F1 » 6 January 2010
Ecclestone casts doubt on Briatore return
Bernie Ecclestone has cast doubt on Flavio Briatore making a swift return to F1 - not least because he fears the row with the FIA will continue into 2010.
Bernie Ecclestone has admitted that the spat between Flavio Briatore and the FIA could rumble on through 2010 - although he doesn't necessarily believe that that would be the reason why the Italian does not return to F1.
Briatore saw a lifetime ban from motorsport, handed down by the FIA last season for his part in the 'crashgate' scandal that saw Nelson Piquet Jr's accident in Singapore affect the outcome of the race, overturned by the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris on Tuesday [5 January], but Ecclestone - who shares a common interest in British football club Queen's Park Rangers with Briatore - insists that the matter is far from being resolved.
"It's not over by a long way," he told Britain's Telegraph newspaper, "Just because a bloody judge has said what he's said doesn't make any difference. Nothing's happened.
"The court said it was wrong, so the FIA can start all over again with a new hearing, and it will go on and on and on. That's the worst thing. It would be better if they all get round a table and see what they can do."
Sadly for a sport looking to re-establish is popularity after a string of dull seasons and political wranglings, Ecclestone's favoured suggestion for solving any dispute is likely to go unheeded, as the governing body - now under the guidance of former Ferrari team boss Jean Todt following the 'retirement' of Briatore's nemesis Max Mosley - has said that it was considering an appeal of its own. The French hearing did not refute claims that Briatore had 'cheated' in Singapore, and only overturned the ban imposed on him because it felt that the FIA had acted incorrectly in imposing the punishment.
"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," an official statement pointed out, "The Court's decision is not enforceable until the FIA's appeal options have been exhausted. Until then, the World Motor Sport Council's decision continues to apply.
"In addition, the FIA intends to consider appropriate actions to ensure that no persons who would engage, or who have engaged, in such dangerous activities or acts of intentional cheating will be allowed to participate in F1 in the future."
Briatore, meanwhile, has said that he will take time to reflect on the happenings in Paris before deciding whether or not to return to F1. However, despite the Italian being linked to the nascent Campos Meta outfit, Ecclestone does not believe he will be back any time soon.
"He's happy he's won, of course, but he didn't say he wanted to come back to F1, and I don't think he will," the Briton noted, "There's no reason he can't carry on as a [driver] manager if he wants, but it would be difficult for someone who has done something wrong to return in his old job or something similar."
"I don't know if he wants to come back and, if he did, how he would,” Ecclestone added in a separate interview with Britain's Times, “The biggest problem is that, if you are arrested for murder, you go to court but you are still branded a murderer, even if you get off.
“If I was president of the FIA, I'd call Flavio and say 'let's have a chat - maybe we were a little bit over the top and sorry that you have had to take the attitude you have taken, and let's try and repair things'.”
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