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Top F1 figures to get licences following Briatore judgement?
Top F1 figures to get licences following Briatore judgement?
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jan 2010   |  6:26 pm GMT  |  52 comments

Details of the judgement in the Flavio Briatore case are emerging and it could lead to F1 team principals and senior engineers becoming FIA licence holders in future, just like drivers.

Todt: Big test of his presidency

Todt: Big test of his presidency

The court judgement shows that the FIA has been ordered to publicly advertise in French newspapers of Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds’ choice the fact that they have had their bans overturned.

The court described the FIA’s disciplinary procedure in this case as “irregular” and decided that the FIA could not punish the men with bans as neither was a licence holder subject to their jurisdiction.

The result is that in this case, one of the worst cheating scandals in sporting history, none of the culprits currently has any punishment against them. Nelson Piquet, who crashed the car was given immunity, Renault, the licence holder, was given a suspended ban and Briatore and Symonds could not be sanctioned by the FIA.

It illustrates that the FIA needs to have some sanction over key decision makers. It has sanction over licence holders, such as drivers and teams, but not team members.

This could spark a change of status for team members with the possibility that key decision makers may need to hold an FIA licence. This would also help the FIA to install a “fit and proper person” test, which it currently does not have. It is something that has been discussed before in FIA circles. And it could well be the mechanism by which the FIA ensures that Briatore and Symonds stay out of F1, as the FIA would control who gets a licence.

All eyes will be on new FIA president Jean Todt to see how he reacts to the judgement and whether he decides to appeal. It’s a tough one for Todt and a big test of his style of presidency.

On the one hand he has to defend the FIA and its right to govern the sport as it sees fit – it is highly unusual for a sport’s governing body to be overruled by a civil court and it sets an awkward precedent. On the other hand this trial was the work of former president Max Mosley and Todt may want the FIA to be seen to move on. It might also indicate what level of influence Mosley has in the Todt regime, from his seat on the FIA Senate.

The judgement said,
“The FIA … can sanction licence holders.. members of the ASNs [national sporting authorities], but it cannot with respect to third parties, take measures equivalent to a sanction – in contravention of article 28 of its statutes,”

If you look at Article 28 of the FIA statutes, it speaks only of the FIA’s ability to sanction licence holders, executive officers or members of ASNs. As Briatore and Symonds were not licence holders (Renault was) that is the clause the court has hit upon.

“The World Council, by forbidding FIA members and licences to work with Messrs Briatore and Symonds, on the one hand added a negative condition – to not work with them – which is not provided for within the FIA statutes.”

The verdict also upheld Briatore’s assertion that the punishment was motivated by the long-running dispute between himself and Mosley, which escalated over FOTA’s proposed breakaway last summer and that Mosley had a conflict of interest in his role in the matter,

“The decision of the World Council was presided over by the FIA president, who was well known to be in conflict with Briatore, with Mr. Mosley having played a leading role in launching the enquiry and its investigation in violation of the principle of separation of the power of the bodies.

“The decision [of the FIA World Motor Sport Council] is not annulled but declared irregular, and rendered without effect in its provisions against Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds.

So they are still guilty of organising the plot to crash the car in Singapore, but the sanctions are ruled unlawful.

“The FIA is consequently obliged to notify within two weeks it is lifting the provisions to its members and licence holders, particularly the 13 teams entered into the FIA Formula 1 world championship 2010.

“This must be published in the French newspapers, of the choice of Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds – at the FIA’s cost, up to a limited cost of 15,000 and 5,000 respectively.”

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I don’t agree with that every one of all the teams to have a licence.The FIA must punish Renault team just like the Mclaren in the spygate while Renault punish someone in their team(such as Flavio and Nelson ) or Flavio chooses to leave.

You can’t say the crashgate is the fault of someone, it’s the fault of a team as a whole.


FIFA can ban a member of a football team can’t they, so why Can’t the FIA?



Thankyou for answering my question. I find it interesting that Mosley’s ‘spat’ with Briatore has been labelled a ‘factor’ in this case.

Equally interesting when you realise that Mosley also had a long running feud with Ron Dennis which certainly played a big part in the 2007 scandal and Dennis’ decision to stand down last year.

The big difference for me is that Briatore has always had Bernie Ecclestone in his corner unlike Dennis. Yet again, Formula One’s image as a gentlemen’s club inwhich those in favour get the rub of the green has been laid bare for all to see.

It makes Kimi Raikkonen’s comments this last week, and those of Juan Montoya several years ago on F1, all the more relevant.


