logic which rides in the brains of the people that decided both the McLaren §100mil fine – punishing a “possible” use of know-how stolen by a Ferrari insider – and the two year probation for Renault – punishing an actual cheating by actual Renault employees?

5

Renault got punished more for leaving a wheel loose for gods sake!

6

Based on what did the FIA consider that what Mr. X is saying was the truth? What if someone from Renault wanted to bring Flavio down? And we don’t even know whether it’s true some X guy approached the FIA.

7

‘Witness X’ is easy to identify when you know where to look for him.

It was not Alonso. He was kept in the dark.

I’m not going to reveal the identity of this mysterious person though, just keep guessing.

8

I find ver acquard that up until “judgement day”, nobody said anything about a 4th person present in the famous meeting. When the issue arise it was always mantained that, PS and NP jr. were the only people present and with knowledge of what was discussed inside Mr`s FB office.

I haven`t read anything about either Symonds or Piquet Jr. acknowledging that this 4th person was present and why he wasn`t mentioned before by Piquet?.

I my mind there are 3 option of qwho this person is:

A) Another Senior Manager

B) Fernando Alonso

C) The Cleaning Lady

9

Re. Teflonso, I have yet to see any one try and make anything of the fact that he was unexpectantly summoned to the WMSC at the last minute.

I believe, but stand to be corrected, that whilst the FIA said he was not part of the conspiracy, did they ever say he knew nothing of it?

Thoughts…

10

Yes, i think i could be him, how on eath you make that strategy work without the other driver beig informed.

11

With option A) you are on the right track. Not quite, though.

Piquet didn’t mention him because he was not there when Witness X was informed of a possible ‘plan’. He probably didn’t even know there was another person involved.

That he wasn’t mentioned before seems to be mysterious indeed. But from listening to the records, witness X only came into play during the interviews in Spa- maybe he got worried what others (Symonds and Briatore) would say about him, and decided to contact the stewards.

The cleaning lady is a funny option- but i assume you know that witness X stated he distanced himself from the plan and didn’t want to have anything to do with it. Counts out said lady, i guess.

12

I’m not from Spain, if that is what you think. And i’m counting out option B) for several reasons.

Well keep guessing. James already ruled out Alonso as well, but don’t take his word for it, or mine- you are entitled to have your oppinion, of course.

13

Which leave us with option B and somewhere around option A, But looking more deeply at your reply you didn`t mentioned anything about option B, thus maybe your mindset is right now in Oviedo, Spain.

14

Can we get back to racing now?

15

No, *this is the fun part!

16

If witness x wanted to remain anonymous so that briatore didn’t know who he was then there must have been more than one additional witness. It also can’t be pat symmonds unless there were muliple additional witnesses as fb would know it was him. So, Hastings, by deduction there were multiple witnesses which means it a team effort. Mon dieu!!

17

everyone dont blast me now! lol

do you think ferrari can get the results voided for that gp?

FIA knew before Hamilton became champ that Renault cheated..

Maybe theres more to come??

18

Think FredEx.

19

I’d love it if Mr X was infact Mr Ecclestone.

20

I agree; he gets my vote as Mr X.

21

If Witness X is telling the truth that he was in a 3 person meeting with Symonds and Flav then surely a few other people from Renault must have seen him going to attend the meeting, who in turn will gossip about it with a few other people now, and so on… by Friday his name will be out, and the anonymity is kind of pointless… unless the whole Witness X episode thing is a fabrication by the Renault management …

But why?

Well if we take Symonds’ version as the truth that it was Piquet’s idea to crash all along, (and I tend to believe he is not lying since he could have easily pointed the finger at Flav along with the rest of the ppl and got immunity, but rather chose to stick to his version of the story and be banned for 5 yrs) then the Reanult management would be very scared that Flav/Symonds could present evidence to the WMSC to such effect. At the meeting, they can easily add that they were opposed to the idea and told Piquet not to proceed, but Piquet did it on his own anyway. At that point it would have put the FIA in a jam: since they offered Piquet immunity, Flav/Symonds tried to stop Piquet but could not, which would leave them with no choice but to punish Renault heavily. Now Renault could not have taken that risk could they? So they invent a Witness X, to confirm that Flav/Symonds knew about it, get rid of those two to prevent them from presenting their case, negotiate a settlement with FIA, case closed and most everybody is kind of happy. I mean, is there any one who does not believe that this whole thing is just made up drama around a very simple storyline that Max wants Flav’s scalp ?

This is really twisted because FIA chose to administer their own brand of ‘justice’ by handing out immunity protection to Piquet. That has really prevented the truth from coming out and I hope this gets taken up in the real courts and we will see whether Piquet will still feel that it is ‘better that the truth be known’

22

We should make a poll for Witness X.. 🙂

For me, it’s clear that Witness.X is actually Witness BB.. Bob Bell..

He’s 2nd to PS so he should know about it..

23

I agree Paparazzi, me too thinking it’s Bob Bell, seems most logical.

