The FIA International Tribunal has handed down a 15-year ban to kart racer Luca Corberi for his behaviour in last year’s FIA KZ Karting world championship final.which were caught on video and widely circulated on social media, drew criticism from across the motor racing world, including Formula 1 world champion Jenson Button, who called for him to be banned.
Corberi threw the front fairing of his kart at rival Paolo Ippolito. He then attacked Ippolito after the race, which took place at the South Garda Karting circuit in Lonato, Italy, which is owned by the Corberi family.
The tribunal found Corberi guilty of both acts, and also noted he “crossed the track several times at different spots, in the middle of the race, disobeying the instructions given to him by the officials”.
As well as upholding Corberi’s disqualification from the event, the FIA imposed a 15-year suspension and ban on the 23-year-old. He is therefore barred from all competitions organised by the FIA and its member clubs, and any test sessions organised by them. He is also banned from serving the FIA in an official capacity.
FIA demanded lifetime ban over “violent assault”
The tribunal’s findings shed new light on the incident and why the FIA considered it so serious it pushed for a lifetime ban from the sport.
Corberi retired from the race following a collision with Ippolito. The stewards held Ippolito responsible for the collision and disqualified him from the race after it had finished.
In the meantime, Corberi took matters into his own hands. While the race continued, he removed the front fairing from his kart, “although the integrity of his kart was not compromised despite the impact”, the tribunal findings noted.
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
“The driver then walked towards the track with the front fairing still in his hands and waited by the side of track until he could see Mr Ippolito, who was continuing the race, approaching.
“Then, while the race was still ongoing, the driver threw the front fairing of his kart, which weighs at least 1.35kg, in the direction of Mr Ippolito, whose speed, as well as that of his direct followers, was approximately 100kph, resulting in a level of energy, according to the FIA, equivalent to 521J.”
Had the fairing struck Ippolito on his crash helmet, the FIA estimated “this could lead to serious (but not fatal) neck injuries due to a sudden rearward movement of the head and significant hyperextension of the neck”, a view it says is “commonly admitted and undisputed by the respondent [Corberi]”.
The FIA also noted Corberi’s actions could have provoked Ippolito to swerve in avoidance, potentially causing a crash. The fairing was struck by another driver. “Luckily, no physical damage resulted from this,” stated the Tribunal report.
Ignoring the gesticulations of track officials including the FIA’s deputy race director Pasquale Lupoli, Corberi crossed the track while the race continued.
Corberi was later disqualified from the race as a result of this incident. However his subsequent actions were also taken into consideration by the Tribunal.
After the race finished, Corberi “ran violently towards Paolo Ippolito and pushed him to the ground,” stated the report. “The two drivers then started to fight. At least four drivers or mechanics tried to separate them.”
Corberi’s father Marco then “attacked Mr Ippolito and hit him in the head, while Mr Ippolito’s father joined the fight a few seconds later.” A brawl broke out between all four.
“After the intervention of Mr Karl Janka, FIA technical co-ordinator, Mr Paolo Ippolito stepped back, while Messrs Corberi, father and son, continued to fight with Mr Giuseppe Ippolito. It then took several minutes more before Mr Janka managed to separate the three protagonists and send everyone to the finish park.”
Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and
The FIA accused Corberi of multiple instances of breaking the Code of Good Conduct by throwing his fairing at Ippolito and attacking him afterwards. His actions showed “a very negative image of drivers, karting and motor sport in general” and were “prejudicial to the interests of the FIA as a custodian of the sport in general, and to the FIA Karting world championship in particular”, they stated.
Corberi and his representatives did not contest the facts of the matter. However they challenged the FIA’s case on a number of techncial and procedural grounds.
These included citing Corberi’s “state of anger” in reaction to the original incident as a contributing factor; citing a precedent from a cross-country skiing competition, in which a competiton who assaulted a rival was given a one-year ban; and claiming the on-track collision was “ignored by the FIA”. The latter point was contested by the sport’s governing body on the grounds that Ippolito was disqualified over the incident.
The FIA called for Corberi to receive a lifetime ban for the two incidents. Following its deliberations, the Tribunal issued a 15-year ban instead.
The figure was arrived at after considering the limited number of multiple-year bans imposed for incidents of such seriousness. It took into consideration Corberi’s relatively young age, his 10 years experience in karting, the fact it was a “first-time offence” and that he had apologised publicly for his behaviour.
“Bearing in mind the above, the Tribunal considered that the respondent should have a second chance to come back to the motor sport world after having served a certain number of years of ban and suspension which shall reflect the gravity of his acts; as such, a life-time sanction would not be appropriate,” the Tribunal determined.
“Taking into account, however, (i) the legal and fundamental values shared by the members of the Tribunal and (ii) their belief that violence has no place in sports (zero tolerance policy), the Tribunal decided that a 15-year sanction would be adequate and proportional, since such a sanction clearly reflects the gravity of the facts and the violence involved,” it ruled.
The verdict can be read in full here (PDF).
Go ad-free for just £1 per month
- Raghunathan’s private F1 test debut for Alfa Romeo a “great day”
- Will IndyCar get a new champion? The surprise contenders as final leg begins
- Raidillon GT crash “haunting” for Correa ahead of his return to race at Spa
- Hauger passes Leclerc for win at soaked Hungaroring
- Nannini passes Fittipaldi for first F3 win at Hungaroring