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Briatore blasts FIA

NEWS STORY
05/08/2006

Renault boss Flavio Briatore, who in recent times has appeared to get ever closer to the FIA, breaking ranks with fellow-members of the Grand Prix Manufacturers' Association (GPMA), of which the French manufacturer was a founding member, has launched a blistering attack on the sport's governing body.

The Italian, speaking ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, and before star driver was handed a 2s qualifying penalty that will clearly dash his hopes of a strong result this weekend, finally broke silence over the issue of mass dampers.

Although the French team has been using them since last year, ahead of the German Grand Prix they were declared illegal. However, when scrutineers checked them on the T-car in Hockenheim they declared them legal, giving the French team the OK to race with them. Subsequently, the FIA appealed the decision of it own stewards, and rather than risk disqualification, and a possible race ban, the team removed them... with the French outfit experiencing one of its most difficult race weekends of the season.

Earlier this week, technical director, Pat Symonds revealed that the FIA had agreed that Renault could use the controversial system this weekend, without fear of retrospective punishment, however, just 24-hours later, technical delegate Charlie Whiting wrote to all the teams reiterating that the device is illegal. Consequently, Renault opted to remove them.

Since the issue first arose, and in light of the fact that Renault has been using the system all year, there has been talk - mainly restricted to fans forums and bulletin boards - that the FIA is attempting to manipulate the World Championship, for the move came at a time when the French team appeared to have both titles (almost) sewn up.

Talking in Hungary, Briatore made no secret of his feelings.

"Things are happening that we don't understand," he admitted. "But this kind of thing happens when a team that is not winning races needs help. The races are being decided by the referee… not the players. Someone has pushed to have this situation.

"We will not use the mass damper here because we don't want to have the threat of disqualification," he admitted. "Someone who has copied us has done a bad job and to solve the situation they have tried to be close to the referees. It is negative for F1.

"I am curious to see the value that some of the victories of the people who have got this advantage will take away with them. There are people who are trying to give a false result to the championship. There is a commitment by the FIA, with the help of some teams, to play against us."

Referring to the fact that mass dampers have only recently been an issue, the Italian said: "We have raced with the system for seven months, we passed scrutineering before the races and after the races, and there was nothing irregular. So we don't understand what has happened."

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