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Max Mosley expects Flavio Briatore ban to stand

ESPNF1 Staff
January 7, 2010 « 'Much more of a personal issue than people think' | »

Former-FIA president Max Mosley has dubbed the French court's decision to overturn Flavio Briatore's indefinite ban from motorsport as "seriously flawed" and believes Briatore's intention to sue Nelson Piquet Jnr and his father is "just talk".

On Tuesday, Briatore was successful in reversing the World Motor Sport Council's (WMSC) decision to ban him from the sport. The WMSC, which was chaired by Mosley, found him, along with Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jnr, guilty of conspiring to cause a deliberate accident at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Despite the French court's decision, Mosley still thinks the ban will be upheld and feels that the FIA stands on firm ground to appeal the judgement.

"Remember, the court did not find that he [Briatore] was not guilty," Mosley told the Daily Telegraph. "They just didn't like the procedure we used. But it's a very preliminary judgement. I think the FIA should appeal the judgement because I think it is seriously flawed in a number of areas. Aspects of it are just extraordinary. Symonds actually admitted in writing that he was guilty and yet they found in his favour. But that's only because they are not looking at the substance, they are just looking at the procedure."

Part of the court's verdict said that there had been a conflict of interest having Mosley chair the WMSC meeting, as he "played a key role in the legal process, violating the principle of a separation of the bodies responsible for the investigation and for the judgment". But Mosley disagrees, arguing that the conflict between himself and Briatore had been fabricated to bolster Briatore's case.

"The inquiry was carried out by the stewards, completely independently, with the supervision of outside lawyers," he said. "My involvement was purely in the world council. So the suggestion that I had it in for him is complete nonsense. After the whole row with the teams last summer he and I had a very friendly lunch in Monaco. There was never an animus there. This was all invented to distract attention from the fact he committed the worst example of cheating in the history of sport."

Mosley also said that he expects Briatore's threat to take legal action against the Piquets will come to nothing, and warned him not to get too cocky.

"The fact is if he went after them there would be a countersuit that would make his eyes water"
Max Mosley on Flavio Briatore's chances of successfully suing the Piquets

"It's just talk," Mosley said. "A little bit of boasting to the Italian press. The fact is if he went after them there would be a countersuit that would make his eyes water. I think he will be very fortunate not to get sued by them, because don't forget he accused them of blackmail and extortion [in a letter to Nelson Piquet Snr last September that was leaked to the press], which is very defamatory."

The FIA has now issued a statement outlining its intention to reinstate some sort of punishment for Briatore and stop a similar scenario from happening again.

"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 Formula One in the future."

Mosley admitted that the FIA's inability to sanction team members, because they are not licensed in the same way as drivers or officials, was a glaring omission. He said that the FIA would react immediately to rectify the situation.

"But the suggestion that we can't penalise anyone who doesn't have a licence is very serious because, for example, we wouldn't be able to ban those people who blacked up their faces and upset Lewis Hamilton [at a test in Barcelona in 2008] from coming to a race," he said. "But in any case the FIA can easily change its rules so that it takes account of what the court said. They said we weren't allowed to ban non-licence holders. Well obviously you can bring in a rule which does allow you to, if you wish. One thing's for sure, it's very far from over."