Briatore and Symonds accept three-year F1 ban in Singapore crash settlement

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Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds can return to F1 in 2013

Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have agreed not to pursue further legal action against the FIA over the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix scandal.

In exchange for the FIA dropping the case the pair have agreed not to have any “operational role” in Formula 1 until the end of 2012, or any other FIA competition until the end of 2011, according to an FIA statement.

The agreement should help bring to an end the row over Nelson Piquet Jnr’s infamous crash in the race, which Briatore and Symonds orchestrated to help Fernando Alonso win the race.

The FIA statement read:

[Briatore and Symonds] have undertaken to abstain from having any operational role in Formula One until 31 December 2012, as well as in all the other competitions registered on the FIA calendars until the end of the 2011 sporting season.

They have also abandoned all publicity and financial measures resulting from the judgement of 5 January 2010, as well as any further action against the FIA on the subject of this affair.

In return, they have asked the FIA to abandon the ongoing appeal procedure, but without the FIA recognising the validity of the criticisms levelled against the WMSC’s decision of 21 September 2009, as well as to waive the right to bring any new proceedings against them on the subject of this affair.
FIA statement

Briatore was originally handed the equivalent of a lifetime ban by the FIA and Symonds was excluded from the sport for a minimum of five years. He succeeded in overturning the decision at the Tribune de Grande Instance in January.

The FIA repeated its criticism of that decision today, saying it “revealed a poor understanding of how the disciplinary procedure before the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) works.”

However the FIA has made significant changes to how World Motor Sports Council decisions are made, taking the FIA president out of the process.

Although Briatore and Symonds’ punishments have been significantly reduced, the FIA can now at least say that two of the guilty parties have been disciplined, when for a while it looked as through no punishments at all would be handed down for the conspiracy. Nelson Piquet Jnr was offered immunity in exchange for revealing the plot.

But Piquet looks set to remain unpunished. The FIA considers this the end of the matter:

Considering that the judgment of 5 January 2010 concerned only the form and not the substance of the WMSC’s decision of 21 September 2009, and that the undertakings and renunciation of all claims expressed by Mr Flavio Briatore and Mr Pat Symonds are in line with what the WMSC is seeking, the FIA President has considered that it is in the best interests of the FIA not to allow the perpetuation of these legal disputes, which have received a great deal of media coverage and which, regardless of the outcome, are very prejudicial to the image of the FIA and of motor sport, and thus to accept this settlement solution, thereby putting an end to this affair.
FIA statement

Read the full statement here.

2008 Singapore crash scandal

Author information

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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79 comments on “Briatore and Symonds accept three-year F1 ban in Singapore crash settlement”

  1. It’s the best possible outcome given that the FIA were, technically, unable to punish Briatore and Symonds given that they are not FIA licence holders.

    Todt recently indicated that senior F1 team members would have to have an FIA licence in future; hopefully this will prevent such problems from occurring again.

  2. Jhonnie Siggie
    12th April 2010, 17:29

    Good pragmatic move on the part of the FIA. It is clear after the court’s intervention that an all out ban was not possible. The next best thing was to have gotten some sort of acknowledgement that some sort of wrong was done and punishment (though mild) was administered. I believe that this settlement accomplishes that.

  3. The FIA and WMSC have done everything right, except penalise Piquet. He should have the lifetime ban.

    1. He’s effectively banned himself with his actions against the team and his mediocre results.

    2. Absolutely. The one person who definitely should have been punished has still escaped scott free.

      1. Actually, Stephen, the phrase is:
        “Scot free”. It implies that we Scots are parsimonious or penurious.

        That is, to get off Scot free is to get away without paying, which should surely warm the cockles of any tartan heart.

        We are allegedly cheap ********, and should enjoy nothing more than not having to invest money, time nor effort to receive favorable outcomes.

        Now, can you lend us ten quid ’till Friday? ;)


        1. ha, i never thought of the meaning of that phrase, but now you mention it, it seems obvious :)

          1. A-hahahahaha!

            TY to Keith for not
            deleting the post.

            It contained an anti-social
            word. :)

      2. Do you guys really think Alonso did not know anything? I cannot believe that he did not even question the team when they asked him to pit a couple of laps earlier!! He is so innocent..the poor guy..he know nothing…

        At least his result should have been canceled. Am sure it was not done, to keep the WC with Hamilton!!!

