Max Mosley has sent out a warning to arch-nemesis Flavio Briatore that he ought not to begin to celebrate too prematurely in the wake of his 'victory' over the FIA at the French High Court earlier this week – insisting that he will not ultimately get away with the most serious instance of cheating ever seen in F1.
Briatore's lifetime ban from involvement in any FIA-sanctioned form of motor racing for the leading role he was deemed to have played in the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal was sensationally and unexpectedly overturned by the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris on Tuesday [see separate story – click here
], meaning the ex-Renault F1 managing director is free to return to the paddock again should he so desire and nobody has taken the blame for the incident. Not for long, Mosley advises.
One of Mosley's final acts as FIA President before he stepped down to make way for former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt in October was to preside over the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing at which Briatore was found guilty in absentia
of having instructed Nelsinho Piquet to deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix in order to enable team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph in the top flight's inaugural night race from a disadvantaged grid slot.
Though he has since retreated into the background to some extent – “I speak to Todt from time-to-time but only on a friendly basis and also Bernie [Ecclestone, F1 commercial rights-holder], but I'm very much retired and enjoying it and I don't want to get involved,” he insists – Mosley has been prompted to react by the ruling that both Briatore and fellow conspirator Pat Symonds – who, unlike the Italian, initially admitted his culpability, only to subsequently retract it again – are able to attempt to rebuild their F1 careers.
Mosley argued that effectively letting them off scot-free threatens the credibility and the very raison d'être
of the FIA, whose job it is to ensure the safety of the sport's participants, which Briatore and Symonds singularly took so lightly that balmy evening in late September, 2008. Claiming that the FIA's sporting rules and jurisdiction can – and in all probability will – be tightened up in response to the High Court decision, he is adamant that this isn't over yet by a long stretch.
“If we can't sanction somebody for doing what Briatore and Symonds did, then the whole purpose and basis of the FIA would be in question,” Mosley told British newspaper The Times
. “It goes to the heart of safety, of fairness and to all the fundamental points of our activity.
“The idea that we might say, 'Oh, it's alright' would be unthinkable. That would be the end of any credibility for Formula 1, because you cannot envisage a more serious example of cheating than what happened in Singapore. Not only was it dishonest from the cheating point-of-view, it put lives in danger. [The rules could be changed] very quickly to give the FIA the power to exclude from any activity in motorsport any person who has acted in contravention of the basic rules of sport, or done something dangerous.”
Advising Briatore against now pursuing the Piquet family through the courts for breach of contract in having blown the whistle on the episode after Piquet was unceremoniously shown the door from Renault midway through 2009 – “As far as the Piquets are concerned, I expect there will be a counter-suit which would make his eyes water,” he cautioned – Mosley went on to reflect on his own personal involvement in the saga.
Briatore accused Mosley of having acted as judge, jury and executioner in a 'deliberate breach of the rights of defence', a 'breach of the rules of natural justice' and a 'manifest excess and abuse of power' in denying him the right to a free and fair trial, and contended that the 69-year-old had 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 had controversially characterised the Italian as being the leader of 'the loonies'.
“Nobody in my position, once that statement came from Piquet Jnr, could have done anything other than order an inquiry,” insisted Mosley, who despite Briatore's protestations of innocence has maintained all along that the Queens Park Rangers (QPR) co-owner 'knew damn well he was guilty' [see separate story – click here
“There is no question about it. First of all, Symonds would never have done that without Briatore's authority — never, ever. Second, we have very good evidence that there were four people present at the meeting, and Symonds admitted his guilt in writing and then subsequently denied it.
“It would be crazy if this were the final outcome. The idea that in the end, when all the dust has settled, Briatore will get off is fiction – it won't happen.”