Gracia: Briatore Ban Excessive

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The Spanish motorsport federation boss Carlos Gracia has certianly been vocal this week regarding the Renault case. If you will recall, Gracia was perplexed by the immunity given to Nelson Piquet Jnr over his part int he race-fixing incident of 2008. We mentioned his views on the matter here.

Today Mr. Gracia has taken the opportunity in Spanish newspaper AS to voice his concern on the verdict handed down by the WMSC yesterday regarding the embattled Flavio Briatore.

“Briatore’s (ban) seems excessive to me, as there were no clear evidence to incriminate him and he didn’t have the chance to defend himself,” quoted Spanish newspaper AS .

“Moreover, I’m not ruling out that he decides to resort to regular justice, because he has been left without his means to earn a living.”

Now I am not an employment law expert in the States or The EU but we did mention this in our review podcast #125. Can the FIA eliminate the ability for Briatore to earn a living in his regarded field? A question that Briatore’s lawyers will most likely ask and perhaps in a EU court.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Briatore as saying “I’m devastated,” and suggested that he may seek legal action to prove his innocence in a court of law as well as seek restitution from the damage to his reputation.

It certainly seems as if Briatore, who was not present at yesterday WMSC meeting, is presumed guilty by the FIA. The assumption is that the WMSC heard evidence that supported this position in yesterday’s meeting but the transcripts of that meeting have yet to be released.

It is also a direct point made by Mr. Gracia that Briatore has not been given the opportunity to clear his name but the FIA would argue that he did claim innocence in the press leading up the WMSC meeting and was invited to yesterday’s meeting to provide testimony but chose not to appear. Perhaps that is true but if I am reading Gracia’s comments correctly, that is not the proper forum to defend Briatore’s actions as there is most certainly a bias from the president Max Mosley toward Briatore himself.

It may be the end of the verdict but will any appeal be held off until there is a change of president at the FIA? I don’t imagine that Briatore will take this destruction of his livelihood lightly and I submit that litigation will ensue. Briatore’s ties to the world of motor sport are immense and to de-tangle his involvement would be a huge undertaking.

Ultimately Briatore is considered guilty int he eyes of the FIA and a large part of the world thanks to the FIA’s pre-meeting leaks of critical evidence and the presses interpretation of that information. It is now incumbent upon Briatore to offer another view of the matter that proves his innocence. It is often the case that a man is innocent until proven guilty, which the FIA feel they have done, so it becomes Briatore’s mission to prove his innocence. The big question is…can he?

Gracia also reminded the press that there is a dangerous precedent set by the Piquet immunity issue that he spoke of earlier this week. He told Spanish Newspaper AS:

“Personally, I insist that Briatore’s penalty seems disproportionate, while I think that a big mistake has been made with Piquet, creating a dangerous precedent,”.

“Mosley has labelled the scandal as a criminal act, so I don’t understand how the executor can be reprieved.

“He is as responsible for the scandal as the rest, and if he’s not ready to handle situations with pressure, then maybe he chose the wrong job.”

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