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post #41 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-23-2009, 09:40 AM Thread Starter
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Briatore opted not to attend crash-gate hearing

Briatore opted not to attend crash-gate hearing

23/09/09 10:42

Briatore handed a lifetime ban from FIA championship’s
If Flavio Briatore attempts to sue the FIA for ending his career in motorsport, his case may be doomed by his failure to attend Monday's World Motor Sport Council hearing.

Documents released by the governing body confirm that the 59-year-old Italian, who emerged with the harshest penalty in the 'crash-gate' scandal, was invited to appear in Paris before the 26-member panel decided his fate.

FIA president Max Mosley said Briatore, as well as co-conspirator Pat Symonds, have 14 days to request the decision now be referred to the International Court of Appeal. But media speculation suggests the departed Renault boss may instead turn to ordinary courts.

"Whether he sues in Paris or in an English court, he is going to have to give an explanation for why he did not defend himself (on Monday)," leading British sports lawyer Kuldip Singh QC told The Times.

The FIA has confirmed that it was Briatore's continual denials of involvement in the saga, in the face of overwhelming evidence, that caused the Council to so harshly punish him.

The governing body said that when Briatore was invited in writing to attend on Monday, he "instead (argued) in a letter from his lawyer that he is not a licence holder and is not required to account to the FIA".

Said Bernie Ecclestone, F1's chief executive, a World Motor Sport Council member and a prominent friend and business partner of Briatore: "I tell you one thing, an apology from him might have helped. I think it was pretty well established that he knew what was going on.”

Source: GMM
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post #42 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-23-2009, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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James Allen on the race-fix verdict

James Allen on the race-fix verdict

Tuesday, 22 September 2009 10:38

Renault’s admission of guilt in the Singapore race-fixing scandal resulted in a suspended sentence for the team, but much more severe punishments for the key perpetrators, including Flavio Briatore’s permanent exile from Formula 1. columnist James Allen gives his reaction to the World Motor Sport Council decision and considers the precedent it sets.

I’m not overly surprised at the verdict as far as Flavio Briatore is concerned.

The moment the scandal came to light with all the reams of evidence and Briatore denied it, you knew that this was where this was heading.

Much has been made of Max Mosley wanting Briatore’s head in the same way he wanted Ron Dennis’s head, and there is some truth to this, but it’s not the full story.

Briatore was one of the main cheerleaders for FOTA, driving them on to criticise the FIA’s governance and launch a breakaway series.

It was no coincidence that the vote to break away was taken in a meeting at Renault’s HQ on the Thursday evening of the British Grand Prix, when Briatore provided the champagne with which they toasted their decision.

By all accounts Briatore wanted to be the commercial guru of the breakaway series and was very much the driving force.

Around the same time the European manufacturers’ association issued a statement saying it was time for a change of governance, heaping the pressure on Mosley, who accepted a deal to stand down in return for getting some of the cost-restriction agreements he was looking for.

So there was ‘history’ between Mosley and Briatore – but this Singapore saga was not started by Mosley.

It was started by Nelson Piquet, who was happy to keep quiet about it as long as he had a drive with Renault, but who decided to spill the beans after he was fired.

Once Piquet came forward, Mosley had no choice but to investigate and, as with Dennis, he found that his adversary had presented him with a gilt-edged opportunity.

I am slightly surprised by the outcome as far as Renault and Piquet are concerned.

Renault have been let off with a two-year suspended ban. This was decided on the basis that the punishment for the offence was disqualification, but because they had taken steps to get their house in order and remove the perpetrators, and because they presented an open and honest case to the Federation, the ban was suspended.

Not only that but they would have to do something comparable for the ban to kick in, which is highly unlikely.

I expected some kind of fine, something which would give manufacturers and parent companies a heads-up that they should take care to whom they hand over responsibility for racing in their name.

As for Piquet, he escapes scot-free, which the public and the F1 community will find very hard to accept.

Clearly he was hell-bent on telling his side of the story anyway, to bring down Briatore, so he may have given his testimony without the need for immunity, perhaps in return for a more lenient sentence.

To have allowed him to walk away with nothing sends out a rather odd signal.

Effectively the precedent set by this judgement (and the McLaren ‘liegate’ one too) is that if a team does something seriously wrong in future, the whistleblower can claim immunity and, as long as the management is removed, the team will escape punishment.

But things change quickly in F1 and in a month’s time we will have a new FIA president who might take a different view.

Both candidates propose a revised disciplinary system, which is less reliant on the World Council. So perhaps this precedent will not live long.

But the FIA must always keep an eye out for the credibility of the sport and of its judgements.

It hasn’t got it wrong here, but it has set itself up for criticism if it behaves very differently next time a team over steps the mark.

