Flavio Briatore has responded to Max Mosley's condemnation of his actions over F1's 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing episode by suggesting that the former FIA President is 'making provocative attacks' merely in an effort to 'regain media coverage' – and refuting any such notions that he was treated with 'fair justice'.
Briatore has appealed against his lifetime ban from any FIA-sanctioned form of motorsport, a punishment imposed by the governing body's World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) back in September for the prominent role the Italian was deemed to have played in one of the greatest sporting scandals in recent memory.
The outcome of that French High Court plea will be announced in early January, but in the meantime both parties have indulged in a lively tit-for-tat squabble in the full glare of the world's media – with their exchanges of insults and accusations at times bordering on the vitriolic.
Briatore described the WMSC reunion as a 'sham' hearing which Mosley had personally advised him not to attend, and claimed that the council had committed 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'.
The latter recently retaliated by insisting that far from being biased against the disgraced former Renault F1 managing director, 'the FIA have repeatedly given him the benefit of the doubt – it did so when prohibited software was found in a car under his control; again when a component was removed from his team's refuelling equipment; again when his team failed to declare properly the purpose of a particular suspension component and, most recently, when they were caught with information illicitly acquired from another team' [see separate story – click here
Adding that 'each time his team was caught, the FIA accepted Briatore's claim that he was not involved', Mosley concluded that on this occasion, 'overwhelming evidence...established Briatore's responsibility beyond question – the suggestion that all this was somehow manufactured for reasons of personal vengeance is a desperate and unsustainable argument.'
Briatore, unsurprisingly, begs to differ, and has released a statement of his own that reads as follows:
'I was made aware of the terms of the press statement made by the former President of the FIA, Mr. Max Mosley, as regards the decision that he took as the head of the World Motor Sport Council on 21 September, 2009.
'It is difficult to ascertain whether Mr. Mosley is just losing his temper while waiting for the decision to be issued by the French courts or if, after having lost his position as a key person in motor racing, he is just eager to regain media coverage by making provocative attacks against myself, amongst others.
'Whatever is the answer, it is quite intriguing to hear that Mr. Mosley would now pretend that the FIA rendered a fair decision against me at the end of a process of fair justice. This is certainly not the position that the current leadership of the FIA expressed before the French Civil Courts, where everyone could hear counsel for the FIA stating that the World Council took only a decision of an 'administrative nature', did not issue any ruling against myself and was thus actually not bound to comply with any standards of civilised justice.
'I would also have been glad to hear Mr. Mosley explain that he expressed to me over the phone on 19 September, 2009, that my presence at the hearing of the World Council of 21 September was neither necessary nor desirable, in the context of a difficult session for Renault, while such a hearing may, in any event, not result in any decision against myself.'