For the first time since leaving the office of FIA President back in October, Max Mosley has spoken out about the legal action being taken against the governing body by disgraced former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore over his 'Singapore-gate' lifetime ban – claiming the Italian 'knew damn well he was guilty'.
Briatore has taken his case to the Tribunal de Grande Instance (French High Court) in Paris, accusing the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) of conducting a 'sham' hearing and of committing a 'deliberate breach of the rights of defence', a 'breach of the rules of natural justice' and a 'manifest excess and abuse of power'.
Moreover, he accused Mosley in particular of having been 'blinded by a desire for personal revenge' after the pair fell out spectacularly over the bitter FIA/FOTA civil war during the summer, when the Englishman controversially described his nemesis of being the leader of 'the loonies'.
Briatore was barred indefinitely from involvement in any FIA-sanctioned form of motorsport for having been found guilty by the WMSC of instructing Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, thereby bringing out a safety car period that enabled team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph from a disadvantaged grid position in F1's inaugural night race – and quite possibly secured Renault's immediate future in the top flight into the bargain.
The 59-year-old, however, did not attend the WMSC reunion back in September, and has continued to protest his innocence in one of the most salacious scandals to grip the sport in its 60-year history – as he argued the ruling was the result of a kangaroo court in which he never had any opportunity to defend himself. Mosley, however, contends that Briatore chose
not to defend himself – in the knowledge that he had indeed perpetrated an 'outrageous act of cheating'.
“What he's saying is that he was not given a proper trial, but he declined to turn up and declined to appeal,” he wrote in British newspaper The Sunday Telegraph
. “The fact is he knew damn well he was guilty – and so he goes to a French court, makes all sorts of allegations and tries to distract everybody's attention.”
Mosley also used the opportunity to brusquely dismiss criticism that his 16-year tenure in the most powerful and influential post in international motor racing had been something akin to a 'dictatorship' – revealing that far from being the driving force behind the sporting record $100 million fine meted out to McLaren-Mercedes over the infamous 'Spygate' saga of two years ago as has been generally believed, he was in fact against
such a disproportionate monetary punishment and in favour instead of a ban on the team for 2007 and 2008.
The 69-year-old finally sought to pour cold water upon Ferrari's recent assertion that the withdrawal of BMW and Toyota – and quite feasibly also Renault – was not a product of the impact of the global credit crunch but rather the result of the FIA 'waging a war on manufacturer teams'.
“What it reminded me of was Saddam Hussein's PR man telling the world the Americans were in full retreat when you could just about see their tanks pulling up over his shoulder,” Mosley stated.