No punishment for Briatore or Symonds?

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An (un-bylined) article in the Daily Express suggests Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds may go unpunished for their role in the Renault crash scandal.

Having left Renault, Briatore and Symonds are no longer represented by a licence holder, and so cannot be punished:

Although the Council have unlimited power when it comes to imposing a penalty against Renault, they are now powerless to act against Briatore and Symonds, despite the severity of the case.

It claims the World Motor Sports Council plans to change the rules so it can penalise individuals in similar cases in the future.

This was also the case in 2007 during the ‘Spygate’ enquiry, when the FIA was unable to punish Nigel Stepney after he had been dismissed by Ferrari. Instead it warned teams against hiring him:

As Mr Stepney is not a licence-holder of the FIA, no formal action may be taken against him under the International Sporting Code (though the FIA is co-operating with the Italian police, who are investigating Mr Stepney’s actions). As a matter of good order, the FIA recommends to its licensees that they do not professionally collaborate with Mr Stepney without conducting appropriate due diligence regarding his suitability for involvement in international motor sport. This recommendation stands until 1 July 2009.

Under the circumstances, it’s surprising they didn’t address the sooner. We can expect a similar announcement regarding Briatore and Symonds after the WMSC hearing on Monday.

Other questions are being asked today about the FIA’s handling of the matter. It has now emerged it was first brought to the FIA’s attention by Nelson Piquet Snr at last year’s Brazilian Grand Prix almost 11 months ago.

The delay in prosecuting the case was because the FIA required a statement from Nelson Piquet Jnr, and did not receive one until July 30 of this year. Was this because Piquet waited, or because the FIA didn’t offer him immunity until July? If the latter, why did they wait so long?

Renault Singapore crash controversy

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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45 comments on “No punishment for Briatore or Symonds?”

  1. What about being employees of the company when committing the crime? Doesn’t that count?

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      18th September 2009, 19:03

      Andy, the events will only become a ‘crime’ if the Singapore state prosecutor or police decide that one has been committed on their territory. The FIA cannot decide if it was a crime or not, they don’t have jurisdiction to do so.
      If the Singapore police *do* decide that a crime has been committed (eg, betting irregularities or contravention of Health and Safety legislation by requiring an employee to crash – or whatever, then they can make an arrest warrant for the employees of the company responsible and possibly for the company itself (depending on legislation).
      If that happens, you can bet your life that Pat and Flav will never think about holidaying in Singapore again!

  2. This is a serious fault in the rules. I’m guessing Briatore and Symonds knew this, and could have contributed to them stepping down without a fight.

    They knew they would suffer serious implications, possibly severe legal action, so why not step down and avoid that trouble!

    1. The problem is … if you wish to take part in the sport then yes you must follow the sports rules, else bodies will take appropriate action.

      However if you have no intentions of being involved with the sport again and have not committed a crime in the eyes of the law then its difficult to be punished. The closest you could get is a contract which states you agree to something specific “xyz” (maybe a fine?) if you breach the rules. I mean if they were still in the sport they would probably get fined (if they wanted to stay) or asked to leave.

      If an actual crime has been committed then of course leaving the sport is not protection.

  3. And Stepney got F1 related job after that letter… Maybe they knew that when they left the team – so much for taking one for the team by Flavio.

    1. so much for taking one for the team by Flavio

      Quite right! More like dodging the bullet and leaving the team in the lurch.

      1. I said early on that flavio didnt fall on sword because it is not in his nature to do the right thing, he only did what was right for flavio and the rest can all eat crap.

  4. I don’t see how the FIA would have the right to issue really any punishments against anyone outside of motorsport – they have as much right to issue a fine to me as they do to Flavio.

    In essence, aren’t all FIA fines only backed by the threat that if you don’t pay up, you’ll be thrown out of any FIA events (…or that the team will be penalized more, or etc). Given that this threat is now gone, it seems the FIA can really only issue empty threats against Flavio and Pat.

    What they could (and should IMHO) do is issue “lifetime bans” against those two from any FIA sponsored activities. This may seem unnecessary as I imagine they’re now fairly “unhireable” by other teams, but it would look good for the FIA.

  5. HounslowBusGarage
    18th September 2009, 19:11

    If Pat and Flav are no longer ‘licence holders’ of the FIA, they do not have to attend the hearing on Monday. If Renault do not intend to contest the allegations, there will be no new evidence presented and no response from the Renault side.
    So, I’m not sure that we are going to hear anything new on Monday apart from the punishment (if any) given to ING Team Renault by the FIA.
    It’s a nice bit of damage limitation by Renault proper to make sure that there is no washing of dirty linen in public and with as little mud sticking to their corporate image as possible.

    1. Maybe a few more details of the evidence against Renault will come out. But considering how much has been leaked already, I doubt it too.

      I wonder if Renault will make an apologetic statement? Any regret from scumbag Briatore looks unlikely, his latest statement just witters on about ‘honourably’ leaving Renault.

  6. Pure injustice to us, The F1 fans. Always knew these 2 “THUGS” would get away with it, especially Flavio. It wouldn’t be the first time he has evaded the lawmakers. So does he plan to go into hiding on that remote island, like he did last time?