        1. Prash, I genuinely believe Alonso didn’t know and he has been cleared by the FIA. I like to live by “innocent until proven otherwise”. I think it’s unfair on Alonso that his reputation is still questioned despite being cleared although it is ineviatble.
          I adore Massa, I really do, but it would be too easy for me to just say that the FIA have done this to keep Hamilton champion. The results stand and the crash had an influence on the race but part of the quality of being a champion is coping with whatever comes their way. Ferrari failed at this and Mclaren got the points and fair play to them. I don’t even solely blame that fuel rig for Massa not winning; it was his engine at Hungary too, his mistakes early on in the season, the car having issues in the wet, Hamilton’s speed and overtaking, Mclaren being more reliable and pulling off a masterstroke with strategy at Monaco-it all adds up and the championship points should be left alone. It would have been a mess if they had been changed. I feel sorry for both Lewis and Felipe for having their championship year somewhat blighted by this incident.
          I just hope this whole thing is over now.

      3. Do you mean Alonso?

        1. He appeared to mean Piquet Jr.

    3. He should have been punished, but at least I don’t see anyone in F1 employing him.

      1. I think he’s been punished through incompetence so badly that no act of the FIA’s could punish him further. A token gesture would have been nice, but it was rendered impossible by the immunity process.

        1. What could be more punishing than being relegated from Grand Prix driver to the NASCAR Truck Series?

    4. I agree with you sir.

  4. If this had been the punishment at the beginning then it would have looked a bit…weak but after everything it seems about right. I wish Piquet could/would be punished but glad Briatore + Symonds are facing some kind of punishment nevermind the damage that has been done to their reputation.
    The FIA made a meses before but I would like to praise them for finally finding some sort of resolution.
    Only problem is Symonds is now in F1 Racing and although it’s only a technical feature it still gives him a voice regarding F1 (not the FIA’s fault or problem, it’s just a shame).

    1. Provided Pat doesn’t do anything sufficiently controversial to upset the FIA, I don’t think it’ll be a problem. The only way he could break any regulation of the FIA’s as a F1 Racing writer (assuming he doesn’t re-enter the paddock, which this settlement would probably allow him to do in a journalistic capacity) is by saying something that could prejudice F1, the FIA or motorsports in general. I think Pat has enough sense to write with due caution in those respects.

      1. No. He is not allowed an operational job with a team, so surely he can still attend races and write about them.

      2. It won’t be a problem with his punishment but all I mean is that personally, I wish the three of them who were involved would just slope off and not be in f1 or motorsport news or have a voice for the three years. Perhaps I should be more forgiving though

  5. This scandal was reported as the worst case of organised cheating in the history of motorsport, yet the perpetrators are receiving minimal punishment to lessen the FIA’s embarrassment over it’s handling of the whole affair.

    Briatore & Symonds have gotten off lightly due to technicalities with the way in which the initial ruling was undertaken (not because they were any less guilty), while Piquet was granted immunity for exposing the truth.

    I fear the lesson to take away from this is that with a good lawyer, you can get away with anything, when it quite clearly should be that cheaters don’t prosper!

    1. Being banned from your main source of income for several years is a pretty big penalty isn’t it?

      When Toyota was cheating with their turbo restricter in the rally championship, they got banned for only a year.

      Although I admit that Briatore has gotten away with way too much cheating without receiving any penalty.

      When Benetton was caught with traction control on their car they got no penalty at all. Neither when it turned out they illegally changed their refuelling rig and consequently torched the car with Verstappen in it.

      Banning him for 3 years (combined with the eternal shame that now looms over his head) seems like a reasonable punishment. Besides, it’s his birthday today and he just turned 70. How long can he still remain active in F1?

      1. Sorry, 60 years old of course. Not 70. Lol.

        1. Just a young pup compared to Bernie Ecclestone!

      2. This wasn’t a techincal breach of the rules, this was a deliberate crash to try – successfully – to fix the outcome of the race. None of Briatore, Symonds or Piquet Jr should be allowed any role in the sport again.

        1. If Piquet hadn’t botched up the crash it all wouldn’t have looked so bad.

          He obviously was supposed to just clip the outside wall of that turn and take off a front wheel. Unfortunately he flinched, spun all across the track and totalled his car on the other side of the track.

          Still I don’t see that much difference between such a blatant breach of the technical regulations helping them win a championship as opposed to fixing one race.

          1. The difference, obviously, is that they put people in danger. Especially because no matter how innocuous the crash you plan is supposed to turn out, you can’t know how it will turn out. I still can’t believe criminal proceedings haven’t been instituted against all three.