Also I think it’s clear now that it was Piquet Jr. with the plan to crash, right thing to do, would be to take his immunity, as he has been lying and punish him aswell. But I’m afraid, it’s not gonna happen, they have got rid of Briatore, that’s all they wanted. Altough it feels so wrong, when the guy who came up with the plan and who did it and is still lying about it, gets away with no harm.

24

James, does this mean alonso/renault will keep the win/points [my mother used to say cheaters never prosper]?

25

Witness X, if he exists, is NOT ALONSO. Simple reason being the Piquets would’ve known as jnr was supposed to have been at that meeting and i am sure the Piquets would have ‘informed’ us this fact a few times.

26

Piquet senior has said ‘Alonso knew’ at least once in the press.

27

No, Piquet Senior made only an assumption that Alonso should have known.

28

I haven’t had time to read through all the comments, but here is mine:

I find the appearance of Witness X a little too convenient. One thing is that the timing of the appearance is a little odd. But what role does he have?

– He hammered the final nails in Briatores coffin.

– He draws a line of guilt around Flav, Pat and Nelsinho, and for some reason assures that no other Renault-employee knew about it. And for another some reason everybody believes him.

This is all very convenient for both Mosleys quest to nail Briatore, and for Renault’s wish for damage-limitation. And hence that for Bernie’s wish to keep a manufactorer in F1.

He was like the final important part for the puzzle to fit. But he fits just a little too good in my view.

29

I believe Alonso is Witness X, I also believe he will stay at Renault for next season as part of “The Deal”.

We will see.

30

Hi James,

As its now been confirmed that Spore GP result was fixed, is there any ground for say ferrari or anyone els to ask for these results to be excluded? Thanks.

31

Witness X – likely the rest of Renault team.

32

What I can’t believe is Briatore cheated when he knew the car was potentially a winner. Alonso won the following race in Japan, so I wonder how Briatore felt then?

I didn’t get up to watch the Singapore grand prix but the next morning I logged onto the internet and looked at the result. My initial reaction was, ‘how the hell did Alonso win that from 15th?’ I watched the grand prix and for the first time ever I thought ‘this is a fix’. Alonso should not be allowed the win. Rosberg won as far as I’m concerned.

33
Christian Hepworth

My theory is that witness X is actually Pat Symonds. The FIA only wanted Flavs scalp here, and Symonds clearly didn’t want to implicate him in public, so they ‘let him off’ with a 5 year ban after admitting his part in it, and his statement, under the name of ‘Witness X’ would give the FIA enough evidence to ban Flav for life. It’s possible…

34

No it’s not. The FIA have just about zero cred. as it is. If they were to twist the identity of the witnesses as you imply that would finish them if it came out.

Max may have odd tastes, but he’s not that stupid.

35

What we may all be forgetting is Max’s investigation into who set him up for the News of the World expose into his private life.

I think now that Briatore has been wiped off the face of the F1 earth, we may have found the source…..discuss.

36

I’ve been thinking the same thing for a few days now.

According to an article on Pitpass today, Mosley does now know who it was that set him up, and Pitpass’ editor speculates that revenge will be taken at some point in the future…but some of us think it already has been.

37

James, Thought you might like to here this.

I have a friend of a friend who works for Williams, and he has told us today that Rubens is due to attend a seat fitting at the factory.

38

I’ve heard he’s signed also, from a friend of a friend so to speak. We shall see soon enough I guess

39

Sorry, I mean in the near future!!

40

That will be difficult considering Barrichello has been in Singapore since Tuesday (22/09)!

Unless you are talking about another Rubens… or Williams have a factory out there… hehe 😉

41

With this new witness and it seems highly unlikely that Briatore knew nothing of the race fix plan.

I think Symonds missed an opportunity to undo more of the mess he helped to create by coming clean about his knowledge of Briatore’s level of involvement one way or another. One wonders why the FIA didn’t ask him directly about Briatore’s involvement.

This indicates a level of loyalty to friendship but one can’t help feeling that from now on Briatore’s billionaire jetset lifestyle won’t have much time for a retired F1 technical geek who used to be part of the same team.

42

Surely the only reason why FB would not now name witness X is if witness X was Alonso?

43

Harveyeight and Werewolf,

There have been reports that Briatore is considering legal action in the EU courts as regards the FIA having effectively taken away his means of earning his living. Does he have a case?

44

When Indycars first left American shores, the FIA, tried to exert pressure on drivers through its component national federations, threatening to withdraw their FIA licenses if they participated in Indycar races. Real courts ruled it restraint of trade, monopolistic behaviour illegal in WTO member countries . If Briatore’s case proceeds, it would likely be along those lines. The FIA can probably legally apply their extreme sanction to him, but he might use the case to effectively be re-tried, with normal civil standards of evidence having to be applied, rather than the FIA being able to choose who to selectively believe, and very real differences in immunities. Potentially very interesting if it comes to anything.

