Disgraced former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore has branded the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing into the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal a 'sham', whose outcome was pre-decided by 'secret negotiations'.
Briatore was found guilty in absentia
of the charges brought against him – that he had instructed then Renault driver Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in order to prompt a safety car period that enabled team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph in the top flight's inaugural night race from a disadvantaged grid position – and as punishment he was barred from the sport indefinitely, including from his role as a driver-manager.
The outspoken Italian plans to fight the verdict in a special High Court hearing in Paris next week – along with erstwhile Renault F1 executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, who for a similar crime received a five-year ban – and he has accused former FIA President Max Mosley of having sought to exact 'personal revenge' on him for the pair's well-documented differences [see separate story – click here
], highlighted most obviously by the bitter FIA/FOTA civil war that threatened for much of the summer to tear the sport quite literally in two.
Not only is Briatore bidding to get his ban overturned, but he is also endeavouring to claim €1 million for damage to his reputation as a result of the WMSC ruling. The FIA has condemned the 'selective leaking' of parts of the 59-year-old's case against it – but the Queens Park Rangers (QPR) co-director is adamant that he has nothing to hide.
“The FIA neglects to mention that, according to declarations by one of its own vice-presidents to the media, the world council's decision was rather the outcome of secret negotiations on the eve of the sham hearing,” Briatore is quoted as having said in a statement, similarly rejecting the governing body's claim that the decision was reached by an 'overwhelming' majority of WMSC voting members.
The vice-president in question was not named, but Mohamed Ben Sulayem had told Abu Dhabi newspaper The National
in the aftermath of the hearing that 'we are not here to hang teams; we did our negotiations before and everybody is happy with the result'.