Let us hope, however, that we never see a team doing what Renault did at Singapore 2008 again.
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post #43 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-23-2009, 10:09 PM Thread Starter
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Whistleblower sealed Briatore's demise

Whistleblower sealed Briatore's demise

Wednesday, 23 September 2009 13:33
F1 | ITV Sport

An unnamed Renault F1 employee, codenamed Witness X, provided the decisive evidence that implicated Flavio Briatore in the race-fixing scandal and sealed the Italian’s exile from Formula 1.

It had been thought that only three men – banished team boss Briatore, former engineering director Pat Symonds and ex-driver Nelson Piquet Jr – had been aware of the plot to cause a deliberate crash in last year’s Singapore Grand Prix – which resulted in Renault being handed a suspended F1 expulsion earlier this week.

However, the emergence of a “whistleblower” from inside the Enstone-based squad was revealed in both written and recorded evidence from Monday’s World Motor Sport Council hearing when it was released late on Tuesday evening.

The unnamed team member – whose identity is only known by his employers, FIA president Max Mosley and certain FIA legal advisers – played no role in the conspiracy, but last week came forward to provide evidence to first Renault’s internal investigations team and then in an interview with the governing body that confirmed Briatore was involved in the plot.

As although in its written submissions to the FIA last Wednesday Renault said it would not contest the charges and that both Briatore and Symonds had left the team, the governing body says that “Renault F1 did not expressively confirm at that stage that it considered Mr Briatore himself to have participated in the conspiracy” alongside Symonds and Piquet.

The FIA subsequently argued that it was “imperative to conduct further enquires in order that all available facts could be presented to the WMSC".

Renault duly sent a second set of submissions on September 17, in which it confirmed that an unnamed employee had named Briatore as being part of the conspiracy.

“In those additional submissions, Renault F1 referred to the existence of another member of the Renault F1 team (“Witness X”) who, although not a conspirator himself, knew of the conspiracy at the time of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix,” FIA evidence read.

“Renault F1 stated in its submissions of 17 September 2009 that Witness X had confirmed that Mr Briatore had known of the deliberate crash plan before it had been put into effect.”

The whistleblower told Renault’s legal representative that Piquet Jr had approached Symonds after Saturday qualifying in Singapore to suggest the idea of causing a deliberate crash on race day “to atone for his poor qualifying session”.

The unnamed employee also alleged that “Mr Symonds mentioned the idea to Mr Briatore”, while also confirming that, to his knowledge, no one else in the team had been part of the conspiracy.

After Renault requested that the identity of the whistleblower be protected so not to discourage other staff members to come forward with evidence relating to this, or future, cases, the FIA sent one of its external counsels to interview the team member.

In the interview, the FIA emerged confident that Witness X himself had played no active role in the scandal and instead had opposed it.

“When the FIA’s advisers interviewed Witness X, he expressly confirmed that Mr Briatore was involved in the conspiracy because Witness X had been personally present at a meeting shortly after qualifying on Saturday 27 September 2008 when Mr Symonds had mentioned the possibility of a crash plan to Mr Briatore,” FIA evidence read.

“The FIA’s advisers were confident that Witness X himself played no active role in the conspiracy and that, indeed, he had objected to it and sought to distance himself from it.”

Briatore himself has publicly denied he was involved in the conspiracy to manipulate the result of the race and, alongside Renault, launched criminal proceedings against Piquet and his father earlier this month for making “false allegations” and trying to blackmail the team.

Indeed in Renault’s set of submissions on September 17, in which it revealed the evidence supplied by the whistleblower, it said that when the allegations were put to him Briatore “consistently denied any involvement and did not recall the alleged discussion [with Symonds]”.

However, addressing the WMSC hearing in Paris on Monday the FIA’s lawyer, Paul Harris, described Witness X as being “very forthcoming and in our opinion entirely truthful”.

The FIA’s lawyer added that the governing body was confident that its investigations had proved Briatore, Symonds and Piquet had all been involved in the plot.

“The FIA is of course conscious that Mr Briatore denied any involvement in, or even knowledge, of the conspiracy,” Harris told the WMSC.

“The FIA is also aware of reports in the press, if they are to be believed, in which Mr Briatore continues to deny any involvement in the conspiracy and has even suggested that he resigned from Renault F1 for the good of the team.

“However, the FIA is confident that its investigations have been very thorough and that it has now got to the bottom of this very serious matter.

“Accordingly the view of the FIA investigation team is that on the balance of probabilities there was a three-person conspiracy consisting of Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr and that Witness X knew at the time of the conspiracy, although he played no role.”

The FIA said that Briatore’s insistence that he hadn’t done anything wrong, despite the evidence against him, contributed to the severity of his punishment, which has resulted in his banishment from FIA-sanctioned motorsport events and an effective termination of his driver management business.

