Formula 1: Briatore's ban will eventually stick, says Mosley
Max Mosley says Flavio Briatore's threat to pursue legal action against the Piquet family is "all talk", adding that he believes the lifetime ban meted out to him by the FIA's World Motor Sport Council for alleged race-fixing will eventually stand.
On Tuesday, Briatore succeeded in getting the ban for his part in Nelson Piquet Jr's deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix overturned by a civil court, which cited "irregularities" in the way in which the council, chaired by then FIA president Mosley, reached its verdict.
But as the Italian luxuriated in his freedom on Wednesday, telling anyone who would listen that he had "no involvement at all" in the scandal dubbed 'Crashgate' and warning the Piquets that "the bad that has been done to me won't be forgotten in one day", the man he accused of driving him out of the sport as a result of a personal vendetta warned him not to get too cocky.
"It's just talk," Mosley told Telegraph Sport of Briatore's threat to sue the Piquets. "A little bit of boasting to the Italian press. The fact is if he went after the Piquets there would be a countersuit that would make his eyes water.
"In fact, I think he will be very fortunate not to get sued by the Piquets, because don't forget he accused them of blackmail and extortion [in a letter to Nelson Piquet Snr last September that was subsequently leaked to the press], which is very defamatory. It may well be, I don't know, that the Piquets are preparing to sue him."
Mosley, who stood down as president of motorsport's world governing body in the wake of last September's WMSC hearing, described Tuesday's judgement in the Tribunal de Grande Instance as "seriously flawed" and said the FIA should definitely appeal the decision, since there was no doubt in his mind that Briatore and his former director of engineering Pat Symonds were guilty.
"Remember, the court did not find that [Briatore] was not guilty," Mosley said. "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." Mosley also took umbrage with the French court's assertion that Briatore had been the victim of a personal vendetta or that he had "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".
"The inquiry was carried out by the stewards, completely independently, with the supervision of outside lawyers. 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 at Rampoldi's. 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 refused to accept that Tuesday's ruling reflected poorly on the FIA's judicial system. "As far as the FIA is concerned I would really want to hear what the superior court said before I would be prepared to acknowledge that the advice we got from outside lawyers was incorrect.
"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 [in Barcelona in 2008] from coming to a race.
"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."