  6. It would be interesting to see if they will pursue further F1 careers.
    And even more, will any teams want them after this?

    1. They’ve both been pretty successful. My guess would be yes, particularly Symonds as he has a lot of technical expertise and, rightly or wrongly, I think Briatore copped more of the blame in the public eye.

  7. Well considering it seemed the FIA couldn’t legally punish them this is the best we could expect.

    I hope this means that Briatore won’t be talking like he was completely innocent, because after he won his appeal against the punishment he acted like it was a victory over the entire decision and some mainstream news also reported it in that way.

    1. Flavio has considered himself completely innocent from Day 1, so expect no change there. He’s probably only agreed to this because he has other things he wants to do and to ensure his remaining F1 income streams are a) unaffected and b) can be boosted once sufficient time has passed, should he wish to do so.

    2. Briatore’s statement pretty much indicates he is sticking to his original story.

      ‘He confirmed his acceptance to bear his share of responsibility in the Singapore events in his capacity of Managing Director of the Renault F1 Team, at the time they happened, without any admission of a personal guilt in these events and without any recognition of the fact that the decision of the World Council rendered against him would have been well-founded’

  8. Amazing how the FIA seems to be getting everything right lately.

    A few days ago Briatore claimed that he was coming back to F1. Was hat just his way of pressureing FIA into a deal?

    I just hope that Piquet will get “banned” at least till 2012 too.

    1. In effect, I think Piquet is banned for the rest of his life. He may have no formal verdict against him, but who in F1 will ever take him seriously again.

      1. Piquet shouldn’t even have the option. He won’t be banned – the immunity has seen to that – and teams woun’t employ him because he was never good enough in F1 anyway.

        But the door should be shut, formally, permanently.

        1. I’m afraid Piquet’s sponsorship money could be enough to entice one of the smaller teams to hire him again.

          1. as much as I know I’ll be flamed for this, I think if Piquet can get back into F1, he should be allowed to do so, His image is severely tarnished. But it does seem as though he was pressured into doing it.

            Having said that I haven’t been following this issue as much as I could be…

    2. frankly I THINK the FIA through that Mowsley opted to apply selective justice by punishing Briatore and letting go the guy who smashed the car HIMSELF….go scot free….i strongly believe the public were not told the whole story and also this thing may have involved more than three peolple…the whole team at renault at that time to me are suspect in particular the perfect choreography of events on the day of the crush was too good ie Alonso gets called in ..the crush occurs …safety car deploys ….and advantage Alonso wins the race…

      1. “….go scot free….”

        Nice attempt, Patrick(UK), but it is
        still “Scot free”, with a capital “Ess”. After all, the expression refers to the Scots.

        You know. Us mean, penny-pinching gits!

        By the by, was thinking of visiting the UK. Any chance you could put us up for a few days to save on the hoteliers? :)

        (Keith: Nice save on the previous edit. Was somewhat surprised the word went through, although it IS in the Oxford…)

        This is too much fun! What were we talking about? lol

        1. Shoot! Again forgot to slip in a nautical reference. Was too busy screaming at Patrick, like a coxswain, to remember to mention something sea-worthy! ;)

        2. Does wearing a kilt make people particularly uptight about spelling?

          1. Aye! lol

            After all, you forced your language
            on us. ;)

            To me, the joke was not that I was
            offended by the use of an obviously
            rascist abuse, but, rather, the spelling! lol

            Think of a boxing trainer that is mugged. The thug strikes the coach. The coach then points out that the punch was not thrown properly. Proveides advice and opines that the thug should: “Try it again”.

            Just my rather Pythonesque sense of humour at work. I was not offended, but giddy with laughter.

            Penurious andy. Are you going to eat all that?

  9. Who wants to bet that ‘end 2012’ will coincide with Bernie suddenly deciding that he’s not 25 any more and taking a back seat from F1…?

    1. It will be a travesty of the sport if this is the case. Briatore shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near it and I would trust FOTA would make it very clear.

  10. The idea that either of them can be involved with motorsport in any way is, frankly, disgusting.

    I’m also somewhat flabbergasted that people still seem to think that this is about cheating, and that piquet is the one mostly responsible.

    This is about a team boss ordering his driver to put the driver, the other competitors, and spectators in danger. This isn’t like running TC or making your fuel tank too big – it had the potential to seriously injure people. If you hired someone to crash on the highway to prevent your work rival from getting to a meeting on time, it would be criminal – and people wouldn’t be blaming the driver more than you, or viewing the main transgression as being dirty office tricks.