Former right-hand man Symonds escaped slightly more lighty - a five-year motorsport ban - as the FIA said he had admitted taking part in the conspiracy and apologised to the WMSC for doing so.
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post #44 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 08:28 PM Thread Starter
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F-1 Ban May Cost Briatore $9.1 Million a Year, Accounts Show

F-1 Ban May Cost Briatore $9.1 Million a Year, Accounts Show
F-1 Ban May Cost Briatore $9.1 Million a Year, Accounts Show -

By Alex Duff

Sept. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Former Renault Formula One team manager Flavio Briatore could lose out on at least $9.1 million a year after resigning because of a cheating scandal, company accounts show.

The 59-year-old Italian was banned for life from the auto racing series on Sept. 21 for conspiring to fix a race. He collected $7.6 million in consultancy fees from selling series television rights in Spain in 2007 on top of his $1.5 million salary. He also benefited from management contracts with drivers including Red Bull’s Mark Webber and McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen. The team escaped with a suspended ban.

“They’ve isolated him,” Mark Borkowski, a public relations consultant in London, said in an interview. “His brand is damaged: He’s got an uncertain future.”

Briatore’s troubles extend to his other holdings. He may face a ban from co-owning English soccer’s Queens Park Rangers under league rules. He denies wrongdoing, according to Formula One’s ruling body, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, which says he has 14 days to appeal.

This weekend is this year’s Singapore Grand Prix, the race where Briatore and Renault team engineering chief Pat Symonds conspired with driver Nelson Piquet Jr. for him to crash last year to help teammate Fernando Alonso win, according to the FIA. Piquet Jr., dropped by the team in August, and a whistleblower dubbed “Witness X” gave evidence about the plot, the FIA said.

Briatore left his post last week. The FIA then ruled drivers managed by Briatore must end their contracts with him and he will be denied access to races for life. He also manages Renault’s Romain Grosjean.

Left Without Means

“He has been left without his means to earn a living,” Carlos Gracia, president of the Spanish motor racing federation, told the newspaper As. Briatore may sue the FIA because there was no clear evidence to incriminate him and he didn’t have a chance to defend himself, Gracia added.

Briatore couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.

Renault’s removal of Briatore and Symonds helped mitigate its sanction, the FIA said. The FIA also took into account an apology by Renault and a “significant” contribution it agreed to make to FIA road safety projects.

Briatore, who entered Formula One in 1989 as commercial director of Benetton SpA’s team, has multiple interests in Formula One, some of them stemming from his friendship with series Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone, former Minardi team manager Paul Stoddart said.

Tied at Hip

“Flavio and Bernie are inextricably tied at the hip,” Stoddart said.

Ecclestone ceded Briatore the television rights to Formula races in Spain, the Italian said in an interview in 2006. The rights are exploited via Stacourt Ltd., a unit of Briatore’s Formula FB Business, which is based in the British Virgin Islands. In 2007, Briatore received 4.7 million pounds ($7.6 million) in consultancy fees, company filings of Stacourt in London show.

Ecclestone, 78, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail sent to his London office seeking comment and an FIA official didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment about whether the deals were affected.

Ecclestone and Briatore in 2003 set up the GP2 series, which runs on Formula One race weekends, with the Italian’s associate Bruno Michel. The series was sold to CVC Capital Partners Ltd. in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. The private equity firm bought Formula One a year earlier after taking out $2.5 billion in loans.

Soccer Issues

In soccer, Briatore and Ecclestone bought second-tier Queens Park Rangers for 14 million pounds in 2007. Steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal bought a 20 percent stake four months later. Earlier this month, league officials asked the FIA for documentation about Briatore’s case. League rules say team owners or directors should be barred if subject to a ban from a sports governing body.

Neither Ecclestone nor Mittal has condemned Briatore and the possibility of repairing his public image isn’t out of the question, Borkowski said.

“He has a lot of powerful friends and Formula One is one of the most unpredictable sports,” Borkowski said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Duff in Madrid at
Last Updated: September 24, 2009 19:01 EDT
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post #45 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 08:56 PM Thread Starter
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Title sponsor ING axes Renault backing

Title sponsor ING axes Renault backing

24/09/09 20:44

Crashgate consequences at Renault
Renault's title sponsor ING late on Thursday said it has terminated its contract with the French team "with immediate effect."

Mere hours after Spanish insurance backer Mutua Madrilena pulled its logos from the R29 for the same reason, the Dutch bank ING said it has also decided to end its association with Renault because of the Crashgate scandal.

It is believed that both sponsors cite a clear and serious breach of contract, due to clauses requiring the Enstone-based team to comply with FIA rules and regulations.

"ING is deeply disappointed at this turn of events, especially in the context of an otherwise successful sponsorship," a media statement issued late on Thursday read.

The statement went out to the world's media in the dead of the Singapore night, after team mechanics had throughout Thursday worked on the fully ING-branded cars in the pits of the Asian city-state's street circuit.

