Briatore Ban Overturned, Legal Fighting Continues

What Happens When 100 Million Euros Turns Into 15,000

9:58am EST — Tuesday, a lower-level French court overturned the FIA’s lifetime ban of Flavio Briatore and awarded him 15,000 euros as compensation for the FIA’s illegal sanction, according to Reuters.  The story also mentioned that the FIA would appeal.  On the face of it, this looks like a return to F1 and driver management for Briatore, but the likelihood that is it so is slim, as the court which overturned the ban is only the first level of civil courts in France.

There is still a long way to go before the French Supreme Court or a higher appellate court can make a final determination.  Also, there is an indication that the court did not find Briatore’s arguments as compelling as he would have liked, as previously leaked court documents suggest that he was asking for 100 million euros in compensation, not 15,000.  While it is still difficult to find the actual decision online, knowing the legal system here in the states, as well as certain elements of the French culture and the dogged determination of FIA lawyers, one can be certain that this is not the end in a situation that began with Nelson Piquet, Jr. purposefully crashing his car during the 2008 Singapore GP.

While it is much easier to say that the suspended ban for Renault was the correct decision (as I have ad nauseum), the Briatore and Symonds punishments are another story.  Technically not license holders of the FIA, they cannot be punished by the WMSC, and their sentences are particularly worded so that the punishment falls on any team or entrant that might hire either man.  Whether the French court system took that into consideration will be determined once the decision proper has been released.

Should Briatore return, however, it is certain that he will be a polarizing force in F1, as he always has been.  I am of the mind that, cheating aside, he is a benefit to the paddock and public relations for his flamboyance and ability to cut directly to the heart of a subject without being overly-careful in his speech.  With Max Mosley, Ron Dennis, and Flavio Briatore gone, there are far fewer men of panache in the paddock.  While many watch F1 for the racing and technical fighting between the teams, there is a frisson of tension and comedy added by the political machinations and drama amongst the drivers and team principles and between them and FIA leaders that heightens the allure of the sport.  Its a soap opera for men (and women) that often makes fans laugh.  Who will step forward and continue the drama?  Bring back Flav, but only after a suitable period of punishment.

(as published at


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