    This is much bigger than Piquet or mere cheating.

  11. I wonder what role Briatore will get in the future? I wouldn’t employ him. I was suprised at Symonds though, I thought he was alright, so I might employ him :D

  12. I’m not at all clear on how membership of a private organisation can be dictated by any legal representation.

    Surely a private club or organisation dictates the terms of its membership? Assuming that exclusion is not based on unacceptable discrimination (gender, race, age etc.) but based solely on the known behaviour of membership applicants.

    What am I missing here?

    1. The issue was that neither Briatore or Symmonds were FIA licence holders (ie they were not members of the club), therefore the FIA had no basis on which to sanction them. Therefore, the only avenue they could have taken to punish Symmonds & Briatore was via legal channels. However, S&Max with his law background *forgot* that, and opted for an FIA sanction, which was not valid and therefore unenforcable.

      So while the end result may not be to everyone’s satisfaction, at least it has been decided according to natural justice and the law.

  13. The end of the saga is a good thing but the whole situation remains wholly unsavoury. Piquet Jr should never have got away with immunity and a ban to 2013 for Briatore seems light punishment.

    At least Briatore, in apologising, has finally accepted his role.

  14. Best possible outcome, even if that’s not good enough for some. It alarms me somewhat to hear people saying Piquet should get a ban. Evidently most are expressing a wish and know it’s not possible, but it seems to some that it’s okay to break the rules about breaking the rules if they agree with the outcome? Hopefully that’s a tiny minority view.

    Anyway, this is definitely going into my next approval vote of Jean Todt!

  15. I’ve felt sad that Formula One loses N.Â. Piquet through this travesty. He’s been mocked quite a bit regarding his F1 performance, but was very good in lower formulae, judging from his results:

    » 2002 F3 Sudamericana winner
    » 3rd in his first British Formula Three season, winning it on his 2nd outing in 2004.
    » 2nd in the 2006 GP2 Series season to one L.C. Hamilton by only 12 points.

    But then he was pitched at Renault, the worst single-driver-focussed F1 team ever — perhaps bar 1996-2006 Ferrari — against, of all drivers, a double-World Drivers’ Champion: F. Alonso Díaz.

    There are no excuses, though, for his part in the Singapore crash scandal.

    1. Piquet was good in lower classes yeah. He was simply horrible in F1. He just couldn;t cope with the complexities of F1. If he completely applied himself to getting his qualifying done, he lacked enormeously in race pace (and vice versa). He just couldn’t get the job done in the short time allowed.

      When still in GP2 his dad’s money could buy him extra track time in a WSR car, but in F1 such luxuries don’t exist.

      So the logical conclusion is that he should drive in something besides F1.

      Although he should stay clear of Indycar. He’s to crash prone (even when he’s not doing it on purpose) and the crashes there can be quite lethal.

  16. Go Flava !!! the next Bernie

    Singapore was the Austerlitz of Briatore

  17. theRoswellite
    12th April 2010, 20:50

    Seems, obviously, like a light punishment all round, or the “unpunishment” in Jr’s case.

    If Briatore never returns it is a sad way to close his many years in F1, he always seemed to be the definition of someone living by their wits. A fellow with no expertise in anything technical, but a very shrewd judge of racing talent. I guess, in the end, it simply all ran a muck. Values be damned, lets get a win…a decision for the moment…that one lives with…for the duration!

    Very disappointing, especially by Symonds. He always seemed, from the vantage point of my more than slightly removed hill, to be a rather stand-up fellow.

    How Jr’s life could have been different, if he’d simply driven around to the pits, parked it, gotten out and announced that he was through. Of course the fun part for all of us would have come when he announced exactly why he was quitting…might want a cooperating witness!

  18. Can’t help thinking that if Piquet were left to his own devices instead of being “pushed” into F1 by his father, then Nelson may not have had such a lurid end to his racing career. Piquet Snr was always a bully and an arrogant SOB and I blame him for the Renault fiasco or at least Jnr’s role in it. Jnr was not allowed to take a leak without Daddies permission and the poor sod wasn’t even allowed to have his own name from birth!.

