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FIA reacts strongly to Briatore judgement
FIA reacts strongly to Briatore judgement
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jan 2010   |  8:37 pm GMT  |  122 comments

The FIA has issued a strong response to the verdict in the Flavio Briatore case. It says that both men are still guilty of conspiring to cause the accident in Singapore and its punishment stands until it has exhausted all of its options, which include an appeal. It also hints at putting a new system in place which will make sure that people like Briatore and Symonds will not be able to compete in F1 in future. (See separate story on licences)

“The Court has rejected the claims for damages made by Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds and their claim for an annulment of the FIA’s decision. In particular, the Court did not examine the facts and has not reversed the FIA’s finding that both Briatore and Symonds conspired to cause an intentional crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

“However, the Court did question the FIA’s authority to impose bans upon Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds for procedural reasons and because they are not FIA licence holders and, according to the Court, are therefore not subject to any FIA rules. 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.”

This presumably means licences for key individuals – licences which Briatore and Pat Symonds would not receive from the FIA.

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Would they be grandfathered in if they were to join a team before this new licensing takes place? If Flavio were to buy a stake in the Genii investment, would they be able to push him out of his ownership?


I looked into that before Christmas. People close to the deal say Flavio was not involved


Maybe he wasn't involved in the initial deal. He may very well be interested in a stake, as they would surely want his marketing genius and connections for sponsorships.


I get the impression that Lopez will take charge of all that.


Good stuff, Briatore shouldn't be allowed to get away with his actions.


including Symmonds and Piquet and Renault?


Shame Alonso seems to always get away! Despite his involvement in two major scandals.

Genius driver but WOW! So many dodgey deals and blackmail. look at that smile... He has been reading 'The Prince' by Machiavelli for certain.

Forza Felipe!


Great driver definitely but I'm sure everyone knows that he knew as well. They say Schumacher was flawed. Not as flawed or as damaging as Alonso.


I'm with the FIA on this one. Briatore's team's actions were dangerous and, even if he wasn't directly involved, he has to take responsibility for this.

The FIA's next steps seem clear to me: introduce a mandatory licensing system in order to become a team leader or driver manager, then don't allow Briatore to acquire one.


Unless they can get the decision of the court reversed on appeal, they will have to go down this route, it's probably the only way forward left to them. As it stands the court decision makes it impossible for the FIA to effectively punish the grossest cheating possible, and I cannot see how anyone can think that is a desirable situation.

I wonder if this is not simply another example of the legal profession batting a case backward and forward from one court to another while all involved in the proceedings happily laugh all their way to the bank.

I think the FIA have to appeal, and I just hope they succeed for sanity's sake.


or a mechanic even? please... what about not properly fitting a bolt? you must be kiding


There's a very distinct difference between human error and deliberately endangering lives.


No, I said team leader and driver manager. These are (amongst others) the people in the sport with power to influence and must accept the responsibility that comes with their high-profile jobs and substantial pay cheques.

We're talking about serious, institutional cheating here, not mistakes like you cited.

And, no, this isn't unusual. Doctors and surgeons require a license to practice, lawyers and solicitors require certification to represent at certain levels, architects require certification...hell, I'm in IT and I can't get a job unless I have letters after my name.


My point entirely.


I have MRCVS after my name and if somebody ever accuses me of anything they better do it in front of a proper tribunal, not a mickey mouse court having no jurisdiction over me.


Flav played a blinder on this one - he's got what he wants (control of his F1 companies and management contracts), avoided getting banned by the FA from QPR, and put egg all over Mosely's face, and he didn't even have to address the charges put against him.


Really QPR mattered an iota ??? think hard and then think again about who is his partner...


His football venture partner appears to be happy with the outcome and it will also clear the way for Flavio to be declared a fit and proper person. QPR does matter to Flavio... ...as do other parts of his empire.


Yes, it would do, seeing as he is the chairman of the club. Ecclestone is an investor but is not involved in the day to day running, which Briatore is.


This case proves something those in the F1 circle forget: outside the walls of F1, the Bernie & Max show has very little sway. If Flav hadn't challenged this then the FA would have kicked him out, as their rules, unlike the FIA's generally get stuck to. Bernie's the alpha male in F1 but he has no power over the FA.


The FIA make a good point re: people's lives in danger, but I also think Flav made a VERY good point about Max (or a "certain person") playing every part - investigator, prosecutor etc.

Even as someone who feels that Flav is an immense buffoon, I feel like he was the victim of a witch hunt.

I'm glad, in a way, that his ban was lifted, although I hope he doesn't return to F1.


Well they had no other option really


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.” -

I hope this includes Piquet


Typical posturing by the FIA when they know they have lost.... this is evident by their last paragrah, which they would not need to do unless they had lost...

They are just embarrased that they lost out to the two culprits...


If the FIA loose the appeal I would imagine they will up sticks and move to Switzerland,

which has a rather more predictable legal system and is not in the EU.


FIA's whole "trial" "procedures" are total sham.

I for one think that every decision they come to must be verified by some proper court like in this case.

When you tell someone they must for out 100 million bucks you better have a water tight case and not just in terms of guilt but also in terms of harshness of the sentence.

