Disgraced former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore has accused the FIA of being 'blinded by an excessive desire for personal revenge' and described Max Mosley as his 'complainant, investigator, prosecutor and judge' as he seeks a minimum of €1 million in damages to his reputation and the overturning of his effective lifetime ban from the sport.
Briatore was outlawed from future participation in any FIA-sanctioned championship and from working with anyone involved in those championships for an unlimited period of time by the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) back in September, for the leading role he had played in the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal that rocked the sport and very nearly earned Renault a similar punishment. The Enstone-based outfit's erstwhile executive director of engineering Pat Symonds was for his part banned for five years.
The penalties were meted out after Briatore and Symonds were found guilty of having instructed then Renault driver Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out of the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in 2008, thereby prompting a safety car period that enabled team-mate Fernando Alonso to vault into the lead from outside of the top ten following an engine failure in qualifying.
The Spaniard subsequently went on to triumph in the top flight's first-ever night race, and whilst there were whispers of foul play at the time, the truth only emerged after Piquet was unceremoniously sacked by Briatore midway through 2009, the catalyst for the young Brazilian and his three-time world champion father Nelson Piquet to blow the whistle on the conspiracy.
Briatore and Symonds both resigned from their respective positions in the days following the explosive revelations, and whilst the Englishman acknowledged that discussions to the effect of causing a deliberate accident had
taken place with Piquet, the Italian to this day continues to protest his innocence – and lack of involvement in and knowledge of the plot.
Neither Briatore nor Symonds were present in Paris when the WMSC debated and announced their fate, but both are now set to appeal the verdict in France's high court, the Tribunal de Grande Instance, on 24 November – contending that the investigation and hearing were conducted in improper fashion and against both the governing body's International Sporting Code and French law.
What's more, Briatore argues that he in particular was made a victim of a witch hunt carried out by Max Mosley, who recently stepped down from his long-held position of FIA President and has rarely seen eye-to-eye with the former Formula One Teams' Association commercial development working group chairman, most notably during the bitter FIA/FOTA civil war that rumbled on for much of the summer – a stand-off that almost spawned the formation of a 'breakaway' series and arguably led to Mosley electing not to stand for a fifth term in the most powerful and influential role in international motor racing.
British newspaper The Guardian
has published excerpts of leaked documents from the Briatore camp, which refer to what he believed was 'the excessive and abusive power clearly exercised by both the World Council in particular and the FIA in general' and 'the breach by the World Council of the most basic rules of procedure and the rights to a fair trial'.
'The decisions to carry out an investigation and to submit it to the World Council were taken by the same person, Max Mosley, the FIA President,' the statement goes on, adding that Mosley 'assumed the roles of complainant, investigator, prosecutor and judge' – what Briatore claims is an infringement of the European Convention on Human Rights with regard to fair trials.