All team equipment as well as personnel and driver apparel also carried prominent ING branding as per usual on Thursday, the day before official practice for the weekend's Singapore Grand Prix begins.

Like Mutua Madrilena, ING had previously decided not to stay in Formula One beyond 2009.

© CAPSIS International
Source: GMM
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post #46 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-24-2009, 09:58 PM
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Here's the backstory on Mutua Madrilena...

Sponsor leaves Renault after crash-gate scandal (GMM) As a direct consequence of the crash-gate scandal, Renault sponsor Mutua Madrilena has cancelled its sponsorship of the French team with immediate effect.

The Madrid based insurance company, whose deal with the formula one team was estimated at 3.5 million euros, already intended to leave the sport at the end of 2009.

Spanish news agency EFE reports that the firm wrote a letter to Renault in the wake of Monday's World Motor Sport Council hearing pointing out that it is no longer contractually bound to the team because Renault had broken the sport's rules.

Mutua Madrilena requested that the contract be terminated immediately, and indeed in the Renault garage on Thursday the Singapore-specification R29 cars no longer featured the company's logos on the monocoque sides.
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post #47 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-25-2009, 04:34 AM
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A 59 year old who has made millions per year for who knows how long, has "been left without his means to earn a living" could retire in comfort.
Nelson Jr. must have listened to his dad, he got off scott free.

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post #48 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-25-2009, 07:30 AM
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Was Flavio B. involved?

Grosjean repeats Piquet crash in Singapore practice

SINGAPORE - French rookie Romain Grosjean halted Singapore Grand Prix first practice on Friday by crashing his Renault at the same place where Nelson Piquet deliberately smashed into the wall a year ago.

In an amazing flashback to that inaugural 2008 race, Grosjean lost control on turn 17 of the Marina Bay Street Circuit and slammed into the opposite wall.

Renault were handed a suspended permanent ban for race-fixing earlier this week after Piquet confessed to crashing on purpose last year in a plot to help team mate Fernando Alonso win after the safety car was deployed.

Grosjean, who replaced Brazilian Piquet in August and was passed fit only on Friday morning after feeling unwell on Thursday, had completed nine laps when he crashed. He has not previously raced at the track.

Brawn GP's championship leader Jenson Button had recorded the fastest time of the session before the cars were ordered to return to the garages.

The track was cleared nine minutes after the crash and practice resumed with 36 minutes remaining. A second session will take place at 9:30 p.m.

Grosjean repeats Piquet crash in Singapore practice - Yahoo! Singapore News
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post #49 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-25-2009, 07:46 PM Thread Starter
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David Richards linked with Renault buyout

David Richards linked with Renault buyout

25/09/09 18:11

As Renault assesses the damage to its image and counts the fleeing sponsors, David Richards has entered the frame as the crash-gate scandal rolls on.

Media reports, including by the German news agency SID as well as the British broadcaster BBC, claim the Prodrive and Aston Martin chief Richards may be waiting in the wings to take over the French squad.

BBC claimed that the Briton, who was team principal for a time in the Benetton days at the end of the 90s, may be willing to buy the team for US $50m. SID meanwhile said that the 57-year-old met recently with Renault SA CEO Carlos Ghosn at the Frankfurt motor show, and also visited the team's British headquarters.

Taking over from the ousted and banned former team boss Flavio Briatore as of this weekend as managing director is Jean-Francois Caubet, previously Renault's communications and marketing chief. He admitted in Singapore that Renault had erred during the Briatore reign in steadily losing "the Renault culture".

"We don't want to make the same mistakes that have come about by letting the team have 100% autonomy," said Caubet.

He would not comment on speculation that the current new management structure, with Bob Bell the acting team boss, is merely a stepping stone to Alain Prost taking up the job full time.

"I have no comment to make on the names that have been put forward," said Caubet.
"We will look for someone when the responsibilities of the role have been finalised. That could be in December or in January."

He also insisted that Renault is not shaping up to simply walk away from the sport, despite the damage inflicted by the crash-gate scandal.

"During these last few weeks, when we accepted that we were guilty, we have had two decisions to take. Either we would not cross the fire or we would. We finished by crossing," he explained.

"We came out heavily burnt, this is true, and the image of the team has been hurt. We have had very bad coverage in the world's press for the last two weeks, but we have crossed the fire and we are going ahead.

"Today it's business as usual without asking questions. We are nevertheless still in a difficult situation as ING has departed, sponsorship and finances are difficult, and there are decisions over the business model of F1 in the longer term.

"These are serious questions which we must address and find answers," Caubet added.

Source: GMM
� CAPSIS International
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post #50 of 55 (permalink) Old 09-26-2009, 12:55 AM
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There is a lot of information in this dossier but it certainly makes very interesting reading!

No trees were harmed creating this message, however some electrons were very inconvenienced.
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