If FIA really had strong enough case to fine McLaren with 100 million bucks then I am Michael Schumacher.

That's why every decision FIA's sham court comes to must be challenged at the proper court. If it stands there, than declared it valid. If not then you might as well stamp VOID all over it.


Why are you putting the blame for this on the French Legal system. Are you suggesting that the judge in this case was acting on a capricious whim? This is not the case - it is the *FIA* who have been shown as having an "unpredictable" or unreliable legal system. The only reason the FIA would need to move jurisdictions is to avoid getting publicly slapped on the wrist for acting illegally, improperly, and incompetently - which is has done on all 3 counts this time. If the EU had carried through with its investigation into the grant of the 100 year rights issue to Bernie the sport wouldn't have a lot of the problems it has now.


The FIA is not a civil court. It does not operate with the same checks and balances or burden of proof.

Participants entering a FIA sanctioned event are automatically assumed to have accepted the FIA statutes and ISC. Any disciplinary procedure is an internal matter for the FIA not the French court.The precedent for this is the Peugeot rally case where the FIA were sued for banning Group A cars by Peugeot but the French court of Appeal later overturned the Tribunal de Grande Instance ruling stating the FIA were the final arbiter of rules and safety.

Clearly the governing body need to protect the sport from cheaters who are non-licence holders like Briatore. When the FIA make all senior participants licence holders I'm sure that a good case can be made to the Tribunal de Grande Instance or Swiss court that Briatore is not fit to hold one !


The FIA, as the Peugeot case showed, has final word over the running of the sport. Peugeot took them to court over a specific issue, and lost, but that doesn't follow that the FIA has a free hand to do whatever it wants to whoever happens to walk through the gates of one of its events. This is why Briatore's case was very specific, and clever: He didn't sue them on the basis that he was innocent - he took them to court and argued that the FIA hadn't followed its own rules, and that the punishment was invalid.

And he was right.

The problem here is not that the court "interfered" in the running of an FIA event, or in the FIA's affairs - it's that the FIA can't be trusted to run the sport according to its own rulebook, or with anything approaching fairness. The FIA attempted to impose a penalty that had commercial and financial implications on an individual that

a) It had no right to impose

b) Ignored its own rules

c) Was the result of a personal vendetta, not a fact-based investigation.

If the FIA wanted to weed out cheats, then it wouldn't have given immunity to Piquet. Piquet is someone, as a license holder, it has direct control over. The only reason there is a problem for the FIA arising out of this case is that the FIA have proven themselves incompetent fools in this affair.

Par for the course.


Hmmm. Maybe that EU investigation may (should?) still happen?


Sounds like another wonderful money making opportunity for the FIA....


"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.”

This presumably means licences for key individuals – licences which Briatore and Pat Symonds would not receive from the FIA."

Or, it could mean that F1 Teams (which are already licenced) will not be allowed to race if they employ idividuals that compromise the sport's integrity - or something to that effect.


If they really were serious about going over this retrospectively, surely that would involve the immunity given to Piquet? If they back track on one issue, there are so many unopened cans of worms out there, it is a precedent they could all regret.

Draw a line under it and start from fresh for the future. By the French courts decision, Briatore has not been given a legal hearing. They have to sort things out and do things properly for the future, but I doubt we will see Briatore back, this is the best he can hope for.


Looks like we are set for another year dominated by politics instead of the racing on track, hope not!. looks like Raikkonen's comments were spot on?


The FIA disgusts me to the core - I was so happy at the news of a breakaway...

They have the worst stewarding standards, the worst justice system, and seem hell bent on attacking individuals that do not bow to them.

Everytime the FIA get a kicking, I get a warm feeling inside...

Max Mosely was the worst thing that has happened to F1 in its entire history, and I hope his legacy is dismantled and thrown on to the garbage heap at the earliest...


I understand what you mean. Better now that max has gone. Hopefully with changes to the stewards it will get better.


Is that you Mr Dennis??


No certainly not, I respect the FIA and their ability to impose massive fines, I would add that my bird is younger than Flav's!


Now that's funny.


No just his alias


I wonder if any lawyers reading this website might be able to advise me on the following;

In September 2008 I travelled to Singapore for the Grand Prix. I spectated from the bay Grandstand and witnessed first hand Mr Piquet's skills.

I and approx. 100,000 fee paying spectators on race day were deprived from witnessing a 'genuine' race, witnessed unlawful cheating and I incurred approx. £1500 expenses.

How about a date in court for Mr Piquet, Briatore etc and the remaining perpetrators to answer to me and provide compensation?

Any chance??


I agree with Rudy's eminently sane 'it depends'!

You qua spectator obviously have no contractual relationship with Renault or Flavio (or any of the other alleged perpetrators) - you pay to see the show and the payee - i.e. the race organisers or some emanation of the FIA is obliged to provide the show. So as Rudy says you would be looking for some cause of action: here, I think, fraud is the most obvious - and the allegations, if true, have a far greater element of dishonesty than those at Indy. I have some conceptual difficulty with the idea of a fraud on the spectators or perhaps better that if there was a dishonest conspiracy that this would give rise to an actionable loss on the part of the spectators, although perhaps there is a stronger case in relation to anyone who had a bet on the race adversely affected by the outcome.

