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Motorsport: FIA on thin ice as crime goes unpunished

No doubt Flavio Briatore has the champagne on ice and is already busy preparing to party like it's 1999, writes Tom Cary.

The perma-tanned Italian promised us that he would have the last laugh after what he described as a "betrayal by my own world".

"In the end I will win and you will see, we will have a big party," he said.

Yesterday's verdict from Paris was interpreted by many as the cue for 'Flav' to get his guest list finalised. But was it really the "exceptional" victory his lawyer claimed? Sure, the judge agreed with Briatore that there were "irregularities" in the way the world council's decision was reached, but yesterday's ruling was hardly an absolution.

For all his protestations, Briatore still stands accused of having ordered a young driver to crash his car. The judge did not appear to query his conviction, merely the process by which it came about.

One thing is clear: if Briatore has his shindig it will be no more lively than a few acolytes huddled around some pineapple and cheese cocktail sticks. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali made the feelings of the paddock clear when he said his compatriot would not be welcome back in F1. "People don't like reheated soup," he said bluntly. "He will have to find another opportunity."

The FIA, meanwhile, comes out of this even worse. It says the ban has been overturned merely on "a technicality". But this is an organisation already on thin ice over its reputation for integrity. Now, incredibly, we are left with a situation in which no one has been punished for the original crime. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent