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Renault Escapes Ban, Briatore Slammed in FIA “CrashGate” Decision

by F1Fan on September 22, 2009

Renault got off relatively lightly at World Motor Sport Council meeting convened to review the allegations surrounding Nelsinho Piquet’s crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

At the WMC meeting Renault admitted that Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelsinho Piquet conspired to cause the crash in Singapore and offered up the following points of mitigation for consideration by the WMC:

(i) it had accepted, at the earliest practicable opportunity, that it committed the offences with which it was charged and cooperated fully with the FIA’s investigation;
(ii) it had confirmed that Mr. Briatore and Mr. Symonds were involved in the conspiracy and ensured that they left the team;
(iii) it apologised unreservedly to the FIA and to the sport for the harm caused by its actions;
(iv) it committed to paying the costs incurred by the FIA in its investigation; and
(v) Renault (the parent company, as opposed to Renault F1) committed to making a significant contribution to FIA safety-related projects.

When deciding Renaults fate the WMC made it clear that they viewed this breach of the rules grounds for permanent disqualification from the Formula One Championship, however they obviously took into account the teams mitigating actions and as a result handed down a 2 year suspended ban on the Renault Teams participation in Formula One. Basically as long as the team behave themselves for the next two years they are off the hook.

Flavio Briatore was far less lucky, receiving a unlimited ban from participating in any FIA sanctioned event, basically they threw the book at him:

As regards Mr. Briatore, the World Motor Sport Council declares that, for an unlimited period, the FIA does not intend to sanction any International Event, Championship, Cup, Trophy, Challenge or Series involving Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever, or grant any license to any Team or other entity engaging Mr. Briatore in any capacity whatsoever. It also hereby instructs all officials present at FIA-sanctioned events not to permit Mr. Briatore access to any areas under the FIA’s jurisdiction. Furthermore, it does not intend to renew any Superlicence granted to any driver who is associated (through a management contract or otherwise) with Mr. Briatore, or any entity or individual associated with Mr. Briatore. In determining that such instructions should be applicable for an unlimited period, the World Motor Sport Council has had regard not only to the severity of the breach in which Mr. Briatore was complicit but also to his actions in continuing to deny his participation in the breach despite all the evidence.

Pat Symonds recieved a 5 year ban in part because he admitted fault and Nelsinho Piquet receives the immunity he had been promised for spilling the beans. Fernado Alonso and all other members of the Renault F1 team were cleared of any involvement.

Overall I think the FIA’s decision with the Renault team was balanced and good for Formula One, the last thing needed right now was the loss of another team and engine suplier, however I can’t say the same for the treatment of Salvatore Briatore and Nelsinho Piquet.
Briatore’s punishment seems to me to go way beyond the norm and I have to wonder if Max Mosely is in some way settling the score after his capitulation in the FOTA argy bargy in which Briatore played a major antagonistic role. I can clearly see justification for banning Briatore from any team management position but the punitive nature of the additional santions, effectively stripping Briatore of his lucrative Driver management contracts to me seem so draconian they verge on vindictiveness. I would not be surprised to see a law suit coming out of this decision.
In my mind Nelsinho Piquet did not deserve immunity, it was his decision to crash his car, he never came forward until he was released by the team and kept quiet while it benefitted his career, I have no respect for him whatsoever. However I doubt that any other race team will ever hire him, that is unless his father buys the team, so maybe it is a mute point anyway, his racing career is most likely over.

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