F1 managing director Flavio Briatore has revealed that he has 'every confidence' that the effective lifetime ban he received from the top flight for his role in the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal will be overturned by the French High Court today (Tuesday).
The Italian was barred indefinitely from all aspects of the sport – including driver management – by the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) two months ago, for being deemed guilty as charged of having instructed Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, thereby inducing a safety car period that enabled team-mate Fernando Alonso
to triumph in F1's inaugural night race from a disadvantaged grid position following an engine failure in qualifying.
However, Briatore was not present at the WMSC reunion to hear his fate, and he has accused the FIA and more specifically the governing body's recently-departed president Max Mosley of presiding over something akin to a far from impartial kangaroo court, claiming the decision to ban him had already been made even before the hearing and that the whole process was flawed as it was partially based upon the evidence of the at-the-time anonymous 'Witness X'.
He has also suggested that the Englishman – with whom he has rarely seen eye-to-eye, particularly at the height of the FIA/FOTA civil war during the summer – essentially took advantage of the opportunity to force him out in a form of personal revenge.
The 59-year-old has described his unprecedented penalty as a 'legal absurdity' and has berated the FIA for what he regards as a 'deliberate breach of the rights of defence', a 'breach of the rules of natural justice' and a 'manifest excess and abuse of power'. His legal team contend that the WMSC's procedures were against both the FIA International Sporting Code and French law.
Aside from the abolition of his ban, Briatore is also seeking up to €1 million in damages to his reputation, and an official publication of the Tribunal de Grande Instance's ruling, even though he himself did not attend the Paris appeal.
“I have every confidence that the French courts will resolve the matter justly and impartially,” he asserted in a statement, published by the BBC
“When he decided to leave Renault, he took moral responsibility for the mistake, but he doesn't want to be penalised for something he is not responsible for,” added his lawyer Philippe Ouakrat, who The Guardian
quotes as adding: “My client only aims to be able to do what he wants and to recover his freedom...He is calm and determined.”
FIA lawyer Jean-François Prat responded by stressing that safety was of the utmost importance to the governing body, explaining that: “We hadn't seen something as unethical in a sports competition before – many people's lives were endangered.”