I'd be surprised if any other civil or criminal court had jurisdiction generally other than those of Singapore (the Paris Court's jurisdiction presumably derived from the contract between Renault and the FIA).

If the allegations are true, then I'd be surprised if there was not a criminal offence under Singapore law - under English law, the facts if true would support (among others) a charge of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception (i.e. theft / fraud) and Flav., if not directly culpable, would be criminally liable as an accessory. The whole point of the alleged plot was to ensure that Renault achieved a better result than it would otherwise have done, and better results = more money is a very easy equation.

On the FIA's sanction generally, it's quite easy to see that there is a big lacuna (the lack of licensing) which the FIA tried to fill 'creatively' - as I remember the sanction it was to the effect that no team would be allowed to compete if it employed Flavio and no race organizer would be allowed to admit Flavio to any race. That was a 'clever' approach to a difficult problem and it's not entirely unexpected that it did not work. I wonder what would have happened if the sanction had been to disqualify Renault but to suspend that disqualification on terms that Renault presented all their evidence against Flavio to the relevant Singaporean criminal authorities and provided full cooperation in any subsequent criminal proceedings.

Another part of the problem is that it seems that Mosley played an overly 'hands-on' approach - if so, that was very foolish and simply played into Flavio's hands.


As a lawyer, I'll say that the short, but infuriatingly indefinite answer, is, "it depends."

The first question is, who would have jurisdiction over such a claim? Maybe the UK. I don't know what kind of "long arm" statutes exist there, but, applying the system we have here in the US (greatly simplifying and sparing you the tedious statutory exceptions and other blah, blah, blah), Piquet and company would be subject to an action wherever they have substantial ties to a jurisdiction.

So, applying this rule to the present case: By operating their business in and from Enstone, the team (and members thereof) are, in theory, subject to the jurisdiction of English courts for acts committed elsewhere.

You probably could file a complaint seeking damages in a civil lawsuit (that would almost certainly happen over here; we are, after all, a notoriously litigious nation) on some creative application of legal precedent. Something along the lines of fraud, interference with contract or some such would be the most likely cause of action. Having said all that, merely being able to put forth an artfully drafted complaint doesn't necessarily get you anywhere. The courts here dismissed all the lawsuits people tried to bring, on exactly these legal theories, for the six car Farce GP at Indy back in '04.

Two other interesting legal questions: First, under the laws in Singapore, did this constitute a criminal act, either as a conspiracy to commit fraud on those paying for the event (ticket holders, promoters etc.) or by endangering the welfare of everyone present during the race? Again, it depends on the legal system there, including any statutes or regulations. You may be considered a crime victim.

Second, and raised by the FIA saber rattling over forcing team members other than drivers to get licensed, such that the FIA may exercise jurisdiction over them: Assume the FIA amends its statutes to the effect that, from February 1, 2010 on, all participants in any FIA championship must be licensed by the FIA to take part, regardless of their function within a given team. If the FIA did this, and then applied that statute by denying such licenses to Briatore and Symonds based on the Crashgate scandal, it would surely be challenged as an ex post facto law. Literally, creating law after the fact, as a means to punish Briatore and Symonds because they could not be under previously existing law. American and (I assume) European constitutions and courts prohibit ex post facto laws. Given today's decision, I'll be shocked if the Tribune de Grande Instance doesn't come down hard on the FIA if it attempts to go that route.


1. long arm doesn't apply. FIA rulings are subject to French Law, not UK's let alone the colonies.

2. FIA don't stablish rules just sport regulations let alone try to impose them as law in third countries.

3. I agree with you on that. Natural law dictates no man can be trialed twice on the same crime, specialy after the common law has been ammended to find him guilty/punish him after a mistrial.


Thanks Rudy and others for an excellent overview.

I considered the example of the US GP but as you and others have pointed out Singaporean law may afford a different type of action.

I personally would like nothing more than to see all this buried as I feel the sport is losing big time but its a complete mess and while i'm no fan of Briatore the FIA clearly failed to follow the due 'legal' process with crazy immunity clauses on, IMO, the very individual who should be punished - Piquet the perpetrator. He had the wheel in his hands and the throttle under his right foot!!

The FIA legal team must have been out lunch when Max cooked up this one!

Here's hoping by March the papers will be printing more of the on-track stuff and Flav is out of the picture - we can but hope!


Crikey, this is the first time I have ever witnessed a lawyer giving legal advice for free! Wonderful.

I don't say I don't blame them in general for their usual reluctance because obviously that's their stock in trade, and how they bring the bread in. But, in this case, congrats and, Wow!


Thanks all. Your public servant at your service!


Yes thanks once again Rudy, your insights are always very welcome


Thanks Rudy. I wonder about the 'entertainment' aspect. If in football, one team took out a key player, then the spectators would immediately feel robbed. In this case it was after the event and if Webber's gearbox hadn't failed, he was well placed to beat Alonso, having successfully anticipated the safety car. Therefore we weren't denied a spectacle - in fact we were spared a Massa led procession - but it was a manipulated spectacle.


