The chase is on
Shanghai 2018
Chinese Grand Prix
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.

Featured News
Editor's Picks
Share This:
Posted by:

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!


by Oldest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

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.


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.


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


No it was a Mosleyroo Court 🙂


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?


“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!


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!


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!


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




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.


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.”


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!!!




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


Please explain?


“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?


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 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?


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.


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.


“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.


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!


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.

michael grievson

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


Has anyone been punished for cheating?


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


“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.


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….

Top Tags
JA ON F1 In association with...
Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer

Sign up to receive the latest F1 News & Updates direct to your inbox

You have Successfully Subscribed!