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Briatore hearing gets underway

NEWS STORY
24/11/2009

The hearing which could decide the motor sport future of both Flavio Briatore and Renault gets underway in Paris today.

In his case, which will be heard by the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance, Briatore is calling for one million euros in damages, claiming the sport's governing body, under Max Mosley's leadership, was "blinded" by desire for "personal revenge".

The case follows the FIA's decision to ban Briatore from all its sanctioned series for life following the infamous 'Crashgate' scandal which saw Renault driver Nelson Piquet deliberately crash out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, thereby effectively handing the race win to teammate Fernando Alonso.

Ahead of the official hearing in September, Briatore and technical director Pat Symonds were both fired by the French outfit, a move that many saw as a means of appeasing the FIA in advance. Subsequently, while Briatore and Symonds both received bans from motorsport, Renault was effectively given a slap on the wrist courtesy of a two-year suspended ban.

However, in launching his legal bid, Briatore claims that the bans were not only a breach of their human rights, but that the failure to punish Renault was effectively to keep the French manufacturer from walking away from the sport at a time when BMW had already announced its intention to leave F1 only. Weeks later, Toyota and Bridgestone announced their intention to quit F1.

Other than claiming that a deal was made with Renault, Briatore claims that the case against him, and his subsequent punishment, was spearheaded by (then) FIA president Max Mosley, in retaliation for the Italian's role during the crisis which nearly saw the manufacturers set up their own series this year.

Bernie Ecclestone, a close friend of Briatore's, advised the Italian to appeal his case directly with the FIA, however, he chose to go to the French law courts.

It is widely thought that Renault - which has said that it will make a decision regarding its future in F1 later in the year - is waiting to see the outcome of Briatore's case.

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