I'm not sure. It didn't work for the people who went to court over USA 2005, but American and Singaporean law are different. However, I can't find anything that would help you in the Singaporean law book. Someone who knows Singaporean law may be of more assistance.

The only thing I can say is that you have the dubious honour of witnessing a historic event in F1's history.


"The FIA’s ability to exclude those who intentionally put others’ lives at risk has never before been put into doubt..."

Then, it should be also appropriate to revise and include Nelson Piquet Jr as well, instead of giving him inmunity. He is just as guilty as FB and PS.


Oh don't Forget Schumi intentional crashes and park and rides in Rascasse...


Exactly. And guess what, he has a license. For the first major issue Todt is dealing with in his new role, this is a FAIL.


Wow, talk about a fast moving story - well done for keeping up James!!


Mosley is still the pupeteer, and to think i had still some hope


Sounds like that would put paid to Piquet's chances of ever participating in the sport again. You couldn't keep the aforementioned pair out on those grounds and not apply the same sanction to Nelsinho.


And rightly so - enjoy your enforced retirements chaps


Wasn't it Piquet who put lives at risk? The immune one. The other two may have cheated by their actions, but it was Piquet who actually put lives at risk, and he got off scot free because Mosely gave him immunity in his pursuit of Briatore. I am no fan of Briatore (I WAS disappointed by Symonds' apparent guilt) but it all stinks really.

At least WRC looks even more interesting for 2010, I'm prepared to part with cash and endure disconfort to watch that, never for F1.

Incidentally there appear to be two CJs (reply 20), I have long suspected a doppelganger!


"...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."

So does this include Ron Dennis and his crew for stealing Ferrari plans? Michael Schumacher for stopping during the Monaco GP qualifying and other questionable acts during his career? Lewis Hamilton for lying over the Australian GP?

just saying hard to make such a sweeping statement without thinking about these other incidents.


That's what I feel Nikki, the buck stops with him, but by the sounds of it, how the FIA went about the trial it wasn't fair thus null and voiding it.

Bit like getting caught speeding then the courts over ruling the decision because of a technicality with the officers or police car...... But they were still speeding....


Could we not consider that Schumacher's 'parking' at Rascasse in Monaco was also a deliberate 'dangerous activity'? After all, he chose that corner specifically because it WAS dangerous - a blind corner that would necessitate waved yellows.


I do find it slightly silly how people are guffing on about the danger of this crash. Sensibly speaking, no-one was in any real danger of injury, let alone death. I think it's right for Briatore to be severely punished, but doing so on the basis that he " intentionally put others’ lives at risk" is really rather ridiculous. I'm all for a lifetime ban, but for his actual misdemeanor, namely being a serious cheat.

N.B. I don't see why Pat Symonds received a much shorter ban, it seems to me that he's the most likely suspect as to who's idea the whole thing was. I mean, he was saying Piquet thought of it! What an absurd lie.


It makes me laugh people going on about it be dangerous it was a slow crash that could never of hurt anybody, it was probably the lightest crash of the whole season. I think it was superb tactics be the Renault team, it gave them a win and made the race exciting something that F1 needs. At worst it should of been a few race bans and a slap on the wrist. The only issue I have was that it cost Massa the WDC. Still it made the season ender exciting we wouldn’t of had the WDC decided on the last corner on the last lap of the last race! F1 needs a massive overhaul starting with if a car starts the season with a for example a double Decker Defuser that was FIA approve at the beginning it shouldn’t be banned mid season, they should be banned at the end of the season, some example’s Renaults mass damper system they built their car around it yet it was banned mid system, Williams tyres and a rear FIA approved Defuser that was banned mid season, surely if they was illegal then all races taken part with them parts should be void? It makes the sport look like its run by idiot’s. I can’t see Todt making the sport been about good racing again, as a fan for 25 of my 32 years I hope I’m wrong I really do. Sorry for going off topic.


It makes me cringe people who think that any crash in Formula 1 is not dangerous, let alone one which destroyed one side of a car. Especially after a driver came within a hair's breadth of being killed by a single part coming off a formula 1 car this season (i.e. Massa). Would it have been so funny if another car had collected the remains of Piquet and his car?


I'm sorry, but there's so much wrong with your comment.

Piquet crashed at the exit of a 78 mph corner (Massa was going at about 180 mph when struck by the debris). There were yellow flags waving (/lights flashing) almost immediately after his crash, so only one or two cars would have gone through at race speed anyway. Perhaps most significantly though, in your average crash, the stuff that goes flying about is almost entirely carbon fibre. Massa was hit by a massive piece of steel.

Ask any driver and they will tell you there was no real danger to them, sensibly speaking.

As regards the spectators and marshalls, there was a 6 metre fence above the wall he crashed into. Simple parabolics suggests that there is only a very slim chance that debris will get over the fence. And anyway, it's up to the FIA to sort that out, and obviously they considered it safe enough for someone to crash there by accident (and that's by today's standards!), which they would not have done if there'd been anything other than a miniscule chance of serious injury.

There's a reason Massa's accident is called a freak accident.

