Former Renault team principal Flavio Briatore has ruled out a return to Formula One following the lifting of his lifetime ban on FIA-governed motor sport events. Speaking to Italian sport’s newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, Briatore stated he had no regrets about his time spent in Formula One and that the lifting of the ban allows him freedom and pride.
Flavio Briatore resigned from Renault last year after it became clear that he was involved in a case of race fixing the year previous, engineering such an incident by conspiring with technical chief Pat Symonds and driver Nelson Piquet Jr., suggesting that Piquet crash his car intentionally to give team mate Fernando Alonso an advantage. The plan went as all involved had hoped and Alonso won the Singapore Grand Prix, largely thanks to a well-timed pit stop and the accident bringing out the safety car. Alonso has always denied having any involvement and knowledge of went on behind the scenes.
Briatore and Symonds resigned, and the whole fiasco only came about because Piquet Jr. was fired partway through the 2009 campaign. All three participants were called before the FIA to answer their charges, and although Piquet had been given immunity, the other two faced heavier sentences. Symonds has been banned from motor sport for five years, while Briatore received a life time ban. The Italian businessman then set about overruling this, citing the fact he isn’t a license holder of the FIA, unlike the drivers. Briatore was successful in his case. The Renault team also received a 2-year suspended ban.
This now means that Flavio can return to motor sport should he wish, but speaking recently, it would seem he has no inclination to do so.
I rule that [return] out 100%. I will watch the race on TV and will look for the faces of the many people I know. I remain affectionate to F1, even though it would have been fairer had I left it at the end of 2006, after Alonso’s second title.
I had already won all my challenges and I was beginning to feel the will to dedicate myself to other things. Then, in 2008, Alonso came back after a difficult season at McLaren and because of our friendship, I preferred to stay by his side.
F1 has given me a lot in popularity, satisfactions, and acquaintances: I don’t regret anything.
That [overruling] was only right, I say. I had spent two months when I had been treated like a criminal, it was a bitter pill, only I know what I had felt inside. Then came the relief, even though in a couple of months there will be the appeal lodged by the Federation.
I’m calm, I did my duty as chief commander of a ship that was risking sinking, by resigning. I took moral responsibility for the scandal, but the real story is yet to be written. However, the verdict has given me freedom and pride, and that’s fine. Flavio Briatore, Gazzetta dello Sport.
Briatore at the time denied any involvement in the conspiracy, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Briatore’s ban was overturned earlier this year by the Tribunal de Grande Instance and the Italian was awarded €15,000 in compensation. The FIA are appealing the decision, as noted by Briatore in his interview with Gazzetta dello Sport.