Pretty awesome article on Pitpass today by the only F1 writer to rival James – Christian Sylt… He opines that this overturning by the civil courts of an FIA judgement could actually open a floodgate of revisionary reversals, in particular, the £100m McLaren ‘spygate’ fine. Which could, in fact, bankrupt the FIA.

Oh joy, oh happy days.


Frankly, that’s just wrong!


The court ruled that the FIA could not act against Flavio as he was not a licence holder of any type. However, McLaren were an official licence holder, and so can be punished according to the FIA rules – and as such they can impose any fine that they wish on a competitor. It is much like football. FIFA can impose any rule that they see fit in order to regulate the sport, and this can include fines, bans etc.

Opposite Lock (Ken)

“The judgement said, ‘The FIA … can sanction licence holders.. members of the ASNs [national sporting authorities], but it cannot with respect to third parties, take measures equivalent to a sanction…'”

McLaren is a FIA licensed team in F1.–that’s the difference. Clearly according to the ruling the fine falls within the FIA’s jurisdiction and purview to levy a sanction, ie: pay this fine or be ineligible to continue to compete in F1.


To me, this just says that there is only one option open to the FIA: that is to start criminal proceedings in Singapore to investigate the [mod] conduct of Messrs Briatore, Symonds and Piquet.

Jockeys have been imprisoned for race fixing, so it strikes me that this is the only route left!


Having already replied to the “FIA reacts strongly to Briatore judgement” thread, I’m behind the eight ball on this.

Todt strikes me as a person who is extremely good at his job, whatever that may be. I don’t know how he is with his ego (having never met him), but I’m confident he’ll come to a sensible conclusion on this licence front.

The first thought in my mind is the same as Bruce Rapinchuk’s (comment 24). What happens with Stepney and Coughlan, and the 100 million?

But with this licence-for-each-member stuff, why not simply have a sponsorship deal, like with us Aussies wanting to work in the UK for extended periods? Someone in charge of the business or race team ie. team owners, managers or technical directors, using their licence to sponsor employees eg. designers, mechanics etc. rather than have all team members “earn” a licence through a “fit and proper person” test? They would effectively shoulder responsibility for that member, and punishments could be written as standard, rather than investigations, custom-built fines or sanctions against each individual at fault. Much less bother and drain on FIA resources too, I would think.


James, who at the FIA decides whether to appeal this decision?

Solely Jean Todt? Or is there some kind of executive/management committee?

Presumably this would be after consulting the FIA’s lawyers.




One lawyer is bound to be consulted ( a former FIA-president ) so there’s appeal-guarantee written in the wind. Max will not have this stain on his clothes. He is simply too proud.

Personally I couldn’t care less what happens to Briatore – positive or negative – but it is a day of huge celebrations, for the court statement that recognizes that Mosley ran FIA/WMSC like a banana republic. For the first time it is not only fans and journos who dares having that view. It is written in a court verdict. Can’t get my arms down!

Opposite Lock (Ken)

Witness x was never presented as being part of the plot in Singapore, he merely had knowledge of it and had voiced his dissent before the race.

I guess I missed the “voiced his dissent before the race” part of witness X.


As I remember reading on various sites at the time, another person, dubbed by the FIA’witness x’, was present, before the race, at a meeting/ discussion between Briatore and Symonds. He played no part in devising the plan and disagreed with it. That was my understanding. I think Briatore later accused this person of betraying him to the FIA.

It subsequently was revealed that at least two others,neither of them in the Renault F1 team, were made aware of the reality of the ‘crash’ shortly after the race. They also took no action and kept their thoughts to themselves until Piquet Jnr. stopped lying and revealed all almost a year later. What does that tell us about the realpolitik of F1?

Opposite Lock (Ken)

I thought witness X overheard the decision to commit the offense, but offered no opinion. Nor was he asked to give one, until the FIA deigned to investigate officially one year after they first heard about the event from Piquet Sr. Only then did witness X say that he knew about it, but was never a part of it. (Other than not reporting it or coming forward until questioned.) But then my memory may be a bit hazy about this as I didn’t know about the two other team members knowing…


You may be right about witness x’s means of acquiring the information before the race.

But, I didn’t think I’d said that two other members of the Renault team knew about the ‘crash’soon after the race – quite the opposite, that they were not RF1 team members, indeed you mention one of them yourself.

I believe it’s best always to base opinions on what you’ve actually seen and heard with your own eyes and ears; but in this case even that made us all look fools! Like many others,I saw the crash live and over and over again in re-play. I was quite convinced it was an accident.

I heard Piquet Jnr. deride the very idea that he had deliberately crashed. Wrong again.