How often is a driver hurt by debris? Yes, there were two serious accidents only days apart, but prior to those? Personally, it surprises me that it doesn't happen more often, more so in relation to cars hitting each other (eg Coulthard's preposterous banzai on Wurz in Australia was only inches away from causing a very serious accident - in my opinion far more reckless than Piquet).

Clearly, there is an element of danger inherent in any crash, but you have to be rational...



"The only issue I have was that it cost Massa the WDC".

No it didn't. Ferrari are responsible for their own pit stops, unscheduled ot not.

Furthermore, just because Massa led the early laps it doesn't follow that he would have won the race.

Examples of early leaders not winning races.

1. Magny Cours 2008, Raikkonen pulling away from Massa until exhaust damage/bodywork damage slowed him allowing Massa to win.

2. Hungary 2008, Massa leading until engine blows 4 laps from end of race. Lousy luck but engines have blown throughout the history of racing.

3. Spa 2008, Raikkonen leading comfortably until rain late in the race. Raikkonen crashes, Massa wins having been a distant third all afternoon.


Superb tactics?!

Tactics are no longer tactics if they do not fall within the rules of the game.

If I'm playing football and pick the ball up and run into the net with it, am I a master tactician? No. I'm an idiot.

If I'm in a swimming race, and I lace the water bottles of my competitors with viagra, am I a tactical genius? No. I'm a cheat (albeit a funny one).

Cheating is not, and never will be, 'tactics'.

Also, the comment about how Massa would've won the WDC is self evident hogwash. You can't say things like that. It's meaningless. There are infinite other possibilities as to what might have happened.


The genius of it is the fact that they didn't do anything illegal. He crashed his own car and that's all he did. And that's not illegal.


Not dangerous?! How can introducing flying debris into an environment with hugely powerful cars being driven on the limit not be dangerous? Only last year a driver was seriously injured and almost killed by flying debris. A driver in a lower (and slower) formula was killed by a flying wheel. Marshalls have been killed by flying debris in the past. To intentionally crash a racing car on a busy circuit is grossly irresponsible.


Was it the only crash with flying debris that night?

No i didn't think so

Zami from Melbourne, Australia

I have never been proud of FIA so much before. I understand the law. But I’d lose my license, fined and possibly jailed if I put other people’s lives and myself at risk for aggressive driving. How could Flavio not know about this? He was ‘Renault’. Symonds admitted to this crime as well. Are telling me it was just Piquet and Symonds came up with that? Even if you give Flavio benefit of doubt (i don’t) he kept it secret for such a long time. He would’ve been rewarded one way or another if he had taken strong actions after the incident. Doesn’t that make him guilty of obstruction of justice? As much as i like Alonso, i reckon he even knew about it.

Anyway, on the same topic James, Piquet is abided by the rules of FIA. How come he is not going to get any sanctions? What about him deliberately causing the accident? That’s against any road rules in the world. Does that mean normal road rules for safety doesn’t apply in F1? Somebody could’ve been killed for goodness sakes!!


That's immunity for you


That is revenge and grievance for you


People tend not to understand immunity James, they need it explained to them.

The simplest explanation is that, yes, you've done something wrong, but then you've done something right to correct that. It is normally only granted when you were in a fairly desperate situation, or being pressurized into doing whatever ill it may have been.

Bear in mind that if Piquet had said no to the idea and told the FIA about it then, nobody would have believed him, or at least, nobody would have done much about it. He didn't just have an easy way out of the the whole thing. And he was in a fairly desperate situation with regards to his career.

I am most definitely not a fan of Piquet, I think it was terrible what he did, and I don't think he's a particularly good driver (at that level), but in bringing down Briatore and Symonds, and showing these 'legends of the sport' for what they are, I think he entirely deserves immunity. And anyway, he's not exactly come out of the whole affair smelling of roses; everybody thinks he's a talentless idiot.

Zami from Melbourne, Australia

Yes I understand that Piquet was given immunity. But isn't there any other authority apart from FIA could charge him for risking other people's lives?


Glad to see Flav back in the game, to me he is one of the indispensable characters of F1 and I cant wait to see him back at trackside

Ted the Mechanic

Wait till he's running the whole show then...

Flav's got no short term plans in F1.

I reckon his and Bernie's master plan is one of simple succession. Flav becomes Bernie.

This decision puts this back on track. Will Bernie be required to apply for an FIA Superlicence to work his magic? Oops!


Funny, that sort of character is the type I'm always happy to dispense with. Maybe I'm simply allergic to bombastic mega egos.


This is a Pandora's Box, really. Flav shouldn't be allowed back, and Pat Symonds should (after his 5 year ban) be allowed back. Piquet shouldn't, and seriously, no team would employ such a person, would they?

The real question for me is, what about the bans given to Nigel Stepney and Mike Coughlan? What does this sort of verdict mean to them?

And the FIA surely shouldn't decide who enters the sport in the first place as employees of teams, should they? That opens a new box that allows perceived favouritism to run rife imo. eg. Don't like McLaren? "Hey, that new hotshot designer isn't allowed a license if he works for you." That kind of thing. Cynical, I know, but this sport shouldn't become a good ol' boys club anymore than it is already, surely....

