Flavio Briatore has admitted that he will take some time out to reflect on his 'victory' over motorsport's governing body before considering a return to Formula One - despite having already been linked to several teams for 2010.
The flamboyant Italian saw a lifetime ban from motorsport - handed down by the FIA in September 2009 for Briatore's alleged role in instructing Nelson Piquet Jr to crash in the early stages of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in a bid to give the beleaguered team a valuable race win courtesy of team-mate Fernando Alonso - overturned on appeal by France's Tribunal de Grande Instance on Tuesday [5 January], and was immediately being linked to potential roles in F1 for the coming season.
However, despite his obvious delight at being freed to return to a sport he has played a significant part since joining the Benetton team from the brand's knitwear empire as an F1 novice in 1988, Briatore insisted that he would not be rushed into making a decision - perhaps a wise move considering that the FIA is pondering its own appeal against the latest legal twist.
"The decision handed down today restores to me the dignity and freedom that certain people had arbitrarily attempted to deprive me of," Briatore said in a statement, referring, indirectly, to former FIA president Max Mosley, who he claimed had waged a personal vendetta leading to the lifetime ban.
"Let me take a little time to enjoy this moment of happiness after this difficult period," the Italian continued, "As concerns my possible return to F1, there is plenty of time to talk about this."
Early gossip has linked Briatore to the fledgling Campos Meta team, which is due to make its F1 debut alongside three other newcomers in 2010, but it remains to be seen whether the Italian wants to immerse himself in a role similar to that which he held at Benetton and, latterly, with Renault, or instead restore his position as a driver manager - something he was forced to relinquish as part of his ban as the threat of licence withdrawal were issued against drivers under his guidance should they not sever ties.
"I am very happy for me and my family because I have endured some very difficult months." Briatore added, "My attention is on my family, then we'll see [about coming back]. It will take a bit of time because the pain I felt in recent months was very deep."
The Italian was awarded €15,000 in damages - he had been claiming €1m - while the FIA was ordered to notify all its members of the outcome or pay a €10,000 fine for every day of prevarication.
Despite the outcome of Briatore's appeal, the governing body has said that it would give serious consideration to an appeal of its own, with lawyer Jean-Francois Prat telling Reuters
that such a move was 'very likely', given that the court had not questioned its belief that Briatore - and former Renault director of engineering Pat Symonds - had been behind the instruction given to Piquet Jr.
"The court did question the FIA's authority to impose bans upon Mr Briatore and Mr Symonds for procedural reasons and because they are not FIA licence holders and, according to the Court, are therefore not subject to any FIA rules," a statement from the governing body claimed, "The FIA's ability to exclude those who intentionally put others' lives at risk has never before been put into doubt and the FIA is carefully considering its appeal options on this point."
Symonds, who voluntarily stepped down from his role at Renault - along with Briatore - before
the FIA hearing, received a five-year ban from the sport, but also had his suspension lifted by the Tribunal de Grande Instance, and was awarded €5000.