We’re all ‘a bit hazy’ over this one, but in my first posting I was just voicing my feelings that it’s easy to say who should have said what from the outset when the responsiblity for bringing your entire team down is riding on it. Even people not part of the team didn’t jump at the opportunity to do so.

Opposite Lock (Ken)


Whoo boy! If you think the FIA stifles dissent or criticism now, wait until they license team members. No one will be able to say anything bad about the way the FIA runs F1 for fear that their license will be terminated. Just as most racing journalists are afraid to be overly critical and have their access and worse their credentials yanked. FOTA would have been still born under this kind of control. This is NOT a good thing for the sport.


The important issue here is not that Briatore, Symonds and Piquet Jr. are involved in such a disgrace as the crashgate.

The real issue is that, for a “sport” that is regulated to the nano-particule, most decisions are a result of a fight of egos. Mosley and Dennis, Mosley and Flavio.

The FIA, as an association, lacked the independence and the procedure to do things properly. And that kind of behavior brings a lot of uncertainty to the “sport”. And that is not only related of the ego-fighting, since we have seen technical decissions thar are just weird such as a non moving part inside the car (mass damper) that is considered aerodinamic, while a part outside of the wheels that everybody knows has an aerodynamic influence is not considered so.

And all of this depends on which team is introducing the piece, how is the Championship going or who is the driver leading with a certain difference.

It is clear to me that the strategy of FIA and F1 Management is to capture the attention of the media and the fans at whatever the price. And when races are boring as never, they are trying to be in the media with scandal after scandal, arbitrary action after arbitrary action.

It works in the short term. But we get to a point that nobody will care anymore.


NS got the kiss of death not a FIA court ruling, tough luck he didn’t start a civil court case.


I presume Nigel Stepney was also not a license holder when employed by McLaren. Should the ‘spygate’ fines now be returned to the team?


FIA should not be allowed to effectively decide who should some team employ.


The FIA are the most discredited organization to date… I do not believe anything they say or do…

Their system of justice is nothing but a joke… just reaffirms my belief that the FIA are so severly corrupt that race fixing is something they would do without thinking twice…

Why did the FIA give immunity to the key player too? NP walks free…

I actually like Briatore and Symonds – they have colorful personalities, and would welcome their return…


Judging by the FIA’s offer of immunity to Piquet, Symonds & witness X, but never Briatore, it appears that it was not, from the word go, much interested in punishing culprits, just bringing down Briatore.

It’s this aspect of the matter that’s been, in my opinion, correctly addressed in Paris. These personal vendettas between wealthy men and senior management destroy careers and the integrity of the sport.

However there may be a natural justice here even if those charged with administering legal justice failed.

Piquet accepted immunity but so far has had no interest from teams to re-employ him. So much for immunity.

Pat Symonds rejected immunity, fell on his sword, lost the honour he’d accrued over many years of honest toil in F1 and I doubt will ever work again in it.

Witness x was never presented as being part of the plot in Singapore, he merely had knowledge of it and had voiced his dissent before the race.

The Renault team, as the FIA accepted, appears to have known nothing of the plot at the time of the race.

Possibly there was some doubt after it, but in that situation you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t: those who speak out against their teams are disloyal and endanger jobs, those who keep quiet become tarnished by association.

Renault F1 has endured months of anguish and shame, far worse than McLaren endured, and is trying to build itself again.

I for one wish them all the best.


It seems to me that if the FIA punishment had been written in a different sort of mirror image way — that no team that employs Briatore or Symonds will be granted a license — then it would have passed muster. That will probably be the de facto situation in any case.


You are all forgetting one thing. The two main individuals involved in this were never given a chance to clear their name by Renualt or the FIA. It has not been proven in court that actually did anything wrong.


The old boys club brings out more smoke and mirrors to try and fool the fans.

Thanks to you James, we know what is really going on!

Perhaps they’ll start to license all F1 related websites soon and we’ll all have to go underground!


“The decision [of the FIA World Motor Sport Council] is not annulled but declared irregular, and rendered without effect in its provisions against Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds.

So they are still guilty of organising the plot to crash the car in Singapore, but the sanctions are ruled unlawful.”

OK – so, they are still deemed guilty, but the punishment can’t be applied to them. So, how about introducing a FIA regulation right now, saying that F1 teams will not be licenced to operate, if they employ individuals known to have shown decidedly un-sporting behaviours in the past?

There would be no problem with such a rule applying retrospectively (always a bad idea, legally speaking), since it would apply to current teams, not team members and other parties.