  7. You raise an interesting point Keith. In the past, the FIA had shown willingness to pursue allegations and suggestions of cheating even when unsolicited by any party involved. Why did the FIA if it was made aware of these allegations, not conduct a proper investigation.
    One can only draw the conclusion that Mosley and Flavio were still in good terms then and also Renault had not openly questioned the governance of the FIA, so it wasn’t expedient that such a matter be brought up.

    Fast forward a few months, Renault and Flavio have clashed with Mosley, there is now a good reason for this matter to resurface. The haste in which Mosley was offering immunity to Symonds, directly shows who the targets are. The fact that Symonds turned down such an offer might indicate he was probably the chief architect of the fiasco.

    1. Another possible reason why it wasn’t pounced upon by the FIA last year is that the idea of Renault orchestrating an accident was quite an unbelievable one. I still find it hard to believe myself. Without a sworn statement or hard evidence, the FIA probably didn’t want to go churning up anything that might have just been a prank or an unfounded allegation.

      1. They didn’t need to go in front of the media announcing the fact that they are conducting an inquiry. Meetings with the stewards are usually a private affair, and its up to the FIA to publish the proceedings if it deems it necessary. Besides, if they had access to the telemetry courtesy of the standardized engine management hardware/software, it would have been very easy to verify.

    2. One can only draw the conclusion that Mosley and Flavio were still in good terms then.

      I’m starting to lean towards that interpretation. Did they fall out during the budget cap row?

      1. It does seem that the leader of the loonies comment was maybe the tip of an iceberg of a breakdown between Flavio and Max. And I reluctantly agree with you Oliver it seems that Flavio was more compliant and Mr Symonds seemed to be the orchestrator of events that evening.
        What is a shame about all this is that we are losing another character, who will probably be replaced by another smiley, smiley, nicey, nicey PR savvy figure. The recent turmoil our sport has suffered is going to make the sport “Appear” far more sterile in future, and for fanatics it’s going to lose some of it’s appeal I fear.

        1. I see I should have read this thread yesterday.

          Well said, Big. I have been following F1 since Silverstone 1956, the year I was 6 yrs old. And I too am sick to death of slick, homogenized, pasteurized, vacuum-packed politically correct drivers who won’t say “Sheet” if their mouth was full of it.

          I could use a few less pretty boys and a few more men, and have all the scandals be about the drinking and womanizing some driver did, like in the days of Fangio. Sure would be better than this cr@p we are being served just now.

  8. Agree Mp4-19b complete disgrace not just to us but the very sport itself if they are not punished. If they are just going to be let off them why bother investiagting in the first place. If they aren’t punished then clearly there is nothing wrong with crashing a car deliberately and race fixing and so why did they need to investigate?
    If the problem is the rules then they need to be addressed, this just cannot be swept under the carpet.

    1. I agree, it is silly that the individuals cannot be punished if they quickly leave the team or are sacked.

      In the least, you’d expect Pat and Flav to be in hot water with the Singaporeans. Is there nothing criminal about staging a heavy crash during a motor race and putting people in danger?

      1. Punishment is probably going to be a ban for the individuals. Since they’ve gone into auto self destruct mode, why kick a dead horse. :-)

        1. A ban for the individuals could only be at FIA events or registering with an FIA sanctioned competition, as stated in the article. I doubt anyone would welcome them back to F1, and if they had any sense they’d keep out of motorsport altogether in future, and perhaps their image is tarnished in the rest of the sporting world too (QPR, cough). However as a fan I don’t see that as sufficient punishment.

  9. I wrote to Renault:

    And to the Singapore government:

    to express my personal feelings on the matter.

    1. Great, but not necessary. Singapore has no business in this, or do we want court cases that could go on for many years, like they do in Italy.
      Renault are both victim and beneficiaries of the fraud.

  10. at very least, they should be personae non gratae for life. flavor flav should relenquish any manager/agent contracts in connection to fia matters. he should also be forced out of dealings with football (from what i read, that would be a blessing) and any other sports.

    renault wants the issue dropped ASAP, so will not sue. neither will ferrari or massa, at the behest of others. i suspect they will be compensated unofficially, bernie really excells at that kind of thing.

    what singapore chooses to do is anyone’s guess. will they seek to remove the tarnish on a major event for them, or do they just want it to go away?

    1. looks like i have my answer:

      Singapore plays down crash-gate scandal

      1. This is the “head in the sand” approach being taken by the minister, for which I am disappointed…

        I wonder what would his tune be if someone was severely injured or killed as a result of that incident?

    2. While Flav isn’t a license holder and doesn’t work for a team anymore, he is employed by the drivers he represents (who are license holders). Theoretically the FIA could impose sanctions against the drivers who still elect to have him represent them on the grounds that he is associated with those license holders. While this may on the surface appear horribly unfair, it would be an effective way to force Flav out of the sport completely. No driver will want to hire Flav if doing so exposes them to the potential wrath of the FIA.