    1. I agree. I do feel sorry for Jnr (and anyone else in that situation) in that respect. But while I accept no one wants to disappoint their parents, there is always the option of growing some cojones and standing up to the old bully…

      1. Lol. Pink Peril always tells it as it is.

  19. In a bit of irony, the ruling in January appears to let Flav keep his UK soccer team holdings. So now two sports will get to enjoy the hijinks of a known, ruthless match-fixer. The reversal was unecessary in every sense. Vijay Mallya is serving as quality successor in the billionnaire playboy role on grid.

  20. How is it fair that McLaren get fined $50 million for copying a tiny piece of ferrari when the only thing that happens to renault is their managers get banned when they stage a crash and threaten the lives of drivers and spectators and mess up a championship?

    No consistency to the punishments from the FIA.

    1. I never had a problem with the Mclaren fine. My issue was that Renault should have been punished in 07 too. This is different too as Sing was only 3 people and Renault’s future was uncertain so they couldn’t slap the full team with a massive fine as it wouldn’t be fair and could have led to Renault pulling out altogether

    2. >Johnno: “Copying a tiny piece of Ferrari?” Do you seriously think having and USING the entire plans for your main competitor’s car, as well as knowing their strategies down to when they would make their pit stop, is a ‘tiny’ transgression? By the way, it was a $100 million fine (not $50 million) and McLaren deserved EVERY penny of it.

  21. Piquet should definitely be allowed back. He isn’t as poor a driver as his results showed. He basically had one hand tied behind his back by Briatore. Totally unfair.

  22. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
    12th April 2010, 22:31

    At least it’s finally over. :)
    Although you never know with F1. :(

    1. Hopefully we can now put all the politics and controversy behind us and concentrate on the racing on track.

  23. It`s not what you know, It`s who you know ;-)

  24. The best possible solution all round!
    The evidence to convict was shaky at best – less the testimony of a disgruntled and about to be fired, underperforming driver.

    To date, I could not see Jean Todt making any improvement to a seriously flawed FIA. It looks as if I may have been wrong. A few more like decisions on his part and I will gladly admit that I was wrong – painful though that may be.

  25. Even if they come back in 2013 will anyone want Briatore and Symonds in their team? If they set up their own team will anyone work there?

    1. theRoswellite
      13th April 2010, 5:30

      If these guys owned the moon, it would turn out to be Limburger.

      1. And an expedition to go up there and harvest this disgusting gourmet treat would naturally be over-funded by an army of eager investors.

    2. I think they’ll be back. Flav’s rich and successful, Symonds is technically brilliant and successful so I think they would be wanted. I doubt they will set up their own team but if they did then yes, I think people would work there.

  26. It seems the Piquet Gate will go down as a “racing” incident. A black mark to the sport. Schumacher stopping in the Monaco tunnel was another.

    Now Flav can avoid his lifetime ban and once more pursue F1. Baseball’s Pete Rose must be jealous.

    So the FIA will monitor teams to make sure teammates are racing and not deliberating crashing. A fine line, good luck Mr. Todt.

  27. I’m of the school that says Briatore should have been punished harder and never let back into F1… Same goes to Piquet and Simonds….

  28. Accidental Mick
    13th April 2010, 7:21

    I didn’t want to see Todt as President and voted against him in the poll but the decisions taken lately by the FIA might have taken away one of my hobbies – whingeing about the FIA. Also, Todt seemingly keeping a low profile is only in comparison to the public postureing we were used to from Mosely.

    We mustn’t forget that the problems with punishing Briatore and Simmonds were a result of Mosely’s vindictiveness and his conviction that he could run the FIA as his personal fifedom which left the door open to an appeal.

  29. K. Chandra Shekhar
    13th April 2010, 7:51

    Now that CrashGate is over what about those involved with StepneyGate?

  30. I have predicted some political scandal involving Briatore this year. The best is yet to come ;-)

  31. spanky the wonder monkey
    13th April 2010, 12:25

    why all the baying for piquet’s blood? if he hadn’t spoken up / blown the whistle, then the whole thing would’ve been unsubstantiated rumour in hushed paddock whispers.
    immunity, in my mind, was the correct offer to NPJ. his reputation has been damaged through the entire thing, but at least those responsible have been brought to task over the whole sorry mess.

  32. Well it seems Symonds can still act as a consultant to any F1 team through his Neutrino Dynamics company.

    These punishments seem to get less and less the more you hear about them.

  33. I sure do enjoy the way money weaves its web in mysterious ways. I for one will be curious to see what rolls they do come back to fullfill, if they do return that is…

  34. I think they have to be banned for at least 5 years

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