In the end, I guess my opinion is that Briatore has committed another sin against the sport he claims to love - he's brought the legal technicality into effect, causing who-knows how many ripples to spread. Think we'll get a clean 2010 season of racing. Ha! Doubt it.


"And the FIA surely shouldn’t decide who enters the sport in the first place as employees of teams, should they? That opens a new box that allows perceived favouritism to run rife imo. eg. Don’t like McLaren? “Hey, that new hotshot designer isn’t allowed a license if he works for you.” That kind of thing."

You could extend that to drivers if you were really cynical....


"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.”

Does this mean Schumachers comeback will be cancelled then?


Oh yes.. now that would be funny


Funny how people mention just one name.

That would mean Alonso, Lewis wouldn't be in F1 too.


Sam You know that is very true and maybe we are missing the whole point here which is that being a racer is all about winning whilst staying within a few hair widths the right side of the rules... which unfortunately are not as clear as they could be.

But I think that Michael did have a reputation for using more aggressive tactics when it mattered... than younger drivers use, maybe it comes with age and experience.

Don't get me wrong this is racing and great drivers understand the limits they can work within to get the WIN.... it's just from the current drivers Micheal is probably No.1 (get the win at no cost)with many close followers 🙂

After all without this type of driving spirit in the cockpit of the car we really would have boring racing.


The only guilty is Piquet, why this reaction? First ban the cheater. He still can drive a F1!!!


Has anyone been punished for cheating?

michael grievson

I agree. I thnk mosley got blinded by revenge. If he'd followed all the correct processes briatore would be gone


The problem the FIA have now got is that because of the French court ruling, they can't apply any retrospective punishments without being in contempt of court.

The only way that any of Briatore/Symonds/Piquet can be punished is for a completely new FIA hearing. Does M.Todt have the appetite for this? Does he want to drag F1 through the dirt again, especially when it is about to embark on one of the most eagerly anticipated seasons in years?

So far I've been quite impressed by how Todt operates. Stewards situation...sorted. Silverstone...sorted. FIA legal framework....hmmm, lets see what happens.

Also, I'd be interested to know if Ron Dennis is having a word with his lawyers as a result of this ruling. 100 mill would come in quite handy if one was preparing to launch a new supercar or manufacture a bespoke F1 engine.


None of this helps 'the show' does it?

Once again I find myself trying to justify my interest in F1 to friends that just see it as a poorly written soap opera.

Politics makes F1 fun but this sort of illogical nonsense just turns it all into farce!


“Briatore wins big against FIA” seems very wrong – “wins small” is about right (follow the money).

With a legal process that involves one or more appeals, and where one party (the FIA) will for sure appeal, the decision of the first court is often irrelevant except for PR purposes.

The issue here seems a little Kafka-esque: the FIA can’t say that FB and PS will never be members of their club because they aren’t members of the club and so aren’t subject to FIA rules. As always, the small print is key and the lawyers will win.

But FB winning big? No, not now or later, he’s lost this battle, though his ego may insist that he regains some scraps of pride.


Bring back Flavio. He's a nice guy - well he lent a friend of mine who used to work for him his apartment in London, so he's alright by me!

Mosley I wouldn't trust as far as I could throw him uphill, and it's evident that the Todt apple hasn't fallen far from the Mosley tree...

Flav was a naughty boy, but throughout F1 history there have been naughty boys - he still contributed far far more to the last 20 or so years or F1 than most, and this impending low-cost era would be his chance to really shine.

FIA - grow up and finally concede that you're not a fiefdom, and NOT a true court of law.

God I wish the breakaway had happened...


Amen to the breakaway series.


This decision was made soley on a point of law. The crucial point that was NOT made by the court was a statement of non-involvement of Flavio & Pat, merely that the FIA could not legally hand out bans to non-licence holders! I agree with Tony about future employment, their reputations will surely be forever tainted by this incident. Whilst there will always be questions regarding Scumi's methods, most teams would still give anything to have him with them, even if he's not quite as quick these days his development expertise and ability to galvanise people is beyond question. However, his first win, which will undoubtablly happen, will prove that even at 95% he's still better than most on the grid. His type only comes around once in a generation, there are however many superb managers and engineers. Let's hope the appeal process does not drag on and taint the start of what will be a superb season.


The FIA really have been found out by this decision and the sooner they implement their counter measures the better..if Briatore ever works in F1 again it would be an unforgiveable disgrace.


you surely mean after been found guilty in a PROPER court of law, no immunity granted, no protected witness ...

come'on was that a fair trial?


We shall see the FIA drag there feet on this to the last possible moment and then maybe issue the Newspaper articles, but why should they rush, the ban stands until they finally agree not to appeal... or they might appeal and then take there time until such time as a licence system is in place.

My opinion of crashgate is that it is no difference to Michael running folks off the track to secure a championship. I am sure a few will say that this is pre-planned, but I bet that taking out a driver is discussed as a strategy in certain circumstances prior to a championship balanced race!!

They did wrong and ALL should be punished but make the punishment reasonable and not political so that it goes on and on and on....


The tense of "No persons who would engage" declares arbitrary prejudice. Can't the FIA attract competent legal counsel?


