Motorsport: Mosley: FIA must keep door locked on Briatore
FLAVIO BRIATORE may be celebrating a decision by the French courts to lift his lifetime ban from motorsport, but the man who was instrumental in imposing that sanction says there is still no possibility of the Italian working in F1 again.
Max Mosley retired as president of the FIA shortly after presiding over a hearing of the World Motor Sport Council in September that handed the former Renault team principal a lifetime ban and Pat Symonds, the team's former engineering director, a five-year suspension for conspiring with Nelson Piquet Jr to have him crash on purpose during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.
Since then Mosley has been content to let his successor, Jean Todt, get on with running the show at the FIA's headquarters at the Place de la Concorde in Paris.
But the decision by a court in the French capital on Tuesday to allow Briatore and Symonds to resume their careers has touched a raw nerve in Mosley. In short, he remains determined that the measures taken by the FIA under his leadership on 'Crashgate' are not undone and he says that Todt is of the same mind.
In an interview, Mosley argued that the raison d'etre of the sport's governing body would be undermined if men such as Briatore, who has denied that he knew of the conspiracy, and Symonds, who admitted his guilt and retracted that admission, were to get off scot-free.
"If we can't sanction somebody for doing what Briatore and Symonds did, then the whole purpose and basis of the FIA would be in question, because it goes to the heart of safety, of fairness and to all the fundamental points of our activity," Mosley said. "The idea that we might say, 'Oh, it's all right' would be unthinkable.
"That would be the end of any credibility for Formula One because you cannot envisage a more serious example of cheating than what happened in Singapore. Not only was it dishonest from the cheating point of view, it put lives in danger."
Mosley denied that his intervention at this stage was a clear example of him still trying to run the FIA after having handed over to Todt. "No, absolutely not," he said. "I speak to Todt from time to time but only on a friendly basis and also Bernie (Ecclestone, the Formula One commercial rights holder) from time to time. But I'm very much retired and enjoying it and I don't want to get involved."
The former FIA president said that Briatore's celebrations after the judgment on Tuesday were premature because, even if the governing body fails in an appeal in the French courts, it will change its sporting rules. "This could be done very quickly to give the FIA the power to exclude from any activity in motorsport any person who has acted in contravention of the basic rules of sport, or done something dangerous," Mosley said.
Briatore has said that he may consider returning to Formula One and has also revealed that he may initiate legal action against Piquet Jr and his father for breach of contract.
Mosley believes that he would get a stiff response if he tried to sue the Brazilian driver and his father. "As far as the Piquets are concerned, I expect there will be a counter-suit which would make his eyes water," he said.
The court decision in Briatore's favour centred on arguments that Mosley had allowed himself to get involved as investigator, then judge and jury in the case and had been motivated by a personal vendetta against the Italian. Mosley denied that either was the case and said that he and Briatore had enjoyed a cordial relationship until as recently as the end of last July. (© The Times, London)