Breaking: FIA reaches settlement with Flavio, Symonds


All that rumored talk about Flavio Briatore returning to Formula 1 in the 2013 season wasn’t just idle chatter. It can happen now, following Briatore and fellow former Renaulter Pat Symonds’ reaching a settlement with the FIA concerning incidents at the 2008 Singapore GP.

The FIA released a statement not long ago.

The decision handed down by the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris on 5 January 2010 at the request of Mr Flavio Briatore and Mr Pat Symonds, which the FIA has appealed, revealed a poor understanding of how the disciplinary procedure before the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) works. In accordance with the undertakings made by the FIA President during his campaign, it will be proposed at the next General Assembly, at the end of 2010, that a structural reform, on which the FIA Statutes Review Commission is currently working, be adopted to prevent other misunderstandings.

In the meantime, at its meeting in Bahrain on 11 March 2010, the WMSC decided on the one hand to adopt a Code of Practice to clarify the working of its disciplinary procedure, and on the other hand to give the FIA President full authority to seek a definitive outcome, whether judicial or extrajudicial, to the disputes with Mr Flavio Briatore and Mr Pat Symonds, best preserving the interests of the FIA.

After discussions between their lawyers and those of the FIA, Mr Flavio Briatore and Mr Pat Symonds have each made a settlement offer to the FIA President with a view to putting an immediate end to the legal proceedings.

Each of them recognising his share of responsibility for the deliberate crash involving the driver Nelson Piquet Junior at the 2008 Grand Prix of Singapore, as “Team Principal” of Renault F1 where Mr Flavio Briatore is concerned, they have expressed their regrets and presented their apologies to the FIA.

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.

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.

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.

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.

I’ve not seen any response yet from Flavio or Symonds, but we certainly can begin parsing this decision by the FIA:

  • Can anyone imagine Max Mosley’s FIA making this deal?
  • What does this say to you about Jean Todt’s way of running the FIA?

I also think the one person who’s status doesn’t change with this announcement is Nelson Piquet. He remains the one who blew the whistle at a point when it seemed like he was just doing it out of spite. Also, to be consistent — because I beat this drum quite a bit — Fernando Alonso can breath a sigh of relief. I’d always subscribed to the “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” when it came to his tenure at McLaren and then back at Renault. If it was anything more than coincidence that two big scandals happened in his vicinity… well, at this point it will stay coincidence, unless Piquet really wants to shatter what remains of his reputation.

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