"Would engage" does smack of "prejudice" in the literal legal sense, "pre judice," to prejudge or judge before the fact, as in: "We don't like your kind, so we judge that you can't get a license and join our club." Of course an organization can make decisions on who does and does not get to join their club (folks here have referred to the FA's "fit and proper" standard, for example) but that kind of thing is typically subject to statutory, regulatory and constitutional limitation. Past a certain point, you get right into the kind of arbitrary prejudice I think Murray's referring to.

Using some extreme examples for purposes of illustration: "Lewis, because you're black, we judge that you're inherently dishonest, and would engage in dishonesty. We won't grant you a license." Or: "Felipe, we judge that, because of your religion, you would engage in conduct unbecoming participation in our sport. We won't grant you a license." Clearly, these are arbitrary pre-judgments of the kind usually proscribed by law.

Note that both "would engage" and "have engaged" are also murky, ill-defined. Taking Lewis and McLaren again (i.e., Spygate and Liegate), both "have engaged in" dishonest conduct. Logically, that implies that they "would engage in" more of the same. In turn, logic dictates that the FIA would have to revoke or withhold their licenses under the system the Federation has been rumbling on about. Many (most?) people here would say that this would be an absurd result, that you can't compare these offenses with those at issue in Crashgate. The inherent assumptions in this reasoning are that 1) SpyLie is less serious than Crashgate, and 2) that the people involved in SpyLie "won't do it again."

Why not? Dishonesty is common ground in all of these scandals. Picking and choosing which participants will be licensed based on who's naughty (or likely to be) and who's nice (or likely to be), ahead of time, without establishing criteria for doing so, opens up just the opportunity for arbitrary prejudice that Murray raises.

Unless the FIA formally adopts such criteria. In other words, both penalties and the application process must be integrated. As someone said above, these things must be stated clearly. Establishing grades or degrees of offenses with mandatory minimum, and defined maximum, penalties could accomplish this. For example: A single instance of a technical infringement, such as having an out of spec wing, would bring an automatic fine of x$ to the race engineer in charge of the car. A second instance during the same season would bring both an automatic fine and automatic probation of two races for the race engineer (I'm simplifying here. You could lay the penalty at the feet of the tech director just as easily for such an infraction). A third instance, automatically the maximum penalty for such "out of spec" infractions, a LARGEr fine, an immediate three race ban, and the deduction of both Constructors' and Drivers' points.

Come license renewal time for Mr. Race Engineer, apply a similar system. No prior misconduct? License granted. Single prior instance for tech infringement? License Granted, but you're on probation for the first three races: You're being watched. Two priors? License Granted, but you're on probation for the entire season. Screw up again with another tech infringement and your license is suspended for the season. Three priors? License Denied for this series. You've demonstrated that you are inclined to cheat or have deliberately refused to address the technical problem. We don't trust you. Go race in some other series (you may have to anyway, given that the team will probably kick you to the curb for costing them so much) and prove that you can be clean. Come back next year and we'll talk.

Industrial espionage, of course, would have a shorter, steeper ramp up to Big Penalties - but not as short nor as steep as deliberately crashing.

And that's how you could keep "undesirables" out of F1, WITHOUT resorting to "we just don't like you, so we won't let you play" arbitrary prejudice. Conceptually no different from, and no more difficult to implement than, racking up points on your road license.

(Sorry for the length y'all. I've gotta stick to decaf)


Thanks again all. Glad to help shine a dim light on all this murk! Martin, check my post on Max's latest comments. I think that covers what you're asking about.

CJ the 2cnd, probably...

Hear Hear to all the explanations about prejudice, but a rule book with codified sanctions is not the solution. That would simply open the door to more calculations by the teams, i.e. 'Would it be worth the fine' up to 'Would it be worth the loss of a technical director', and beyond. In my view the only effective sanctions are points loss and suspension or diaqualification from competion. The teams' raison d'etre is to win the championship, revenue streams flow from the exposure they get the closer they are to this goal. Staff and cash are dispensable.



Trials take place in court. Can the World Council be considered to be a court?

Further, it's not normal to retry someone for the same offence unless fresh evidence is produced. That's the case in the UK as far as I know. Does it apply to the FIA in France which, I assume, operates under French law?

Lots of other folks are saying the FIA should not appeal because appeals rarely succeed. Do you know if this is the case in France?

Finally, with the French court having ordered the lifting of the sentences passed on Briatore and Symmonds, and criticised the FIA for operating outside of it's own rules (eg Mosley being too involved in too many stages and having previous form with Briatore), does this mean that the entire World Council process (trial?) is effectively deemed null and void? Many are saying that the French court has effectively let off Briatore and Symmonds. What's your view?


"I’ve gotta stick to decaf".

Please don't do that Rudy, you help clear the fog for us non-legal people.

Lots of folks on these posts are calling for a 'retrial' by the FIA, retrial is in quotes because I'm not sure whether a meeting of the World Council can be called a trial. Trials take pla


Don't knock the length, this is a great point and very well put. it does make the point that none of this is a simple excercise and that maybe... we should just stick with what we have which is flexible and should Renault have been fined heavily maybe they would have acted responsibly and kept their house in order by firing the culprits which means punishment is naturally handed down the food chain.