    3. I think the FIA would love to have it so that Flav wasn’t even representing drivers anymore. While Flav isn’t a license holder and doesn’t work for a team anymore, he is employed by the drivers he represents (who are license holders). Theoretically the FIA could impose sanctions against the drivers who still elect to have him represent them on the grounds that he is associated with those license holders. While this may on the surface appear horribly unfair, it would be an effective way to force Flav out of the sport completely. No driver will want to hire Flav if doing so exposes them to the potential wrath of the FIA.

  11. One would think that Nelson Jr didn’t make a statement on the matter until recently because he wanted to keep his Formula 1 seat and fulfil his lifelong dream. And who can blame him? Yes, there may well be sour grapes, and everyone’s judged him after the event. It doesn’t make sense for him to blow the whistle last year while he was still in his seat.

    1. I guess some people can be bought quite cheaply. I like to think the majority of the sporting world has higher morals than Pickwit Jnr.

  12. He should have woken up from his “dream” when he was threatened with the sack if he didn’t plow his car into a concrete wall. Then he could have used his famous name, father’s millions and GP2 credentials to ply his trade elsewhere in F1.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      18th September 2009, 23:49

      Probably right. But were there suffient alternative teams?

      1. No but there was plenty of future potential, there would have been opportunities for young Nelson. All sorts of excuses, like “Young” “Under pressure” “In fear of his career”. I’m sorry but its all pathetic. There are people all over the world struggling to feed their children working obscene hours for little pay, people struggling with terminal illness. This little multi-millionaire just had to say “NO”. He would still be a highly paid racing driver, maybe not F1 but FFS get real Nelson get some perspective on your life. I pity nobody in this mess, created by egos and self indulgent self fulfilling attitudes which have no real place in any sport.

        1. I’ll echo Wesley.

          Well said !

  13. So, who’s running the Renault F1 team for the rest of the year? (assuming they will still be racing)

  14. The Piquets waited half year to see if they can blackmail Briatore and then came to FIA –disgusting.
    Both sides of this case are disgusting :\

    1. so true, so true..sad but so true

  15. I was pondering on the same lines as Adam (above).

    If the FIA ban Briatore from any involvement in FIA governed motorsport, will that automaticaly mean he cannot represent drivers? What about any contracts that exist between him any the drivers?

    Discuss :-)

  16. I’m curious how people here think that the FIA should be able to punish those responsible when they’re now both outside the sport? I wasn’t aware the FIA had powers similar to the judiciary system over most of the planet. I fail to see how they can be punished now, with the exception of blacklisting them from motor sport entirely.

    This unfortunately will have major knock on effects. The drivers that Flav represents who will very quickly have to find new representation and that will effect their contracts with the teams. Flav’s interests in QPR football club will come under scruitiny and that will cause some rumbles elsewhere. This ain’t simple thing at all.

    So does anyone fancy setting up a driver management company? :) I hear there might be a vacancy soon :p

    The Singapore authorities are another matter entirely. That really will put the cat amongst the pigeons but I think there will be a behind the scenes political negotiation to avoid compromising the grand prix.

  17. The FIA may not have any power to punish them now they have left Renault but they will surely make it so they can’t come back into F1 anytime soon if they are found guilty.

  18. The maximum authorities in F1 should spend more time creating exciting racing conditions in beautiful historic tracks, instead of finger-pointing and chasing after people for doing something wrong.
    F1 authorities are responsible for creating the conditions of the Singapore affair, for their incompetence in allowing boring procesional racing in Tilke tracks. No wonder people like Flav and Symonds start thinking about something to do.
    Let´s start forgetting about all this Renault affair. At least the Singapore race was not the usual procession

  19. Legally, it was fraud, at least it would have been in the U.S. But Singapore does not have a dog in this race, and will not to prosecute a case against three foreigners who caused no harm to Singaporeans.

    Briatore and Symonds have disgraced themselves and the sport; Piquet has disgraced only himself. All three deserved to be banned from F1, Flavio for life, the other two for a period of years. Whether Flavio’s superiors condoned such appalling behavior is impossible to prove; nonetheless Renault should be fined for failure to set proper standards.

  20. scarlet pimpernel
    22nd September 2009, 19:41

    Everyone on this forum that does NOT think there have been laws broken IS TAKING A STUPID Pill !!!! Last time I saw, the Renault F1 team is incorporated in a country (in France or in the UK), the Renault Automobile company is incorporated in a country (in France or in the UK), Briatore’s FFBB driver management company is incorporated in a country (in France, Monaco, or in the UK), and the company that manages and delivers the Singapore Grand Prix race is protected against loss in value and misrepresentation by laws in Singapore…!!! So please STOP saying out loud “the FiA have no jurisdiction on this or on that”…What you have to ask yourself is when will these countries in-which these racing and management organizations are based are NOT throwing people in JAIL right now ???!!!

    Just watch: NO BODY WILL GO TO JAIL !!! And we all know that there should be about 3 or 4 people who SHOUD be in jail right now ! And that little jerk Nelson Piquet Jr. should not be given any immunity since he always had the power to say “NO” to any of this…the steering wheel was in his hands. Thank God nobody got hurt in the race because of this. Just watch: NO BODY WILL GO TO JAIL !!!

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