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FIA agrees to drop Briatore-Symonds appeal 12 Apr 2010

Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault F1 Managing Director.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 11 September 2009 Pat Symonds (GBR) Renault Executive Director of Engineering.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 11, European Grand Prix, Preparations, Valencia Spain, Thursday, 20 August 2009 FIA Flag as the grid girls practice their routine.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Sepang, Malaysia, 22 March 2003

Formula One racing’s governing body, the FIA, has come to an agreement with former Renault team bosses Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds to end their legal dispute relating to Nelson Piquet’s deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

The FIA’s World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) banned Briatore and Symonds from FIA-sanctioned motorsport after deciding they had conspired with Piquet over the incident, which helped Piquet’s then team mate Fernando Alonso, who had no involvement, to win the race.

However, those bans were overturned earlier this year after a French court decided the WMSC did not have the authority to impose them for procedural reasons and because neither Briatore nor Symonds were FIA licence holders, and therefore not subject to FIA rules.

The FIA subsequently began an appeal against that decision by the Tribunal De Grande Instance, but on Monday announced it has dropped proceedings after accepting a settlement offer from Briatore and Symonds.

As part of that offer, the FIA says both men recognise their share of responsibility for the incident and have expressed their regrets and presented their apologies to the FIA. They have also agreed to forgo any operational role in Formula One racing until the end of 2012.

“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,” read an FIA statement.

Commenting on the settlement, Briatore said that for his part it was reached "without any admission of a personal guilt in these events and without any recognition of the fact that the decision of the World Council rendered against him would have been well-founded".

In light of the affair, and what the FIA described as “a poor [external] understanding of how the disciplinary procedure before the WMSC works”, the FIA is now planning structural reform to prevent other misunderstandings in the future.

The FIA’s statement in full:
Tribunal De Grande Instance

12/04/2010

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.