After all, the FIA just want to ensure fair play and sportsmanship.


The statement reads in part "No persons who would engage, or who have engaged". The future tense of "....person who WOULD engage" says that the FIA will pre-judge whether an applicant would or would not engage in the proscribed behaviour, if they haven't in the past. That's literal prejudice. I would have thought that the FIA would have counsel who'd point that out, because lawyers like Flav's certainly will, leaving the FIA looking, well, pretty much like it does now, despite all the "we'll appeal!" tubthumping. Do they stop to think about WHY they have to appeal?




You make a very good point. At the end of the day, and bearing in mind I have no sympathy for FB and PS, but all they did was ask him to so it.

If they'd deliberately caused a failure, such as a suspension failure, to cause the car to spin, then the punishment would be justified.

But Piquet didn't have to crash. Think about it, if he didn't do it, and subsequently lost his F1 seat, he'd be in no worse position than he's in right now.

But he chose to do it. His car wasn't manipulated, so it was entirely on him to crash. I think that he should receive a ban similar to Symonds' - if not Briatore's!!!


This is all going to end in tears if the FIA cannot admit its own failings and reform. The Court ruled that the FIA process was flawed and that the punishments handed out were not valid according to the FIA's own constitution. It effectively ruled that the FIA acted improperly. We've all suspected this to be the case for a long time and now we have a legal judgement that proves it. Please Mr. Todt don't go on defending the indefensible. Fix it! Move on and let us have clear processes, clear lines of demarcation and clear, fair and consistent rulings.


But, as we say down South here, "that would be too much like right."


Bernie's comments about F1 welcoming Flav back with open arms is prove that 1) the sport is truly an old boys club and 2) Bernie really needs to retire.


As things stand now,before the next FIA appeal,is the ban still in place?




Not being one to let the actual facts of the legal decision get in the way, Flav is now talking about suing the Piquets. Altogether it couldn't happen to bunch that deserved each other more! Oh happy day!


Flavio shouldn't be allowed back in F1, he made F1 out to be a complete joke by his actions that day in Singapore

F1 is the best sport in the world, please dont destroy it by allowing these people back in, just to stage races for personal gain

Remember his comments about Jenson and Rubens at the start of the season - disgraceful!


"Second, and raised by the FIA saber rattling over forcing team members other than drivers to get licensed, such that the FIA may exercise jurisdiction over them: Assume the FIA amends its statutes to the effect that, from February 1, 2010 on, all participants in any FIA championship must be licensed by the FIA to take part, regardless of their function within a given team. If the FIA did this, and then applied that statute by denying such licenses to Briatore and Symonds based on the Crashgate scandal, it would surely be challenged as an ex post facto law. Literally, creating law after the fact, as a means to punish Briatore and Symonds because they could not be under previously existing law. American and (I assume) European constitutions and courts prohibit ex post facto laws. Given today’s decision, I’ll be shocked if the Tribune de Grande Instance doesn’t come down hard on the FIA if it attempts to go that route."

Thanks for the great insight. I didn't have a clue about this, but I'm not a lawyer anyway. Still, makes you wonder why doesn't FIA know this? Are they THAT incompetent?

After being shown to be incompetent to host a regular trial, they issue a statement which shows their intention to break another law. The saddest part is that they are so incompetent that they have no clue that the very thing they are proposing is illegal.

And they are governing body?!?!?

FIA = Fairly Incompetent Authority!


Hi James,

I don’t understand why the FIA are making such a big deal of the Renault’s pair banned being over turned. For a start neither was exonerated, the court simply said that the FIA didn’t have to authority to ban them in the manner they did.

However in effect isn’t the ban still in place, after all it’s up to the FIA who to issue passes to? Surely they could just refuse to issue Briatore and Symonds with a pass, keeping the ban effectively in place, without any further legal action? Or is that too simplistic?


FIA is taking itself too seriously, their verdict was delivered by a kangaroo court.


No it was a Mosleyroo Court 🙂


If Piquet would have been punished then i think it would discourage anyone coming forward in the future should another situation arise. Another thing i don't understand is how could Alonso not have known? Why on earth would he start from 15th on the grid with an extremely low fuel load, it just doesnt make sense. The only explanation that comes to mind is that his own team deceived him in not telling him how much fuel is in the car by which someone in charge was involved, but then again wouldn't he be able to tell straight away by driving it and hence be complaining over the radio. I lost respect for Alonso as a person since the Mclaren stint.


Schumacher was a license holder when he deliberately crashed in Monaco 2006. How come the FIA didn't exercise its ability to ban him?

I'd rather not see Flav back but for the sport to hold water there at least has to be the PERCEPTION of fairness. If the FIA is going to put itself up as the arbiter of justice then it needs to be more transparent and uphold the PERCEPTION of fairness a little better.

Fans will get cynical, see the real motives (or motives they make up for themselves) and tune out.

We already put up with fake qualifying (fuel loads), double diffusers, artificial engine caps, lack of passing, good drivers in bad cars and bad drivers in good ones. If the FIA continues to intervene partial to certain parties the way it has in the past, fans will tune out.

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