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Briatore hits out at Brawn

NEWS STORY
20/04/2009

Still seething at last week's decision by the FIA's International Court of Appeal, Flavio Briatore has launched a stinging attack on Brawn, questioning whether the Brackley outfit is entitled to TV money and travel expenses.

Over the course of the Chinese GP weekend, the Italian blasted the Brackley team, its drivers and its new owner, Ross Brawn.

Having written off Brawn's drivers, describing Barrichello as old and past it and Button as a 'concrete bollard', Briatore turned his attention to the team and its owner, claiming that as a new team the Brackley outfit is not entitled to TV and travel money, calling on fellow team bosses to block the payments, indeed, to share them among their own teams.

Ever since the FIA announced that Brawn was entering the 2009 championship as a new team, there has been speculation regarding how this would affect certain issues, especially any prize money and expenses owed to Honda. Despite several requests to the FIA from Pitpass for clarification, no response has ever been forthcoming.

In Malaysia, Ross Brawn was asked why his team was accepted as a new team and not a continuation of Honda. "The FIA determined that we were a new entry," he said. "I understand the reasons why they made that decision and we respect that.

"On the commercial side, it's not something I feel I want to comment on," he added, "but something I would say that FOTA has been very supportive of, and FOM in finding a solution, to give the team the best chance of a way forward in the future."

While the prize money and travel expenses were already troubling Briatore, last week's appeal hearing was the final straw since it means his team will now have to go to the expense of developing its own 'split level' diffuser and all the ancillary work that this will involve.

"Despite some being against it, Luca di Montezemolo kept FOTA united in supporting Brawn GP, and so did McLaren in supplying engines," Briatore told members of the Italian media at the weekend.

"But since Ross Brawn was our (FOTA) technical delegate, and he forces me to spend money I don't have in my budget, and since Honda's money has, luckily, not been shared yet, we'll have a meeting," he added.

"My proposal is that since Brawn is richer than anyone else, because he's had his team paid for in full by Honda, plus he's had 130 million given to him (by Honda), he's certainly richer than I am.

"I don't want to be a Robin Hood," he added, a comment that will have caused widespread mirth in the paddock, "but when there's a situation where everyone is transparent then that's fine.

"At this moment my position is, since I need to find the money in the budget somewhere and the season can't end up with everyone being a second behind the Brawn cars, then the money pot will have to be reviewed in full. I think it's about 30 million euros."

As for the registration of Brawn as a new team, Briatore continued: "Let's go with what the FIA said. Since the FIA said it's a new team, then for once we agree with the Federation. This is a new team, it's true. Honda officially said it left F1, and this isn't called Brawn Honda, it's Brawn. Therefore, at this point I think the federation is right.

"As FOTA commercial chairman I'll propose that we follow the FIA's ruling that it's a new team and for three years it has no rights with regards to transportation, nothing."

Asked about Briatore's comments, Ross Brawn was giving little away. "Flavio's very flamboyant," the Englishman told reporters. "He's great with the one-liners, that's his forte, but I'm not going to respond.

"It's a shame that he brings those things into the public arena as they're FOTA business but that's his style," he added. "I'd rather not talk about it."

It has now been revealed that FOTA will meet on May 6, ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

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