F1 »

Bernie: Briatore 'life term' more than people get for murder

Bernie Ecclestone has courted further controversy by suggesting that the effective 'lifetime' ban handed down to disgraced former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore for his leading role in the 'Singapore-gate' saga that has rocked the sport in recent weeks was a heavier sentence than that received by killers.

Ecclestone found himself under fire for his previous contention that Briatore had been penalised too harshly for having instructed Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in order to prompt a safety car period that allowed team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph in the top flight's inaugural night race from a disadvantaged grid position. Now, it seems his latest remarks may also prove the catalyst for a media furore.

“He deserves a punishment, no doubt,” the Formula One Management (FOM) chief executive told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport. “What I did not like was the term 'lifetime'. Not even if you kill someone today do you get life in prison. Fifty years would have sounded better; for Flavio that would have meant life.”

Ecclestone was similarly outspoken in revealing his 'surprise' that Piquet – who is now searching for a way to re-launch a career that he admits has been set right back to square one – felt so pressurised to go along with the conspiracy, which the young Brazilian subsequently blew the whistle on in denouncing his former employers to the FIA following his brusque mid-season dismissal back in the summer.

When pressed about whether – in the wake of both Singapore-gate and reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton infamously being caught lying to Australian Grand Prix stewards in Melbourne following the 2009 curtain-raiser Down Under – F1 drivers have become puppets of their teams, the sport's commercial rights-holder suggested that the recent scandals are merely a sign of the ever-changing times in which we live.

“There was an agreement and both drivers were under pressure,” he reasoned, “and they did what was asked of them. That is not to be compared with [what happened in] former times. At that time there was not the same pressure to win. If someone wanted to win back then, they would perhaps just cut a corner.

“In any sport people have always gone to the limit or even beyond to be successful. I am convinced that there are many more cases that have never been discovered, because the culprits have never been caught. This is not an F1-specific problem.

“What happened in F1 happens everywhere in life. Has it harmed F1? I don't know. The McLaren case (2007's spy row) was industrial espionage. It's quite possible that we have had such a case before, but no-one noticed it. It is only a case if it is blown up; then the affair is at the centre of attention.

“The FIA has a duty to react to police our sport, because it is unfair competition – and they must make judgments. They are perhaps not always comprehensible, but that is the nature of the beast. In football, the referee is the whipping boy. Sometimes he sends a player off, and when he later looks at the case, he regrets it.”

Ecclestone was asked, finally, about the decision made by both title sponsor ING and fellow backer Mutua Madrilena to desert Renault with immediate effect on the eve of the 2009 Singapore Grand Prix, ostensibly in a kneejerk reaction to the controversy. F1's supremo argues that the move was ill thought-out.

“I think that was an overreaction,” the 78-year-old asserted. “Their contracts expired at the end of the year anyway – that was as long as they had to wait. I would draw no conclusions about it from the reactions of the fans. Sure, we have read some critical comments from viewers, but do these individual opinions accurately represent the hundreds of millions of TV viewers that we have? I would not say that the incident led to fans losing interest in F1.”

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
George Russell - Mercedes AMG Petronas
Turn 8 kerb tweaked after Friday accidents
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Mercedes AMG F1 W08, detail
23.06.2017 - Press conference, Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Robert Fernley (GBR) Sahara Force India F1 Team Deputy Team Principal
23.06.2017 - Press conference, Robert Fernley (GBR) Sahara Force India F1 Team Deputy Team Principal, Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director and Cyril Abiteboul (FRA) Renault Sport F1 Managing Director
23.06.2017 - Press conference, Jock Clear (GBR) Ferrari Engineering Director and Rob Smedley (GBR) Williams Head of Vehicle Performance
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Stoffel Vandoorne (BEL) McLaren MCL32
23.06.2017 - Free Practice 2, Ross Brawn (GBR) Formula One Managing Director of Motorsports

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.


October 12, 2009 3:59 PM

A) He is not in prison, unless you call that amazing gin palace a prison, B) It might have turned very nasty and he could have turned out to be a killer !!. At the end of the day he is a crook !!


October 12, 2009 4:02 PM

oh bernie, you get worse every day! killers tend to get life, behind bars. and ok, prisons are a bit better today than yesteryear. BUT , whilst i agree that briatore should have a life ban, IF he is found guilty, at least he will be able to spend it in the lap of luxury on his yacht, surrounded by supermodels. i wouldnt mind that sort of ban myself!

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

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