F1 »

Ecclestone: An apology might have helped Briatore

Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that had his friend and Queens Park Rangers (QPR) co-owner Flavio Briatore shown a little humility and acknowledged his conscious involvement in the Renault 'Singapore-gate' scandal that has rocked Formula 1 in recent weeks, he might have received a penalty less 'harsh' than he ultimately did.

Briatore did not attend the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing into the race-fixing controversy on Monday to argue his case, but after being pronounced guilty of conspiring to manipulate the result of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, the flamboyant Italian found himself banned from involvement in any FIA-sanctioned form of motor racing indefinitely, including driver management.

His crime was to have instructed – along with Pat Symonds – former driver Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out of the top flight's inaugural night race just under twelve months ago, thereby necessitating a safety car period that enabled team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph from a disadvantaged grid position...and quite possibly proved pivotal in securing Renault's immediate future at the highest level.

Both Briatore and Symonds left their respective posts as managing director and executive director of engineering at the Enstone-based outfit prior to the hearing, but only the latter has offered an apology for his actions, writing to the WMSC to express his 'eternal regret and shame' for his 'misguided devotion' [see separate story – click here].

Briatore, by contrast, continues to protest his innocence and is said to be 'devastated' by the verdict and considering seeking legal redress against the FIA for damage to his reputation – but Ecclestone contends that just a little contrition from the multi-millionaire might have gone a long way.

“I spoke to him and gave him the results,” revealed the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive – who formed part of the 26-strong WMSC that deliberated over the ruling – in an interview with British newspaper The Times. “I feel very sorry for him. I thought the punishment was probably a bit harsh, but I don't know how it can be changed.

“I don't think he deserved it – I think he should have had his hand slapped – [but] I tell you one thing, an apology from him might have helped. I think it was pretty well-established that he knew what was going on.”

Ecclestone added that he had deemed a more clement 18-month ban appropriate, and now it is being reported that Briatore – who has publicly said little since the matter exploded into global awareness last month, save for insisting that he left Renault only because he felt 'morally responsible' for the affair – may be mulling over the idea of launching his own rival series to F1, much as the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) came close to doing back in the summer.

However, the FOTA initiative – of which the 59-year-old was a major player – never came to fruition, and Ecclestone predicted that any such Briatore-led endeavour would be distinctly unlikely to succeed either, particularly in view of just how few people have come to his defence over the last few weeks.

“Well, he's going to find it difficult because the FIA controls most of the circuits, the key people and everything else,” opined the billionaire impresario. “When he had a following wind earlier this year, he couldn't get it done – so it's going to be even harder now. He wouldn't get a following from the people that matter.”

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
24.05.2006 Monte Carlo, Monaco, . Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) & Flavio Briatore (ITA), Renault F1 Team, Team Chief, Managing Director - Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Monaco Grand Prix, Wednesday
Valtteri Bottas, Nico Rosberg
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Valtteri Bottas - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Motorsport in 30 Seconds, 11th January 2017
Ayrton Senna - McLaren. 1993 Donington Park
Nico Hulkenberg - Renault Sport F1
Renault Formula One Team, launch date, [Credit: Renault F1]
Force India reveals the launch date for its 2017 F1 challenge
Nigel Mansell - McLaren-Mercedes
Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas
M-Sport reveals its Ford Fiesta RS WRC challenger
Who will replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes?
Who will replace Nico Rosberg at Mercedes?
French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard
Lando Norris, McLaren Autosport BRDC Awards [Credit: Martyn Pass PR]

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

Coventry_P - Unregistered

September 24, 2009 3:33 PM

Sorry, but I cannot discern his innocence or his guilt from any of the news or posts. Piquet says he was told to crash. Briatore says he said nothing of the sort and that Piquet just can't drive. So I am supposed to trust the findings of the FIA (who ran this investigation as judge, jury and executioner) still run by Max. If Flavio claims he did nothing wrong - who in their right mind would offer an apology? F1 is beyond a circus and is now a soap opera where the only thing that keeps the racing remotely interesting is the off track scandels. It is no longer fueled by competition and as a result is no longer sport. Good riddance.

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.