Sep 23

‘Witness X’ sealed ousted Briatore’s fate

Briatore was invited to crash-gate hearing – FIA

2009-01-19 - Devoilement de la Renault R29 1746A mystery Renault F1 employee, described by the World Motor Sport Council as ‘witness X’ and by the French team as ‘the whistle blower’, sealed the outcome of the crash-gate scandal.

The person, whose identity was protected in order to encourage the cooperation of whistleblowers in future, told Renault and the FIA that he was present at a meeting in Singapore last year when Pat Symonds and Flavio Briatore mentioned the plan for Nelson Piquet Jr to crash deliberately.

The meeting took place supposedly before Piquet knew about the conspiracy, in the hours after qualifying.  However, both Symonds and ‘witness x’ contend that the conspiracy was actually the Brazilian driver’s idea.

Witness X, whose existence was revealed in the publication by the FIA of the World Motor Sport Council documentation, said Piquet “suggested the idea of a deliberate crash to atone for his poor performance in qualifying”.

“(Witness X) objected to the idea (of the deliberate crash),” Renault said in its written submissions to Monday’s hearing in Paris.

Witness X also told the FIA during interview that “Mr (Flavio) Briatore was involved in the conspiracy”.

Departed engineering director Symonds, who had declined the FIA’s offer of immunity and also the invitation to appear in Paris, did submit a letter to the Council, in which he sadly acknowledged “my role in this incident”.

In recordings of the hearing also released by the FIA, Renault’s lawyer Ali Malek QC confirmed that the team – but not Briatore – has withdrawn its French criminal proceedings against Piquet.

Malek also admitted that Renault had given “very serious consideration” about its commitment to F1, but ultimately decided to stay in the sport.

In answer to a question by Bernie Ecclestone, he also confirmed that Briatore and Symonds would have been sacked if they had not voluntarily resigned.

It also emerged that Sir Frank Williams, who has historical links with the French carmaker and may also be coveting an engine supply for 2010, wrote a letter to the Council in support of Renault.

Briatore was invited to crash-gate hearing – FIA

If Flavio Briatore attempts to sue the FIA for ending his career in motor racing, 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,” the 78-year-old added.

 source: GMM