If FIA does this tomorrow then Flav and Pat will still be effectively banned, but Flav might be allowed to pursue his football-related exploits…


James I think that you are way underestimating the impact of this decision (if it stands). It means that everyone associated with FIA sanctioned motorsport is going to have to have a licence… otherwise the FIA cannot issue any punishment no matter what they do… that means mechanics, tea boys the lot…. That’s not just in F1, that will be all FIA events…. and guess what, the national bodies will have to follow suit because their rules say much the same…. the implications are enormous and probably very expensive and inconvenient at the grass roots……..what a mess!


Well I am the only one who’s talking about licences tonight, as far as I can tell so maybe I didn’t underestimate it..


I seem to recall that Nelson Piquet Sr. once produced an astonishingly fast qualifying lap at Buenos Aires, only to suffer a sudden and entirely “unexpected” brake failure on the “in” lap and stuff the car into the barrier. The written-off vehicle was thus deposited back to the Brabham garage for repairs, free from the trip to the weighbridge that would have revealed it to be a remarkably light vehicle…


Isn’t it striking that the best and wisest lawyer ever to have walked this planet’s soil has for many years not noticed this rather big loophole in the statutes of the federation he used to be president of? Maybe Mr. M wasn’t as sharp a knife as he made us all believe he was after all. By the way I’d like to hear what Ron Dennis thinks about this judgement. If McLaren had taken the FIA to court over Spygate, who knows what might have happened.


The sanction may no longer be enforceable, but, presumably, no team will want to be seen to be employing a man convicted of organising a dangerous accident and then lying about it during an investigation. It will be interesting to see whether drivers continue to use him as their manager.

This is a bad loophole in the current FIA statutes and Todt would be well advised to make all prominent employees of teams licence holders in order to stop this nonsense happening again.

If the FIA’s decision making can be overturned this easily by courts, is there any chance of McLaren making a claim about the reasonableness of the $100,000,000 fine?


What a complete mess…. the FIA has been shown to be complete fools an that includes Bernie.

The worst scandal ever and nobody punished… disgraceful…

That said what happened to McLaren was just as disgraceful. McLaren should never have been unished in the way they were for the actions of two people and what was considered at the time to be ‘Custom and Practice’ of the tme.

The FIA was full of people who new nothing of the sport and only serve their own purposes as was seen in the latest presidency vote… 85% of the public want Ari Vatinen and yet Jean Todt gets voted in.. they will never learn.

This decision is a bit like Rage becomming #1 – the public will see it as 1up against the sad FIA…

A pitty nothing will change…


This “85%” of the public (I’m not sure where your figure came from) only wanted Ari Vatanen to replace Mosley because they were paranoid. So far, Jean Todt has done a bunch of good things and not a single bad thing. Personally, I think it is a good job that it didn’t end up in favour of those “85%” of the public. 😉


Yes and no.

Most of the reason behind Ari Vatanen’s popular support was the fact that Max had come out very publicly in favour of Jean Todt succeeding him, which led to widespread unease that Todt was seemingly being hand picked by the FIA in the face of what should have been seen as a free and fair election. If Max had kept his mouth shut and let the elections go on there’s have been no controversy over the process and Todt would probably have still got his landslide victory.

But of course, if Max had kept his mouth shut, he wouldn’t be Max, would he?


The 85% public support is well known – I am sure you will find James will correct me is I am wrong, Todt had support from the National bodies… which he would have since Max supported (unfairly) Todt, and since Max had deals to prop up a lot of those clubs at the expense of larger clubs (1 member 1 vote) it meant the system was rigged.. as is the whole FIA… so you see I see it that Todt, although I admit experienced and talented, did not represent change just more of the old guard, which is exactly what is wrong with the FIA, and why the mess exists. Todt may want to change things, but his credentials of getting Rubens to move over for Scumacher hardly show fairness. Also his bitterness over the Spiegate afair does not show that this personality culture in the FIA is going to go away.

Just consider how the FIA is perceived by the outside and public, it lurches from one scandal to the other, looses cout cases, has leaders in sex scandals, over fines teams, can’t administer rules that are subject to contrevesey, releases outrageous press statements, threatens to sue teams for breaking away ( but never does), makes deals with Ferrari (which Todt probabaly signed)behind the backs of others, has Stewards involved in new team selections, whilst being involved with others, its just never ending

Change was needed… it didn’t happen..

Todts tweeking so far, is just that, its OK, but its not what is really needed, a culture changes is what is needed. He can’t provide that. it like if Tony BVlair was elected EU President, it just would be untenable even though he may do a good job.

end of rant…


James – thanks for your excellent and insightful site.

I find this judgement difficult to come to terms with. Whether the length of the respective bans was correct or not, it defies belief that nobody involved in orchestrating what several journalists have called the worst incident of cheating in sporting history is being sanctioned in any way whatsoever. A little like the banking crisis really…

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