Wed, Apr 14, 2010 - Page 20 News List

Briatore can return to Formula One after 2012: FIA

CONTROVERSIALFlavio Briatore, who has overseen the career of Fernando Alonso, had said that he would never return to Formula One

REUTERS , LONDON

Formula One’s governing body agreed on Monday to end a life ban against former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore and allow him back into the sport after 2012.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) said in a statement that a settlement had been reached to end ongoing legal proceedings against the flamboyant Italian multi-millionaire.

Briatore and former Renault engineering head Pat Symonds, whose five-year ban was also cut short, were barred in September last year for their involvement in a plot to rig the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

In the statement, the governing body said each man had recognized “his share of responsibility for the deliberate crash” in Singapore, expressed regrets and apologized.

“They 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,” it said.

PUBLICITY

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

The FIA banned them after deciding both had played a part in ordering Brazilian driver Nelson Piquet Jr to crash deliberately into a wall to bring out the safety car and help then-team mate Fernando Alonso win.

A French court overturned Briatore’s ban in January, and awarded him 15,000 euros (US$20,370) rather than the 1 million euros he had sought in damages. The FIA had vowed to appeal.

Briatore, a colorful and often controversial figure who has overseen the careers of Spain’s double world champion Fernando Alonso and Australian Mark Webber, said last month that he would never return to Formula One.

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However, commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone suggested recently that his friend and former business partner could help promote the sport in future.

RESPONSIBILITY

In a separate statement issued on his behalf, Briatore agreed “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.”

“No further comment will be made by Flavio Briatore, who wishes to put behind this matter and focus on his plans for the future,” the statement added.

The FIA said it had in return agreed to abandon the appeal procedure and waive the right to bring any new proceedings against the pair in connection with the affair, without accepting criticism leveled against the motor sport council for the original verdict.

The governing body said it had decided this was in the best interests of Formula One and the FIA to end a dispute prejudicial to the image of the sport.

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