45

Werewolf, the thing about Briatore’s proposed suit is that the FIA’s witnesses are mooted as defendants in a blackmail prosecution. Can’t help thinking that witness X is the FIA sabre-rattling to encourage Briatore to reconsider.

46

I agree, and the fact mentioned several times above that Briatore has many other sources of income is completely irrelevant.

I have no time for Briatore, but someone has to bring the FIA down. I hope he sues, and I hope he wins.

47

My legal training relates primarily to UK employment legislation and related areas, so it would be dangerous to attempt a definitive reply. Restraint of trade, however, is a serious matter and is normally considered either illegal or at the very least unreasonably disproportionate.

In Briatore’s case, I would venture the opinion there has been no significant restraint because of his numerous other business interests and the fact he is not banned from motor racing, only FIA-sanctioned events. I seem to remember an athlete who was banned for drugs use losing a similar claim a couple of years ago (perhaps somebody can elaborate).

48

Werewolf,

As the pro in all of this, although I accept the limitations of your speciality, can you point us in the direction of Briatore’s options with regards the hearing?

One assumes he would not have been aware of all the evidence before the hearing, would have not been able to mount a ‘defence’ as a plea had already been accepted, and would have been left with just a bit of mitigation.

My feeling is that his legal advice would have been to stay away and fight on a ground of his choosing. The suprise Witness X would have been quite a shock.

49

Ex-pro, Harveyeight! I have to start by saying that, as you know, Briatore was not employed by the FIA, so employment legislation is of no relevance. This will be decided under broader civil law

If this was an employment matter, however, Briatore would be onto an absolute winner in any unfair dismissal case (tribunal or court) because the FIA has failed to observe the principles of natural justice, never mind any questions of procedure, proportionality or law. He wasn’t even the defendent at the hearing!

I would expect any case by Briatore to be a damages claim to a civil court based on such matters as the FIA’s failure to provide a proper opportunity for defence/reply, procedural failing, lack of transparency, potential/probable bias, unfair treatment and leaking of sensitive and damaging documents to the press. There is also the question of whether the effective ban falls within the FIA’s authority, as it has not revoked any license but threatened third parties with sanctions if they employ Briatore.

I still see the restraint of trade case as fairly weak (though by no means unarguable). The IndyCar analogy referred to by Murray does not hold in my view because the FIA’s actions in that instance were born out of a rivalry between two commercial entities and preventing drivers from plying their legitimate trade with a rival outfit was very clearly an abuse of its power. Briatore’s ‘ban’ is a punishment for wrongdoing (much as athletes can be banned for doping) but is questionable for the reasons in the last paragraph.

A commercial or sports lawyer with knowledge of international law would have a better insight. Anyone out there?

50

If you were asking me as part of the team that wanted to represent him, then I’d say yes. Resoundingly. If you were asking me to put money on the outcome, then I’ve got to say that things are less clear.

From what I can understand of the procedures adopted by Mosley/FIA then there is probably a strong defence of him not being able to defend himself. The action of the Renault team, that of agree no contest effectively keeps him out of the procedure. Whilst he could be asked to attend, and there seems some suggestion he might have been, without full access to all the items being adduced, then he might well feel that it would be unfair.

Mosley made a joke about the procedures in France differing to those in this country. Extremely poor taste of course. However it does tend to indicate that French procedures might well differ considerable from those in this country. But one thing I do know the French have and that is restraint of trade.

They are by and large taking Briatore’s income away from him. That can only be done in extremis. If this is such a heinous crime one wonders why Piquet, seemingly the instigator, ‘gets away with it’.

He has drivers, lots of them, contracted to him. By banning him from any income from these drivers the FIA is hitting him with a very big stick. They can’t use the justification of it being improper for one person to have a monopoly as they were happy enough with the situation before the court case. Also this might be considered as part of the financial side of the sport and, although you might not believe it, Mosley was roundly criticised for interfering in such matters some years ago.

It won’t, I am willing to bet, come to a court case. There are too many questions that might be asked, some of which might well be answered.

You might remember the shaking hands with Ron Dennis on the steps of McLaren HQ post Stepneygate. Whilst that was a tremendous climb-down for the FIA it received little coverage in the papers. A similar reduction of the penalty in this case will, in all probability, get as many column inches. It will no longer be news.

Whether there is a case in law will be of little concern I think.

51

Firstly I don’t believe he needs to work at all now having amassed far too much from his various agencies salaries and commissions.

Secondly F1 is not his only source of income, I believe he runs GP2 which is not an FIA regulated series (please correct me here if I am wrong). Whilst Bernie has said that most of the tracks and people fall under FIA jurisdiction, in fact it is Bernie’s that they fall under, not the FIA’s. Please note that Bernie and the FIA are separate, one makes massive amounts of money having paid the other very little for the privilege.

52

Take away his living…. £110m net worth, a Billionaires Club, pharma company (apparently), QPR + umpteen other things.

I suspect the court will laugh him out.

If it was his only profession and only qualification then maybe. But then Doctors can’t sue their governing body if they are struck off….

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